Frank Ocean.

So as fans of Frank Ocean know, his looooooooong awaited album was supposed to drop today.

fooled ya

fooled ya

Surprise surprise, it hasn’t. Now, technically, there’s still several hours left today in which this album could drop, but it’s not looking good. While Frank’s fans cry in a corner, I was going through people’s reactions on Twitter and I had a realization.

I am Frank. Frank is me.

Not really. Frank is (arguably) a music genius and definitely more influential and interesting than I will ever be, but we’re both similar in at least one aspect – endless delays. Pushing forward projects that we might not be ready to let go of creatively because we feel like they should be finished. Enough, already! I find myself thinking when I’m staring at an unfinished scene in a book that should’ve (by my estimation) been finished months ago. I get so frustrated at myself for taking a long time to finish a book that the book ends up taking longer and longer. Months pass beyond my initial self-imposed due date. Any excitement and stimulation I felt about finishing a book starts to drain away.

But I keep pressing on. This writing ‘thing’ isn’t just a casual fling with me. It’s a lifelong love affair that I have to keep nurturing. Once I finish one book, I’ll move on to the next and then the next and the next. I think about my characters and their plot problems everyday. I write everyday, even if it’s only a paragraph. It might not be as fast of a process as I’d like, but I have to remember to keep it as creatively enriching as possible. I have to stop pushing myself to force out fast food and remember to let my ideas marinate. Not forever, but for as long as they need to become tasty morsels for all of you who enjoy my work.

Who ever said the life of a creative was easy? Cuz they lied! But to all my fellow artists out there, it’s worth it. I think πŸ™‚

tumblr_mqiwjnzzqE1rywdqyo1_500

I hope Frank feels the same way.

For all of you dying for updates, here’s what my VERY LOOSE schedule looks for the rest of 2016:

  • a novella spin-off of Flower in the Desert that I discussed in an earlier post. It’s tentatively titled Light in the Wilderness and should be out late this month
  • Beautiful Beatdown is very high on the priority list, of course. Hoping to have it out this fall.
  • I hope to have more installments of Dirty Rotten Dixons out before Christmas

Thanks for reading my rants~

L

 

(all images, credit to owners)

STONE COLD KNOCKOUT Release Date

I know I’ve been teasing this release date for a long time… but I finally have an official release date for Stone Cold Knockout! SCK, the first book in my new House of Pain series, has been haunting me all summer, but I will say that I’m glad I got Flower in the Desert out in July instead. Flower was such a big hit and I feel like it helped gain me a lot of new fans. However, now I have a lot of readers chomping at the bit for Stone Cold Knockout! It’s a lot of pressure, but luckily I work well under pressure. Ha!

So, without further ado, the release date for Stone Cold Knockout is SEPTEMBER 16TH!

Mark those calendars, y’all. Writing Mikhail and Gennifer’s story has been a lot of fun, but this summer was not the most productive for me. I’ll be happy to move onto Viv and Niko’s story, Kiss of Life, that’s fo sho. Woot!

In other news, I had a great chat with the ladies from Violette Dubrinksy’s Fantasyland on Saturday and I want to thank everybody who participated. I had a lot of fun!

Happy Labor Day!

FLOWER IN THE DESERT is #1!

Not to keep tooting my own horn, but Flower in the Desert just hit #1 on the Amazon Multicultural & International Romances chart! I didn’t think one of my stand alones could hit the top of the charts, but you guys showed me I was wrong. I don’t know how long it’ll stay at the top, but I love seeing my little novella up there!

Again, thanks to all of you for your support! I truly hope you enjoyed Ruby and Jase’s story.

FLOWER IN THE DESERT is a bestseller!

Flower in the Desert is now in the top ten of three Amazon lists!

Top Ten – African-American Romance

Top Ten – Multicultural and Interracial Romance

Top Ten – Western Romance

MYemtions

I love it! Thanks to all of YOU who have purchased the book. If you’re so inclined, please take the time to review it on Goodreads, B&N, or Amazon, good, bad, or indifferent. If you already have, YOU’RE THE BEST.

Happy Sunday!

FLOWER IN THE DESERT Freebie

Flower in the Desert is my new novella, currently available on Amazon and coming soon to B&N and Kobo (I just uploaded to B&N today, so it’ll probably be live tomorrow or Sunday). Anyway, here’s a fun little freebie- a big ol’ snippet of Flower in the Desert!

Jase and Ruby are stuck in the Grand Canyon, after a string of unfortunate circumstances. In this scene, they start to realize that there might be something sparking between them that doesn’t have anything to do with survival.

Enjoy!

Wild horses in the Grand Canyon.

Ruby woke slowly, like coming out of a haze, the pressing fatigue like a weight dragging her down. She could feel Jase behind her and she flattened herself against him, greedy for his warmth. The air was heating up, but it was still chilly on the canyon floor. She opened her eyes and noticed the embers of the fire were still smoking. She pulled herself to sitting and poked at the fire, but it was no use. It was beyond saving.

The sun hadn’t risen yet and a gray fog surrounded them, so thick she could barely see past a few feet on either side of them. With a sigh, she dropped to her elbow, glancing over her shoulder at the man sleeping behind her. Jase’s heavy arm was tossed over her hip and she smiled when she saw the pink makeshift bandage on his hand. His dark features were relaxed in sleep, and she took the time to study him in the hazy blue light. Life was strange, she mused, as she watched the sleeping man. In the midst of the worst week of her life, she’d met someone she could truly count on. She barely knew Jase Rivers, but that didn’t seem to matter much. She knew she could trust him with her life. She knew he was honorable. She also knew he had a dark sense of humor and a sharp mind.

The fact that he was the first man she’d been attracted to in a long time hadn’t escaped her attention either. How could it, when he’d smiled at her and held her and kissed her hand like he was just as interested in her as she was in him? Maybe the seriousness of their situation was getting to her, but she didn’t care. Maybe her attraction was based on some kind of savior fantasy, but she didn’t think so. It felt real.

In the quiet of the early morning, a snapping noise caught her attention and she looked toward the sharp sound. A spotted white horse stepped into the clearing, partially obscured by the fog. Ruby froze, her mouth dropping open as she watched the majestic animal trot past. It was followed by a small white colt and a bigger black horse.

β€œJase,” Ruby whispered, shaking his arm. He took in a ragged breath and opened his eyes. β€œLook.” He blinked a few times, groggy, and craned his neck. His arm tightened around her protectively as they watched the herd of wild horses pass through, blithely unaware of their presence through the thick fog. Ruby didn’t realize she was holding her breath until the animals were gone and then she took in a deep gulp of air.

β€œThey’re moving toward water,” Jase said after a moment. β€œWe should follow them to it.” Ruby nodded, her fatigue fading at the prospect of water. They had collected a bit of rainwater the day before by squeezing out their soaking clothing, but they needed all the water they could get. She dropped her eyes to his hand, still lingering on her hip. He flexed his fingers, and his thumb brushed the bare skin between her skirt and her top. Her breath caught again at the sight.

β€œDid you get some sleep?” she asked, breaking the silence. He sat up abruptly, dropping his hand to the ground.

β€œSome. You?” He pushed himself to standing and then held out a hand for her.

β€œEnough,” she said, taking his hand and hoisting herself up. A rush of dizziness overtook her and she swayed on her feet for a moment. He caught her elbow to steady her, a scowl of concern sliding over his face.

β€œHow do you feel?” he asked.

β€œGood enough,” Ruby shrugged. β€œCan we please get the fuck out of this canyon today?”

β€œYes ma’am,” he said with a slight smile as he kicked dirt over the dying fire.

Jace easily found the trail the horses had made, and they followed behind, keeping enough of a distance to not spook the animals. The high heat of the day had yet to descend upon them, so traveling quickly was somewhat easier. The day was primed to be scorching hot. The sky was clear, which meant the sun would soon be beating relentlessly down on them. A shaft of searing amber light cut across the canyon as the sun rose, cutting through the fog like butter. As the early morning haze melted away, they came upon a standing pool of clear water, left behind by the flash flood. The wild horses stood at the edge, their necks lowered to sip at the water.

β€œThat’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Ruby said, her mouth watering at the sight. The horses scattered as they got closer, and Jase crouched at the water’s edge.

β€œIt’s standing, but it’s only been there for a few hours,” he said, looking up at her. She nodded, bending down beside him and cupping her hands in the water. She shivered as the cool water touched her skin and goosebumps of pure joy broke out over her skin.

β€œIt’s cold.” She shot Jase a look, knowing from her lifetime of camping to never drink water that hadn’t been decontaminated.β€œShould we risk it?”

β€œWait,” he said, his hand flying to her knee. Ruby froze, the water dripping between her fingers. He pointed and she followed his gaze. At the bottom of the pool of water, Jase’s backpack was settled in the sand.

β€œAre you kidding me?” Ruby gasped.

β€œIt’s waterproof, but that doesn’t mean water didn’t get in,” he said, clenching and unclenching his jaw. β€œEverything could be ruined.”

β€œWell, we’re going to find out,” Ruby stood and kicked off her sandals. β€œI’ll get it.”

β€œNo. I’ll go.”

β€œNo, I’ll go. My clothes dry faster than yours,” she said, sliding her sweater off her shoulders and handing it to him. β€œBesides, it’s not that deep.”

β€œBe careful of sharp rocks,” he said, glancing down at her dusty bare feet.

β€œI’ll be careful, Mr. Rivers,” she said, bunching up her ragged skirt around her knees as she stepped into the cool water. β€œDon’t you worry.” The goosebumps tingled over her skin again as she stepped thigh deep. β€œThis counts as a bath, right?” she tossed over her shoulder. β€œOr do I have to be naked for it to count?”

β€œJust get the damn bag, woman,” he said, but humor lit up his eyes.

β€œBossy, bossy,” Ruby murmured as the water hit her ribs. She took a deep breath that puffed out her cheeks and dove beneath the water, feeling around blindly until she found the bag. The damn thing was heavy, but Ruby pulled it to the surface, standing up triumphantly. She swooped her mop of wet hair back out of her face and opened her eyes. β€œSee? Not hard,” she announced to Jase, who was still crouched on the bank, watching her.

β€œYeah, yeah, yeah.” He shook his head, a tease of a smile on his lips. She waded back to him, wringing out her hair with one hand and dragging the bag with another. The cool water and the discovery of the bag had revitalized her, and she felt pretty damn good right about then. However, Jase’s smile faded the closer she got to the bank. He stood, unbuckling his belt. Her eyes widened and she stopped when she was still ankle-deep in water.

β€œIf you’re going to flash me, at least give me the heads up so I don’t miss the good part,” she said, only half-joking.

β€œWhat?” he looked up at her, brow furrowed in confusion so genuine that Ruby actually felt disappointed.

β€œWhat are you doing?” she clarified as he slipped the leather through his belt loops.

β€œTake this,” he said, holding the belt out to her. β€œYour skirt.” His eyes dropped to her midsection, and Ruby realized that her skirt was slipping perilously down her hips. Her lower belly was exposed, C-section scar and all, as well as her hip bones and the waistband of her thong panties. She burst out laughing, wondering if she should even bother being embarrassed anymore. There was no room for modesty in the middle of a life or death situation, apparently. Stepping out of the water, she dropped the bag in the dust and took the belt Jase offered.

β€œWho knew the only diet that would be effective is the ‘starve in the Grand Canyon diet’? Maybe I should patent it,” Ruby said through her laughter, tugging the wet linen up to her natural waist and cinching the belt around herself. Jase ignored her and busied himself unzipping the bag, pulling out the items inside and lining them up on the ground. Ruby wrung out her skirt and then crouched next to him, watching him as he inspected each item.

β€œMy phone is fucked, but it was dead anyway,” he said, tossing the cracked iPhone down in the dirt. β€œRadio’s intact, but it’s waterlogged. Medical supplies are fucked. We have two bottles of water, some food, and the heat blankets.” He held out a half-full bottle of water and she took it.

β€œNot bad, right?” Ruby tipped her head back and took a swig from the bottle, her spirits raising even higher as the water rolled down her throat.

β€œWe need the radio to call for the chopper,” he said, catching her eyes.

β€œSo we let it dry out and then try it,” Ruby said with a shrug.

β€œFuck,” Jase hissed. β€œYou can’t spend another night in this canyon.”

β€œWe’re not going to,” she said. β€œWe’ll get to higher ground and we’ll call for the helicopter. That’s the plan right?” He nodded silently, scrubbing his hand through his beard. β€œThen that’s what we’re going to do.” She sat back on her ass and pulled her sandals on her newly clean feet. β€œYou know, if you want a bath, this is your last chance.” She threw him a smile. β€œYou can get undressed and I won’t look. I swear.”

β€œLiar,” he said.

β€œCan’t blame a girl for trying.” Ruby shrugged, as nonchalantly as she could muster. She didn’t know what was getting into her. Her sense of humor had never been this bold. Maybe the trauma of the situation had flipped some switch in her brain.

β€œShow me more of yours and I’ll show you mine,” he replied, repacking his bag.

β€œWhat?” Ruby did a double-take.

β€œNothing,” he said, opening the wrapper of a salvaged protein bar and holding it out to her. β€œTake a bite of this.” Ruby narrowed her eyes at him, but did as he said, her hunger winning out over her curiosity. She chewed slowly, catching his eyes. They were dark and unreadable again, but they were trained right on her and he didn’t look away.

Neither did she.

FLOWER IN THE DESERT Release Date

Looks like I have a release date for Flower in the Desert… July 23rd!

It’ll be up on Amazon that day, and up a little later for B&N and Kobo. So keep an eye out…

I’ve really enjoyed writing Ruby and Jase’s story. This is the first time I’ve taken on a romantic suspense, but it won’t be the last. This is kind of a warm-up for what’s to come this year. With Stone Cold Knockout and A Devil Named Dixon, I’m going to be stretching my action, intrigue, and suspense plotting muscles in 2014. Woot!

I’m so excited to get this novella done. With work and vacation planning taking up a big chunk of my time, writing has been slow going for the past two months. But now with Flower in the Desert (almost) out of my brain, I can focus on finishing the last third of SCK! Sometimes (like with The Burning One in February) a story is just itching to be told and I can’t help but write it. Now, I can get back to my hot Russian boxer πŸ™‚

 

FLOWER IN THE DESERT Blurb

Here’s the blurb, as promised, for Flower in the Desert, coming this month!

 

Left for dead in the middle of the vast, wild Grand Canyon, Ruby Lucas is losing the battle to survive. After days without food and very little water, Ruby’s time is running out. Just as it looks like all is lost, a tall, dark stranger might be her only hope…

When Native American tracker Jase Rivers is called in by the Feds to help find a missing woman in the canyon, he doesn’t have much hope he’ll find her alive. However, as Jase quickly finds out, lovely and vibrant Ruby is full of surprises.

Ruby will have to rely on Jase if she wants to make it out of the canyon alive, but stoic, unflappable Jase doesn’t realize how much he’ll come to rely on Ruby as well. This unlikely couple might find that something beautiful can grow and flourish where least expected…

Flower in the Desert is a hot and steamy standalone novella complete with HEA.

To Stand Alone Or Not To Stand Alone…

So I decided to shake up the release schedule, just a bit. I’ve pushed Stone Cold Knockout back to August so that I can focus on finishing up a stand alone novella called Flower in the Desert.

Love this colorful cover!

Why, you may ask?

The short answer is that I don’t want to rush SCK, which is the first novel in my new House of Pain series. The first book in a series is always the most read, and it is also often the deciding factor on whether people will continue to read the other books in the series or not. So for that reason, I’m taking my time on it. I’m letting it marinate. But it’s gonna be REAL GOOD, I swear.

Which brings me to Flower in the Desert. I’m a (teeny-bit) scared to publish another stand alone because my last stand alone, The Burning One, was such a flop. Full disclosure- The Burning One is my worst selling title by far, despite the fact that it’s gotten decent reviews. I also think it’s my best plotted book so far and the characters are really interesting, but hey, I’m biased.

I contribute low sales to several factors:

1) The Heroine is British-Indian, not black.The Hero is black, not white. BW/WM is the most popular romantic pairing in IR, currently. Also, she’s 35 and he’s 26 when the book starts out. The age difference might turn some readers off.

2) It’s a rock-star romance, which means there’s drug use and some kinky sexual stuff going on. Not everyone’s cuppa.

3) It’s a stand alone! Stand alones are tricky. Even though reviewers often decry cliffie endings, romantic series still rule the day. I am hoping that a tie-in with Kiss of Life will maybe convince readers to give this one a shot. Originally, Cee was supposed to be introduced in Kiss of Life, and then have his own spin-off, but I kind of jumped the gun on his story. Oopsie!

4) Price. I’ve pretty much kept The Burning One at $2.99 because I didn’t have anything else at that price point, now that the St. James Family books are $3.99. I played around with it at $0.99, and it did sell better, but not good enough to warrant keeping it that low and not making money. However, once SCK comes out, I might drop the price permanently. It is a full novel though, not a novella, so I feel kind of weird having it at $0.99. However, the more books I have out, the more I can play around with price in the future.

So why might Flower in the Desert be different? Well, first of all, it’ll be permanently priced at $0.99! That’s exciting! It’s also a different genre, romantic suspense. Lastly, the Heroine, Ruby, is black and the Hero, Jase, is Native American. I’ve been wanting to write a Native American hero for awhile. I told you guys in an earlier post about my love for the old western romances of yore. Unfortunately, they aren’t really in vogue right now. Flower in the Desert is kind of a throwback to those old romances, but set in modern times. Ruby and Jase have to lean on each other to survive in the unforgiving desert of the Grand Canyon. I’m having fun writing it, that’s for sure.

So look for Flower in the Desert soon! I’ll have a blurb up later this week. πŸ™‚