Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#TrueStoryTuesday



This one time, at band camp...Kidding.

I never went to band camp. I went to horse camp, but no good story comes to mind from those days, so that's not where this is going.

Let's start over.

I write romance novels. Chances are, that's what ties you and me together. Our love for...well, love. And who can blame us? Love has the power to bring out the best and the worst in us. It can make us strong or be our greatest weakness. It can make us move mountains or make us do some of the dumbest shit in the history of dumb shit. In short, love is entertaining as hell.

And it doesn't even have to be fictional.

For example...

When I was in my early twenties I fell for this guy...we'll call him Noah. True Story or not, I must maintain some sense of dignity in my more humiliating moments.

Anyway, Noah was funny and smart and gorgeous and so completely totally all wrong for me. He was bad news and, because love made me stupid but heartache made me scared, I knew from the moment he began dowsing me in his charms that I needed to stay away from him as far as humanly possible. 

Naturally, we saw each other nearly every day. Had all the same friends. Went out to all the same places. Hung out. Talked and laughed for hours on end at times. But, always, in the back of my mind the voice nagged on to not be fooled. He was a player. A cheater. And I was far better off being his friend.

Thing is, you can't be friends with a guy like that. And the more attached I became, the harder it was to watch him be that charming, flirty guy with girls who were dumb enough to take a chance on him. (No bitterness there :-P) 

So, I did the only sensible thing I could. I increased the distance between us. By about 2000 miles. I moved. Not just because of him, but a lot because of him. And, because love and twenties equals dumb, so you do dumb shit like move across the country to stop some hot guy from flirting with you.

As I was driving across county, through deserts and mountains and emptiness, I passed an abandoned building sitting in the middle of no man's land. It reminded me of a prison. Fitting when you think about it...anyway, it was covered in graffiti of all kinds and right there, smack in the middle of it all, in huge writing were the words 'I love Noah' surrounded by a big heart. Not kidding. I cursed, hit the gas and pressed onward.

Fast forward six months, and I'm making the same trip home. Because, love and dumb and twenties, and I couldn't get over him. 2000 miles did NOTHING to get him out of my system. 

Then, as I passed that same shit building, I noticed it had some new art...where it had originally said 'I love Noah', it now simply said, 'Noah is Back'.

Talk about a freaking sign!

Our love was destined to be epic.Noah was my soulmate. Obviously.

And it wasn't long after I got back that our paths crossed and we continued our ridiculous games, until finally, one night, we kissed. Magic, right? Wrong. Worst kisser ever. No connection. No life changing nothing. 

We're dumb in our twenties. 

Sometimes I still think about him and pretend the kiss wasn't as bad as it was.

When it comes to love and our innate desire for epic romance, we can be dumb in our thirties too.

#TrueStoryTuesday





Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Monday - 'READ ON' Day

It's Monday-FUN Day! 

Wait...that's not a thing. Let's make it a thing! Better yet...let's come up with our OWN new thing. Like...Monday-'READ ON' Day! I don't know about you guys...but I think that has a nice ring to it ;-)



So, in honor of Monday - 'READ ON' Day, how about some new books?!

(Yes. The answer to that should always be 'YES'.)

And, you're in luck...I've got a few for ya ;-)


If you've been reading the pINK series it's time to officially meet RIOT and MEMPHIS :-D




*****Eleven is a novelette and intended as a prequel to the novel Eight. Both are a part of the pINK series*****

With graduation coming up, Nathanial ‘Memphis’ Turner is feeling pretty good about his future. Maybe he’s not on the fast track to making all his dreams come true, but the road he’s on will get him there eventually. Because she’s on it with him. His love. His life.

Stone ‘Riot’ Rousseau has been the nutty peanut butter to his jelly since she was five, and no matter how hard their parents have tried to keep them apart, there’s never been one without the other.

But that’s all about to change…

“It took eleven years to make her mine for good and eleven hours to lose her forever.” ~ Memphis Turner 


Download HERE


But wait...there's MORE!

I recently joined up with six other authors to put together a sexy, fun set and now, it's finally LIVE!




Holding a Hero 
When things go wrong…hold on tight and don't let go. These sexy, larger-than-life heroes—firefighters, cops, bad boys, Rock stars and Navy Seals—will hold you through the night and keep you safe from all harm. Six full length novels and one bonus novella by best-selling and award-winning Romance authors. This set is available for only a limited time. It's only 99 cents or FREE if you're in KU!!


Burst Into Flame by Lyssa Layne 
For Dr. Katy Garrity, life is a whirlwind, and the New York Fire Department is the heart of the storm. When sparks fly between her and her late husband's best friend, can they find a way to make it work?

Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Deb Julienne
When a photo journalist gets hit in the crossfire, a cop falsely accused of killing a fellow office must make the sacrifice…only love can set them free.

Unhurt by KS Thomas (See...that's me :-P)
Joss Kelley will do anything to save her son, even if it means making impromptu marriage proposals to random strangers. It's just her luck the man who accepts is Derek Tice - An Ex Navy SEAL in need of a new mission and Joss and her son just might be it.

Body, Ink, and Soul by Jude Ouvrard 
Nix has finally found the perfect man and the life she wants...until she meets Levi, the charming, tattooed sexy bad boy. Will Nix stay true to her heart or will her body sent her life spiraling out of control?

119 Days by RaeAnne Hadley 
Celeste was happily divorced for 5 years but the nights were becoming lonelier. She decided a one night stand could fill a lonely night but her target has something else in mind.

Call Me Cowboy by D’Ann Lindun 
Rock star Johnny Cortez is being targeted by a killer, sending him and hunting guide Montana Weaver racing across the Colorado Rockies.

Forever Love by Melissa Keir 
Can two former companions become friends again, or will the sparks turn a childhood friendship into a forever love?

Download HERE

There...how's that for a reading fix?! Now off you go to celebrate Monday - 'READ ON' day :-D
READ ON ~

K.

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Same thing, different results...

 
I go paddle boarding pretty regularly. At least once a week, twice if I can coordinate schedules with my SUP buddy to make it happen.

Aside from the fact that it's without doubt one of my favorite things to do, I constantly find myself amazed by how each trip out onto the water continues to vary from the time before. We launch at the same spot nearly every time. Usually at the same time of day, same day of the week...and yet, something is always strikingly unique about the experience.

Today it was fog. Creepy as fuck, fog. There's always a little something eerie about not being able to see what floats beneath the surface, but the eerie factor multiplies by about a hundred when you also can't see what's coming or going ABOVE the surface.

Regardless, it was beautiful and as always, completely worth it.

Writing. It's kinda the same.

I mean, you'd think after writing something in the way of 20 plus love stories, they'd start to sound the same, begin to retell themselves in some way. Maybe, get boring even. For me. I don't know about you...

But somehow, they don't. Somehow, sitting down at the same time every night, at the same computer with the same coffee and the same intention of writing a romance novel, still continues to deliver new and different results.

Strange. And sort of fascinating. But I'm going to leave it there, because I'm not trying to understand (or jinx!) the hows and whys. I'm perfectly fine with a 'that's just how it is' and a 'keep on keepin' on' as long as it gets the job done.

So, there ya have it. 

Some real deep thinking (yes, that's sarcasm) from someone who only slept four hours last night and hasn't had nearly enough coffee to be all that insightful but who totally thinks this was worth sharing :-P



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sarcasm. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.

Last year, at a writer's conference, I was invited to sit on a panel about writing humor. When I told my brother (the stand up comic) about this, he asked if that was the humorous part.
He doesn't think I'm funny.
He's a jackass.
I'm hysterical.

I never set out to write funny books. Truth is, most of my books don't sound all that funny at all when you break them down to just content. But, what I do set out to do, is be real. Write real feelings. Real experiences. And sometimes, real trauma. The reality is, a joke can be made even under the worst conditions, at the most inappropriate of times. Especially, when your main source of humor stems from deep-seeded sarcasm and morbid wit. Which, incidentally, most of mine does.

A Place For Laughs...


I find that much like in real life, the best place to drop a funny one liner is when you least expect it. Right there in the middle of the really heavy stuff. Because books, same as life, are better with a laugh.

“Hudson. We need some magic coffee dust over here.”
He cocks a half smile and hurries over. “That’s cute. Playing on my former barista job and calling me a fairy all in one shot.”
“Yes. Now come over here and make something happen. Just don’t whip out your wand to do it.”
I shake my head. “Really? A penis reference? Is this how you’re going to be approaching this entire situation?” Actually, inappropriate jokes is how we all deal with everything. So, yeah. 

~ Fallen Angel (A Finding Nolan Novel)

One-liners are pretty much what I'm working with at all times. I'm not one for slapstick humor, or writing funny 'action' scenes. I can't get them onto paper right. By the time I'm done describing everything that's happening to set up the joke, chances are it's gotten lost somewhere along the way. I'm too long-winded to pull it off.

Dialogue. That's where it's at.

Or, if you're writing in first person, there are always ample opportunities to drop some humor into the thought process. Usually, you have even more freedom here, because we all know we think way more funny stuff than we would ever have the balls to say out loud.

Characters are no different.

Unless they are.

That One Character Who Has Zero Filter...

Usually I'll have at least one wildcard in the bunch. One character that's allowed to say whatever pops into his or her head. I love writing these. Because I get to write whatever pops into my head. Aunt Dick in With Whom We Spend Our Lives is a perfect example of this sort of character. As is May in I Call Him Brady. Not to mention Ava from the Finding Nolan books. God, I miss those women.

“I’m not going.”
She grins. “You’re going.”
I’m getting pissed. She makes me feel like a f*cking toddler, only at thirty-seven she’s not exactly old enough to be my mother. “You can’t force me.”
“True.” She takes her phone from her back pocket and begins to tap away at the screen.
I slant my eyes suspiciously. This can’t be good. “What are you doing?”
“Just setting a few daily reminders to call you.”
My hands drop to my sides. I already know surrender is inevitable. “And by few you mean?” 
“Not too many. Maybe one little jingle, every fifteen minutes or so between now and the time you agree to go.” She’s got a wicked smirk on her face.
“You can put your stupid phone away. We both know I’m going to the wedding.”
Her face lights up in mock surprise. “You are?”
 ~ Aunt Dick


“F*cking idiot.” May threw one of my new hand towels at his head as he hurried from the room.
“It’s a good thing he knows you well enough to know that’s a term of endearment.” I placed the last of my folded towels back into the basket for easy transport.
“You’re the only one who thinks it is.” 
~ May

Vaginas didn’t scare me exactly. I mean, they seemed innocent enough, and I could see the convenience of it all, one piece fitting into the other. But I’d taken sex ed. I’d seen that sweet little flower chicks claimed they were sitting on morph into monsters big enough to spit out a watermelon on a moment’s notice. Don’t tell me there isn’t something shady about that.
If straight dudes want to stick their dicks in there, I say do so at your own risk. Someday that beast may decide to swallow instead of spit, and then what the f*ck are you going to do?  Be f*cking dickless, that’s what.
We were in the elevator going down to the lobby when I noticed Ava was still grinning.
“What?”
She chuckled before she answered, “You look nervous. Thinking about penis-eating vaginas again?”
~ Ava

Why It's Important...


I don't like to cry. It's a pretty basic reason really. But there it is. I like to feel. I like to explore the depths of heartache, but dammit I want to have a laugh in between to keep from falling to pieces and winding up a sopping, sobbing mess of a puddle no longer solid enough to count for a human being. And so do my characters. If they feel the need to lighten the tension with a little humor, I let them. Because it's good for them. It's good for me. And frankly, it's good for you.


“I take it you’ve talked to him?”
I nod, busying myself by putting away the three cartons of ice cream they brought over. “Had lunch with him on Monday.”
“And?” Her eyes are wide, impatient.
“And…I think it’s going to take more than one lunch to figure his ass out.”
“What does that mean?” Bristol asks from the doorway, bottle of vodka still in hand.
“It means, he is an ass, but he’s hot so she’s not willing to admit it yet. Not until after he’s stomped all over her brittle, broken heart with all of his asshole hotness.” Only Layne would put it quite like that. 
“You know, for someone who writes romance novels you’re not very romantic.”
“Because I know they’re fiction. I make them up. They’re not autobiographies. They’re f*cking fairy tales.”
I shake my head, casually putting some distance between us. For safety.
“You need to stop dating men you meet on Tinder.”

~ One More Chapter












Thursday, August 4, 2016

If only all the people I've seen naked...knew I've seen them naked.

I take the concept of owning everything I experience and using it as writing material very seriously. Maybe too seriously. But, I like it. I like taking reality and then twisting it around and making it pretty. Making it fiction. Because, let's be honest, reality isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

Some of my stories only have a hint of real life to them. Like Save The Date, which I wrote after watching my six year old experience her first crush. The characters and the story are completely made up, the idea is not. Then there are stories like Unhurt, in which I included characters that are real people in my real world. In Unhurt I even went so far as to name the one character after the real person (with her permission of course!)

Then there are those books where I can't tell if I've been extremely lazy or extraordinarily brilliant. Like One More Chapter, for example. Almost all of the characters are inspired by my brother's quirky cast of friends, the setting is his is hometown and all of the local hang outs...are all the local hang outs. The story is completely made up. I mean, completely! And really, I don't know any of his friends well enough to write characters based on them, so while I say inspired, I really mean loosely...very loosely...inspired. Possibly only in looks. And initials. Because I'm daring like that.

But...while this seemed like a lot of fun when it started, as the story came to a head and my hero and heroine moved ever closer to the bedroom, I realized a distinct flaw in my operation. If I was to ever write a sex scene for this couple, I would essentially have to write a sex scene about this guy. This real guy. A guy I've met. A guy I may have to look in the eye again at some point in the future. And even if he was completely unaware of the fact that I would have seen him naked and done dirty, dirty things to him...I would not have that luxury. So, the sex scene...well, was only the kind of sex scene I could continue to maintain eye contact with.

Although, it's not like I've never done it before. I have. I've written exes into books. I've used hot male friends and made them sexy naked heroes. But those were my people. I didn't care if they knew I saw (imagined...saw - it's all the same thing) them naked. Hell, most of them, I have seen naked. Or, naked enough. So, eye contact wasn't an issue. Or, you know, maybe it already was :-P

So, the lesson here is...you own every experience...as well as every experience you can imagine...but you may want to imagine making eye contact with people you write about after you've written about them before you write about them. There. Made total sense.





Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July Summer of Reading Giveaway!!

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Welcome to the 4th of July Summer of Reading Giveaway!


The authors below are offering up $150 Amazon Gift Card to you can get your read on!
Please check out the books below, some are Free, Free with KU, or Inexpensive.
Young Adult
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Sweet Romance
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Contemporary Romance
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Women's Fiction
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Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
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Want to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card? Follow the authors in the rafflecopter below for a chance. Open WW 18+ Ends July 20, 2016 @ 11:59 PM EST


summerGWfinished

Monday, April 11, 2016

One More Chapter is LIVE



One More Chapter

A New Contemporary Romance by K.S. Thomas

Cover Art by Najla Qamber Designs (www.najlaqamberdesigns.com)
Photo by Laura Carlson of LCPhotoart
Model: Mikhaila Hamilton


Having overdosed on the cold, unyielding aspects of reality at an early age, books became a welcome escape I was happy to dedicate my life to. Editing romance novels seemed like the perfect career choice for the girl who craved fantasy and a world she could exercise a little control over. Bottom line, I like having a happy ending I can count on.
  
  Until...Jensen.
  
  Where I prefer to have my head in the clouds, unattached to the tumultuous roller-coaster of real life, his feet are so firmly planted on the ground, they're sinking in and getting buried there.
  
  Jensen seems an unlikely hero for any story, let alone mine. He's moody. And confused. And pretty damn sure there's no such thing as happy ever after.
  
  But then that's the thing about all the best happy endings. They show up when you least expect them to.


        “I don’t know how to do this.”
“Which part?” Because if it’s a simple matter of explaining the polite way to end a casual weekend sleepover, which incidentally was sex free, I can help him out no problem. Anything beyond that and we’re probably both in over our heads here. 
Finally, his gaze moves to meet mine. Only now I feel compelled to look away.
“Walking away. It's the right thing to do. It's what you should have done when I told you to. But you didn't. And you made me do it. And I did." He pauses to take a deep, painful breath but his eyes never waver from mine. “Then you came back and now... I don’t know how to walk away from you this time, Karma. But I can’t stay. I have nothing left to give you if I stay… And plenty I want to take.” 
“What if you can have it?” I breathe.
He shakes his head slowly. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” 
        “Because it would be wrong.” 
      I swallow hard several times, the intensity wearing on me. “Maybe it would be wrong not to. Maybe there’s a reason neither of us can figure out how to walk away even though walking away would clearly be less complicated. Maybe we’re not supposed to.”
         “I don’t want to hurt you.”
        “Then stop trying to pretend this isn’t happening. Whatever it is, you and me, it’s something. It’s real.”
        He exhales loudly, his chin dropping to his chest and I breathe in until the air fills my stomach, making up for the shallow breathing I succumbed to during this conversation.
        His hand is still in my hair, his wrist loosely resting on my collar bone. Who is he kidding? He can’t walk away. He can’t even let go.
        Then he realizes it too. His grip on my curls tightens and when his jaw rises up enough for him to look down on me, the brazen look in his eyes is beyond anything I’ve ever seen in them before.
        “I’m going to fuck this up,” he whispers.
        “Probably,” I say quietly, “but you might get it right. It’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
        “You’re crazy,” he murmurs, his mouth moving dangerously close to mine.
        “Certifiably.” And I close the gap between us just to prove it.


Snag your copy now while it's only 99 Cents!! ~ http://amzn.com/B01DYDFRSE

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Feminism killed chivalry" I'm sorry...what now?!

Facebook statuses are cool and all, but I find the comments tend to be a lot more entertaining. So, that's where I was when I found this gem last night ~

"Feminism killed chivalry."
And some douche who replied, "Amen." right below it.

Initially, I did find the ignorance humorous, and briefly considered leaving a vocabulary lesson in the comments below. But, I don't tend to engage, and it wasn't my page...so, not wanting to piss off my friend's idiot friends out of respect for said friend, I passed on responding.

That was then. Now, I've had twenty-four hours to stew in it, and I've decided, fuck it - I'm going to say my piece. I'm just going to do it here.

So, let's start at the top.

Feminism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Chivalry: an honorable and polite way of behaving, especially toward women

Tell me again how feminism killed chivalry. Because I see no correlation between the two. If chivalry is dead for you boys, it's because you let it die by not being chivalrous. It's that fucking simple.

But it's cool. Just blame that shit on women wanting equal rights. It is, after all, the root of all evil.

Meanwhile, let's explore the much deeper underlying issue I believe you were trying to address when you made your ridiculous statement. 

Strong, independent women are emasculating men and no longer appreciate true (super manly) gentlemen.

It sounds less ignorant, but it's not.

As a romance author, I can tell you without doubt, that today's woman is starving, STARVING!! for the strong, alpha males you ding dongs think have gone out of style. Don't believe me? Go google how much money women spent on romance novels last year. Then google current popular trends in the same genre. If you have one handy, ask an author busy churning out novels starring billionaires, badass bikers, fighters, soldiers and rock stars. Business is booming. Because they all have one thing in common. A strong, powerful male lead who's protective, loyal and honors his responsibilities.

From where I'm sitting, it's not the women who are causing the problem by asserting themselves, standing up for their own worth and taking charge of their own destinies. It's the men who refuse to evolve and meet them at their new (higher) level of standards. 

You can't have a moderately successful career, two roommates at your bachelor pad while having marginally managed to keep a cactus alive and then think you're going to roll up on a woman who's busy busting ass and taking names while she works her day job, raises her kids and still finds a way to not look like she doesn't sleep (which she doesn't) and has time to work out (which she doesn't) thinking she's going to be impressed. She's not. What the hell are you bringing to the table? Your ability to open a damn door? Thanks. I got that.

Chivalry is a wonderful thing. But it's so much bigger than picking up the tab or holding a door.

Feminism.

The belief that men and women should have equal rights.

Such an important word and yet, it's so often completely misunderstood. Turned ugly.

You know what's ugly?

That in 2016, I can sit in the audience at a comedy show and listen to a comic make jokes about his woman needing a beating and hear the loud roar of male laughter all around me.

That last night, I caught part of a movie in which a woman was duped into sleeping with a man she didn't know. A stranger. When she believed she was safely in bed with her husband. And again, it was intended to be funny.

It's not. It's rape. 

It's 2016 and we live in a society where we still can't tell the difference between a joke and horrific crimes against women.

So, no. Feminism hasn't killed chivalry. Hell, it's barely put a dent in the evil shit it's meant to snuff out.

I suppose you're wondering right about now what any of this has to do with books and writing.

Nothing.

Except, I'm an author. And a feminist. And every single fierce, fiery female character I write falls for a hero who for damn sure is doing his part to keep chivalry alive and kicking. She wouldn't waste her time on him if he wasn't. 

And neither would I.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In case anyone is wondering...

Anyone else feel like it's been ages since I released a book? No? Maybe it's just me, but it's driving me nuts and definitely causing me a fair share of anxiety. Apparently, hitting publish is the drug no one warns you about, because I need a fix and I need it bad.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to get one. Not right now. But, the good news is, I have something in the works. Something new. Something I hope you're all going to love as much as I've loved writing it. I'm probably eighty percent done with it, and at the rate it's been flowing out of me, I'm hoping to have the last bit written out within the week, making for a complete first draft. From there, it'll be all edits and beta readers and more editing and proof readers and so on and so forth, BUT if all goes according to plan, I should be able to feel that publishing high again by the end of next month.

In the meantime, I'm going to publish this little beauty here to hold me over :-D



Thursday, February 11, 2016

#IABBAddict: Pucked by Rachel Walter

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Check out more information on #IABBAddicts here
Join us every Thursday for IABB #Confessions

ABOUT THE BOOK

Author: Rachel Walter

Title: Pucked

Pages: 328

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Date published: February 8, 2015

Synopsis:
Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warrior’s Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warrior’s number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path. 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**




EXCERPT

I growl and force my anger into my next swing. The puck completely misses the net, bouncing off the cement wall.
Audrey’s not leaving this town. Yeah, she’s trying to care for Hannah, but she’s leaving me.
My hopeful heart drops and I kick the bag again, using the blade of the plastic stick to set up the new line of victims. Each puck has a different face.
My father.
For leaving us the way he did for another woman.
He gets another.
He broke my mother’s heart to the point that she’s not even the same woman she was five years ago.
He started this domino effect of bullshit, and for that, he gets a third.
My mother.
For letting a man break her down so badly that she can’t function properly.
She gets another.
She’s forgotten that she’s a mother. I’m not old enough to care for my baby sister properly, not in the parental way she deserves. I still need a mom, but at least I’m old enough to figure things out on my own.
My mother gets another puck just for hurting my baby sister by ignoring her like she does. It smashes into the wall.
Another puck with her face, because it’s her fault that Audrey wants to stay here. Audrey can see that Hannah needs a mother. So why can’t Mom see it?
I kick the bag again, lining up another row.
She gets one more, for bringing another man into our house, causing a whole different world of shit for us.
I tap a puck forward, glaring at it.
This one’s for Ted.
I purposefully miss the net this time. Smashing the puck into the wall so hard I hear it crack as it rattles across the floor.
One more for Ted.
His alcohol addiction nearly ended everything I know and love in one night with his drunken rage.
My mother gets another puck. This one’s for bringing the man that beat her, almost to death, in front of my baby sister last year back into our home. I purposefully crash it into the wall again.
I smash yet another into the cement wall.
For bringing the man who hit my baby sister because she wouldn’t stop crying, back into our lives.
Todd.
For asking my Audrey out and kissing her.
My stick hooks around the last puck.
It gets my face.
For being a coward and not asking my girl to be my girl, for not telling her how I’ve felt for years, for lying, and for hurting her feelings. This puck gets my face for not being a stronger man and calling the police to press charges against Ted.
The puck glances off the post and flies my way.
On instinct, I drop to my knees so I don’t get hit, and hear a soft gasp followed by an echoing thud of a body hitting the floor.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bad Reviews and How To Handle Them

Bad reviews suck. Seriously. There’s no other way to put it. I remember the first time I got one and I was literally crushed for days. It didn’t matter that twenty other random readers had left glowing 5 star reviews, because that one person, that one reader, she had thought it was the biggest piece of crap to ever hit the kindle.  I mean it. She tore into everything. The story line, the characters, the editing. Then she even went so far as to say that I had ripped off a song to write the book. 

It was horrible. 
It was humiliating. 
It was hurtful. 
It was her opinion. And let’s face it. We all have those.

I’m not looking to give up mine or my right to express them, are you?

Now, you’re probably saying –  No of course not, but there’s a wrong and a right way of doing things and these people are just trying to be mean on purpose.

Okay.

So what?

It comes down to the same thing I tell my seven year old when someone is being mean to her. You cannot control how other people act. You can only control how you respond.

And I get that it’s easier said than done. I’ve seen the bad, ugly and the obscene of those reviews. Especially on Goodreads. Holy shit. Those people go all out, don’t they?! I mean, you almost have to wonder if this is their only creative outlet. And book bashing or not, some of them are hysterical. I have to commend the bad reviewers for the amount of thought that goes into every one of them. Animated images and all. I mean, think about how strongly they must feel about what you’ve written to spend that much time on putting their thoughts together after. Personally, I think if you’re at the receiving end of one of those, you should give yourself a nice big pat on the back ~ You INSPIRED someone today! Maybe not in the way you had intended, but in the end, your work spoke to them so intensely that they couldn’t just let it go. And no matter which way you spin it, that my fellow writers, is a compliment.

Anytime a new piece of art goes out into the world, the artist risks complete and utter ridicule. The more raw and honest the work, the greater the chances of someone coming along and shitting all over it. That’s just how it is. You can’t go around flying your freak flag and expect everyone to appreciate it. They won’t. Some people will go out of their way to tell you that you’re wrong. That you’re stupid and you suck. That’s the price of being different in this society. The reward is in all of the people who connect with you and your work and see the beauty and courage in what you’ve done. Everyone has to decide for themselves which one outweighs the other.

Bottom line: You get a bad review - You suck it up and move on.

You do not comment.

You do not inquire why they felt this way.

You do not FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IN PUBLISHING explain why they didn't get your work of art.

You do not email, Facebook, Tweet or send smoke signals. I repeat, you do not make contact in ANY way.

You also do not get your friends or family to do any of the above.

Because it's not personal. Even when it feels that way. And - this is important - I promise you it will not have a negative effect on your sales in the long run. In fact, it has been said time and time again, that negative reviews can actually INCREASE sales because readers become skeptical of books with only glowing 5 and 4 star reviews and feel a book has more validity when less than stellar reviews are  also present. Meaning someone other than your mother and best friend has read the book. 

So, you got a 1 star? Congrats. You've made it. Your book is legit now.

Better start writing the next one...

Friday, February 5, 2016

#FunnyStory Friday ~ Coffee


Funny story.

Yesterday afternoon I was so tired, I made a fourteen ounce cup of coffee...with my mug next to the Keurig.


Yup.

I don't know what was more devastating. Hearing the sound of the coffee maker finishing up and looking over to see NO cup of coffee, or realizing I'd wasted an entire cup of the life saving elixir. Good news is, that little grate you put your cup on (when you remember) holds more liquid than you'd think... 

So...that was my laugh (and cry) of the week. Share yours in the comments below :-D 

Because life is a comedy and we should all have a laugh about it on a regular basis to remember that...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#IABBAddict Featured Author: The Artist's Touch by S. H. Pratt

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ABOUT THE BOOK

26887765

Author: S. H. Pratt

Title: The Artist's Touch

Series: The Artist's Touch, #1

Pages: 314

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date publishedNovember 20, 2015

Synopsis:
Exhausted, disillusioned and disgusted with her life in Los Angeles, Clarice “Rissa” Daniels leaves a successful acting career for the comforts of home in Olympia, Washington. Embracing a simpler life without the overabundance of testosterone that she’d dealt with in California, she works to recover and rebuild her life without the “Hollywood craziness”, away from the toxic presence of her ex-boyfriend, and far from the paparazzi. When a walk in the park drops her into the lap of Spencer St. George, she finds herself drawn to his quiet, unobtrusive demeanor, but Rissa quickly realizes that there is much more to the bespectacled middle-school art teacher.
Spencer St. George prefers the quiet life far from the hassles created by his family. Known as “Saint” to his students, he creates his own sense of peace with a paint brush in his hand while standing behind an easel. When Rissa Daniels crashes headlong into his life, Spencer is sent reeling. Unsure of her intentions, but drawn to her gregarious personality, he finds himself stepping out from behind his easel and daring to hope for more than his quiet life.
But as Spencer and Rissa grow closer, history threatens to destroy them. Met with righteous reticence from his family and stubborn pride from hers, the couple sets out to discover the events that turned their families against each other. As the past begins to surface, the present becomes dangerous, creating an uncertainty that could bind Spencer and Rissa together… or drive them apart forever.
 





EXCERPT

“Excuse me?” Spencer asked in a low tone, unsure he’d heard the challenge in her voice correctly.
“Yes, artist man, you heard me. Let me take you out, we’ll have dinner, get to know each other and you can learn that I’m not who you think.” Rissa proposed. Spencer took his glasses from his face and rubbed his eyes. “Are you asking me out on a date?” he asked, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice. “Yes, Spencer St. George, I am. Do you dare?” Rissa asked. Spencer gaped at her for a long moment, unsure of what to think of this beautiful, crazy woman sitting next to him asking him out. “You needn’t look so shocked. It’s the twenty-first century. Women are doing all sorts of crazy things.” Rissa smirked at him.

GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be Authentic

My brain pretty much runs non-stop making up stuff. Not stuff I say out loud to anyone, because people who do that tend to get a reputation as pathological liars, but stuff I think may at some point find a permanent home on the pages of a book.

There are no limits. Anything can spark my interest and get me excited. Make me want to write.

That's a good feeling to have. One of the best, really.

When I first started writing professionally, I applied this same limitless mind-wandering story-conjuring to my work. If it excited me, it was getting written. I'd decide what genre it was later. Didn't matter if I had an audience base for it or not. I jumped around from thrillers to children's lit without giving it a second thought.

Then, I got more serious. Got smarter. Got down to business.

For two years now, my main focus has been on writing contemporary romance. And it's been fairly easy considering I've been in love with love ever since I was old enough to appreciate my parents' real life love story. So, a long time.

But trying to balance the story I want to tell with the story I think will be best received or help me stand out in a market flooded with heavily themed stories running on repeat, isn't always easy. Sometimes, it's even detrimental.

Because jumping on the bandwagon isn't my style. Because I know that writing a trope I find slightly skeevey (Step-brother romance anyone? It's cool if that's what floats your boat, but it's not for me.) or trying to step into a world I know nothing about and have no desire to a be a part of mentally or otherwise (MC stories and heroes are out - I think MC and bikers, I picture my stepdad on his Honda and wearing his club vest complete with patches he has attached with Velcro stickers. There's no coming back to sexy from that.) just isn't for me. Even when I wish that it was.

So, I find myself racking my brain. In the shower. In the car. At the grocery store. Wherever. How can I improve? How can I deliver on what the market calls for? What the readers want?

And the ideas come. They always come. That's not the problem. I think some of those ideas are even quite good, but for the last few months, while I've been caught up in the funnel of need and want, I've never been able to write more than a few hundred - maybe a thousand - words at a time. And the worst part of all, it felt like work. Unsatisfying work.

Then, this last week, it was like something jolted me out of my daze. And I realized how detached I've become from my writing. How everything has been coming solely from my head. Not my heart. Writing, good writing, has to come from both. It has to be authentic. To the writer. To me.

So I'm writing something new. Something that has no solid footing in the market. Something that may never find a huge audience or catapult me into best seller status.

Something I like. Something I connect with. Something that excites me and makes me want to write as soon as I get up in the morning. Something that will be better than anything I could ever possibly write when writing solely with my head.

Something I can be proud of. Because it's authentic. Because it's honest (maybe a little too honest). And the truth is, that matters more to me than anything else.

Writing for me has long moved past being a hobby or something I do to ease my stress and de-tangle my own thoughts. It's become my career. My work. My livelihood. My dream. And I'm grateful every day for that. But I can't let those new aspects of my writing kill the source of where it comes from. 

So, these last few months have been a wake up call. To not detach. To not let my head take over. 
Because we all know ~ the real magic always comes from the heart.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Boyfriends - They do exist!

In my line of work I see a lot of men. A lot of men. That sounds misleading. I see a lot of images of men. 

All day long my Facebook news feed is one half-naked pretty man after the next. I'm not complaining, but I have wondered where in the hell these images are walking around in real life. Because it's not in my neighborhood.

But, with this current trend of 'bad boy' men covered in tattoos and rocking full beards - I have good news ladies. They are real and they're all hanging out in one place. I know this for a fact because I had dinner with all of them on Tuesday night.

For real.

The reason for my outing was to watch my brother perform. He's been a stand up comic for years, and after taking some time off, he was finally hitting the stage again. Needless to say, I didn't want to miss this.

My brother is exceptionally funny, if in a rather brutal fashion. He has perfected the art of making you laugh out loud while shaking your head mouthing the words 'that's fucked up' to yourself as tears of joy begin to stream from your eyes. He's twisty and dark and sick and damn funny while doing it.

So, there I was, ready for a night of laughs and good times. He'd warned me that some of his friends would be joining us and I'd spent a week mentally prepping myself for this (being uncomfortably shy and knowing that I'll spend all night wondering if I seem like a total bitch by not talking or making eye contact with anyone does tend to stress me out a bit). When I arrived however, he informed me that the party had grown substantially. We now had dinner reservations for twenty.

He would have called me to let me know ahead of time...but he wanted me to come, so he didn't.

Turns out, sitting down at the table with all of his friends wasn't half bad. And when I say half bad, I mean I was basically in current romance writer heaven with a surplus of future book boyfriends to choose from. Tall, tatted and bearded men sat all around me. Sanford, Ladies. That's where it's at.

So, I sat there, just taking it all in, watching and listening to this group of guys who have apparently become my brother's surrogate family over the last few years. They're good guys. Maybe even the kind of guys we write about (you can only tell so much from one dinner).

There were moments of conversation when the rose colored dream vision I was enjoying began to get a bit murky, primarily when it came time to examine the menu and order food.

"What's a shit-take mushroom? Anyone?"  Seriously.  

But then the best looking one in the bunch scowled at the idea of bowling and all my faith in real-life book boyfriends was restored in an instant.

So there you have it - the previously believed to be mythical bearded, tatted book boyfriend is real. They do exist. And all conveniently located in one place. 

Now...where are those pretty billionaires hanging out?

Friday, January 22, 2016

From 'F*ck You' to 'Watch This'

It's Friday. Once upon a million years ago, Fridays meant the beginning of a busy work weekend for me. Now, they're a lot like any other busy work day to me. But...it's Friday and it got me thinking about the ol' bar tending days and one of the biggest lessons I ever learned that still applies today.

See, back then, I was working in this massive country music bar/ night club made up of three huge rooms and three bars, the main one large enough to require three bartenders on a busy night. The two most coveted spots to work, were the center of the main bar and the corner bar located at the center of the club overlooking the dance floor and stage where we had live music five nights a week. The least popular bar was called 'the Pit'. It was wayyyyy in the back with the pool tables and the 'mellow' crowd, tucked in the corner next to the men's room in, what I am quite sure, was once a broom closet.

Everyone started working there by paying their dues in the Pit. That's just how it was. So, I did too. Somewhere along the way, I moved my way up and before long I was one of two main bartenders who worked there, not counting the manager who also took bar shifts. I was done getting shafted to the Pit. Or...so I thought.

One Saturday evening, after having opened and worked happy hour by myself - guaranteeing me one of the two top spots for the night because that was basically Buffalo Club law - I greeted the rest of the crew only to be told I was getting bumped out of the good bar...to the pit. Not because I'd done anything wrong, but because the part-timers who showed up only for the busy nights were all a bunch of snotty, whiny, high maintenance bitches (Sorry, Carl) and their squeaky squawking about not wanting to work the dreaded Pit was louder than my under the breath grumbles as I grabbed my shit and stomped off to my corner.

At first, I was fuming. It was wrong. I had earned the right to work a good station. I deserved to have the advantage. I SHOULD have been the one with the best opportunity to make money that night, because I would be the one working the longest since I'd opened. But none of it mattered. Neither did the fact that the douche-bag who wound up in my spot not only hadn't deserved to get it, he also didn't have the skills required to tend to the stream of customers he was guaranteed to have that night.

Then, the general 'f*ck all of you' attitude I was so comfortably marinating in shifted. And I went from 'f*ck you' to 'watch this'.

I stopped being mad. I stopped thinking about the injustice of it all. I let go of recounting all of the things that were working against me and just detached. Decided it didn't matter. That it wasn't about what bar you worked but rather which bartender was working it. And I was working the Pit.

I ran a few drink specials. I laughed. I had fun. And guess what?! I outsold every other bartender in the building that night.

Here's why it matters now -

Especially in this business, where sales are often difficult to come by and a solid reader base is hard to build, it's so easy to get hung up on all of the reasons why we'll never make it. All of the disadvantages we have over others, all the ways in which we're screwed anyway because we don't have this that or the other and why it's all so unjust. 

Amazon is out to get us. 

So and so has it easy because they know all the right people.

Must be nice to have money to blow on advertising.

Who in the hell can afford a PA?

No one enters my giveaway.

I need more reviews.

I don't have enough likes on my page.

Facebook is hiding my stuff.

The list goes on.

The thing is, the more we focus on all of the things we can't do or change and why they are bound to stop us from reaching our goals, the more likely it is that they will. 

Nothing can stop you from reaching your goals...except you. I'm not the genius who came up with this, but I'm posting it here and now, because it's still true.

When I started on this journey I had nothing. No advantage. No connection. No funds. No knowledge that would help me in any way. But I did it anyway. I'm still doing it. I have more advantages now than I did back then, but I'm still just plowing ahead, often times tripping over some obstacle and winding up with my face in the mud. Happens to all of us. This business isn't clear cut. There's no set in stone way to achieve success and then....maintain it. Because this business is new, it's evolving and therefor, so must we.

So, what can we do? How can we get ahead of the struggle? How do we fight back when we go from high sales one month to getting shafted to the pit the next?

We get pissed. We say "F*ck you. F*ck it all." We shake our mental fists at all the things standing in our way, and then we say, "Watch this" because we realize, we don't have to let them. 

It's not about the business, or about money or about connections. It's about us. About our frame of mind, and about the things we're willing to give our energy to and the things we're not. That's what we can control. That's where we have a choice, whether we want to be the victims of our circumstances, the survivors of our situations, or the makers of our own motherf*cking destinies.

And I know which one I'm choosing.

Watch this...