Blog Archives

The Governess Was Wicked by Julia Kelly!

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Hello lovely readers! I hope September is treating everyone well. It’s certainly been fantastic for Julia Kelly. Monday her new series from Pocket Star debuted on retailers everywhere! You all know Julia from First Draught and because she’s one of my favorite people. Get to know more about Julia in this short interview I did with her the other day. I ask her about her book, whether she’d prefer Thor or Loki, and her Facebook group: Really Old Frocks. If you love corsets, bustles, and fashion, you have to check it out on Facebook or Instagram! Then scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter (I have promised Julia whatever she wants from me, so be sure to enter!)

Buy links:

Amazon • iBooks Kobo • Nook 

The Governess Was Wicked

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet- sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt…


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Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of sexy historical and contemporary romances about smart women and the men who love them. She picked up her first romance novel and the bad habit of reading well past her bedtime when she was thirteen. Years later, she decided to try writing books of her own and never looked back.

By day, Julia is an Emmy-nominated journalist in New York City where she chases breaking news and bosses reporters around. She never met a pair of stilettos she didn’t love and still stays up too late reading.

 


Raffelcopter Giveaway!

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Want more Julia interview goodness? Check out this month’s episode of First Draught!

 

Get It Together Blog Hop (aka Managing Choke Points)

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Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be posting this as part of the Get It Together Blog Hop. I’m Alexis Anne and I write contemporary and erotic romances like The Storm Inside and Tease! Like many of you, my life is one of barely controlled chaos structured around schedules and lists, fueled by caffeine and determination, and laced with insanity. I’m a mother to two active soccer-playing boys, wife to a busy soccer-playing engineer, and am attempting to launch three new series in three different genres this year. Oh, and I also contribute to the First Draught Writing show and podcast (They put me in charge of podcasts!).

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So, just like all of you, I’m busy as f**** and the one thing I do that keeps things somewhat balanced and moving forward is the careful management of my choke points (aka bottlenecks), a family Google Calendar (see Lindsay Emory’s post), white boards, and more notebooks than any one person should own.

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These are ALL notebooks I actually use.

No seriously. They’re everywhere. Including my nightstand and… apparently… my drying rack, stored carefully under my hat?

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I write things down, but I don’t own a planner.

I like having goals I’m working toward, but on my own time. Writing is such a creative process that I’ve found things like to do lists, word counts, and tracking to be counterproductive to my life. Instead of focusing on my story, I’m tracking progress. Instead of creating, I’m worrying… and worrying means I’m not working.

So I write everything down. It gets it out of my head and I can reference back to it any time (without the pressure of a to do list staring me down.) As crazy as my stacks of notebooks look, it’s actually controlled chaos.

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Instead, I spend enormous amounts of time finding creative ways around my choke points and bottlenecks. This often involves looking at the situation from a new angle and figuring out how to get around it.

What is a choke point? Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition:

a strategic narrow route providing passage through or to another region

Or bottleneck:

something that slows down a process

Maybe I’m a problem solver by nature, but my mind doesn’t go to “what is my process” so much as “how can I make my process more efficient?” I do this by identifying my choke points and eliminating them. Like Michael Cena.

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Worry is a major choke point for me, which is why I like to wake up and start writing over coffee. Whether it’s a list of scenes that need to appear in the next book in my serial (explain Theo’s tattoo, establish Allison’s back story, explain Nicki’s connection to Higgins, sex scene A, sex scene B, dark moment) or writing a scene that came to me in the morning fog of sleep, that is probably my most creative time of day, so I prioritize it. If I don’t get my morning quiet time, I become a basket case and all the dominoes in my house fall down.

So I make sure everyone in my house knows this time is sacred. The kids don’t talk to me until my cup is empty (I also wake up extra early so that I have maximum time before they wake up.)

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The hubby kisses me goodbye and doesn’t take offense if I’m deep in thought instead of gushing over him 😉 And I keep a notebook on my nightstand. I write by hand as often, or more, in this morning time.

White board of my madness.

White board of my madness.

Another choke point is spending unnecessary time fretting over scenes and writing order (I’m a plotter BTW.) I usually write in order, but lately I’ve been writing critical scenes first, then filling in the others second. I prefer to write in Word, but if I need to, I import into Scrivener and use all of it’s wonderful tools to break up scenes, rearrange chapters, and keep my pre-plotted story arc in check. There’s no shame in using multiple products to get to one finished product and I’ve found that moving back and forth between the platforms is both easy and effective for producing a good product.

All the scenes I had to break up and rearrange in Tempt 2

All the scenes I had to break up and rearrange in Tempt 2 (as you can tell… this is an erom…)

My family is probably my biggest problem. I love them to pieces… and that’s exactly my problem. I can’t think (which means I can’t create) if I know we’re two weeks behind on laundry, there is no food in the fridge, and every dish we own is dirty and sitting on the counter waiting for the maid (that we don’t have) to come take care of it all.

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We had to find a way to be more efficient and effective as a family. That’s where minimalism and Amazon come in. We got rid of all the things we didn’t need. We realized we had so many things. Things that were dragging us down with extra chores, clutter, and immense feelings of guilt. So we got rid of the extra dishes, clothes, and stuff. This article was a great guide for us.

My other family choke point was the dang groceries. To keep writing we turned to eating out instead of cooking/cleaning (on top of homework and soccer practice.) Eating out is a temporary solution, not a lifestyle. It’s expensive, too. So the guilt started to get to me.

Amazon Pantry Box

Amazon Pantry Box

Until I realized Amazon and One Pot Meals were the answer to my overworked writer-mom prayers. Between two day Prime shipping and the Prime Pantry Box, my life has been transformed. Laundry detergent arrives by magic. So do craft supplies for the school projects. All my dry goods arrive in the Pantry Box (pasta, chicken stock, canned food, cereal, toilet paper, etc), which frees us up to actually make a run to the grocery store since we now only need to run around the edges for fresh food (bread, produce, dairy, etc.)

You can check out my go-to one pot (or two pot) meals here. They’ve saved me a ton of time while getting us some decently balanced meals.

Motivation Board

Motivation Board

All of this makes my creative time as a writer possible. Without it, I was stopping. I was obsessing. I wasn’t writing… which is kind of my job. We eliminated the choke points and it freed me up to do my job. I hope this helps you find balance and productivity in your own creative endeavors!


Apps and Websites I use to manage my life:

Canva (creating book covers, teasers, and otherwise visualizing the stuff I see in my head)

Workflowy (check out Julia Kelly’s post on how to use it here.)

Feedly (an RSS feed so I can stay up to date on all my favorite blogs and websites in one place)

Buffer (scheduling my social media)


Check out all the rest of the stops on the Get it Together Blog Hop and enter the Rafflecopter here!

First Draught: Size Matters

Hey gang! This month First Draught tackled size. Of books. We sat around in a virtual circle and discussed the differences between novels and novellas, short stories, series, and serials. It was a good time and everyone got a good laugh out of my drink.

Just to clarify, it was a whiskey and tonic not just a giant glass of whiskey. I’m stressed, but not that stressed!

Mary Chris also coined the new word #interlapping.

Check out the show on YouTube, Soundcloud, or iTunes and stop back next month when we tackle getting ready for RWA!! Woot!

Podcast:

iTunes ∴ Soundcloud

Video:

 

Visit the First Draught Website

Cover Reveal: One Week in Hawaii

I’m so happy that today I get to share with all of you the beautiful cover for One Week in Hawaii! This is the second book in the One Week in Love series (the first was One Week in Wyoming). This time around I’m writing about two Hollywood stars who became best friends on the set of a Hunger Games-type movie franchise. They’ve been secretly in love with each other all this time, but it isn’t until Hawaii that they’re ready to see what happens when they kiss!

Without further ado, here’s the cover! You’ll find all the blurbs below and preorder links to your platform of choice!

Are you ready?

Boom!

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One Week in Hawaii

Sun, sand, and seduction.

This summer, Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton sweep you away to paradise for One Week in Hawaii.

A wedding planner breaks all the rules to have just one night of pleasure, only to find that a stolen moment might hold the key to forever.

A movie star falls hard for her sexy co-star…who just happens to be her best friend.

A former black sheep risks falling from grace again when she seduces a handsome stranger with a dark history.

An artist has to choose between dating a guy who will please her parents and one who will please…and pleasure…her.

Sex on the beach is so much more than a drink in these four sizzling contemporary novellas by the authors who brought you One Week in Wyoming.

The Wedding Week by Julia Kelly

Hot LA chef Chris Benson is ready for his week in paradise. Playing groomsman in his college roommate’s wedding, touring the Hawaiian hotel that wants him to open a restaurant on the grounds…sounds like the perfect mix of work and play. That is, until he meets the hotel’s no-nonsense wedding planner–a woman who just happens to blow him away.

Wedding planner Annie Kalani lives by the rules. The biggest one? Don’t get involved with the guests. Especially the ones who make her want to do risky things. But all it takes is one night on the beach with Chris before she’s risking everything she’s worked for.

Loving Rebecca by Alexis Anne

A kiss is all that stands between Hollywood movie stars Rebecca Seymour and Luke Harrington’s happily ever after. Best friends for three years, neither has been single or brave enough to find out whether the electricity surging between them is merely intense friendship, or something much deeper.

After both Luke and Rebecca go through nasty breakups, a dream vacation with friends puts them in Hawaii for a week between shoots. It’s the perfect opportunity to push the boundaries and finally find out if they are destined to be friends or lovers. But will their long awaited kiss be the beginning of new love or an utter disaster?

After the Fall by Alexandra Haughton

Paradise lost…

Joss McAllister worked hard to earn the title of family wild child. Her crowning achievement? An epic meltdown at her sister’s wedding five years ago. She’s just now back in her family’s good graces, so when she goes to their condo—the first time since The Wedding Mistake—Joss is on her best behavior. That means no drinking, no drama, and definitely no in flagrante delicto. But when Andrew Reynolds stumbles into her life one hot Hawaiian evening, she is one stone-cold sober sexcapade from making another mistake.

Paradise found…

Drew is a damaged soul. After his distinguished career as a photojournalist goes down in flames, he’s at loose ends. A chance encounter with Joss soothes him in ways he’d thought impossible, tempting him to forget life’s complications. But when their clandestine affair threatens everything they hold dear, will they walk out of Paradise together?

Blinded by Audra North

Chelsea Kato is convinced that dating Brandon Myers will be the accomplishment that finally impresses her parents. Going away to Hawaii for a week to celebrate her brother’s wedding is the perfect opportunity to get some time alone with the rich, successful attorney. She’ll win his interest and her parents’ approval.

But when Mike Dalton, her brother’s childhood best friend, gets wind of her plan, he does everything in his power to get Chelsea to realize that Brandon isn’t the right guy for her. Mike is. And he’s got a plan of his own to show her what she’s truly worth.

Release Date: May 19 (now available for preorder)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NH2mKe

iBooks: http://apple.co/1GlNTTh

Barnes & Noble: Link will be available May 19

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-week-in-hawaii

Alexis Anne CLUE (kinky games for kinky people)

How much of my books are real, and how much are total fantasy? Well apparently, even my closest writing friends have trouble telling the difference! I mean, we all know that writers don’t retell their own lives. They are storytellers. They make up characters and events, we build whole new worlds, and can describe things we’ve never, ever done…

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But that doesn’t stop any of us from picturing the author while we’re reading. We just do. We need to put a face with the words. You read a very intense chapter on abuse, you wonder if the author has experienced abuse first hand. You read a detailed description of heart break, you wonder who broke the authors heart. Same with cheating, death, exotic locations…the list goes on.

But the the things is…good writers have an innate ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and describe something they have never seen. It’s our super power.

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So I’m in a video chat Sunday night with a few of my writer friends, and they start laughing and having a good time because–they inform me–when they read my books, they wonder what it looks like inside the bedroom of Alexis Anne and The Sexy Editor. They ponder which scenes are real, and which ones are fantasy.

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I want to tell you all that every single one is made up, but I’d be totally lying. I love to pepper Easter eggs into my stories for The Sexy Editor. Call it our version of love notes. I get a high off of his reactions when he finds a secret treasure from our real life hidden inside one of my stories. So yeah, there are absolutely a few nuggets of real life in my books.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

And The Sexy Editor always looks like Jensen. Always. Shit-eating grin and all.

And The Sexy Editor always looks like Jensen. Always. Shit-eating grin and all.

BUT MOST OF IT IS TOTALLY MADE UP!!

Just want to make that clear. Almost every scene is inspired by too much time on Tumblr (aka the land of kinky fuckery). Which scenes are real and which ones are fantasy? I say I’ll never tell. I kind of like letting everyone guess. It keeps the mystery alive in our writer/reader relationship. But then I had an idea last night as I was trying to figure out how to write this blog post.

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And I laughed and laughed and laughed. Cuz we could totally make up a kinky version of CLUE to play with my books. Allow me to illustrate:

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I put the answers in the secret envelope and we all gather the clues to find out which kinky scene is from my real life. Winner gets to know the truth! Who wants to play? Any guesses?

Under the Bright Morning Light (a Storm Inside short story)

12 Days Revision

When Julia Kelly approached me about a Holiday Blog Hop my first thought was that Jake and Eve needed an appearance. It’s been almost a year since I published Reflected in the Rain (the sequel to The Storm Inside) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see what they’re up to. Of course we’ll be seeing quite a bit of them in When Lightning Strikes, and they have a specific B-story in the book that leads up the moment you are about to read about. This moment will also lead us into the their next book, Book 4 in the series. I don’t have a title yet, but I know exactly what happens in the book. I can’t wait to write it, but first, let’s see what’s going on in the world of Jake and Eve:

Under the Bright Morning Light

I was too scared to get out of bed.

For one, it was freaking cold out and the wood floor in our bedroom was going to feel like ice on my toes.

And for two…I wasn’t ready to find out.

I could put it off a few more days, heck I could probably put it off a couple of weeks.

I mean, technically I knew.

There was just a feeling that had come over me in the last forty-eight hours. It was probably hormones. So yeah, technically I knew what the stick was going to say once I peed on it, but that didn’t mean I was ready to see it.

Jake was snoring lightly beside me. Light filtered in through the blinds casting a yellow slanted glow on everything in our bedroom. The poor guy was exhausted. Between work and advising meetings for the new position he was taking at the University, this week had just about wiped him out.

Which was fine with me because that meant he was distracted. Normally Jake was pretty aware of my cycle…he was just that kind of guy.

But that also meant that for the last six months he’d checked the app on his phone, watching the days count down, hoping we’d get a positive pregnancy test instead of a period. So far, we’d only been disappointed.

Well, Jake was disappointed. I was scared shitless. Sure, I’d agreed to the whole “let’s start a family” idea, but that didn’t mean it didn’t terrify me. Kids changed everything and I loved what I had with Jake. We’d both waited so long to have this. Call me a terribly selfish brat if you want (I do every day) but I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to lose Jake. And a huge part of me was convinced a baby might change everything in our lives for the worse.

So here I was, lying in bed on the day I knew I should be getting my period—absolutely convinced I was pregnant because of the weird vibe I’d been feeling—and I was too scared to get out of bed and find out the truth. The smart thing to do would be to wake Jake up and tell him what was going on.

But I wasn’t feeling terribly smart at the moment. Instead I was feeling a little crazy and glad that I was getting a chance to absorb this alone.

And if I really and truly wanted that chance, I needed to get my chicken-shit ass out of bed.

I took a deep breath and gently rolled out. The floor was freezing as I scurried across it and into my giant bathroom. I stole one last look at Jake before I closed the door. He was still snoring with his bare back to me.

He was so lucky that a baby wasn’t going to make his body look completely different. No actually, knowing him, he’d somehow wind up sexier and in better shape in nine months, the bastard.

My bastard.

My heart skipped a beat and I remembered exactly why we were doing this crazy thing. Why I wanted to do this crazy thing. My sexy, cocky, sweet husband desperately wanted to be a father—and that was more important than my selfish fears which, let’s be honest, were a little dramatic.

I opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a plastic box I’d hidden in the back, out of my daily line of sight. Inside were a variety of pregnancy tests (when you’re trying for six months, it makes sense to buy a few different brands). I dug around until I found the one I wanted: the one that was the most sensitive.

It was first thing in the morning so this was the best time to take the test. I ripped open the package with a deep, deep breath, angled the clock we kept on the counter, bit my lip, and dropped my sweatpants.

Peeing on a stick is exactly as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds, by the way.

I was just pulling the thing out from between my legs, putting the little plastic cap on the end, when the bathroom door opened. “What’s it say?”

“How do you know what I’m doing?” I asked as he closed the door.

He turned around and flashed me his sexy, cocky dimple. “Darlin’…”

“Okay, fine. I should have known you’d know.” I stood up and flushed before putting the toilet seat down and sitting on it. I was an idiot to think Jake wasn’t paying attention. He was probably the most attentive guy I’d ever met.

At least when it came to me. “Sorry if I woke you up.”

He chuckled. “I always know when you get out of bed. It gets cold and I get so damn lonely I can’t sleep anymore. I rolled over and sure enough, you were gone. I knew what today was so I put two and two together.” He dropped to his knees in front of me and took my hands in his. “Are you more scared that it will say yes, or no?”

It always surprised me how well he knew me. By this point I shouldn’t still be this surprised, but I was. I guess ten years apart didn’t mean starting over, it just meant starting fresh. “I’m scared it will say yes.”

He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, pulling my hands up and around his warm face. He held them there with his large hands over mine. “Why?”

He was so handsome with a little scruff on his face, his hair all crazy from sleep and no shirt to cover his gorgeous chest. But it was his green eyes that always did me in. I could see everything he thought and felt—and right now I saw concern, a little fear, and a lot of hope. I wanted to give him the world.

“I…” my voice fell away as the words got lost in my throat. I didn’t want to confess to the man I loved that I was scared he wouldn’t love me like this forever.

He pressed his cheek into my hand and closed his eyes like he was savoring the feel of my hand on his skin. “Darlin’? As much as you think I can, I actually can’t read your mind.”

I laughed a little at his joke. “What if things get hard again?”

His eyes flew open and locked onto mine. For once I wasn’t sure what I saw in his eyes.

“Things will get hard again, Eve. Life isn’t easy and sure as fuck isn’t fair. I can absolutely guarantee things will get hard again. But you can bet your sweet ass that I will never stop loving you.”

Well, fuck. “I can’t lose you again. Not ever.”

He took a deep breath and kissed the inside of my palm, then sat up on his knees so that we were eye to eye. He grabbed my face in his hands and shook his head. “Eve, you will never lose me again. You can get horrifically fat with my baby and I will love you even more than I do now. You can go bald, lose a foot to gangrene, or become as harry as a Sasquatch. It won’t change how much I love you. No matter what comes our way, I’m going through it with you. I will never leave you again and I will never pull away from you again. You are stuck with me, whether you like it or not.”

A few tears tumbled out of my eyes as I squeezed them shut. “What if we can’t have kids? What if this is another no?” I was so sure it was a yes, but there were no guarantees.

He leaned his forehead into mine and held me there for several seconds before he whispered, “You are my family, forever. Kids or no kids.”

A little weight suddenly lifted off my shoulders. I hadn’t even realized I was worried about not being able to get pregnant. Sure I was scared to death of what having a kid could do to us, but I was more scared that I wouldn’t be able to give my husband something he so desperately wanted. I wanted to give him the world, and if he wanted a kid, I wanted to be the one to give it to him. It was such a ridiculous burden to put on myself when I knew Jake didn’t feel that way at all.

He wanted a family—not for me to provide him with offspring. Those were two very different things and somewhere along the way, I’d lost sight of that.

“You want to find out?” I asked.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“Do you want to do the honors?”

He shook his head slowly, moving mine with his. “No, you need to do this.”

I pulled my upper lip between my teeth. My heart was racing like crazy and I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. I blindly reached out for the stick sitting on the edge of the bathtub and wrapped my sweaty, nervous palm around it.

Jake looked directly into my eyes. They never moved, never faltered. I had a feeling he was curious as hell, but was more worried about me and my reaction than anything else.

Maybe he knew what it was going to say, too.

“You tasted different last night,” he whispered.

I gulped. A dark image of him coming home late last night from the university and crawling up under the covers flashed through my mind. I remembered the pleased grunt he’d made when he first tasted me. I also remembered the goofy grin he had on his face as he pulled me into his arms and kissed me goodnight.

The bastard knew right then.

“I was wondering about those funny noises you were making.” I shook my head.

He grinned and bounced his eyebrows, his forehead still pressed firmly against mine. “I’m looking forward to all the changes the next few months are going to bring.” His voice was husky and very, very seductive.

I squeezed my legs together as I pulsed with a greedy little bit of need. Leave it to Jake to find pregnancy sexy.

“You are very confident that you know what this stick is going to say.”

“I am. I know your body, remember? I know what I felt last night as I ran my hands over your skin. I know that you tasted different, and I know that you reacted differently than you normally do. Add that to the confident glint in your eyes and the scared shake of your hands and yeah…I’m pretty damn confident I know my wife.”

I wrapped my arm around his neck and kissed the hell out of him. I slid forward on the toilet seat, wrapped my legs around his waist, and kissed him until I throbbed so painfully I felt like sex was the only relief I could ever want.

He panted as he pulled back to look into my eyes. “You better look at that stick so we can go and celebrate already.” His voice was almost a purr it was so deep and dark.

I kept one arm around his shoulders and turned the stick over in my other hand. This was it. Truth or dare time.

Pregnant.

The perfectly typed little words in the oval window were very easy to read for about three seconds, then the water in my eyes blurred my vision and I couldn’t really read it any more.

Jake kissed my lips and then each of the tears as they fell down my cheeks. “Darlin’,” he whispered. “What does it say? Are these good tears or bad tears?”

His hands held my face and his eyes searched mine.

“Good tears. Jake, you are going to be a dad.” Fear mixed with excitement. Yep, that was what I was feeling. Total fear, but absolute excitement.

His eyes widened and we both just kind of froze for a few heartbeats. I could hear each one thud in my ears.

Holy shit we were pregnant.

I was having Jake’s baby.

He started breathing heavier and his eyes glistened a little. Then he kissed me again and pulled me up into his arms. He held me tight against his strong chest, kissing the top of my head and running his fingers through my hair before he tilted my face up to his and kissed me slow and deep.

“I love you, Eve. I’m going to take such good care of you and our baby. I promise. You both will always know how much I love you.” The he suddenly dropped to his knees and kissed my belly, pulling my t-shirt up so he could kiss my skin. “I love you,” he said to the baby. “All you will ever know is love. I promise.” He dug his fingers into my hips as he pressed his forehead against my stomach.

He took several deep breaths before standing and then picking me up. “Mother of my child, it’s time to celebrate.”

I was worried about him until he flashed me that cocky grin of his. His dimple peeked out through his stubble and I ran my thumb into the dip. “Let’s take it slow, okay?”

“Oh darlin’,” he shook his head. “You have no idea.”

And then he made the sweetest, deepest, most impressive love to me in our bed under the bright morning light.


 

Here is a special sneak peek at the cover of When Lighting Strikes (The Storm Inside #3):

WhenLightningStrikes_Cover

Greg’s a jerk, everyone knows this. He’s made an art form out of pissing people off and swearing with style. What nobody knows is why.

The act works on everyone except Marie, a confident, no-nonsense woman. Or in other words, the only woman who can handle Greg. Together they’re passionate and honest in a way he never thought was possible. They have a rare kind of chemistry that makes everything else seem pointless.

Well, except the past. Greg hasn’t been able to let that go, and unless he figures out a way to forgive himself, he’ll lose Marie and his shot at the all-consuming, life altering happiness he didn’t think he was allowed to have.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Or does it?

Coming January 2015

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Gilmore Girls is on Netflix and I’m doing a Ride Along!

Gilmore Girls

*head explodes from the awesome*

No seriously. I screamed with joy when I first heard it was coming. I screamed again on the day it actually was added to the lineup. This is one of my favorite shows ever. It’s smart, amazing, well-rounded and…one of my best friends has never watched it.

No seriously. Julia Kelly has never watched a single minute of the Gilmore Girls. This is surprising because GG is pretty much required watching for any girl, bookworm, or remotely academic-minded person under the age of seventy-five. (And that might be putting to many boundaries on it.)

So Julia is watching the first season. Two episodes a week, as a matter of fact, and reporting back on her thoughts. I’m very interested to watch her journey into the show because she will be coming at it from such a different perspective than I did. I started watching the show toward the end of the first season. That would be 2001. I was in college. Just meeting the man I would one day marry. Just becoming of legal age to drink. Whereas Julia is grownup and busy in her two careers. I wonder if the show will have the same magic for her as it did for me.

The show hit the airwaves at a delicate time in my life and I couldn’t be more thankful. I was suffering from a pretty intense case of PTSD and getting a heavy dose of reality that life in academia wasn’t as glorious and perfect as I dreamed it would be. I was disenchanted with everything–until I sat down and fell in love with Gilmore Girls. It was a perfect escape into the world I wished I lived in. It was comforting to know that there were thousands (?) of us across the country falling in love with the same show. It was fantastically awesome to see a beautiful bookworm with a sweet best friend, adorable boyfriend, living in an enchanting small town, navigating life. It made my own dreams for my life (that were currently in the process of being crushed by a harsh reality) seem less like a fantasy and more like a possibility. I just had to get through the crap and build my own little Star’s Hollow.

But there’s more! Aside from the personal reasons I loved the show, there is the fact that this show was so well done. I mine it constantly for inspiration when writing. If you write character-driven fiction about women, there are few places to go that will fill up your well like Gilmore Girls will.

One of the things I love most about the show was the way it played stereotypes. In the very first episode it proudly presents us with one stereotype after another. Characters that are almost as much caricature as they are anything else. But you can tell, even in those tentative first episodes, that they are being setup like this for a reason. And if you’ve watched the show, you know that these characters are so much more than their stereotypes.

Over the course of many episodes and seasons, Amy Sherman-Palladino peels back the layers of these stereotypes, exploring where they come from and what drives them. She provides us with backgrounds and stories for each of these characters. They transform from flat representations of people we all know in our lives, into well rounded characters with amazing depth. And we fall deeply in love with each of them.

Take Luke. OMG Luke. I teared up seeing the Willis Hardware store front in the pilot. He’s dark, brooding, and adorable. And over the course of the series we get a lesson in how complicated and compelling these quiet guys can be. I love referencing back to him when I’m developing a hero.

The Kims. I love, love, love Lane and her mother. I love even more that they are such important characters in the series. I love how they play Mrs. Kim off of Lorelei as two fiercely involved and loving mothers with completely different parenting styles, but the same goal. LOVE.

The grandparents. Ok, I love Emily and Richard. They set us up to kind of hate them in the pilot, but I think you can tell pretty quickly there is a huge story there. And there is. I love how their story is slowly told over the course of the series. I have a soft spot for them because they remind me so much of my own grandparents. Mine didn’t live in a mansion, but my grandfather had his quiet manner about him, he would have totally slipped me the newspaper while everyone else was babbling. They even look a lot like my grandparents. So, yeah. I love them, I always feel like I’m a short trip back into my own childhood during the scenes with them.

Sookie…the artist. The bumbling, clutzy, heart of gold, artist. She and Lorelei play off each other because they are both a little scattered. I miss Sookie, she was always one of my favorite characters, but I’m very happy she’s having great success in her post-Gilmore career! Gah, Sookie!

And there are the townspeople. Miss Patti, Michel, Kirk, the cast will grow and change, but they all remain the same: stereotypes that are so much more. They all add depth to the story of these two lovely ladies at the center of the show.

Which brings me to Lorelei and Rory. Lorelei starts off being presented as the “teenage mom”. Frustrated by things she couldn’t control, and overcompensating by over-controlling the things she can (like her relationship with her parents). She’s quirky and defensive, a little lost, and yet determined. I loved following the rambling development of her character. I love that she makes so many mistakes and is a mess. She isn’t perfect, but she’s amazing to watch along the way.

And Rory. The quiet, smart bookworm with a quiet ambition. I love her tenacity. She has it so much more together than her mother, but she stumbles in her own ways as she navigates the two worlds she inhabits.

The other thing I love about GG is the way the show is structured to constantly explore two opposing situations. It is really a show about opposites. The juxtaposition of things that are similar but completely different gives each episode a built-in structure to frame the story. Star’s Hollow vs Hartford. Rich vs middle class. Strict vs lenient. Tradition vs non-traditional. Quirky vs normal. The list really does go on and on. Sherman-Palladino really did a great job of presenting a situation and walking us through it in each episode. All while giving us two female leads in a show that is about more than falling in love.

So, as the graphic at the top of this post stated, I’m going to do a ride-along with Julia as she watches the first season. I’m going to do a few posts exploring the characters and topics tackled in the episodes. I have a feeling she is going to bring up some things I’ve never thought of, plus challenge some things I have. I’m sure she’ll bring up lots of topics for me to discuss! Plus, this show really is very near and dear to my heart and a total gold mine for writers. I think this will be a fantastic study for me as a writer. So, watch for future posts and ride along with me if you want! (The Gilmore Girls are on Netflix!)

One Week in Wyoming is out now!

One Week In Wyoming Available September 9, 2014

It’s release day for One Week in Wyoming! Four interconnected love stories in one steamy book!

Four couples, seven hot winter nights…
When best-selling romance author Joan Halliday invites four single female writers to stay at her family’s luxurious Wyoming lodge, she’s counting on a quiet week of bonding on the slopes and in the spa.

Bruce Halliday was looking forward to a relaxing reunion with his college buddies in the wilds of Wyoming…but when his wife’s group meets Bruce’s unattached friends, the sparks start to fly.

Four stories by Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton heat up the page in one sexy anthology.

The eBook is available everywhere now, and the paperback will be available in about a week!

Buy Links:

iBooks: One Week in Wyoming – Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly & Alexandra Haughton

Amazon: One Week in Wyoming (One Week in Love)

Nook ♥ Kobo ♥ Goodreads

Read an early review here!

Undressing Cara by Alexis Anne

Eli Pierce is Seattle’s most eligible bachelor. He’s sexy, rich, arrogant…and completely wrong for Cara Sinclair—not that it stopped her from using him as the inspiration for her latest best-selling novel. In fiction, she stripped away everything she didn’t like about Eli, and replaced it with the makings of a true romantic hero.

There’s only one problem: Cara has no idea she’s about to spend a week with the real Eli Pierce at her friend’s Wyoming lodge—and in a unexpected twist, Eli’s had a crush on Cara all this time. What happens when Cara learns that Eli is a lot more like her fictional hero than the man in the tabloids? Can a week in the snow turn two long-distance crushes into true love? There’s One Week in Wyoming to find out!

Off-Piste by Audra North
Leah Christos is about to give up on her dream of becoming a writer because she’s afraid of taking chances. Quitting her job to write full time is simply too risky. Jasper Brandt is looking for excitement to liven up his dull life. He’s the last person that safe-loving Leah should be hooking up with. But when they get together at their friends’ Wyoming lodge, they might end up taking the greatest chance of all…

Seduction in the Snow by Julia Kelly
Lydia Reed’s had her heart stomped on one too many times, so when the gorgeous, glasses-wearing Evan Sullivan winds up at the same Wyoming lodge as her she sees the chance for the a short, hot fling with a definite end date. There’s only one problem: Evan. He might have agreed to their just-for-fun romance, but just a few days with her and he wants more. Now he must convince the headstrong writer that falling for him is worth the risk.

Love is Here to Stay by Alexandra Haughton
Romance writer Callie Emerson can’t resist a good story or a good secret, so when she finds herself more interested in unlocking a surly rancher’s secrets than in making her deadline, she knows she’s in big trouble. Win Carter is too busy resuscitating his family’s legacy to invest time in a relationship, especially one with his sister’s spoiled society friend. And though she has her head in the clouds while his feet are rooted firmly in the ground, maybe one week in Wyoming is all it will take to start writing their own happily ever after.


 

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My Shelf Monday: the awesome has exploded (and it’s all over everything…)

Undressing Cara Pull Number Billion

Woot! It’s another beautiful Monday in Booklandia! I finished reading Before Jamaica Lane, One Week in Wyoming is out tomorrow, and First Draught had a fantastic chat last week (see the video below!). So basically this post is chock-full of awesome. It’s getting all over everything, seeping into the nooks and crannies. Strap into your safety harness and keep reading!

Boom. Let’s get the My Shelf Monday out of the way first. Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young was fan-freaking-tastic. It’s written in the same style as all the Dublin Street books: female 1st person POV. It’s told in that same easy “we’re just BFF’s talking about life” style I love so much. And the characters were both grappling with a few things I find quite real in my own life. Plus, the hero was named Nate, so reading about all that great sex was extra fun for me (hehehehe!). Nate is awesome. He’s a genuinely broken-hearted bad boy (how can you not love that??) who is hopelessly and secretly in love with Olivia (because he simply can’t ever love again). He is very honest and a very good man underneath all the sex. Olivia is like a lot of us, she’s let some life and doubts overwhelm her to the point that she’s forgotten how awesome she is. Together they find a way to live life to the fullest again. I thoroughly enjoyed their story and have a fairly severe book hangover. I’m nursing with coffee and writing about Travis and Kristin in Stripped #1.

Which bring me to One Week in Wyoming!!! It’s is almost here (finally!) You guys know by now I have zero patience. I can’t sit on a story to save my life. So going through the paces of an extended release like this (gosh I want to make dirty jokes left and right…) is pretty much driving me crazy! But the waiting is over. Tuesday morning the book will be out in the world! Over on the One Week in Love website we’re blogging about how the book came to be. You can hop on over and entertain yourself there! You can also pre-order the book right now at iBooks so you don’t miss the release!
Pre-order link: One Week in Wyoming – Alexis Anne, Audra North, Julia Kelly & Alexandra Haughton

Julia Kelly also has a couple of excerpts from her story “Seduction in the Snow” over on her website. You can check out an excerpt from me below the First Draught video.

Which brings me to First Draught! We had a great chat last week. It was all about research and the stuff we need to do to get setting, people, careers, clothes, dialogue, and sex correct in our books. You can check out the show here (Wow..I’m making a rather interesting face in the freeze frame…):

And here is an excerpt from “Undressing Cara” in the One Week in Wyoming anthology: 

“Eli, this is amazing,” she breathed, placing her hand on his arm to balance while she looked out at the scene below them.

He was grinning like a fool. “I knew you’d love it. I can’t wait to read about it in one of your books.”

“You really read my books?” she asked. It seemed so illogical that this insanely busy man had time to read.

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, I really read them. I like all your books, but Midnight was special.”

“Special how?”

He shrugged, and his cheeks flushed. “Um, I guess because it felt real. That book, more than anything else you wrote—more than anything else I’ve read in a long, long time—felt real. I know a lot of people probably say this, but I felt like you wrote that book for me. Like I was Will and maybe that meant there was an Amy out there somewhere for me.”

“You want an Amy in your life?” Three days ago she would have laughed, but now, after having a chance to get to know him, she realized how wrong she’d been.

Eli grinned. “Amy is probably the exact woman I’ve been looking for my entire life.” He shook his head and chuckled. “I finally found the perfect woman, and she’s fictional. This probably explains why I’m still single…Joan was just teasing me about that the other day.”

She had put so much of herself into Amy. It was the most personal character she’d ever written. She thought that raw reality was a lot of the reason the book was performing better than her other novels, but maybe that was also what brought her to Eli. “Why is Amy the perfect woman?”

He turned toward her, and she felt the air around her shift. Hell, she felt the whole world move, like the entire Earth had just shifted on its axis. “She’s smart and funny, loves adventure and travel, and was willing to risk everything to make it work with Will.”

“You want a woman who will give up everything for you?” That wasn’t who Amy was, and it sure as hell wasn’t who Cara was.

“No,” he said firmly. “Absolutely not. But I do want a woman who is willing to fight for the man she loves as fiercely as he is willing to fight for her. I admire what they both sacrificed in the end. Neither of them gave up everything, but they both did what they had to in order to make their relationship work. It was so real. When the book ended, I was sad. I just wanted to stay with Amy and Will in their world for a little while longer.”

So did she. “I can write you a sequel.”

He gazed down at her. His breath was warm as it danced across the exposed skin on her face. The world was spinning, and her knees felt like they might give out at any minute.

“No,” he finally replied. “Don’t ruin the ending—it was perfect.”

“I’ll see if I can find you a real Amy, then?”

He shook his head again. “I just want you,” he breathed.

Oh. “Why me? Why are you so sure?” This was all so insane. They barely knew each other.

A smile pulled at the corner of his lips as his eyes searched her face. “You’re different. I knew it from the very first picture Joan showed me.” Then he reached up, cupping her face with his gloved hands, and pulled her lips to his.

At first she was too shocked to do anything but absorb the rush of sensations. Eli’s lips were so soft against hers, and his body was firm.

But then she kissed him back, and the whole universe seemed to explode. Everything else faded into darkness, and the only thing that existed was Eli and the way he made her feel.

She pulled back and realized he was panting. “Are you okay?”

He swallowed and kissed her again, harder this time. “I’m better than I’ve ever been. You can kiss me any time you want.”

Wonderful Wednesday: What to Expect at RWA!

My RITA dress!

My RITA dress!

First Draught met last night for our video chat series to talk about all things RWA. It was a really good chat full of lots of laughs and great information. Unfortunately lightning struck about two minutes into the chat and knocked me offline for about twelve minutes, but I returned! Via the power of 3G on an iPhone! So if you are a first timer wondering what to expect, or a veteran looking to get ready, take a look at our chat!

And if you’ve ever wondered about Mr. Anne, he helped us out with some tech support before the chat. He’s a funny guy!

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