Writing Holidaze

Am I here to talk about more book delays? YES. Am I super sorry that I can’t get my life right and finish Kiss of Life? YES.

But I will say that I’m really trying hard to get it together. The holiday season is my favorite time of year and I like the warm and tinglies I get from reading and writing romance during the hustle and bustle. So despite all of the headaches of holiday shopping and travel, I am pushing forward.

I know what you’re thinking:

But I’m working through my writer’s block (November was a black hole of blockage) and hope to have Kiss of Life out soon. I have, however, pushed A Devil Named Dixon back to 2015, obvs. So I hope all of you will stay with me and just know that Vivica and Niko want their story told just as much as you want to read it. 🙂

Happy holiday season everybody!

Looking Ahead to 2015

Wow what a year! I started my self-pub journey close to a year ago and so much has happened. 2014 has been the shizz! I want to thank all of YOU for making my year so great. I’ve had ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, but throughout it all, I’ve remained hopeful that I will keep upping my game with every new release. Now that I have two moderately successful pen names, I’m feeling nothing but excitement for the upcoming year. So without further ado, let’s discuss possible ideas for 2015!

First of all, in early 2015, I have plans for three books.

Kiss of Night (St. James Family #4) – This book will feature Holland St. James, Vivica’s brother. It will be the last full novel in the St. James Family series, but I’m still planning novellas that will return to Annata, Toni, and all the rest.

Spitfire Suckerpunch (House of Pain #2)Stone Cold Knockout is just out, but it’s not doing as well as I wanted it to. However, I have lots of ideas for these books. There’s more characters and more possibilities for a sprawling series, so we’ll see. Spitfire Suckerpunch will be BWWM, and will feature a tough girl from Harlem who meets her match in a not-so-gentle giant. I’m super excited for this couple. Tate is a different hero than I’ve ever written before. He’s a shy guy and not as sexually experienced as a typical romantic hero. I think I’ve talked before about wanting to write a virgin hero, and although he’s not a virgin, he’s by no means a player. My virgin hero is still TBA 🙂

A sequel to the dark erotic book under my other pen name – this pen name is heating up, and I’m pretty excited to explore my–ahem–more taboo side through this pen name.



Other books I’m planning for 2015 include:

The Dirty Rotten Dixons series.

A standalone featuring an Asian hero.

A series about chefs and restaurant owners in NYC, featuring Vadim, Mikhail from Stone Cold Knockout‘s brother.

A dystopian series about a militaristic future society, featuring two sisters who are trying to survive. I’m planning this as a two book series, but we shall see. I don’t foresee big sales for this idea, but I want to write it, so I’m gonna! I’m stubborn that way 🙂

I’d really love to do another holiday book, maybe a standalone. I love warm and fuzzy holiday romance novels, especially when people get snowed in to little cabins… so we’ll see if I’ll get my life together and write one.

So there you have it.

I’ve got big plans! Hope you guys are as excited as I am…


Mid-Year Book Release Update

Sooo summer is upon us (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is) and I’ll admit I’m not writing as much as I should… It’s so nice out and there’s so much to do and blaaaaaah blah blah.

What I’ve been doing instead of writing…

However, I assure you Stone Cold Knockout is coming, slowly but surely. I’m about two-thirds of the way through and I’m working on it everyday, bit by bit. I’m hoping for a June 25th release date, but I think that might be a little optimistic. It’s looking more like late June/early July.

Other book news:

I’m working on a novella about a rescue in the Grand Canyon featuring a Black Woman/Native American Man pairing that I hope to have out in July. I’m also working on a DARK (we’re talking scary dark) erotic novel that I’m going to put out under another pen name in July. Maybe I’ll tell you what it is, if you ask nicely. Tee hee!

Next, I hope to have Kiss of Life out in September and a short novella featuring Holland St. James out around the same time as well. As you may remember, Holland is Vivica’s brother and Annata and Toni’s cousin, and he showed up last in Kiss of Ice. The novella will set up the last book in the St. James Family Series, Kiss of Night, which will be out in 2015.

Lastly, I’m still planning book one in my new suspense series, A Devil Named Dixon, for November. I’m still in the brainstorming stages for it, but I am super excited about it.

Whew! That was a lot of info. Hope everybody is having tons of fun in the sun!


Why Write Romance?

So I read this article yesterday on nymag.com. Historical novelist Eloisa James is interviewed and she has some great things to say about being a romance writer. That inspired me to write a little bit about why I choose to write romance.

First off, I’m a feminist.

Does that matter? Yes!

I decided to write romance novels because I like that romance novels are (for the most part) written for women, by women. Like rom-coms, melodramas, chick-lit, and soap operas, romance novels are often considered ‘not artistic’ or ‘less than’ because of this fact.  50 Shades of Grey and Twilight are just the latest punching bags in the long history of women’s lit and romance punching bags, but I think it’s unfair to make these two hugely successful outliers the ‘end all be all’ of romance. There are a TON of romance novels, with lots of different characters, storylines, and messages. As we true romance fanatics know, 50 Shades is not indicative of all romance, period. But since women are the ones buying and reading romance, I do think it’s important that there be some actual feminist thought contained behind all those bodice-ripping pages.

Straight up: I wrote Kiss of Ice because I was fed up with the types of heroines that were being written in romance. I was tired of the Bellas and Anastasia Steeles. There’s obviously something attractive about those types of weak heroines for a large portion of the population, but I am not one of those readers. I like a bitchy heroine, an active heroine, a difficult heroine, a smart heroine, a heroine that knows what she wants and goes for it. I like a heroine that’s not perfect and not sweet.  And I like a male hero who likes a difficult, smart, feisty, not-perfect heroine. I like the fight. I like the banter. I like the power shifts that happen. I like the clash of two people on an equal playing field.

That’s the important part: in the end, they’re equals. By the end of Kiss of Fire, Toni and O’Donovan are equals. Christophe and Annata are equals. One isn’t more powerful or any more ‘right’ in their relationship. One doesn’t dominate the other. There’s a shifting of power and a back and forth as they fall in love and they figure out how to be together, but in the end, the struggle makes it all worth it. That’s how I think relationships should be. I like when my heroes and heroines are a team. And, of course, I like the happily ever after of two people who are meant to be together. Who wouldn’t?

Not all my heroines are bitchy… but they are all complex and three-dimensional, because that’s how human beings are. Their lives are enriched by being in love, but the love doesn’t take over everything. They’re all successful and self-actualized in their own right. I like writing, and reading, about women like that. (P.S. I’m always looking for stories with heroines like that, so if you know any, comment below!)

Lastly, I decided to write romance because I couldn’t NOT write romance. Most of my writerly persuasions and inclinations lean toward romance. When I write scripts, I tend to keep the romance front and center as well, although I’ve written mostly action and horror scripts. I can’t help it! I love a good love story. By ‘good love story’, I mean a love story full of drama and stakes and real connection between two characters. When watching a movie or reading a book, I can’t stand when I’m supposed to believe that two characters are in love because I’m told that they’re in love. I want to see them fall in love. I want to see that moment when they realize that they can’t live without each other. I want to see that moment of heartbreak when they can’t be together even though they want to be. I love that shizz. I eat it up with a spoon!


Basically, I love the possibilities of the genre. I don’t fangirl everything that’s out there. Not gonna lie, I’m a harsh critic. But I live for that moment when I find a great book and a new author to stalk.

So why do I write romance? Because I love it!

To any other authors out there, why do you write romance?



Guess what? I like to write.

I’m not sure how many people are interested in this, but hey, I’m going to write about it anyway!

Basically, this post is all about writing and what books have inspired me/helped me with my own scripts, novels, and stories.

As I’ve mentioned before (I think) I’ve been a writer ever since I was a kid, scribbling stories in my school notebooks. I still get a rush of excitement when I hold a blank notebook in my hands, whether it’s a fancy moleskin or one from the dollar store. I never leave the house without a notebook, although these days I do a lot of writing on my iPhone. My handwriting has gotten atrocious, but I’ve written several scripts and the beginnings to several books on these basic notebooks from MUJI. My BF and I have a whole shelf devoted to writing notebooks… because that’s how we roll.

Yes, that is a rotary phone. No, I don’t use it!

Whenever I sit down to start a new novel, I start with CHARACTER WORK. I think that my character building is a really strong talent I have (dialogue, eh, I’m working on it ha) and these books really help. One of the reasons I decided to self-pub a romance novel is because, as a lover of the genre, I was SO tired of the lack of good characters! I started my first novel Kiss of Ice around 2011, when self-pub was really taking off. And boy, what a revelation! I was VERY over the typical virginal, spineless, Pollyanna (and yes, lily white) heroines that traditional publishers were pushing. Nowadays there’s a lot more variety in plots AND characters. Thank Jeebus for the Self-Pub revolution!

Anyway, here are my go-to writer’s guides:

45 MASTER CHARACTERS by Victoria Schmidt

This book is amazing. It basically breaks down the traditional male and female journeys and archetypes. This is the first book I grab when I’m starting a new story. BTW, Annata is a ‘father’s daughter’ and Christophe is a ‘fool’ (in the best possible way of course), if you’re wondering 🙂

SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

When in doubt, beat it out! Blake Snyder (RIP) created a great beat sheet that’s downloadable. Making a beat sheet is helpful for novels or scripts. Also, beating out your plot really helps to uncover any plot holes and problems that will kill your second act. There’s been a bit of a ‘Save the Cat’ backlash, because some people feel that beats don’t always feel organic, and I think that argument has some validity. However, if you need help with a slow second act, beats are a great way to get over the hump. This is the book I usually crack when I’m plotting out a new story.

THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby and STORY by Robert McKee

Not for the faint of heart. These books are really in-depth and hardcore, but very helpful! John Truby also has a great interview on Youtube about screenwriting. I crack these books when I run into an inevitable plot problem.

ON WRITING by Stephen King

Love this book. Full of anecdotes and also musings on the writer’s journey.

I have more books on my writer’s self-help shelf but those are the ones that have had the most impact. Those are the ones I go back to, time and time again.

Now, on to the books that have inspired me. Not only do I lurve them, but these books have a lot to do with the way I approach my romance stories. All of them have an aspect of storytelling that I’ve incorporated in my own novels.


Can you tell I was an honors English student? I think every nerdy teenage girl has a spot in her heart for this book, but the thing that really excites me about WH is that it was the first book that told a story out of sync, using flash forwards and flashbacks. I am a sucker for an epic story that spans over many years. Also, I love that Cathy and Heathcliff are two complex, difficult, unlikeable characters. No Pollyannas here! Lastly, this book uses setting as motif in a really great way. The wildness of the moors seeps into all aspects of the novel. Ugh, so good!

THE VELVET SAGA by Jude Deveraux

I loved Jude Deveraux when I was growing up. I think I read my first romance of hers (Sweet Liar) when I was 10 or 11, and I was hooked. The Velvet Saga (Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song, and Velvet Angel) was one of the first series in the romance genre to feature siblings. Each book is a self-contained story, with an overarching plot that connects all four books. It’s a little dated, but still masterful, let me tell ya.

A HEART SO WILD by Johanna Lindsay

This book was the second romance novel I ever read. Crazy right? (Especially that I still remember that…) This book has it all – a strong heroine, a complicated hero, and a great plot. I’m not a huge Johanna Lindsay fan, but this book still sticks with me, years later. And it’s a MC/IR romance – Chandos, the hero, is Native American. I miss these old Western historicals. I wonder if they’ll ever come back into fashion? My sister still has our tattered copy of this book.

BLACK GIRL LOST by Donald Goinesblackgirllost

This ‘forbidden’ paperback was passed around by my friends in middle school, and wow, what a book. Violence, street life, and romance combined. Gritty and unforgettable.

Here are some more recent (self-published and traditional) books that have inspired me by being awesome and expanding the bounds of what ‘Romance’ can be:

UNDENIABLE series by Madeline Sheehan

HARD ROCK HARLOTS series by Kendall Grey

MAIDEN LANE series by Elizabeth Hoyt




So there you have it. A little glimpse inside my working mind… I hope it was helpful to anyone who’s interested in writing, or just wanted to know what my writing process is.

My keep-shelf. I used to love me some historical romance.

Okay, enough procrastinating. Back to writing Stone Cold Knockout (coming late May/early June 2014!).