I Survived!

August and September were rough, but I made it. I turned Two Cuts Darker in on time, though it did come in a tad shorter than I expected.

I had some problems with this book that just made it harder to work my way through. The mind is a tricky thing sometimes and if my mind isn’t in the right place, the words are slow to come. I’ve been putting mental work into this book since May or even earlier–but the words were like pulling teeth. I had it plotted. I knew the characters. But I kept second-guessing my decisions.

Partly because I let reader expectations get into my head. It’s much easier to write a book when I’m writing it FOR ME. I don’t care if so-and-so won’t like it then. All that matters is that I’m happy with it. But the first book did well enough that I read many positive reviews, which is fantastic. But then you start worrying if the next book will match up to the expectations of the readers who enjoyed the first one. I joked with Molly that in some ways it’s much easier to deal with bad reviews. Then I can say, “HA, I’LL WRITE A KILLER STORY TO SHOW YOU!!”

Good reviews are harder to deal with sometimes, as crazy as that sounds. Will they like this as much? Did I make the right decision? Should I do xyz instead to make so-and-so happy?

YOU CAN’T WRITE THAT WAY. I know that, but it took me awhile to silence the voices that didn’t matter, and concentrate on the ones that did.

When I pitched book 2 to my editor, I didn’t expect Charlie and Ranay to be major characters. They’d show up, sure, but I just didn’t see a lot of carryover between those characters and the new ones I intended to introduce. But so many readers wanted more about Charlie, and I had enough time in between books, to start thinking, huh. Maybe I should plan more scenes for him.

Which meant a different plot than I’d originally sketched out.

Which made it more difficult to weave two separate story lines together.

Which made something as easy as POV a difficult decision. Because One Cut Deeper was first-person in Ranay’s POV.  I needed to stick with that for her voice. But Vince didn’t want to talk in first-person, so his story line was in third. That can make for messy story mechanics.

I wanted to include Charlie’s POV at least a little, but he wouldn’t cooperate for so long that I finally gave up and skipped him entirely. Only after I turned the book in and told Alissa I wanted to try, did he open up a little. Worse, he wanted to talk in first-person PRESENT.

Those scenes may not stay in the book. They may make it even messier. If we cut them, I’ll offer them as extras here on the blog.  Charlie’s head isn’t an easy place to be. He knows what he is and there’s no softening of those instincts and needs. It can make for a very dark place to be. So those scenes are short, and not nearly as crucial to the story as Ranay and Vince.

All in all, this was one of the hardest stories for me to write. I ended up very happy with it, but man, I really sweat bullets and blood through this book. I didn’t write it like any other book. Because I had two story lines, I had two separate folders in Scrivener and I wrote them like two separate stories, even after the lines merged near the last third.

I worried that I wouldn’t have enough sex to keep it in the same level of heat as One Cut Deeper… and then I couldn’t get the guys out of the bedroom.  I had two couples to keep up with after all.

I even ended the book with two separate sex scenes for two couples. I think that’s a first for me.

I pulled some very late nights. I used up almost all of my vacation except for the already-scheduled days off around the holidays. Dark & Early did NOT work this time. I relied on the 10PM-1AM or later window, while still getting up at 5:45 AM to get the kids up for school. I start the Evil Day Job at 6:45 AM. Some days I was exhausted by 2 PM and I fell asleep after dinner for a nap several times. Keeping up with the kids’ busy schedule with marching band season in full swing and basketball tryouts right around the corner was rough. Keeping food on the table each night, ditto.  I literally can’t remember what I regularly cook for dinner. Toward the end, we did more frozen pizzas, tortellini, bottled sauces, sandwiches, soup, etc. Easy stuff or quick things in the freezer.

Of course I also had edits on The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain to pull off these last two months too.

All in all, I’m exhausted and ready for some pleasure reading, crochet, and cross-stitching. I have one more task to complete for this month (other than edits on Darker when they come):  Finishing a cute magic-themed novella. I have until 10/30 to get it finished and edited.

Otherwise, the rest of this month is going to be about rest, relaxation.

And planning what I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo.

Soooooo Busy

The next 6 weeks are going to be balls to the wall all the way.

With school back in session, I’m only getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I have to get up by 5:45 to start the to-school routine, so D&E would be 4 ish and I just don’t think I can do it right now. I’ve been staying up late and hitting bed more around midnight. We’ll see how long I can keep that up. The Evil Day Job is not full-on stress right now at least. I’m busy, but it’s not OMG we’re so far behind!  Whew, so good timing there.

Since my last update, I’ve done two rounds of edits on The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain (final title!), finished a short story for the BDSM GoodReads group, fully plotted Two Cuts Darker and grinding away on it, and flying by the seat of my pants (mostly) on a fun wizard story for a Here Be Magic anthology.

The wizard story needs to be done 9/1 – 9/15 at the latest. I’m about halfway done, maybe a third done (wince) depending on how long this sex scene goes on, targeting 20-30K at the most.

I have a ton to do for Two Cuts Darker yet, but the story is clear in my head. It’s just slow going at the moment. I know eventually if I keep hammering away, I’ll look up and be ready to just fly through the final scenes.  Right now, that finish line still looks a long ways away. I’ve been editing as I go to keep in the story all the time, as much as possible, so that will help. It needs to be done by 9/30, though, and I don’t have much vacation left (unplanned, at least). If I get in a bind, I can steal a few days from the week I’ve got slated for Thanksgiving.

I’m hoping to share a newsletter soon with the cover reveal for the Billionaire story. I’ve also seen the cover for Two Cuts Darker and it’s AWESOME. Different – yet very cohesive with One Cut Deeper. I can’t wait to share them both with you!

I’m looking for help naming a fantasy land in the wizard story, so stop by Here Be Magic tomorrow for a chance to win a gift certificate and be named in the acknowledgements for your help!

Headed to the Farm

It’s been a rough few months and I’m sooooo ready for a nice break!  I’m packing up the monsters and heading to Papa’s farm tomorrow for several days. They’ll ride horses (as long as the heat and humidity isn’t too horrible) and I’m hoping to get a boatload of words done.

I have so much to do.  Getting away will hopefully let me focus and concentrate.  I need a change of scenery and I can’t wait to sit on the back deck and look out over the fields and pond while I write.  The only sad thing is that my beloved sis won’t be able to come this time, but I’m hoping we can hook up in early August before the monsters go back to school.

I hoped to leave tonight after work, but I just have too much to do yet.  Fold laundry, clean up the house a bit, pack, load up all my computers and notebooks, all the food and snacks I’m taking to Dad’s.  The worst part will be trying to get the kids up before noon.  They’re definitely on summer hours:  stay up all night and sleep all day.  I guess if they don’t get up, I’ll leave them for That Man to deal with!

Billionaire #3 Update

I made my deadline! Actually had enough room to spare to do several good edits passes, added a new scene to tie up a loose end, and then wrote the synopsis and blurb. I think I read it through 5 times, and there are parts that still get me a little teary.

This is a holiday novel, and so I wanted to include lots of sentimental, special elements. Kelsey had a HARD life, poor thing, and Harvey is so damaged that she despairs of ever pulling him out of the darkness. But she drags him kicking and screaming into the (Christmas) lights. There are a few bombshells and a sweet moment for Donovan and Lilly at the end. All in all, I’m very pleased with this book.

The only thing that’s bugging me is the title. We can’t use The Billionaire Grinch as I pitched it (trademarked) so we’re brainstorming other alternatives. Right now, it’s tentatively titled The Billionaire Who Hated Christmas, but that’s likely to change. If anyone has an awesome Billionaire + Christmas Grinch/Scrooge title to recommend, I’d love to hear it!

Unofficial (working) blurb:

The Recluse: Billionaire Harvey Caine has despised all things Christmas since his parents died in a car accident during the holidays three years ago. He’s become a shut-in, trapped in his family mansion and tormented with guilt. The only person allowed inside is Gordon Maxwell, his parents’ long-time friend and employee who practically raised him, and the only thing keeping him alive is his determination to win back control of Caine Enterprises from his aunt.

Maxwell knows a lot of Caine secrets, including the fact that Harvey’s parents were involved in a BDSM relationship. Desperate to get Harvey some help, Maxwell decides to hire a Mistress for the holidays with the hope of giving Harvey something else to live for than his obsessions and guilt.

The Maid: Since Harvey’s a full-blown Christmas-hater who refuses to allow anyone inside his house, the only way Maxwell can get professional Mistress Kelsey Marley inside is by pretending she’s his niece who needs a job and a roof over her head for the holidays. Kelsey has the perfect French maid costume meant to drive the billionaire mad and immediately disrupts his entire life with a sultry tease.

The Christmas Bargain: Kelsey knows exactly how to push the billionaire’s buttons, but they’re getting too close, too fast and Christmas is just around the corner. If Harvey finds out she’s been bought and paid for, this holiday might go down in his ledger as the absolute worst Christmas ever.

My Tooth – One Week Later

Checking back with an update on how my tooth is doing.

It’s a little hard to tell if the nerve pain is completely gone because of the weather and my allergies. The pollen counts have been very high in the area, and so I’ve had a lot of sinus pressure and headache that makes my face hurt. However, it’s both sides, not just my right, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the tooth itself.

I quit drinking the eggshells in my smoothie a few days ago too. There’s a bit of an odor (boiled egg smell) and it makes it hard to drink it day after day. I’ve also been a little lax on my bone broth – I’m running low without roasting chickens again, and that’s a several day process. I do have chickens in the fridge – but I think we’re going to fry them tomorrow.

I ran out of arnica days ago, and while I still have hypericum, I haven’t felt the need to take it. I’ve completed oil pulling every day this week except today. Ironically, it makes my tooth hurt a bit more after pulling, as if I’m getting everything stirred up and hopefully pulling out some of the infection that might be lingering. It’s nothing at all like last week when I was afraid I’d have to get a root canal, though.

I’m still flossing regularly with tea tree oil too, and I also have received a fairly expensive “healing” tooth and gum concoction from Ascended Health. I’ve put it on a few days this week, the same way I used the coconut oil and oregano oil. It tingles and feels really good, but I don’t know that it’s helping much. I don’t have a gum issue, but I liked the ingredients and its ability to fight toxins. I hold it in my mouth until I’ve got a lot of saliva built up, and then I swish with it, like the oil, to make sure I’m getting it deep between the teeth.

I’m eating normal foods and not having a problem chewing on that side at all. I don’t have pain when I bite down any longer. I do occasionally have a twinge up in my cheek, but again, I think that might be my sinuses and not the tooth, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

So far so good!

My Crazy Tooth Saga

My family thinks I’m a quack. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dentist and this is only my personal experience.

I haven’t had many good experiences with doctors or dentists. Generally, I’m of the opinion that they’re going to make recommendations based on the all mighty dollar–theirs, of course–and not what would be best for me. Especially if it means I can control my own health through nutrition or natural means and save a bundle.

I’ve had some experience healing a few minor ailments naturally, like a bladder infection. I believe in the healing power of garlic, honey, natural essential oils, Redmond clay, etc. and use them often to keep my immunity up. I drink a green smoothie every morning containing only greens and fruit, sometimes a little yogurt for the probiotics. I keep bone broth in the freezer and the first thing I make when anyone’s under the weather is wholesome chicken soup with that broth and lots of garlic.

So when my tooth started acting up this weekend, I turned to a few of my online sources to see if I could heal it myself.  I’ve been following Katie’s journey to heal her cavities, and that inspired me to try and avoid a root canal if possible.

This tooth (upper molar, second from the back on the right) has given me trouble for a long time. A few years ago, the filling fell out. At first, I didn’t really notice or know what had happened. Then I put off going to the dentist (stupidly–because the fix would have been a lot easier if I’d gone as soon as I realized what had happened). In the end at least a year if not more passed before I got the tooth refilled. As a result, he had to drill quite a bit and warned that it might be too deep for the nerve to continue and I might need a root canal. (This was also before I got too “crunchy” in my efforts at going as natural as possible.)

Just the thought of a root canal scared me! So I immediately started using Earthpaste, a natural toothpaste made from Redmond Clay that helps with mineralization. As I said earlier, I also make chicken broth from bones quite often and coconut oil is in frequent use.

Friday last week, my tooth was suddenly much more sensitive to hot and cold. I started rubbing on coconut oil laced with oregano oil to combat any infection that might be brewing, and researched some possible home remedies. I found recommendations for Arnica (for inflammation and general healing) and Hypericum (for nerve pain/damage) that I easily found at my local health food store.

Before I could go shopping, though, I woke up early Sat morning because of that blasted tooth. Every time I rolled over, my teeth clenched together just enough to send a throbbing pain through that inflamed nerve. It was bad enough I almost asked That Man to cancel our planned trip to Mythos for my birthday so I could get in to see my dentist.

But I knew what conventional medicine would say:  root canal.  I’m torn on whether I really want a dead tooth in my mouth or not. There’s so many conflicting articles about whether root canals are beneficial or deadly (Snopes says all the naysayers are quacks, but there’s a ring of truth to many of the articles that make it difficult for me to discount completely).

I had pain, but it wasn’t more than I could bear, and I didn’t have any swelling. I decided to see if I could get through the weekend, at least until some of my harder-to-get supplies arrived.

So the next steps I implemented as soon as I hit the health food store:

  • Taking arnica and hypericum 3x a day
  • Had some whole grain toast (most people recommend avoiding grains to heal your teeth, but I don’t have any problems with gluten, other than I want to eat it all) loaded with really good Kerrygold butter and local raw honey. For me, this was like a heavenly dessert!
  • Started taking fermented cod liver oil caplets (I’d been doing this before, but quit because they were so expensive).
  • Oil pulling with coconut oil and oregano oil. I’d done this a couple of times, but it’s so inconvenient with my morning schedule, I didn’t get a routine established. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I’ve started getting up 5 mins earlier and swishing while I take the dogs out.
  • Flossing with tea tree oil.
  • Eggshells in my smoothie. I know this is probably the quackiest thing of all, but eggshells have tons of calcium and minerals that can help your teeth. (I also smash up the bones in canned salmon and eat them.) I already buy farm eggs from a guy That Man works with, so I washed them really well, and then boiled the shells for 5-10 mins. Tossed in my Vitamix with spinach, banana, and mango, I hardly knew they were there, other than the occasional gritty piece.
  • Thawed out a jar of chicken bone broth to drink with garlic and ginger, and made beef soup from the Christmas prime rib bones I’d kept in the freezer. I’ve had a cup of bone broth (at least) each day.
  • Continued to rub a paste of coconut oil, oregano oil, and Redmond Clay on my teeth and gums whenever I had any pain.

So in summary, I upped my mineral and calcium intake, my healthy oil intake to help with absorption, as well as using all the natural antibiotics and healing agents I reasonably could. Everything I read said to drink raw milk too, but it’s illegal in my county so that’s a no. I love cheese but generally count it as a luxurious treat, so added sharp cheddar to my menu the last few days.



Saturday was my roughest day. I’d implemented the above routine, but the pain was borderline of what I could bear, though once I started taking the arnica and hypericum, it was significantly better for a few hours at a time.

Sunday I was starting to feel a little better. The arnica/hypericum wore off about 7 AM, so I got up, took some more, and went right back to bed. I still had periods of nearly constant pain, but no swelling and more importantly, it wasn’t worse. The natural arnica and hypericum definitely knocked down the pain, though it wore off quickly enough that I contemplated taking it four times. I caved and smeared on a little Ambesol instead (not natural at all) so I could get another couple of hours of relief in between without overdosing.


Monday: My comfrey and plantain arrived. By then, I probably didn’t need these two items, but they’re not bad to have on hand. I took a pinch of dried plantain and crammed it up near the sore tooth like a wad of chew, holding it for 20 mins or so. It made me feel kind of funny as the plantain-flavored spit got swallowed. I’m thinking it was too strong, so if I do it again, I’ll soak the plantain first, pack in the wet herbs, and then maybe swish with the “tea” once I’m done. The comfrey is supposed to really help “knit” the bone and tooth back together but I haven’t actually used it yet. The plantain made me just a little queasy, so I thought I’d wait and see.

Tuesday: Very little sensitivity. If I rock my jaws back and forth (to get a ridge of my bottom tooth poked up into the filled cavity spot), I can “feel” the filling. The nerve zings me just a little, but nothing major. I’ve been able to chew softer things on that side without issue. I skipped the midday arnica/hypericum dose but took it at night. I also haven’t done much with the paste. Didn’t need to!

Summary:  At this time, I don’t feel like I need to rush to my dentist and beg him to pull out this tooth!

  • I think the arnica and hypericum helped immediately knock the pain down to something more bearable and speed the healing, while I worked on my nutrition.
  • The oil pulling has helped tremendously with sensitivity.
  • I don’t know that the high minerals and coconut oil/butter have helped, but they certainly haven’t hurt.
  • The plantain “wad” might have had some poultice/drawing out effect, but I’d already seen improvement at that point and I would do it differently next time.

I’ll keep with the oil pulling routine, even though it’s inconvenient and see if that’s enough to bring down the remaining sensitivity. Overall, I’m completely relieved and giddy that I can put off any dreaded major dental work for hopefully a long time!

One Cut Deeper Roundup

OneCutDeeper200With it being release week, there’s a lot of action going on. Instead of constantly bombarding everyone with links, I thought I’d just gather them up in one place.

Reviews are coming in!

  • “One Cut Deeper kept me guessing from start to finish. The kink aspects are not for the faint of heart, but fit the relationship between these two characters – and they are integral to suspense plot as well. This is an erotic thriller that should not be missed. It is a fantastic story with just the right blend of kink and suspense.” Romance Novel News
  • “Do not be afraid of this book. This story is so expertly put together, given to us in a way that holds us captive and engages our imagination. It’s about learning to love and accept ourselves and allowing others to love us. I can’t express to you how much I was pulled into these characters’ world. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.” SM Book Obsessions
  • “If you like Dark erotica/romance and suspense/thrillers with sexy sadist Doms that will leave you with warm fuzzy feelings while scaring you just enough to leave you hot and bothered then this is the book for you. This is Joely Sue Burkhart writing what she writes best.” Stephanie Christine
  • “One Cut Deeper is a deeper, darker journey into BDSM and Joely Sue Burkhart was just the perfect author to write something like this. Again, amazing!” Sultry Steamy Reading

Guests posts, background about the story, and some opportunities to win prizes!

Deadline AND Promo Mode

This month’s going to be pretty tricky. I have the following irons in the fire:

  • still promoting The Billionaire’s Ink Mistress from April.
  • Preparing for One Cut Deeper’s release on May 18th.
  • Which means Carina promo (done) and extra blog posts for other sites (I’ve done 2 so far). One of them is really fun – KoKoKoNa helped me!
  • AND on top of all that fun, I have a deadline for The Billionaire Grinch!  I promised it to Tera by mid-May.

AND the kids are SUPER busy with school out this month.  Basketball practices and games for two kids (at least Littlest quit softball so we don’t have entire weekends devoted to tournaments). It’s band and choir concert season (which means 4 performances – the pain of having musically inclined children) and a parade next week. So extra rehearsals after school…

Not to mention Princess’s job and upcoming trip to Hawaii end of this month.

PLUS: Huge Evil Day Job project stresses that I feel like I’m constantly behind on, because things keep getting added to my neverending list.

I’ve really been struggling this year with motivation and energy. Spending more time in front of the computer (whether Evil Day Job or writing) just wasn’t helping. In fact, it was slowly killing me (Sitting is the New Smoking).

My calves and knees are aching more. My wrists are killing me (even though I don’t have that many words to brag about). My overall energy has been really low in all aspects and I’m struggling to get things done, like I’m walking in quicksand.

I had to get a grip on things. My stress level has been through the roof, which isn’t good for my blood pressure. I’m sitting all the time, frantically spinning my wheels but not getting anywhere fast. I actually started to have some anxiety symptoms (tight chest) and my mouth is full of fever blisters.

Something had to change. I didn’t want a heart attack for my birthday this month!

So I’ve started a new program that’s really helped. My trusty old timer. I’ve been setting it for 20 min increments. Then as often as I can, I get UP out of my chair and do something. Like pick an upbeat song and walk around my office for a few minutes. Stretch. Do a few squats or pushups (though with KoKoKoNa in my office, getting down on the floor is an invitation for play time, not exercise).

I don’t have time for a huge workout program – and I don’t have the mental willpower to tackle Power 90 again. But I CAN do the same moves in three-to-five minute increments.

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this. I’ve already “worked out” 15 mins today just by taking 5 min breaks as often as I can throughout my work day. I’ve done lots of stretches, marching in place and general steps from cardio programs, a little kick-boxing, some light dumbbells. I mean, I work from home, so no one can see me dancing in my cubicle. I might as well take advantage of it!

On the writing front, this is helping tremendously. I do the same thing: set the timer and write for 20 mins. During that time, I can’t check email or Twitter or open a browser at all. Just words. Then I can get up and take a break. The first couple of sessions, I’d only get 200-300 words. But now, I can get 500, 600, even 800 words in 20 mins. Crazy, right?

That’s 2000 words an hour. I couldn’t BUY 2000 words a DAY before this.

Without sitting and struggling for hours at a time.

The other thing I made myself do last night: I took my “outline” – which was really a couple of sentences in a loose 3-act structure and a few candybar scenes sketched out – and filled it out with much more detail. It took an hour, but I jotted down everything I could think of that I wanted to cover so far. It could use more work as I go (especially near the end), but having a better outline (than a note that says “the hero does the despicable” because I had NO IDEA what I meant by that….) has enabled the higher WPH counts.

So May’s a crazy busy month. I’ll post when I can – definitely when I finish BIllionaire #3. If anyone wants to beta read it before I send it to my editor, I’ll probably only have a day or two before I need to send it in, so it’ll be a quick turnaround. Comment or email me if interested.

Comments Disabled – Edited

I HATE THE STUPID EMJOIS included with WordPress 4.2.  HATE.  Then I find out the very thing I’m disliking is a security vulnerability. So for now, I’m disabling comments.

Yes, they just released a fix, but I’m still mad about the stupid emojis and I can’t figure out how to get rid of them. Even now, they’re staring at me in the below pane.

Grrr.  Not cool, WordPress. Not cool.

Update: 4.2.1 is out which supposedly fixes the issue. I’m going to give it time.  There’s also a plugin to disable the emojis, but I’m still seeing them below.

Final Update: Rather the the disable emoji plugin, use Classic Smilies. It corrects all the crap emoji inserts with 4.2.

Comments going back on!

WordFence is the BOMB

Someone on Twitter mentioned that they loved the WordFence plugin a few weeks ago (I think it was @mharvey) and I installed it.  I haven’t been hit with attempted hackers lately TO MY KNOWLEDGE but that hack years ago when my site was hosted on yahoo was one of my most horrible memories.  I almost deleted the whole thing and said f*ck it.

Last night I was trying to do dinner and my gmail box was flooded constantly with WordFence notifications.  400+ between when I left work to pick up the kids and got home.  By 8:00pm I easily deleted 600+ notifications.  I went into WordFence and tweaked a few of the settings to further limit access (these were all invalid login attempts with user accounts that didn’t exist), and the emails dwindled to a trickle.

But the plugin is blocking those IPs for me automatically.

Of course WordPress itself never told me I had a problem.  I have a different iThemes Security plugin installed and not a peep from it either.

So a few words of advice:

  1. Never use the generic user ids like Administrator or admin or your site’s domain name.  Those were the top 3 attempts to hack my site.
  2. Get WordFence posthaste.  I don’t even have the paid version – though as good as this was, I’m very tempted now and will look into the benefits.