I made ten goals this time last year to hold myself accountable--and while I certainly met some of the goals, there are a couple I did not. Not even a little bit. Some highlights:
Mindfulness became easier with a new job, I finished more than 3 romance manuscripts (I have 3-4 books coming out in 2019!), I started an exercise routine that works great for me, I read the perfect amount of books both inside and outside my favorite genres, and I finished writing a thriller without a drop of romance. It was tough but so worth it.
Those are all incredible feats for me and I'm taking a quick moment to be proud of myself. However, there are a couple of goals I fell short. The lowlights: I did not hike ten times. I did once and I just wish I could get into it. It wasn't like I didn't have people asking or rooting for me to go (Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth!) I didn't find a writing group but I did join Romance Writers of America and the first book in my Cleat Chasers Series--Challenge Accepted, was a finalist for best young adult romance. I didn't find a better skin-care routine and I never got around to try learning Italian again.
It's time to create my 2019 list of goals and for someone who LOVES to-do lists...this is such a struggle because these are tasks that can just be completed in one sitting. They take time and patience is a virtue I work on daily. Here it goes:
1) Spanish/Italian--I hope to retain my Spanish and find time to learn Italian.
2) Exercise Consistently --running 3-4 times a week worked for me, but I got excited and overdid it a couple of times. I need to find balance and stick with it.
3) Writing series-- I have three series that will be out in 2019 and I hope to finish Cleat Chasers (with book 4!), complete the second in the Out of the Park Series, and the second in Classic Curves.
4) Thrillers-- It was so challenging and fun to write a thriller last year and I hope to write another one. I'm toying with the idea of using a different pen name since there is zero romance, but who knows what 2019 will bring?
5) Getting a house-- The hubs and I are hoping to start looking in January and eek! It's exciting and scary to take this next step.
6) Traveling-- We live in the beautiful southwest and haven't done a lot of traveling. It'd be great to explore some places on the west coast and visit some new baseball parks.
7) Joining a writing group-- I need to do it. Just, join and get over the fear.
8) Discover new music -- This past year my husband introduced me to Jungle and we got to see them live. They are incredible and I rarely branch out of my typical genres. I hope to take time to discover new bands.
9) Keep a tracker journal --I always have the best intensions to track my hobbies/water intake/exercise/etc. but I never follow through. I bought a bullet journal and hope to consistently use it.
10) Record the books I finish! (Aiming for 52) -- I never write down or track how many books I read. There are adorable journals you can buy to write a quick review of the books you read and add comments. 2019 goal: ACTUALLY write them down.
Another off-the-record goal is to finish a coloring book. Sure, it's an adult cuss word coloring book that is highly offensive, but it's relaxing and fun.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and enjoy 2019. I know I will!
Can you believe the winter Olympics was held this year? It seems like so long ago...like there's no way we watched Sean White ski and we all cried when he won. (Okay, maybe that was just me but that was amazing) The whole event doesn't feel like this year, but, the calendar says otherwise.
It has been a year to remember (for a lot of good reasons) and I wanted to do a quick top three list of some of my favorite things.
Top Three Books
Top Three TV Shows
Top Three Writing Things I learned
Top Three Moments
The problem with "favorite lists" is that there are tons of more books, TV shows, things learned, and moments that made this past year incredible. I am very lucky to have such a supporting family that understands how much writing means to me and lets me sit at my desk for hours at a time. There have been a lot of secret projects the past couple months and I cannot wait to share them all with you in 2019!
I hope you all had a wonderful 2018 and I wish you all the best for the upcoming year!
I am BEYOND thrilled to share that my debut story, Challenge Accepted, received this award from The Heart of Denver Romance Writers group. It couldn't have come at a more perfect time as I'm finishing up edits for the second book in this series.
Challenge Accepted was SO MUCH FUN to write. The characters are just so happy and full of life. One of my favorite scenes to write was their meet-cute, which happened to be in the lady aisle of Target. In case you haven't picked up a copy, here is a blurb of when Callie and Zade meet.
“Zaria, tampons?” I growled.
“Yes, Zade. Open your narrow mind for a second and realize that your sister, the best person you know, is a woman. Man up.”
“It’s hard to man up while in the lady aisle. Damn. Too many choices.” I ran my hand over my face. “I have no fucking idea what to grab.”
“Dear god. You are a sad human. Have you never gone on a tampon run for one of your little hussies?” Sickness clogged her voice but the humor shone through. She loved messing with me and I couldn’t say she wasn’t right.
“FaceTime me then and show me.” I held the phone out and tried to hit the right button, but she declined it. I called her back, letting out a string of curse words. “What the hell, Zaria?”
“This is too much. Figure it out.” She then hung up the phone. I laughed. My mom liked to tell me that Zaria helped balance my self-esteem, which had apparently been growing inch by inch since I’d been in college. I considered it confidence, while they considered it an ego. I worked out to remain in shape, worked my ass off for a baseball scholarship and had no qualms about what I wanted in the future. Sure, I might have had a reputation for being a womanizer, but eh, I had no regrets.
Last year had been the best year ever. A freshman pitcher with the best stats and a full ride… Life. Was. Fucking. Awesome.
Except, when my sick sister guilted me into helping her…by buying tampons. I had two things left on the list and her torture of me bordered on abusive. Girl products…fuck you, Zaria. I read the list again, plotting my revenge on her. Tampons, sports compact and maximum hold hair shit. Yep, time to man up and read some girlie boxes.
I walked to the area where I thought it made the most sense to store them. Colorful bottles stared at me from every direction. I bent, reading each box. Nothing matched the name on the list.
“God damn it,” I said to no one in particular. Someone snorted and I searched the aisle for whoever had made the sound. “Woah.”
“Well, that’s the first time I’ve gotten that reaction.” The woman’s smile somehow transformed her already beautiful face into one of a model. I loved women, all shapes and sizes, but her… Her beauty stood out above all the other faces I had seen. Her long hair sat on top of her head, a few curls escaping. I had a thing for hair and the guys gave me shit for it, but I had the urge to reach out and yank the ponytail loose. I wanted to see that dark hair spread over a pillow.
“I highly doubt that,” I replied to the gorgeous stranger. To top it off, she wore no makeup and she wasn’t looking at me with wild eyes. She had no idea who I was.
“Consider me flattered then.” She walked closer, her sweet smell penetrating my senses. “I couldn’t help but notice you were uh, struggling a little bit.”
“Oh really? I think it’s perfectly normal for a guy to be hanging out in the lady-product aisle without a care in the world. I pick up my Tinder dates here.” I motioned around with my arms and she quirked a lip in amusement.
“Interesting. How’s that been working out for ya?” She placed a hand on one of her hips and I glanced down to admire her toned legs. She had to be an athlete, no question about it, and the strength of her body intrigued me no end. Not many girls could look hot as hell in athletic shorts and no makeup, yet she caught all my attention.
“I’m about two for four.”
“Hitting five hundred ain’t too bad.” Oh god. Baseball talk.
“Baseball fan?” I raised an eyebrow, somehow already knowing her answer.
“It is the greatest sport in America.” Her red lips formed a smile that I couldn’t help but match with my own. “I take it you are as well? I noticed your Toledo Mud Hens hat. Detroit fan?”
“Marry me. Right now,” I demanded and she threw her head back and laughed. Part of me wasn’t kidding. She fucking knew the farm team for the Tigers? My teammates didn’t know that.
“Ah, my dad wouldn’t approve of a Tigers fan…meaning I graciously decline your kind offer.” She rotated around and pointed to a White Sox logo on the back of her tank top. “We would be doomed to fail.”
I nodded, checking out her toned ass. God, her body had me weak. “Sometimes there’s a little fun in doing what’s wrong.”
She pursed her lips and scrunched her nose. “I feel like that could be a line you’ve used before. Try harder than that.”
“You’ve got me. Most of my Tinder dates like that line.” I shrugged, partially kidding.
“Hmm. With a face like yours, I bet you can say just about anything.” She eyed me, which I had zero problem with. “Now, let’s talk about feminine hygiene products.”
“Uh. Must we?” I groaned but decided to do just about anything to continue talking to her.
“We must. Now, what are you looking for?” She stepped closer, into my bubble, and I tensed up. That never happened to me.
“Sport tampons? Does that make sense?” I sounded like a schmuck. I knew it. She knew it. I mentally cursed my sister—again.
“Sure does. It’s the blue box right here.” She reached up, standing on her tiptoes, and I admired her calf muscles. She handed me the box and I willingly took it.
“Thank you, kind stranger. I swear my sister does stuff to mess with me.” I set the box in the cart and she assessed me in disbelief.
“The ever-nagging sister, yes. I’ve heard of her before.” She smiled, dimples popping out on either side.
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
“I’m not sure. You do seem rather uncomfortable in the girl aisle and you strike me as someone who doesn’t do something he doesn’t want.”
“Good assessment. However, I have another thing I have to get for her and I really don’t want to do that. Care to help a guy out?” I tried the line, knowing it sounded ridiculous. She waited three seconds too long before deciding to grab the list from my hand. I took that as a sign of agreement and cheered. “You rock.”
“I’m doing my kind deed for the day. The pay-it-forward type of thing. I expect good karma after this.” She hurried out of the scary lady aisle. She walked fast, her strong legs carrying her with grace. She had to be a runner and I suddenly wished she ran in front of me every mile I had to run. She ducked down another aisle and I quickened my pace to catch up with her.
“Where are we going?” I frowned at the hair products all around us. Colors were tough for me. Pinks and purples were a little too similar.
“This is the hair aisle. Do you not buy your own shampoo?” She tilted her head and I shrugged.
“Sure I do. But CVS is easier to navigate.”
She laughed and picked up two bottles of some purple stuff. “Here you are.”
I read the bottles and placed them in the cart. “Thank you. Seriously.”
“You’re welcome. I hope your sister enjoys it.” She said the word sister with emphasis and wide eyes.
“You think I made up the sister line, didn’t you?” I cringed, imaging Zaria dying laughing about this.
She wet her bottom lip so quickly I almost didn’t see it. The motion made me want to beg on my knees to see it again. “I want to say yeah, but I don’t want to come across as a tool.”
“You’d be honest. But I assure you, my sister is very real and will laugh her ass off when I tell her a woman didn’t immediately trust me.”
“Hmm, now I’m curious. I’m inferring from that statement that you pick up women frequently.”
“As I said, I’m two for four in the Tinder department. As far as Target pickup lines, I’m currently zero for one.” I slid that in there, hoping to at least get a smile. It did. Bam.
“Cute.” She continued to eye me and I let her. She wasn’t blatant or intrusive. She weighed her options and I appreciated that in a woman. “Who said you struck out, though?”
My eyes widened at her insinuation. An unfamiliar sensation of joy spread through my chest. “When someone turns down a proposal, it’s hard on the ego.”
If you want to keep reading, you can purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
One of my favorite things to do when I discover a new author, is to head to their website and learn about their craft. How do they write? What is their routine? What works and doesn't? What have the learned and/or celebrated? It's fascinating to learn how others work because everyone is so different. Some are "pantsers" who don't plot anything in advance and just sit down and write. Others are "plotters" who like the name, plot out the chapters before writing. Some are half-and-half, a little of both. Some are turtle writers, who take their time. None are right or wrong. Maybe I'm just nosy, but mainly I think I am always looking for ways to connect with other writers but also for new ideas. You never know when something can spark a idea, that turns into a full-blown story. After all, my debut story, Challenge Accepted, was fueled by my husband's worn and faded Toledo Mudhen's hat.
My routine is actually pretty loose. What I've recently started doing--which has helped me a lot with organization-- is to create a google sheet where I tracked dates, word count, and how many words are left until I reach my goal. And yes, I color code the shit out of it because color coding is my jam.
Once I get this set up, I sit down and write. As I said before, a single idea, quote, movie, photo, interaction with strangers, etc. can spark an idea. The motivation for Take a Chance on Me actually stemmed from seeing a couple hiking. They were so in sync--playfully swatting at each other and flirting with such ease, I knew they had known each other for a long time. Bam. I created Kate and Brody and my original opening scene (which got edited out) was of them hiking and Kate saw a rattlesnake (a real concern in Arizona) and Brody giving her shit for freaking out. Anyway, I digress.
I just signed a contract for my sixth book to be published (Omg, yay) and I’ve learned quite a bit about my writing style and what works for me. If you know me at all, you wouldn’t be surprised to know I’m a “panster” and don’t plan each chapter. I’ve tried that--but when I would get to the middle, the original plan would be meaningless because my characters would end up doing what they want. It’s cheesy, I know, but it doesn’t make it less true. My upcoming release next June, Whiskey Surprises, had an entirely different ending when I wanted to sit down and write it. It was a bit of a shock (but definitely better for the characters) for me to see how it ended. But besides the initial meet-cute, and the general happy ending, the middle is all the fun part.
Maybe I’m just nosy when I read (stalk) how other writers go about their craft, but I’m always looking for a new idea. So, I wanted to share three things I’ve accepted as I’ve grown as a writer.
If you’ve read this far, awesome. Writing is amazing and heartbreaking, so different for every person, and one of the best things in the world. There is no right or wrong way to write. So if you have the itch, or want to try it out, just do it. Write.
I am beyond thrilled to announce I have two books scheduled to be published Spring 2019. The Game Changer and Evening the Score! Both of these stories are close to my heart and I am so excited for you to read their stories. Here's a quick blurb about them!
The Game Changer | April 2019
Cleat Chasers Book 2
Pretending to date your best friend is a great idea, right?
Greta Aske has a lot going on: fear of student loans becoming too much to afford on a teacher’s salary, worrying about her brother’s divorce, and going on a string of bad dates that has her giving up on men, at least for the time being. Her focus becomes saving as much money as she can and getting good grades. Her life contains a little too much drama and she needs a break. The perfect solution presents itself: pretend to date the campus’ playboy. That’ll keep the guys away for sure.
Aaron Hill is desperate to save his baseball career, because with his dad fighting cancer, he damn well knows he can’t ask for a single penny from his parents. Baseball is his past, present, and future so when a scandal breaks out threatening his future in the MLB, he turns to his best friend for help. They stage a fake relationship to keep him out of trouble. It’s perfect, really. Greta’s taking a break from dating and Aaron needs to focus on training. Nothing could go wrong.
The issue is… the deal was that neither would fall for the other. It was all staged and they had to stick to the plan. But, when lines are crossed, what’s real and fake blurs and they are forced to face their fears. Is Greta the game changer Aaron needs?
Evening the Score | May 2019
Out of the Park Book 1
Enemies to lovers
Fiona Davis and Gideon Titan have nothing in common--except their mutual dislike of each other. She’s an over-talkative college senior unsure of what she wants to do with her life. She volunteers to coach a baseball team at the suggestion of a charity close to her heart. He’s a down-trodden MLB player desperate to save his career whose manager volun-told him to coach the youth team to rediscover his love of the game.
She hates his attitude and extravagant, multiple-car owning lifestyle. He hates her constant need to prove herself and the way she snorts when she laughs. They both hate the six days a week they’re forced to see each other. What starts with a snarl boils into a sexual tension they both resent. The only time they aren’t arguing is when they’re naked—thus enemies with benefits begins.
They did it all backwards: enemies, co-coaches, lovers, then to some version of friends. It couldn’t be a break-up when the season comes to an end, because they were never together. But it feels like one. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the ride the feelings became real and someone has to take the first step. There’s not a chance in hell it’ll be Fiona...unless he can prove he’s worth the risk. But that means making sacrifices and that’s asking too much for two people who know what it means to lose.
Hope you're excited as I am!
Catchy title, huh? I wanted to give a quick end of summer update as so many exciting things happened. The biggest--my brother got married and it was incredible. I cried. All of us cried (except my brother--we did have some bets going on about him though). I love my sister-in-law and am so excited she joined the family!
Cheesy post alert: the hubs and I have been together 10 years. We've been married for five, but we started dating back in 2008 and holy shit.
I may or may not be obsessed with this cover. It perfectly captures the tension and chemistry between the two characters, Brody and Kate, and there might be a kitchen scene in the book that starts like this... but I am beyond stoked to rerelease this crazy, friends-to-lovers story that will make you laugh, and maybe cry.
Are you a on-click buyer? Click here!
Want an excerpt? Keep reading for a quick and perfect scene where the two longtime friends finally agree to go on a date. There were shenanigans and a bet going on...
“I have to bat. Don’t punish me too much, please?” She puppy-dog eyed me before jogging off. She hit a solid single to right field and jumped up and down, so excited that she slipped off the bag.
“You good?” I shouted, not even trying to hide my laughter.
“Emotionally bruised. That’s all.” She brushed the dirt off her ass and ran like a fool when the next person hit a triple. She jogged up to me, out of breath with her hands on her knees. “Lay it on me. What do I have to do?”
“Go on a date with me. Don’t overthink it.”
“Wait, that’s it?” She looked up at me with a furrowed brow. “A date?”
“You? On a date? With me?”
“Yes, that is typically how it works, right? Or is that not what people do anymore?”
“But…Brody.” She shook her head and kicked the dirt, running her foot back and forth. “It’s you.”
“What does that mean, exactly?” Anger crept up my chest.
“You don’t do ‘dates.’” Her little air quotes pissed me off.
“I don’t really care what I do or don’t do. You lost the bet. Your punishment is a date. End of, Shorty.” I ran a hand down her arm, squeezing. “Turn off your overactive brain.”
A smile broke through her barriers, and she bit her delicious lip. “Okay. When?”
“You’ll get details at a later date.” I puffed my chest and tried not to appear too smug.
“Oh, so your people will call my people?” She snorted, shoving me in the side.
“You realize I do have people, right?”
“Oh, my God. I forgot. You do.”
“So, I need to hear a yes.”
“Sure. I guess. I don’t have a choice.” She grumbled and picked up her glove to walk to her car.
“No, you don’t.”
Want to read more? Go here to check it out!
You get the picture. Everyone has those set of things/actions/sounds that drive them wild. This is just a short list but I opened up Pandora's box today. I needed to research more pet peeves for this awesome character I'm writing and I tend to incorporate my own... because they drive me crazy and are easy to write about...but I wanted something different. #Regrets
I stumbled upon the worst, cringe-worthy pet peeves I will not be able to unread. Since I'm a caring person... I'm going to share the top ten horrifying pet peeves I can't get out of my brain.
1. The feel of chalk. (cringgggge)
2. People who take home milk from the work refrigerator.
3. The sound when people clip their toenails.
4. People scuffing their feet when they walk.
5. Heating up fish in the communal microwave.
6. People biting their nails.
7. The sound when someone with long nails scratched their skin. (gahhh)
8. Loud swallowers.
9. Creepers at red light. The people who stare at you waiting for the line to turn. (Yikes)
10.When you think you know the flavor of the jellybean... and it's totally different and your mouth dies a little bit.
The first and last one get me the most... but now I have so much fuel and ideas for this character's pet peeves.
So, any of these one of your pet peeves?
How much do authors put tidbits of their life into their stories? There was a trend on Twitter awhile ago that dove into how much writers intentionally or accidentally put themselves into their stories. It got me thinking. Naturally, it's easier to write what you know, but what is true? Four major things stuck out about the three books I have out right now.
Restaurants: I clearly love food. Is that obvious yet? Every time characters go out to eat, drink, coffee, desserts (okay, they eat a lot in my books?) the place is based off a real location, I always change the name though... and almost all of the places are either based in Phoenix or my college town in the Midwest.
Jobs: Another "food" thing. Next book, I'm not writing about one damn food scene. That's my goal. But really, waitressing, education, technology, corvettes, landscaping, bartending... I've had a lot of odd jobs and these are fun and easy to write about because I know them. It is equally fun and challenging doing research on jobs I have zero experience with (like all the college or professional sports, but, it's definitely NOT a hardship looking up baseball and football players for hours...)
Sports: If you didn't know, my husband works for a MLB team and baseball is essentially a part of our household just as much as our dogs are. Due to the hubs' obsession, I've slowly turned into this baseball fanatic who can spout random stats and facts. I even started listening to radio broadcasts because I freak out if I miss a game. I'm that person now. We play on a co-ed softball team, watch MLB TV every day, and talk about players like they are our friends. It's totally normal.
In conclusion, my next book the characters won't eat anything and I'm going to have them hate sports just to challenge myself.