kINKED Gets a New Cover!

kINKED

I will always have a soft spot in my heart (and my loins) for kINKED. Published by Pen and Kink Publishing, kINKED explores the intersection of ink and kink. And it just so happens to contain my story “Begin Again,” a tale that marks the first time I had the guts to publish something really, truly sexy.

Of course, a sexy collection deserves a sexy cover. And y’all, when kINKED first published, it had a cover that’ll make you blush…which proved a little problematic on good old Amazon. The OG cover is, well…visually risqué. And it made finding the collection organically via their search engine pretty difficult.

So…kINKED has a new, slightly less steamy cover. Check it out!

Kinked_photo_full_final_rework2

And here’s a little teaser of “Begin Again”:

“When the blue door swung open, Melissa lost her ability to speak as her gaze swept over the man she presumed to be the tattoo shop owner. Warm, amber light outlined his lithe yet strong figure, his dark, unruly hair, and the tattered jeans precariously slung about his narrow hips. He wore a gray t-shirt that clung to his chest as if he’d been standing in the rain, and where cotton ended, color began. Every inch of his muscular arms were covered in radiant koi fish, dark, twisty woodlands, long-dead rock stars, and lines and lines of block letters and script.

Melissa’s fingers tingled as an overwhelming desire to sketch him stretched through her arms. As far as drawing subjects were concerned, he was her type, someone who would be more at home on the battlefield than lounging nude in the heavens flanked by angels. Well, the nude part would be okay.

Melissa reached for the pencil she routinely kept in the back pocket of her jeans. But having forgotten where she was and what she was wearing—a black pencil skirt and a sequined top—she grasped nothing but air. Coming up empty, she clutched the arm nearest her, unsure of which friend it belonged to in the moment. She was afraid if she didn’t hold something, anything, she’d reach forward to trace her fingertips along the elegant arcs of color on this stranger’s forearms.”

If you’re looking for a steamy read, you can easily search for kINKED on Amazon…or you can use this direct link.

Happy reading!

Lessons from the Keyboard: Write the Right Thing

lessons-from-the-keyboard

A month and a half ago, I called my friend Sara in a bout of anxiety and depression as deep as the ocean. I’d been working on a manuscript for a magical romance novella since April, and I was absolutely stuck. I’m not talking about writer’s block. For me, writer’s block is pesky and disheartening, but always temporary. This was different. This was artistic paralysis. I dreaded every moment in front of my keyboard. Tears had been shed. And I hated my story, which didn’t make sense. It was a story involving a Victorian circus, a time traveler, and a fortune-teller, all things that rock my world. My characters sucked. I didn’t buy their burgeoning romance, and I was the one writing it. I was averaging 500 words a day, if I was lucky.

To add insult to injury, my assumed deadline for this project was a mere ten days away. But honestly, the thought of turning in my sad manuscript to my editor was almost as bad as the prospect of not turning in anything.

I expected a you-can-do-it pep talk from Sara. I thought she’d tell me that yes, this project was proving difficult, but all I needed to do was push through. She’d tell me she believed in me, that I was stronger than this. I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get my ass in a chair, and write.

Nope. She advised me to stop writing my novella immediately. Burn it, she said. Get it out of my system. Then came the epiphany. “It shouldn’t be this hard. You’re writing the wrong thing.”

And I was. It was the wrong story. It was dark and sad, and I needed something different.

Though the prospect was daunting, I started over. I wrote nearly five pages the first day. It came naturally. It felt lighter. My vocabulary and humor blossomed. I found myself looking forward to writing again.

One week ago, I sent a 90-some-page manuscript to my editor (before its actual due date, September 1), a manuscript I’m proud of, something I’m happy I wrote. And while it’s a first draft and I expect edits from my editor and I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea…I finished it, and it’s a story I love. It’s sexy and funny and cheesy at times and creepy, because, I mean, it’s me.

I learned a valuable lesson while working on this project. While I’ve never been a fan of the adage, “Write what you know,” with a little modification, I can get behind, “Write what you love.” While writing is difficult and it’s hard work, if you hate what you’re doing, it’s not worth your time. Take a step back, assess, and write the right thing.

Next year, the novella that almost wasn’t will be published by Pen and Kink Publishing as part of the Enchanted series. And I can’t wait for you to read it.

Here’s the official announcement for the Enchanted series (huge shout outs to my magical romance authors in crime—Sara Dobie Bauer, Anna Kyle, and Wendy Sparrow—and our rockin’ editor Cori Vidae!).

And here’s a little more about my first contribution to Enchanted: Magic Spark:

When Natalie Willoughby discovers a pair of antique, diamond-encrusted shoes beneath the floorboards of the Forbidden Fox nightclub, she’s preternaturally drawn to them. Once they’re on her feet, Natalie’s burlesque alter ego, Jazz Corsette, is imbued with otherworldly sensuality and confidence, traits that lead her into the arms of adoring crowds and shy, down-to-earth Wes Peterson. But when whispers of the past threaten her relationships with Wes and her sisters in sequins, she’s torn. After all, once you’ve walked in someone else’s fabulous shoes, how can you go back to being yourself?