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Saturday, January 1, 2022

GOALS: 2022

It's once again my favorite time of year -- GOALS!! I absolutely love setting goals for myself and seeing just how much I can accomplish in a year. And after the productive 2020 I had, and the slightly less productive but still great 2021 I had, I'm more excited than ever to see what 2022 has in store. So, let's do this!


KEEP ON WRITING & PUBLISHING!

Surprise surprise that this is on my list. LOL. Specifically, these are the projects I'd like to work on this year:

1. Wars of the Heart Series -- This is Jax's series, and as of right now, it's a planned trilogy. I've written and edited the first book, and I'm halfway through writing the second book. Ideally, I'd like to finish all three and then publish them later this year.

2. Vampire Wars Series -- This is a brand new YA paranormal romance series that I'm launching in exactly three days with the release of The Culling as part of The Magic of Midnight Anthology series. I'd like to write the remainder of this series (I'm unsure how many books that will be right now) and release it. 

3. EON Saga -- This is the YA sci-fi romance series I'm co-writing with Rosie Somers. In a perfect world, we'd finish the series and begin publishing it this year. But a lot of that depends on her schedule, too, so I'd be happy with simply getting the second book written.

4. Relaunch Warped Remains -- Originally, I'd co-written and released this book in 2020, but due to unforeseen circumstances, my co-author and I have decided to part ways. (I promise there's a more detailed post about this coming soon!) So, now that I have all rights to this book, I'm going to re-edit it, update the cover, and re-release in March. 

5. Branch into Middle Grade -- I've done a lot of self-reflection this year, and one thing that's become apparent to me is that I'm not well-suited for the traditional adult market. God bless my agent for trying, repeatedly, to sell adult books for me, but it's just not working the way I had hoped. YA, however, seems to be doing well for me. The books I've self-published are doing well in terms of sales and the reader response has been wholly positive. Sadly, my agent doesn't represent YA, but she does represent MG, which is the next logical step for me as it's often closely tied to YA. Therefore, I'm going to write an MG proposal for my agent to shop around. I already have some ideas, and I'm crazy excited about them!

6. Self-Publish Adult Romances -- While I have no luck in the traditional market with adult romances, I know I can find success in self-publishing them. I have two series I'd like to get out this year: a small town cowboy romance and a billionaire series. I'm leaning toward creating and launching a new pen name for my adult books, but the thought of all that extra work is a tad overwhelming. But, stay tuned for an eventual announcement one way or another.


READ!

I'd like to aim for 1 book per month again, not including any submissions I have to read for Anaiah. I'll be reading a lot of MG for research purposes, and I'd like to dive into more adult romances. Though I still have a massive YA TBR, so maybe I can knock that down a little bit. 


PERSPECTIVE: PUBLISHING ISN'T THE END ALL BE ALL

For those of you who've been following along on Facebook, y'all know that I've spent the last 4 nights in the hospital with my daughter. She's been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, which was a shock to say the least. This will obviously require some lifestyle changes for her and me, and a little bit of adjustment all around. While this ordeal sucks and has been terrifying as a parent, it's also taught me a much needed lesson -- Publishing isn't the end all be all. I'm a workaholic, and when I have deadlines or projects and I can't work on them / meet them, I stress about it. I feel like I'm letting people down, and I hate that feeling! But y'know what? Publishing won't come to a stand still simply because I need to tend to my family or I need a day off for my own health reasons. My WIPs won't cease to exist because I don't write any words on a given day. So, moving forward through 2022, I'm going to focus on keeping this perspective at the forefront of my mind. 


What will you do in 2022?

Friday, December 31, 2021

Looking Back on 2021...

It's been another "Year" hasn't it? As a country, we're still fighting a pandemic, dealing with so much hate and division in the world, and publishing... well, publishing is still publishing: slow, heartbreaking, and impossibly difficult. On top of all this, I had a lot of personal struggles this year, mostly with my health, but also with saying goodbye to my daughter who moved out of state, mourning the loss of my beloved cat, Snowball, and recently, learning one of my close friends will be moving, too. Despite all of this, I keep pushing forward in an effort to meet my goals for the year. So, let's take a look back on the year to see what I accomplished, what I didn't, and what big changes I faced in 2021.

My original 2021 goals included: 


(1) SMALL TOWN COWBOY ROMANCE BOOK / SERIES

I did manage to get the first few chapters written, along with a full synopsis, but I didn't get the whole story written as I would have liked. My agent did send out my partial and proposal, but I'm sad to say the book / series didn't sell. I opted to set it aside (for now) in favor of other projects.


(2) CURSED SERIES SPIN-OFF BOOK

I did write and publish one spin-off book, EVERLASTING HOPE, that picks up right after the end of book 7, Eternal Life. I also began writing another spin-off series called WARS OF THE HEART that will finally give Jax his much deserved happily-ever-after.


(3) ADULT ROMANTIC SUSPENSE BOOK

Hahaha. NOPE! Other than a short story for an anthology, and the aforementioned cowboy book, I didn't really write much adult anything this year. For now, my heart is in YA, so that's probably where I'll stay for the time being.


(4) MORE YA BOOKS

As I've already mentioned, I did write a Cursed Series spin-off book and started a new, related series. Additionally, I co-wrote a YA sci-fi romance called EDGE OF NOWHERE with Rosie Somers. We're currently in the editing stage for that book while plotting out book 2. I wrote THE CULLING as well, which releases January 4, 2022 as part of The Magic of Midnight Anthology.


(5) READ TILL MY EYES BLEED

Sadly, I didn't read nearly as much as I would have liked, but what I have read this year was really great!


(6) GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

I'm proud to say I did do this! I had my first ever YouTube interview with the lovely Shraddha Nanda, which you can watch HERE if you'd like. I also attended a local craft / vendor fair where I sold my books. 


While I did fairly well with my goals this past year, so much more has happened that I never expected or planned for, so here's the quick rundown: 


Professionally: 

  • I wrote a total of 361,123 words. That's 319,104 words LESS than last year, but considering all the sick days I had this year, I'll take this a win.
  • I blogged a total of 8,951 words.
  • I released 3 books: Eternal Life, Everlasting Hope, and One Night Vamp (as part of the Lovers Beyond Midnight Anthology)
  • I wrote book 1 of Jax's series, and I'm currently halfway through book 2.
  • I wrote Cursed, which is Eternal Curse as told from Trent's point-of-view. I released it one chapter at a time, weekly, via my newsletter.
  • I sold licensing rights to my series to Readict and eGlobal Creative, so my books continue to reach new readers.
  • I released Eternal Curse and Eternal Choice in audiobook format. Shoutout to my amazing narrator, Andy Garcia-Ruse!
  • I hired an amazing PA -- Hi, Kris!! Having an assistant like this was something that had always been on my bucket list of things I'd love to do/have as an author.
  • I've booked TWO signing events for next year. Check out my full schedule of appearances HERE.
  • For Anaiah, I edited 12 full length novels and 1 novella. 
  • I freelance edited 8 manuscripts.
  • I removed ALL of my books from Kindle Unlimited and have distributed them wide.


Personally:

  • I GOT A PUPPY! His name is Crowley, and he's absolutely adorable. I love him so much. 
  • I made a new friend--my neighbor--who is, sadly, moving to Arizona next month, but having her around to hang out with has been fun. She's also the one who let me have Crowley, so for that, I'll be forever grateful.
  • I survived a still-ongoing global pandemic without getting sick. Well, not any sicker than usual, anyway. Though, I did struggle quite a bit this year with my fibro and fatigue. In fact, I've had a total of 37 sick days where I couldn't manage to get out of bed, let alone work. 
  • I gained back close to 10 pounds, which I know isn't a lot, but I've learned to not let this get me down, and I've reaffirmed my commitment to get back in shape.
  • Both my son and daughter graduated from high school. I'm so incredibly proud of both of them.
  • My daughter from NY was able to come to MI for the graduation ceremony and party. Spending time with her is always wonderful.
  • I made a trip to NY to visit family. 
  • My eldest daughter moved out of my house and in with her boyfriend in Missouri. 
  • I made a trip to Missouri to visit my eldest daughter and surprise her with the delivery of her chosen puppy, Raven.
  • I remodeled my office!
  • I booked a Jamaican cruise for July 2022 that I'll be taking with my BFF, Emily, and all 4 of my girls. I'm crazy excited for this and am praying hard that it all works out. (Stupid Covid!)
  • I got vaccinated for Covid, and surprisingly, I only had mild side effects.
  • My daughter got her dream job working at a puppy daycare.

I even managed to read some this year: 

  • His Kind of Cowgirl by Karen Rock
  • In Bed with the Rancher by Sara Orwig
  • The Rancher by Joanne Rock
  • Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom
  • The Cowboy's Forbidden Crush by Deborah Garland
  • Covet by Tracy Wolff
  • Hush, Hush, Crescendo, Silence, and Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
  • Freak Frat by Nicki Greenwood
  • Crimson Born, Crimson Storm, Crimson Bond, and Crimson Crown by Amy Patrick
  • Awakening by Leigh Walker
  • Captured by Erica Stevens
  • Wide for the Win by Mark Leslie Lefebvre


Overall, it's been a decent year for me, and I'm excited to see what I can accomplish in 2022. Stay tuned for my official goals post :-) In the meantime, tell me in the comments what YOU did this year! 


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Writing, Reading, Struggling, and Other Updates

With 2021 almost over, I'll be writing my annual "Looking Back" post, and in preparation for that, I've done some self-reflection. Mostly about my writing, but also about my health and my overall lifestyle habits. So, I thought I'd give some updates because I've been struggling to finish some highly anticipated books. *cough*Jax'sBook*cough*

via GIPHY

This basically sums up how I've been feeling lately. Oh, and this one:

   

via GIPHY

 
Anyone who follows me knows I have Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. For all of 2020, I had it under control. I was working out daily. Eating right. I felt INCREDIBLE! As a result, I was writing like a mad woman, publishing an entire series, blogging regularly, taking care of my house and family. Despite the pandemic, I felt like I was on top of the world. 

And then I crashed and burned. Hard and fast. 

Suddenly, I was tired all the time. I'd wake up in the morning tired, and I'd fall asleep sitting on the couch. I couldn't focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. I had no desire to write. No ambition to edit. I couldn't even read for enjoyment. So, I dragged my butt back to my doctor. We switched my medication, readjusted my diet, and slowly, I started to feel a little more like myself. 

Only, I still couldn't find the desire to write or edit. Now, I realize part of this might be because I had written so much in 2020 and maybe I'm just experiencing a bit of burn out, but quite simply, that's not good enough for me. I refuse to let any of this keep me down. All this means only one thing--I need to change my habits. Again. 

Before I go any further, let me explain how things went in 2020:

I'd get up. Write for an hour or so. Work out. Shower. Get dressed, complete with makeup and jewelry. Eat breakfast. Write a bit more. Then edit, answer emails, blog, do promo work, etc. Every day, consistently, without much deviation. I was in my office, at my desktop, working a rather regular set of hours each day. 

Fast forward to now... 

I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning, and I'm constantly going back to sleep once my daughter is off to school. I don't work out anymore. I'm barely writing. Y'know, all that stuff I've already said above. 

With the assistance of my doctor, I found a new natural dietary supplement that's been helping tremendously with the fatigue. My new medication is keeping the constant pain at bay. Two big hurdles have been cleared. Now it's time to hold myself accountable in other ways.

Throughout all of this, I'd stopped working out regularly. Why? Because when I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open, and my body hurts to even sit up, exercising is out of the question. Of course, not working out leads to even more pain and overall blah-ness. It's a horrible, never-ending cycle. This leads to me having no real ambition for anything--like writing. 

I'd also stopped dressing like I was working out of the home. I'd throw on clothes and yank my hair into a ponytail. I no longer write first thing in the morning. And I stopped working at my desk in favor of sitting on the couch with my laptop (because at the time, it was much more comfortable), but this led to me being too comfortable and therefore wanting to sleep. Or binge watch TV shows. 

But with a new year fast approaching, I'm more determined than ever to get back on track. Starting today, I'm working out in the morning again. I won't allow myself to go back to bed. I'll dress for success, and I'll sit at my desk like I used to! I don't know if I'll actually write any new words, but you can bet I'm going to try, and I'll finish out this year strong :) 

For those of you who have been (not so) patiently waiting for my next book, I promise it's coming. It's just taking me a longer than usual. 

My newest book, THE CULLING, is releasing January 4, 2022 as part of the MAGIC AT MIDNIGHT anthology, so be on the lookout for that. I'm re-launching my book WARPED REMAINS in March (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about that). Right now, Jax's first book, BOUND, is set to release in April, with book 2 to follow in May, and book 3 in June. I'll be taking July and August off from publishing to go on a cruise and spend time with my family. But then I'll be back in September with another new book, though I'm not sure what yet. 

As always, thanks for sticking with me, and I wish all of you a very happy holiday season and a safe, fun, prosperous New Year 💖






Tuesday, June 1, 2021

{RELEASE DAY}: Everlasting Hope

 Today's the day! Everlasting Hope is now available :-)

Writing this book has been quite the journey, and not because it was necessarily difficult to write, but because this story was never supposed to exist. When I finished Eternal Life, my plan was to dive right into Jax's story so that he, too, could find his happily-ever-after. There was just one problem--I had no story for him. No suitable love interest that could handle him. No obstacles or plot. I was truly stuck. So I did what I do best and I procrastinated. 

Slowly, ideas began to tumble around in my head, and I moved away from Jax's story and instead focused on Abby. After the devastating lost she'd suffered, I couldn't help but wonder how she was doing. Was she healing and moving on? What she still lost in grief? But most of all--what did Isach's letter to her say?? 

Then, the ideas came harder and faster, and I knew I needed to tell Abby's story before Jax's, though he plays a large role in this book. Originally, I'd considered letting Jax and Abby get together, but absolutely nothing about that felt right, so don't worry: they don't end up as a couple. I promise ;-) But you'll have to read the book to find out what does happen. And you can start with Chapter One for FREE!

Read Chapter One

Add to Goodreads

BUY NOW! 



When all magical hell broke loose and the vampires fought the witches, the very human Abby Benson was the one who had to pay the ultimate price. Devastated by an unexpected loss, she spirals into grief—until she realizes she has the one thing no one can take from her: hope.

Determined not to give up, and with the help of an unlikely ally, she sets out to reclaim what was taken from her. But to get what she wants, she and her family will once again have to wage war with the witches. This time, though, the stakes are higher, and there won’t be another second chance. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

{TEASER TUESDAY}: A Desperate Kiss

Only 1 week left until you can get your hot little hands on Everlasting Hope! So, just for you today, I'm sharing a scene that was quite unexpected, not just for the characters involved, but for me as well. I had toyed with the idea of letting his happen, but as I was writing, it just didn't feel natural. Then BAM! 

Read on and enjoy :-) 




FULL EXCERPT: 

I had no idea what possessed me to kiss Jax. Maybe loneliness. Maybe the lack of physical contact I’d had recently. Or maybe I did it because I was so certain that he’d push me away, tell me we couldn’t do this. I never in a million years expected him to kiss me back, but that’s exactly what he did.

He tangled his hand in my hair at the base of my neck, holding me in place as his other hand trailed down my arm and side until his fingers curled around the curve of my waist. I shivered at his touch, but I didn’t pull away. Neither did he.

His tongue flickered across my bottom lip, and I didn’t hesitate to part my lips and welcome his kiss. With a groan, he backed me up until I was pressed firmly against the car, and then he kissed me hard and deep. I snaked my arms around to the back of his neck and locked my fingers. I whimpered, and he kissed me even harder until I was certain I’d pass out from a lack of oxygen.

Then, he released me, and my body sagged. If not for the car at my back, I would’ve crumpled to the ground. Jax’s chest heaved with his hard breaths, and I focused on that rather than risking a look at his face. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see whatever emotion would be reflected in his eyes.

The only sound louder than the creatures in the bayou was my pounding heart. Why had I kissed him? Why had he kissed me back? What did any of this mean? I swallowed the lump in my throat and licked suddenly dry lips. Slowly, I released my hold on the back of his neck and let my trembling hands trail down his arms.

“Are we done here?” he asked, his voice raspy.

Pre-Order Now!

Haven't started the series yet? No problem! 

You can get Eternal Curse: The Cursed Series, Book 1 for FREE!


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

{TEASER TUESDAY}: Time to Move On?

 Only two weeks until Everlasting Hope releases into the wild! Who else is excited?? 

As I mentioned in last week's #TeaserTuesday post, this is Abby's story, and there's a lot happening with all of the characters that you've grown to love. But poor Abby is really struggling, and she's drowning in grief. Chloe tries so hard to help her, but Abby's a bit... resentful of her cousin. So, of course, Jax jumps in and offers his unique brand of help. Read on ;-) 




FULL EXCERPT:

“Want to tell me what’s going on around here?” Arms crossed, I slouched back and stared at the TV.

“What do you mean?” Jax’s gaze never wavered from the game.

“Don’t play stupid. You suck at it.”

He glanced over at me, the corner of his mouth lifting in an almost smile, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. Whoa. The breath rushed from my lungs at the sight of him looking at me like that. Anyone with half a brain would agree Jax was sexy, but when he gave that look? I had to refrain from fanning my face with my hand. Chloe told me once that this very look Jax was currently giving me was his I’m-going-to-say-something-to-piss-you-off look, but it had never failed to make Chloe’s heart race. I could totally understand why.

“Seriously, Jax. What’s going on?”

“We’re all wondering the same thing.” He returned his attention to the TV.

“What?” I asked, confused. “Please just stop with all this... whatever this is. It’s not cute or funny.” I huffed and glanced up at the ceiling to collect my thoughts. “Chloe once told me that you were the only person who wouldn’t sugar coat things, that you always told her how it was, even if she didn’t want to hear it. Can you please do the same for me right now?”

Jax paused the game, tossed his controller onto the table next to Wyatt’s, then twisted to look at me. “Chloe talked to you about me?”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re pathetic, you know that?”

He laughed, and despite my mood, I laughed, too. Jax leaned back so we were shoulder to shoulder, and the physical contact set off a chain reaction of conflicting emotions. The touch was both comforting and disconcerting. On one hand, I missed the intimacy of having someone—a guy—close to me like this. On the other hand, I couldn’t shake the guilt and awkwardness. For so long, Isach had been the only man to touch me, and this was Jax, the guy who was still very much in love with my cousin.

“We’re just worried about you. That’s all,” he said.

I shifted to put some space between us but didn’t say anything.

“We know you’re not handling things very well, but we have no idea how bad it really is because you refuse to talk to anyone about it,” he continued.

My chest constricted at his words. Chloe hadn’t been lying when she said Jax would lay it all out with blunt honesty. I was no longer so sure I wanted to know what was going on.

“I tried to talk to you this morning, and you barely said anything. Chloe’s tried every day since Isach’s death, and you’ve shut her out. Even Trent tried to offer some help.” Jax shook his head. “We’re at a loss how to help you, Abby.”

I swallowed around the lump in my throat. “You mean you haven’t asked Whitney or Wyatt to read my thoughts?”

“They offered, and Chloe threatened them with severe bodily injury if they invaded your privacy like that.” His lips twitched with a smile. “She even made me fear for my life, and I wasn’t the one doing anything wrong.”

“For once,” I muttered, which earned me another deep laugh from Jax. “I really do appreciate everyone’s concern. I do. But I need to deal with this in my own way. When Rachel died, I locked myself in my room and didn’t come out for days. Same thing when Marc died. But eventually, I came around. I will this time, too, but it’s going to take a little longer.”

Jax nodded. “What helped after Marc and Rachel died? What made you want to start living again?”

“Isach,” I whispered and closed my eyes. “He made it so easy to forget all the pain. Of course, back then, he’d been using me. Probably used his magic, but at least it had helped.”

“So, is that what you need this time, too? A guy to pay attention to you, help you forget?”

I gave Jax a dirty look. He wasn’t serious, was he? Replacing Isach wasn’t going to suddenly make everything better.

“Why? You offering to be that guy?” I asked.


Pre-Order Now!


Haven't started the series yet? No problem! 

You can get Eternal Curse: The Cursed Series, Book 1 for FREE!


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

{TEASER TUESDAY}: A Story of Hope

Everlasting Hope is set to release in exactly 3 weeks, and I couldn't be more excited for this book. I mean, I'm excited for every book I write and release, but this one is like the cherry on top of a sundae.

This book is Abby's story and how she's dealing after the events in Eternal Life. (Hint: she's not coping well.) At the core, this is a story about hope and not giving up, which is fitting for a lot of people, I think. Especially authors who are constantly told not to give up, to keep going and trying and persisting. It was fun to explore these same concepts in a different context. 

Abby's book really is the culmination of so many things. We get to see a lot more of Jax (YAY!) We meet some new and highly interesting characters (more YAY!) We reunite with some prior characters, and I think the reasons why will be surprising.  We learn that not all alliances are created equal, and you can't always trust those closest to you. 

Needless to say, there's a LOT going on in this book. So, who wants a teaser??




FULL EXCERPT:

“What’re you cooking?” I asked.

“Bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast.” He moved gracefully from the stove to the toaster. Even though he wasn’t exerting himself, his muscles still strained beneath his blue T-shirt.

No wonder Chloe had been torn between him and Trent. They were both gorgeous in their own ways, and they were good guys, too. Kind, compassionate, funny, loyal. They’d both move heaven and earth for those they loved. They were like Isach in that respect. God, I missed him so much.

Jax set a plate of food in front of me, and I inhaled deeply. My stomach rumbled. He planted his hands on the counter and shifted his weight forward as he studied me.

“What?” I asked.

“You’re not as gray as you were last night.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He shrugged, straightened, then crossed his arms over his chest. “You tell me.”

I rolled my eyes. I’d forgotten he could see a person’s aura and determine their emotions. Talk about annoying. Between him being able to do that and Whitney and Wyatt being able to read thoughts, I was walking on proverbial eggshells. Maybe moving in here wasn’t such a great idea.

I grabbed my fork and scooped eggs into my mouth. Swallowing, I said, “Everyone keeps telling me things will get easier with time. Maybe that’s finally happening.”

“Hmm.” Jax turned away from me, fixed himself a plate, then returned to sit beside me.

Head down, I focused on my food so I wouldn’t have to say anything, or risk him figuring out what I was trying to keep hidden.

“I don’t believe that, by the way,” he said.

“Believe what?” I glanced over at him, and he met my gaze. His eyes were full of compassion.

“That loss and grief gets easier with time. It doesn’t. We just get better at handling the pain.” He averted his gaze and shoved a slice of bacon into his mouth.

Momentarily stunned, all I could do was stare at him. What did he know about loss? I opened my mouth to ask him, then snapped it shut. Chloe had told me all about Hannah, how Jax had loved her and how tragically he’d lost her. He’d also lost Isach, too, though I wasn’t sure those two were quite as close as Isach and Trent had been.

“Morning.” Chloe walked into the kitchen. Her gaze landed on me and Jax, and her steps faltered. “What’s going on here?”

The corner of Jax’s mouth lifted in an arrogant smirk. “Someone’s jealous.”

Chloe narrowed her eyes. “I’m not jealous.”

“The aura doesn’t lie,” he said in a sing-song voice.

Chloe huffed and shook her head, but I didn’t miss the almost smile she fought to hide. Only then did it hit me that Jax, in his own bizarre way, was mourning the loss of Chloe. He loved her, and she hadn’t chosen him. He’d lost the woman he loved. My heart softened toward him and what he was going through. I wondered what was worse—knowing the person you loved was dead and you’d never see them again, or seeing the person you loved every single day as they went about their life in love with someone else. 

Pre-Order Now!


Haven't started the series yet?  No problem! 

You can now get Eternal Curse: The Cursed Series, Book 1 for FREE!