Mine to Break is out now!

He’s bringing war to the Mistress of Dallas’s bed.

Mal & Colby are finally out in the wild!  Retailer links are below.

This book got me writing again after the darkness of the past few months.  Mal and Colby gave me hope and reminded me about all the things I love. I got to visit with old friends, fix a few things that I left unfinished or didn’t get quite right, and hopefully lay a few threads down for the future. There’s also an Easter egg – a character makes a brief appearance from a different series.

And blackberry cobbler will never be the same!

Experimentation

Is it possible to fanfic yourself?

It sounds crazy and full of hubris, I know. *cringe*  But here’s what I’m working on while waiting for Mal to hit the world.

I’m on several Facebook groups for pre-made cover artists. Mostly I’m just watching for sales, deals, and getting a taste of each artist’s work to know whether I want to hit them up in the future. All of them are new-to-me artists that I personally had never heard of.

One day, someone posted a cover that literally made me gasp out loud.

It was so ME. The old me, the core me, the original Dreamer. The person who wrote the bloody Shanhasson stories. Blood, menage, it screamed ME ME pick ME.

But it was clearly contemporary.

I could not shake that cover. It haunted me. Within hours, I had to buy it. Even though I’m seriously strapped right now after remaking all the Connagher covers and generally having very little royalties coming in since I haven’t had a new release in ages.

I HAD TO HAVE IT. Even though I didn’t have a story for it.

It already had a story. I just had to write it.

After payment, I made that cover my wallpaper. I also printed out a small version and taped it to one of my notebooks. And I started writing down my dreams, because yeah, I dreamed the book right away.

It’s been a long, long time since I dreamed a book.  (This is Dreaming in Rhyme, after all, but I’m generally too tired nowadays to dream a book that I can actually remember the next day.)

It’s basically the Shanhasson premise, copied into a contemporary setting. With vampires.  I mean, I already had the blood, the biting, the whole bonding thing in Shanhasson. It was always vampiric without actually bringing out the fangs.

I condensed a couple of characters into one. I set clear boundaries for myself, that this would be ROMANCE only. No major character deaths. But otherwise, it’s Shanhasson in a modern world. With vampires. Did I say vampires?  I swore I’d never write a vampire book but there you go.

All first person.  So you get first person Dharman/Rhaekhar scenes. First person Sal scenes. First person Shannari scenes. AND I CAN’T WAIT FOR FIRST PERSON GREGAR scenes. Sorry, I’m shouting. But I can’t fucking wait – though that will likely be book two the way I have it set up in my mind.

And now, I’m more confident in a BDSM setting too. When I wrote Rose, I had no idea that was the direction I’d eventually go. (It was my first book.)  I had no clear understanding of masochism and submission – just what the characters needed and wanted. I didn’t have the labels.

I didn’t know the significance of a Blood kneeling before his queen and offering his throat, yet still being fully alpha and tough.

Yeah.

Oh, and this menage won’t cheat the boys either. It’s all MMF, baby. Then some MMMF.

Another oh, I think this will be my first MMMFF too. Yeah, I will go there, a first for me, in book 3. I’ve had a certain somebody ask if I’d ever do FF and the right character and book world has arrived.

The only cramp in all this will be purchasing covers for books 2 and 3 because she’s $$$ if it’s not premade. The chances that she’d do another premade exactly like what I need are slim, so I’ll need to set funds aside for custom. Ideally I’ll release these close together, but it depends on how quickly I can get covers turned around. She’s already booked into December, so by the time I raise the funds, it might be 2018 before I can get the covers made.

I’m a damned fast typist, but this is the kind of book that I literally cannot type fast enough to capture. I’m planning to blow through these 3 books as quickly as possible and have them written, ready to release close together. Then see what I can do for covers. And no, I won’t show you the cover that started all this until I have everything lined out.

But I promise. It’ll blow your mind.

It sucked to be twenty two years old and still afraid of the dark.
Bad things always happened in the dark. I’d learned that at an early age, when my father was brutally murdered in front of me. My mother met the same fate when I was seventeen.
Waiting for the sun to set, monsters were real and they were always hungry. Always hunting.
Demons with pasty gray skin, wasted bodies down to skin and bones, with red, glowing eyes. Mom always said they were hunting her, but after she died, I kept seeing them.
They were still hunting… me.

Mal and Colby, Favorite Lines, ARCs, and more

It was a long time coming (snerk) but Mal and Colby are finally finished and ready to share.  If you’re able and willing to post an online review, sign up to receive an ARC here.  I’ve automated this process as much as possible to get the book in your hand quicker.

Mal is a damned fine Mistress (her words) so hopefully I did her justice. I don’t know that I could have written her before Lilly (The Billionaire Submissive), who taught me so much about femdom. So many layers, so many ways a scene can unfold. So many ways it could go wrong, or so very very good. It all depends on the Mistress and how she controls the scene.

She reminded me of all the things I love about writing and got me back into the headspace I needed to find my words again. She may have lured Colby with blackberry cobbler, but she lured me with her confidence and effortless control. A reminder to trust the process. To sink into it and let it be. Let it happen. Because…

Her hand locked on his nape, her grip strong and unyielding. He closed his eyes, soaking it in. Peace. Everything would be all right. Everything would work out for the best. Everybody was safe. He could close his eyes and rest. Because his Mistress had him by the neck and wasn’t letting go.

Some other favorite lines without spoiling too much…

The hell if he could think with his dick tied up in a bow.

 

“If BDSM is like this… Why doesn’t everybody do it?”
She choked back a laugh and tucked his face against her throat. “The hell if I know, sugar.”

 

Now all I can do is sit back, watch the Mistress of Dallas unleashed in the world, and hope for the best. I’d love to write more of the extended Connagher family (there are some developments with Elias, Vicki and Jesse that you learn in this book, and I’ve got an idea for Mason brewing), but a lot rides on how Mal does.  It wiped me out to get all this redone after Samhain closed, in more ways than one.

So we’ll see. In the meantime, I appreciate anything you do to help spread the word!

Overcoming Inertia

So it’s been a pretty long drought.  But I can finally say… I finished another book.  Mal’s book, MINE TO BREAK, is finally going to release on July 25th!  You can pre-order it for $2.99 on Amazon here, but I will be uploading this book wide to other retailers if Amazon is not your jam.  (It just may not be up for pre-order, though I’ll see how it goes once I get edits completed.)

So how did I finally grow some words in a barren, cracked earth?  It took some doing, that’s for sure.

The number one thing that helped me was a class I took in May at the Margie Lawson Writing Academy, called Write Better Faster with Becca Syme.  It’s a little pricey for a class ($75) but highly recommended and well worth your time.

But don’t go into the class expecting some secret handshake that suddenly helps you write 5K a day. It’s not that kind of class. First off, she had us take personality and strength quizzes.  What makes you tick as a writer and person? Once you delve into personality, she helps you tap into the proven tactics that increase productivity and performance for your unique situation.  This includes an hour on the phone with her talking through the results and things to try.

For the planner lovers, we even had a session on which planners tend to work best for your personality.

But for me, none of that was as illuminating as the class on essential pain. That’s the idea that sometimes change and growth and work can be painful. It’s a natural human survival tactic to want to avoid pain (unless you’re a masochist!), so sometimes we avoid doing what we know we need or want to do, just to avoid that pain, without even realizing it. Ironically, we end up causing ourselves MORE pain with that avoidance.

So I realized for a lot of reasons I can’t get into publicly that I had started to avoid writing, because I didn’t want to face that other pain.  As Jane Yolen says, a writer has to “tell the true.” And I was avoiding the true.  Which caused me more pain, because I lost the thing that was giving me sanity and pleasure when I most needed it.

Silly, huh?

The other thing that has really helped me this year, and especially this past week, is daily meditation.  I use HeadSpace, available in your app store. This week, I started the creativity track and WOW.  It’s so illuminating, literally.  When I was avoiding writing, avoiding the true, I ended up making myself smaller.

I was drawn up tight in a fetal position, just holding on for dear life.

At first, I was trying to protect myself – but when you’re small, you take up less space, and nature abhors a vacuum. Others start taking up that space, squishing you even smaller. And smaller. And smaller. Maybe intentional, maybe not, but it’s hard to gain space to breathe.

But as I started to uncurl and look around and push back against the crowded confines I’d gotten used to, I realized… hey. Why was I allowing myself to be made to feel so small? It wasn’t protection – it was prison.

The creativity pack starts with a visualization, that your creative energy is a spark inside your chest. Small, but bright. And then you visualize it growing. It fills your body, the room, envelopes your house, the world, the UNIVERSE. It’s not small, it’s HUGE and wonderful and you sit there imagining all this warmth and sunlight and energy all around you and I’m thinking

DAMN! WHY DID I GIVE THIS UP?

And then in the next heart beat, I’m thinking

I’LL NEVER LET ANYONE MAKE ME FEEL SMALL AGAIN.

Mine to Break Updates

Mal is coming soon! I promise!

I took a huge step (for me) and set up Mine to Break as a pre-order on KDP/Amazon.  I’ve never set a hard deadline for myself like this before. Now it’s real and I’ve got to meet my commitment. It’s a good test for me and should match up with my personality well.  I need the pressure to perform sometimes!

I’ve returned to Dark & Early, even though it’s complicated.  Luckily (?) I’ve been waking up between 4-5 with hot flashes anyway, so it’s just a matter of training myself to get up rather than falling back asleep for an hour. The book is almost at 30K already and I have a good skeleton for the last part of the book. I have a few sexual transformation elements to figure out first before I can say for sure how those scenes will unfold, and an unmet dream to discover. But the deep pasts and emotional wounds are playing out pretty well I think.

Kanaxa made the cover last week and it’s just as gorgeous as the others.  Join my newsletter if you haven’t yet, because later this month I’ll be sending the first chapter and sharing the cover there first.

Let me go make some words tonight before the late Royals game!

Guess that Book 2

Another really great night in the mystery book last night.  Believe it or not, this book is almost up to 10K. Sadly almost as much as I wrote all last year.  :-(

I ended in a bit of a tricky spot last night and I’m not sure how I’m going to get out of it.  We’ll see how tonight goes!

She let amusement dance in her eyes with a quirk on her lips. “You might like being house trained.”
His shoulders vibrated, his chin jutting out, his jaws working like he chewed on gravel rather than an expensive steak. “Not. Happening.”
“Good,” she purred, sipping her wine. “Keep on saying that. I like it. I like it a lot.”

Guess that Book

The good news:  I’m writing frantically again!  The bad news: it’s not what I’m supposed to be working on right now. So I don’t know how long I’ll indulge myself.

But it’s so so so nice to have fun with words again. To write effortlessly, thousands of words in an evening, and wallow in them afterward, giddy and happy with what I wrote.

So let’s play a little game. I’ll post a few lines each day I write in this book, just like i used to do in the old days. You try and guess which book it is.

Winner can read all the chapters I’ve completed so far, if they so desire.

Here’s the first clue that I posted on Twitter last night (with a bit more words since I have the space).

“What’s the catch?”
She licked her spoon again and damned if his eyes didn’t roll back in his head. He sucked in a deep breath, holding back the surge of lust that demanded he toss this table aside and fall on her like a starving man. “I get to be the lucky woman to break you.”

 

Instant Pot Rabbit Stew

I haven’t shared a recipe in awhile, and while this was super easy – it was so good that we have no leftovers despite filling the 6-quart Instant Pot to the brim.

Rabbit isn’t something we eat very often, sadly. I’ve avoided most wild game since my childhood, but my dad convinced me to try rabbit again last year and it was fantastic.  Granted, these weren’t actually wild rabbits, but home raised with a controlled diet, but they didn’t have that sharp wild taste at all.

A guy at That Man’s work gave him a rabbit, but only 1 to feed 5 people, all which love rabbit, was a challenge. I’m pretty sure Middle could have eaten the whole rabbit by herself if we’d grilled it!

Rabbit Stew stretched out the rabbit to feed all of us. Middle ended up having 3 bowls, and Littlest ate the last of the “leftovers” That Man was going to take for his lunch tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • rabbit, cleaned, 3-4 lbs. Whole or cut up (doesn’t matter)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • salt, pepper, basil, rosemary to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 3-4 carrots, large sliced (they’ll cook to mush in the Instant Pot if you’re not careful)
  • 3-4 potatoes, peeled, large sliced
  • baby portabello mushrooms, large sliced (I used 3 huge ones from Sam’s Club)
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced fine
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • homemade noodles (optional, but crucial for my family. I had some set aside from Thanksgiving in the freezer)

Instructions

  • The cleaned rabbit was already in a large Ziplock bag.  I added flour, salt, and pepper directly to the bag and shook it up to coat.
  • Preheat the Instant Pot on the saute setting.  Add 2 T olive oil and brown both sides of the meat.  It’s okay to use the whole rabbit intact as long as it’ll fit.
  • Once browned, I added water to almost cover the rabbit since I wanted broth for stew. Add herbs of your choice but rosemary was nice.
  • I used the Instant Pot’s built-in meat setting (35 mins) and released the steam manually at the end of the cycle.
  • Add the veggies and set the Instant Pot for manual 10 more minutes.
  • My Instant Pot was filled to the brim, so I let the steam release naturally for a good 15 minutes before I turned the valve to reduce splatter.
  • By now, the rabbit was literally fall-apart tender. I removed the meat and bones with a slotted spoon and let it cool a few minutes until I could pull out the meat and return to the pot.  I don’t like a lot of skin or dark meat, so I saved out all the icky stuff for That Man to eat.
  • Add the homemade noodles if you have them. I cranked the Instant Pot back to saute so it’d boil the soup and cook the noodles for about 10 minutes.  The homemade noodles were coated in flour to prevent sticking in the freezer, which gave a nice thickness to the broth.
  • Taste and add more salt if needed.

By the time I added all the veggies, I’d filled the pot to the max fill line. And we still ate it all.  The broth was rich and thick, beautifully seasoned.  Some parts of the rabbit were a bit stringy but overall it was delicious and easy to make.

Noise Noise Noise

I sound like the Grinch – but Whoville is in my head and it’s been rather noisy lately.  Okay, for the past year.

For me, indecision and uncertainty can be crippling.  It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to let go and just deal with whatever may happen.  I’m consumed with “what ifs” that honestly don’t even matter, all spawned by whatever cliff might be approaching.

Like the whole Samhain thing – for over a year. Will they close? What if they close? What if they don’t give me my rights back? WHAT IF THEY DO?

Thousands and thousands of incessant thoughts swirling all the time in the background. Then add in Princess’s college decision, Middle’s knee rehab and whether she’ll be able to play next year, Evil Day job fun (cough), That Man generally being an ass, other submissions hanging over my head…

It’s hard to get any writing done when so much clamor is filling up my brain.

I guess I wasn’t really aware how much this noise actually distracts me, because I’ve lived with it so long. But I’ve been practicing meditation this year, and wow, it’s eye opening how many times my brain wants to gallop off into a new direction just in a 10-15 minute window. Even being aware of the noise, my brain couldn’t shut it off – I started thinking about this blog post and what I would say about said noise when I was meditating – rather than meditating!

My brain is firing off about half a dozen steps ahead most of the time.  This book, this plot point, what if this, one of the kids needs…. The Evil Day Job needs… etc. etc. etc. a thousand times a second.  Sometimes I do literally hold an entire book in my head at once – or even multiple books.  If I can just type fast enough, I might be able to capture them all.

Needless to say, I haven’t been productive in a long time, but FINALLY Samhain has closed and I’ve gotten my rights back so I can start making new plans.  I still struggle with indecision with some of the details, but just making that step is a huge part of my brain being able to focus on a new plan and settle down.

And yes, I’m still practicing meditation and will continue working on finding those moments of blue sky and quiet perfect calm inside my own head!