Into the Fire: Chapter 2

It’s almost launch day! Here’s a final inside look at select chapters of my newest novel: Into the Fire.

Follow the journey of self-made millionaire Rob Ashford and the elusive Veronica Clayton as they dive headfirst into the flames. Like its name, this Romance is packed with heat and plenty of heart. Read on for a sneak peek of Chapter 2.

Chapter 2

Rob – Greedy Bastard

She’s even more beautiful in person. Of course I researched all of Spark’s staff before agreeing to take a meeting. Her photo doesn’t do her justice. She captivated me right away with her accomplishments alone. And the fact that she’s giving to those less fortunate tells me she’s compassionate. The persona on paper was at odds with the woman I met today. I wasn’t expecting Veronica to be so aloof. She was by all means professional and treated me like the potential investor I am. But it seemed that she put up a front. I want to break through all the bullshit and see what she’s really like. It’s unlike me to have those expectations, especially because I can’t promise the same in return. But I’m a greedy bastard, so it’s par for the course.

At ten o’clock the ding of the elevator door signals her arrival. I don’t have a full office staff here like I do in New York. It hasn’t been warrantedꟷuntil now. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot more time in Chicago. The doors open and our eyes meet across the expanse of the lobby. Her hair is once again pulled back in a loose bun framing her delicate face. She’s dressed on the conservative side in a blouse tucked into a pencil skirt. At least I’ll have a nice view on the way out. She is understated compared to many of the women I know. There’s a quiet beauty about her.

I minimize the photo on my screen as she approaches. It’s one I found of her and her father from a political fundraising gala. Her long, dark brown hair is loose, spilling past her shoulders and ending just below her breasts. It’s glossy and thick, the kind of hair I imagine most women would envy. She’s wearing a tasteful cocktail dress that accentuates the curves of her petite frame. But perhaps what captivated me most were her expressive violet eyes. Elizabeth Taylor eyes. They hold a hint of mirth, as though the photographer was in on a shared joke. I want that version of the woman who now stands in front of me.

“Veronica, thanks for meeting with me.”

“It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Ashford.”

“You can call me Rob. Can I get you anything?” I ask as I walk her to my office.

“I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” she says as she takes in the sparse surroundings.

“This is a temporary space. My home base is New York, so I only use this office from time to time.”

She nods.

“Sit, please,” I say, motioning toward the chair across from my desk.

She places her bag at her feet and crosses one leg over the other. She has great legsꟷlong and shapely. My eyes linger on the expanse of creamy skin. Not that I’m staring, it’s just hard to ignore when she’s sitting two feet away. Her eyes travel to the file on my desk.

“I would love to hear more about your interest in Spark.”

I was not expecting her to try to take control of the meeting. But I’m pleasantly surprised by it.

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Into the Fire: Chapter 1

In celebration of my book launch get an inside look at select chapters—only available here.

Follow the journey of self-made millionaire Rob Ashford and the elusive Veronica Clayton as they dive headfirst into the flames. Like its name, this Romance is packed with heat and plenty of heart. Read on for a sneak peek of Chapter 1.

Chapter 1

Veronica – Pretenses

I have never encountered a problem I couldn’t solve. Even when I was younger, I was able to reassemble a Rubik’s Cube in sixty seconds flat. I thrive on being able to navigate seemingly impossible situations, finding a solution no one thought could work. Like Olivia Pope, I’m a fixer. It’s only natural that I made a career out of it.

After I graduated college I wanted to see the world. Most twenty-somethings visit Italy, Spain, and France. But I’m not like most twenty-somethings. I went to places like Africa and Cambodia, wanting to help those who were less fortunate than me. I was moved by the women I met and the challenges and injustices they faced. I wanted to become an advocate and give them a voice. So I became involved in a number of non-profit organizations, most helping women and children. My father was happy to support my passion. I’m sure it helped that it reflected well on him and his political career. But unfortunately doing good doesn’t always pay the bills, so I entered the corporate world.

I still spend much of my free time dedicated to the causes I care about. And while I have a stimulating and satisfying career, good friends, a supportive family, and my own vintage apartment that I adore, I can’t help but feel as though the girl who has it all isn’t me. That this girl is playing the part of dutiful daughter and good citizen. I don’t deserve this comfortable life at the expense of others who have suffered. Now I’m paying my penance. I thought helping others would help heal me. But I’m the one thing that has proven unfixable. Someone on the outside looking in would never know my secret. I’ve never even told my family the impact my negligence has had on my life. I carry on as if everything is fine. But there’s a restlessness that follows me like a shadow. With time I’ve learned to bury it, but every once in a while it resurfaces, and I worry that my seemingly perfect life will go up in flames.

So I continue to play the part. I’ve become quite good at it. As a senator’s daughter, I’ve perfected the art of small talk, being gracious, polite and poised. I know how to evade a question I don’t want to answer and to never let my emotions reveal my true feelings. I don’t date much. The men I’ve met have proven it’s not worth my time. I’ve had one boyfriend since Kirk and, while he said he loved me, he didn’t. Because I never let him see the real me. I don’t know that he would have loved that girl.

These days work is my respite. There, no one cares who I am or who my father is. I work for a small think tank called Spark. We work with a select group of clients to help them solve the unsolvable. They bring us their business problems and we find solutions. My clients are often amazed at the possibilities we’ve uncovered at the end of just one session. I’ve come to realize it’s all in the way you look at something. I look at things differently than most.

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Into the Fire

It’s that time again—book launch! It’s always exhilarating and terrifying to put your words out into the world. This next title, Into the Fire, is the first of a new series: The Elements.

Fire, Light and Water are three of Earth’s key elements. They are beautiful and powerful forces of nature, each with their own unique properties. Just like love, when they come together, there is no stopping them.

Follow the journey of self-made millionaire Rob Ashford and the elusive Veronica Clayton as they dive headfirst into the flames. Like its name, this Romance is packed with heat and plenty of heart.

In Veronica’s words: “I have been hiding my whole life. Doing what’s expected has become who I am. Until I met Rob Ashford. With just one look into his stormy blue eyes, I knew I was lost. I’ve come to realize he gets what he wants. And what he wants right now is me. As much as I want to succumb to what he’s offering, I’m not sure if I’ll lose myselfꟷor find who I was meant to be.”

In celebration of my upcoming release I’ll be sharing a preview of some chapters—only available here. Read on for a sneak peek.

Prologue

Veronica

I have never feared the dark, but each hour that passes without any light eats away at my soul. It’s as though the blackness is slowly draining my will to survive, and I’m a fighter. At least I used to be. I don’t know how long he has kept me here in captivity, but considering the little food or drink he’s given me, I can’t imagine it has been more than a few days. Although the constant darkness in this windowless room has skewed my sense of time. I take a deep breath to quell the rising panic and a dank, musty smell fills my nostrils―it’s a stench I will never get used to. Once again I attempt to break free from the chains binding my wrists. With all my strength I yank the cold metal, but it’s little use. I’m no match for the hard and unyielding force that is meant to keep me here. My skin is rubbed raw and I know I’ve reopened the wound when a warm trickle of blood trails down my fingers. The metallic smell mixes with the moldy air and I fight back a wave of nausea.

I heave my body back and forth, attempting to find some sort of leverage. Again, it’s no use. Exhausted from the attempts, I cry out in despair, my wail piercing the otherwise silence. I’m no longer worried he will hear me. He hasn’t been here in a while. I don’t know if I should be concerned or grateful. I wonder what he’s waiting for. If he thinks Rob is going to swoop in like some white knight and save me, he is wrong. Rob Ashford is no white knight.

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A New Beginning

still-unwritten

Whenever I finish a manuscript, there is nothing more satisfying than typing the last sentence. While I don’t officially write “The End” on the page, there is a finality to that last period that signifies my journey is done. As a Romance author, my books always have a happily ever after. While the road there is never easy, I love seeing where the characters take me and how they overcome obstacles to wind up where they are meant to be.

Ironically, when I write I typically start with the ending. I have a premise and I know how the story will end–it’s the middle that I need to fill in, and sometimes, the beginning. There’s comfort in knowing how things will turn out. It’s the unknown that is often scary. I entered into the unknown last week. For the past two years, I’ve worked at a startup. It was fast-paced and challenging, but it was an invigorating experience. It’s rare you have the opportunity to help build a company from the ground up. As a marketer, I’m grateful I had the chance to shape brands that touch people’s lives.

About a year ago my company announced a merger–we were being bought out. It was positioned as two complementary companies coming together, but unlike my books, mergers always don’t have happy endings. And with my case, they were looking to scale back the Marketing department to eliminate redundancies. It’s been a long journey and while I anticipated the outcome, it’s still hard when that anticipation becomes reality, especially during these uncertain times.

Less than a week in I’m already on my search for what’s next. I have a new book launching in the next month, I’m trying to help my kids with e-learning, train our new puppy, and find a new job. That’s a lot of new things at once. My plate may be full, but I’m still restless. It’s the unknown. As much as I’m trying to embrace my new beginning, I don’t know how things will turn out and where I’ll land next. For someone who always likes to maintain a sense of control, it’s hard to manage the uncertainty.

So for now I’m taking one day at a time. I’ve always loved the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. We go on countless journeys and often wind up in places we didn’t expect. In some cases we can’t control the ending, but we can control how we deal with the obstacles. We can either let them deter us or figure out a way to move past them. I choose the latter. Starting over is both scary and exhilarating, and it’s a necessary first step. Whenever I write a new chapter it feels as if it’s a clean slate. It’s one small part of the bigger picture. This is but one moment in time, the ending unplanned. It’s still unwritten. I’m moving on to a new chapter in search of my next happily ever after. This time I won’t know the ending beforehand, but I look forward to a new beginning.

Into the Unknown

fear of the known

I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. These past few months have been a roller coaster, to say the least. My heart goes out to every small business, every furloughed worker, and anyone who has been personally affected by COVID. I am so appreciative of all our essential workers who have made sacrifices to keep our communities running. Whenever I think about what’s happening in our world the song “Into the Unknown” always seems to pop in my head. And then I can’t get the tune out, so my apologies because it’s likely stuck in your head now too. At least it’s a good song, IMHO. Anyway, that’s what it feels like to me. We are headed into this vast, new territory without a roadmap. None of us asked to be on this journey, and we don’t have the tools we need, like a compass, for starters. I am so grateful for all those who are working around the clock to find solutions. While there is a lot of dissent and a sea of differing opinions, it is something that unites us. We are working toward the same goal, which everyone wants to reach as quickly as possible.

Until then, I am doing my best to manage our household, keep my family safe, and my sanity intact. Like many others, my company is looking to cut back, so I’m now among the furloughed but am grateful to be doing freelance. Some days are better than others, so I am trying to take things one day at a time. It can be overwhelming thinking about the future and the what if’s, so I find that breaking things down helps me manage each day based on the information available at the time. There will always be uncertainty, but I am trying not to fixate on it and instead focus on the knowns.

For me the facts are often scary, so I like searching out tidbits of good news. And I try to focus on the positives, no matter how small. As we all adjust to this new normal, I’ve been looking for ways that I can give back. I make an effort to support local businesses and donate to food pantries. I’ve come to realize sometimes it’s the small things that help us maintain a sense of normalcy. So I’m participating in the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale, which offers deep discounts on e-books. I’ve always loved reading, in particular because there’s nothing like a good book that can immerse you in a different world and away from the stresses of daily life. Books are one of the small tools we have in our arsenal to offer a brief but much needed escape. That’s why I am offering all of my books at a 60% discount, with the exception of Out in the Open, which is free. In addition to reading, I’ve been doing more writing lately because that’s my personal escape. Whatever yours may be, I hope you can embrace it. As we continue our journey into the unknown, stay safe and be well!

Thankful for the Little Things

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It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us. This time of year is always fun yet frenzied, filled with family, parties, and of course, shopping. My inbox is flooded with sales and deals galore. As much as I love saving, to be honest I find it a bit overwhelming. It was nice coming off the Thanksgiving weekend to reflect on all I’m thankful for, which I guess helps with the transition to the chaos.

Of course I’m thankful for the big things like the love of family, support of friends, and being in good health. This time of year reminds me never to take those things for granted. But sometimes it’s hard not to stress when I think about showing everyone I love my gratitude – and the bill at the end of it. So I’m taking time out to make a list of the little things I’m grateful for. Because sometimes the little things make a big difference. 

My List:

Backup cameras and side view mirror indicators – they give me peace of mind during my commute downtown

Siri – the best around for quick fact finding (or entertaining my children). Alexa is up there too. Tell her “see ya later alligator” then repeat her next phrase. It could be hours of endless fun

Google maps – I’d be lost without it. I have a terrible sense of direction!

Magic Eraser – it really does get the stain out of anything

Trader Joe’s chocolate covered pretzel slims – a tasty indulgence. I have a slight obsession

My Zumba instructor – she allows me to keep on eating them

Auto payments – one less thing to worry about. I would love to automate everything

My Target Redcard – who doesn’t love saving 5% every time you shop?

Swell water bottles – let’s face it, they’re swell at reducing plastic in landfills

Artificial plants – I learned this was the way to go after my orchid and succulent didn’t make it

Mentha lip balm – a tingly and minty fresh moisturizer. Having chapped lips is a pet peeve

Sunny days in winter – they are few and far between in Chi town

Falling asleep to a good book – I’m a writer so it comes with the territory

All of you – for taking the time to read my blog

What’s on your list?    

 

Sneak Peek: Finding Forgiveness (Lost & Found Book 2)

FindingForgiveness_Amazon

If you haven’t heard the news, I have a new book on the horizon: Finding Forgiveness. It’s the long awaited sequel to In Search of Mr. Anonymous. Like the others, you can expect it to be fun and flirty with a healthy dose of romance. This book picks up six months from the fallout of Lucy and Luke’s choices and tackles topics such as love, loyalty, and our capacity for forgiveness. Here’s a summary of the plot:

Two scorned lovers. One chance at redemption.

Melanie Baxter was betrayed by those closest to her. She wants to believe in love, but everything she held true was an illusion. And if she’s learned anything, it’s putting your trust in someone only leads to heartbreak. Then she meets a man determined to break down the walls she carefully constructed. A man who makes her heart race with just one look. Who understands her and fulfills her deepest desires. A man who challenges her and brings out a passion she didn’t know existed. This man manages to seep into the cracks and chip away at her armor. While he may seem perfect for her, he’s the one man she can’t fall for.

James Larson met the woman he thought he was going to marry. Now he’s a man with a broken heart. A health fanatic and avid runner, he pushes himself to the limit. Anything to keep his mind focused on something other than Lucy. He runs to forget her. He runs to escape the pain. Then James meets Nicole and they bond over their similar pasts. James finally has something he wants to run toward. She is the one woman who understands him and what he’s going through. But when her ex walks back into her life, he realizes she’s the one woman who can also break him.

Both betrayed by the ones they loved, Melanie and James embark on an emotional journey to let go of the past. They soon realize that to move forward they need to look back. Because finding love again starts with finding forgiveness.

Enjoy a sneak peek of chapter 1 below!

Chapter 1

James

 

There’s a famous saying that one can forgive but one should never forget. I’ve been thinking about that sentiment, and I decided whoever said it got it wrong. Because in my case, all I want to do is forget. I guess when you’re hurt or betrayed by the ones you love there’s a desire to numb the pain. People use whatever outlets they need to cope―drugs, alcohol, or lashing out at the ones who least deserve it. Pain can cloud your judgement and take on a life of its own, becoming this living, breathing thing you want to shake but don’t know how. And that often leads to unhealthy habits. That’s the one thing I have going for me: I take my aggression out on my body and I’ve never been in better shape. After Lucy, my ex-girlfriend, broke up with me I hit the gym. Night after night I pushed my body to the limit. I welcomed the pain that burned through my veins because at least I could feel something.

I’m an optimist by nature. But she really tested my faith―in others and myself. I’m trying to get back to the man I once was. A situation like this changes you, and I fear that man doesn’t exist anymore. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I wish I could find the opportunity in my situation. I’m still looking.

Over time her face has haunted me less. Of course the memory is always there, but it has become a shadow instead of the sun. Until this afternoon. After work I had a dental appointment. I was in the waiting room sitting next to a woman flipping through a magazine. I never look through magazines at my dentist’s office because they’re all at least six months old. I was playing on my phone when I happened to glance up as she was turning the page. And there, in the engagement section, was a photo of Lucy and Luke. It was like a punch to the gut. Lucy believes in things being fated, but I disagree. Fate is cruel―as in this situation was a really cruel twist of fate. She chose him over me, and here is the proof in print staring me right in the face.

I don’t remember much after that. The doc could’ve given me a root canal for all I know. Somehow I made it home, and now here I am on my porch drowning my sorrows in an ice cold beer. It feels fitting as the bitter flavor goes down my throat, though I wish I had something stronger to warm my insides. But I have work tomorrow and I need to keep my head in the game. I’ve already let my team down once because of her and I vow not to let it happen again. It’s just all the old feelings I had tried to bury resurfaced with a vengeance. The pain and resentment. The disbelief and shock. The fury and fire. I know I need to channel it into something else. If it weren’t for the late hour I’d take it to the batting cages, my other place of salvation.

Just as I close my eyes I get a text notification.

Wes:    The Drifters are playing at Callahan’s on Sat nite. You in?

I don’t respond. My first inclination is to say no because I’m feeling anything but social. But I know Wes will ride me about it at work tomorrow. Jimmy’s a mutual friend and the lead guitarist with The Drifters. It’s a recent gig so I know I should go out and support him. My fingers hover over the keyboard, unsure of what to type. There’s this vortex of warring emotions swirling through my head. Lucy is the eye of the storm, demanding my attention, and everything else fades into the background. With all my thoughts focused on Lucy, it’s hard to think about anything else. Frustrated, I down the rest of my beer and slam the empty bottle on the table. Sampson, who was asleep at my feet, trembles and lets out a whimper. “Sorry boy,” I say, rubbing him behind the ears.

For so long I’ve tried to forget but, just for tonight, I want to remember. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of seeing her face again. Or maybe I’ve had one beer too many. Whatever the reason, I can’t shake the urge. So my hope is if I indulge in remembering and let the memories I’ve fought to keep down come to the surface, it will help me to forget. I scroll through my albums until I find the photo of Lucy and me from my cousin’s wedding. She’s smiling and her pale eyes hold a sparkle I didn’t imagine. She looks happy. We look happy. I study it, looking for clues that maybe I missed before when I was in a state of ignorant bliss. Whatever I’m looking for I don’t find it.

I absently run my fingers over the lettering on the label of my IPA bottle. That’s when it hits me: Lucy’s letter. I head inside and rummage in my desk until I find it. She mailed it to me shortly after we ended things. I don’t remember much of what it said―I wasn’t in the best frame of mind back then. But for whatever reason I held onto it. I haven’t looked at it since, but I’m overcome with a need to reread her words. I grab my favorite fleece hoodie before heading back outside. The sun is making a slow descent, taking the heat with it.

I settle back into my chair and smooth out the paper, which is neatly folded in thirds. Her script is feminine, beautiful, and seemingly perfect. But upon further inspection, I notice she hasn’t connected all of her letters and they aren’t uniform in height. While things may look perfect at a glance, if you dig deeper you often uncover those imperfections people try to hide. My eyes skim the page, taking in the words as though I’m reading them for the first time.

Dear James,

I’m sorry doesn’t begin to describe the depths of my regret. I know I hurt you deeply and I have to live with that. But you didn’t deserve it―any of it. When we met I was in a dark place. I was burned by Luke and it left me feeling cynical and jaded. You managed to see past all that to what lies beneath. You chipped away at my armor until there was nothing left of the wall that I built. A wall to my heart. I let you in, not because you asked, but because I chose to. You earned that place and that spot in my heart will always be filled by you.

When we were together I realized happiness is possible. Piece by piece, you brought me back to life. Until there was only one piece that remained untouchable. I wish I could’ve given it to you. You deserve more. So much more than what I could give.

Every relationship leaves its mark. We go into the next with all the baggage of our prior relationships. I wish we could have started with a clean slate. If we had, things would have been different. That’s what I want for you. To start with a clean slate. Don’t let my baggage weigh you down. You have so much heart to give. I hope I only took a little piece with me.

As for Melanie, I know you think I lied to protect myself. But I lied to protect her. I wanted her to find happiness, even at the expense of my own. I’m not making my actions out to be noble, but I wanted you to know I was trying to do the right thing by her. I know now that it wasn’t. And it wasn’t right by you either. When you said I was more worried about Melanie finding out than hurting you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because I owe you everything. You helped put me back together. You were the best kind of medicine. But I never treated the root of the problem. It’s a journey I need to go through on my own. I’ve realized we can’t rely on others to fix us. We first need to fix ourselves. And I’m trying. I’ve been trying.

I want you to take all the qualities I love about you and embrace them. Keep your heart open. Don’t let how things ended between us guide your path. Because it’s not the one you’re meant for.

Thank you for everything. And for the forgiveness I hope you’ll someday find in your heart for me.

Lucy

She included a poem called Sandcastles. Lucy never showed me any of her poetry while we were together. It’s about two friends who meet at the beach. They want to build the biggest sandcastle ever. They dig and dig until a storm rolls in. One wants to give up, the other doesn’t. A few days later the boy, the optimistic one I might add, makes a new friend. She too wants to build a sandcastle. The boy says it’s too much work. But look, she tells him. We can build one right here. She points to the very spot where the old sandcastle stood. She brushes aside the top layer of sand to reveal the deep trench that lies beneath. You see? There’s already a foundation. The boy picks up his shovel and digs.

So that’s her answer? I’m supposed to start digging. The irony is I have dug myself into quite a hole. I haven’t dated anyone since we ended things and it’s as though I’ve wrapped a protective shell around myself that’s hard to climb out of. It’s easy advice for her to give, what with her being the wrecking ball that came in and destroyed what we built. She didn’t stick around to clean up the pieces.

It’s been six long months. I’m so damn tired of carrying around the resentment. It ebbs and flows, but I vow not to let it pull me under. I vow to come out stronger and find a new path. I take another long pull of my beer. Call it liquid courage, but as I stare at Wes’s text I decide a night out is just what I need. I type “I’m in” then hit send. Satisfied, I decide to call it a night. I grab the empty bottles and switch off my porch light. “Come on, buddy. Let’s go inside.” Sampson follows me, tail wagging. Looks like I’m back in the game. Yes, I will try to move on. Look toward the future. But I can’t start with a clean slate. As much as I want to, I can’t forget. Because when I saw my future, I saw Lucy.

Like what you read? Pre-order your copy from Amazon or your favorite e-retailer before July 11th and save.

Never Enough Time

time

Lately it feels as if my life is running on fast forward. Between working full time for a startup, the kids’ activities, juggling chores with my husband’s travel schedule, and trying to publish a book it’s hard to fit everything into a 24-hour day. Sometimes I get overwhelmed just thinking about the week ahead. While Prime has become my new best friend, there are days when I’d like to be able to run to the store to buy staples like milk and not have it be 9:00 pm. Summer is here and all those outdoor activities are still on my bucket list. I’m not sure where my free time went because even in the evenings, I’m getting caught up with what I couldn’t accomplish during the day. I have a backlog of emails in my inbox and a list of shows on my DVR with many episodes unseen. So don’t tell me what happened on the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. As the old saying goes, “nothing in this world is free,” and I’ve decided that no time is truly “free” anymore.

I’m sure many of you can relate. In today’s hectic world there’s an expectation that we are connected 24/7 and it can be hard to wind down. Even when I power off my phone at night it takes me a good twenty minutes before I can power off my running to do list. I often wonder: how do people do it? How do they balance everything?

I’ve come to the realization that prioritization is the new balance. There are some days when it’s just not possible to do it all.

So I’ve decided to focus on what’s truly important and I will get to the rest when I get to it. While this philosophy may seem simple, it’s been freeing. I think many of us put pressure on ourselves to do it all – and perfectly. I’ve found when I try to do everything I spread myself thin and this often leads to less than optimal results. Instead I’ve been focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

My new outlook is one day at a time. It’s a simple concept but it’s really helped me manage the anxiety I feel about trying to balance everything. Rather than looking too far ahead I’m focusing on small tasks I need to accomplish. It’s much easier to think about tackling a few things in the short-term, and I feel that much better once they’re done and it’s easier to move on to the next. I consider it a small victory when I get through a day where my son had a baseball game at the same time as my daughter’s softball game and I managed to figure it out and get them both where they needed to be. Or when I was able to rearrange carpool while stuck in traffic on the highway because I wouldn’t be home in time for my shift.

I’m taking back my time by doing the things that need to be done. One of those things is writing. I’ve had the edits back on my manuscript for my latest book, Finding Forgiveness, since December. I was hoping to publish my book in late March in time for spring break. It’s now summer and I’m finally ready to launch. It took longer than anticipated, but I wanted to make sure to devote the time to do it right rather than rush and have something ready for an arbitrary timetable. Launch day is July 11th. Eleven is one of my lucky numbers, so I hope people will find it worth the wait. While there will never be enough time, we have to make the most of the time that we do have. In the infamous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What’s On My Bookshelf Tag

Love the shout out from Book Coffee Happy! I’ll take the steamy category 🙂 And be sure to check out what’s on her bookshelf. Winter break is a great time to indulge in some reading.

Book Coffee Happy

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I was tagged by Grace at Delightful Narratives. If you haven’t read her blog, make sure to check it out!  It’s great 🙂

RULES:

  • Link back to me so I can see everyone’s answers! (Book Coffee Happy)
  • Also link back to the person who tagged you!
  • Name one book for each category; try not to repeat books to make this more fun!
  • Tag at least 5 people

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

A LIBRARY BOOK

So I’ve checked this book out of the library THREE SEPARATE TIMES now…and I still haven’t read it.  I keep checking it out but other books always seem to come first for me to read and then I return it!  Does this happen…

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Reviews: The Good, The Bad & The Beauty

ratings

Shortly after I launched In Search of Mr. Anonymous, we took the kids on vacation to Niagara Falls. After the kids went to bed I went on Goodreads to see how my Giveaway was going. It was the first time I tried doing a Kindle promotion, which entailed me providing copies to 100 winners, and in return they were supposed to review my book. It probably wasn’t a good idea to check in while we were on a family getaway. Most people didn’t do a review at all. While it’s not mandatory, I was kind of bummed because it’s a good outlet to gauge reader reception. That’s when I saw it: my first one star review. I still remember the hot flush that crept up my neck and the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This girl, who listed herself as a book reviewer, hated my book.

 

I couldn’t believe it. I know it’s a subjective industry and would never expect everyone to love it as much as I do. But for her to have such a strong negative reaction was hard to take. As much as I tried not to let it bother me, it kind of ruined the rest of the trip. All of the endless hours and blood, sweat and tears I had put into writing the story were dismissed in one foul swoop with the hashtag #donotreadthisauthor. I was devastated. Since then I’ve had a lot of people tell me they loved the book. I was so glad they shared my passion for it, but that reviewer’s words were still stuck in my head. And they made me doubt myself. This book also seemed more polarizing than most. People seemed to either love it or hate it.

 

What’s gotten me through it is that I stand behind my work. I love the characters and the storyline. If I could go back I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think part of the issue lies with my jacket copy because it doesn’t tell the whole story, as it shouldn’t. This book is steamy and sexy like my others, and I would say it has the highest heat factor. But unlike my first two novels, it’s not light and fluffy. And I wouldn’t call it a romance. I categorized it as Women’s Fiction because at its core it’s about one woman’s journey to finding love and herself in the process. I tackle topics such as love and loyalty, and how even the best of intentions can lead to devastating consequences. So the only thing I can think is that readers are expecting one thing based on the jacket copy and are thrown when the storyline takes a different direction.

 

About a month ago I saw a post on Facebook from a blogger who was looking for books to review from local authors. I contacted her and we exchanged a few emails to see if my books matched her interests. Once we established we had a fit, she warned me she posts reviews, positive or negative. I took some time to think over the decision as to whether or not to send it. Reviews are a very powerful tool, but it’s scary to be on the receiving end where you have no control over how it could go. And for someone like me who’s still looking to build a reader base, I worried about the damage it could do if she didn’t like the book.

 

If you’ve read my other posts you’ve probably figured out I’m an optimist. So I decided that you’ve got to be in it to win it, it’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all, winners never quit and quitters never win. You get the idea.

 

As an author, you are opening yourself up to many different perspectives and opinions. Especially when you write fiction, which is subjective by nature. I know this so I decided to embrace it – and I’ve been holding my breath ever since. Her review went live today. I am thrilled that she loved the book and connected with all the things I love about it. She took something that had been a negative experience for me and showed me the beauty of the other side. Sometimes you just need a reaffirmation that your work resonates with people and adds a bit of happiness to their day. Because at the end of the day, that’s what I set out to do 🙂

 

Thanks Book Coffee Happy for the love! Check out her review and be sure to enter the giveaway!

 

Xo,

JB