Romance Beat Reviews KISS OF ICE

Happy Friday!

I woke up to a nice little surprise in my inbox. Turns out Brooke Emmich of Romance Beat reviewed the Kiss of Ice audiobook!

Happy-Dance-GIF

Here’s a little snippet:

The way Annata’s character was portrayed as such a strong-willed and powerful (African-American) woman, without having to overly emphasize the fact that she stood her ground and continuously fought for all she worked so hard to achieve, no matter how much she loved Christy, was also another refreshing change of pace in the romance genre β€œnorm” these days. Thank God Christy was smart enough to know Annata well enough not to push her too hard, even when circumstances made him look like the bad guy.

Ha, truth. That reminds me of my favorite quote that I read in an Amazon review: “Christy loved him some Annie!”

Click here to check out the full review!

Wanna win a free copy of KISS OF ICE?

Anybody in the mood for a contest? I know I am!

I am giving away TWO free copies of the brand-spanking new KISS OF ICE audiobook!

You want to join? As Toni would say, it’s as easy as pie.

Find my page on Facebook and click the GIVEAWAY tab:Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 1.59.33 PM

or click hereΒ  to join via Rafflecopter.

When the contest ends on June 1st, I’ll notify the two winners and give you the information you need to access your free download.ohmy

 

KISS OF ICE Audiobook Available Now

KISS OF ICE_AUDIOBOOKKiss of Ice, my first novel, is now available on Audible.com… here! It’s also available on Amazon. I worked with a great narrator, Lynn Barrington, and the total running time is 8 hours 35 minutes.

It’ll be available for iTunes soon as well.

If you’re planning a big summertime road trip, (like I am) listening to audiobooks is a great way to pass the time. Just sayin’. πŸ™‚

 

 

KISS OF ICE Audiobook Coming Soon!

Hey guys,

Just wanted to share a quick bit of exciting news… I just approved the Kiss of Ice audiobook! Soon (within 10-14 days, they tell me) it’ll be up for sale on audible.com, iTunes, and elsewhere.

KISS OF ICE audiobook cover!

I’m not much of an audiobook person, but I know a lot of people are. This experience was definitely interesting to say the least, and it was kind of a lot to figure out. I went through ACX, which is Amazon’s program to match up writers/publishers with voice talents. I found a great talent, and the whole process took about two months.

But now it’s done! Whew.

I’ll let you know more info when I have it!

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 πŸ™‚

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.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

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

LEAVE ME BREATHLESS by Cherrie Lynn

50 SHADES OF JUNGLE FEVER by L.V. Lewis

 

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!).

KISS OF ICE Review Milestone

Six months ago, I quietly self-published a BWWM romance novel about a hard-assed, business-minded woman named Annata and the rich, laid-back man named Christophe who loves her… and was amazed that people actually bought it!

So, Kiss of Ice just hit 100 ratings on Goodreads. No big deal, right? WRONG.

It’s so awesome!

Thanks to all of YOU who’ve left ratings-good, bad, or indifferent.

Kiss of Ice was my first novel and it really makes me happy to see how well it’s been received. I can’t please everyone (and, let’s be real, I only really strive to appease myself when I write) but I’m happy to please some of the readers, some of the time. πŸ™‚

I’m still hovering right below 80 reviews on Amazon, which is also really amazing. I may not be the biggest breakout author in my genre, but I never expected the level of success I’ve attained. It makes me thankful for the fans I’ve earned, and it makes me want to work harder to get more fans. Gotta have goals, right?

On this bright sunny spring day, I’m feeling pretty good. How about you?

 

A KISS OF FIRE sneak peek!

Kiss of Fire

Mark Kiss of Fire as a to-read on Goodreads.com!

I’m working furiously on Kiss of Fire, the follow up to Kiss of Ice. Kiss of Fire will definitely be available in March. Anyway, here’s a fun sneak peek* to hold you over!

*as always, sneak peek is subject to change in the final book! πŸ™‚

Toni watched herself in the mirror at the studio, as she practiced her routine. But her mind wasn’t really on the dance of the Lilac Fairy. No. All she could think about was Sebastian O’Donovan. A.K.A. The Asshole.

He was sexy. He was sexier than he had any right to be. And Jesus, he was almost as old as Annata. But surprisingly, that didn’t seem to matter to her. Christophe was younger than Nat and they got along fine. Better than fine. Older men and younger women had been getting together for all of time. Other than the clichΓ©d aspect of it, his age didn’t bother her at all. But it seemed to bother him. She wondered why.

God. Why did he have to be such an asshole?

They would be good together. The sex between them would be fire. Red-hot. She knew that it would be. She’d wanted to jump him at the hospital, and he was wearing a damn paper gown. She’d wanted to lick his face. Who knew a few days worth of beard and a few gray hairs would be such a turn on? Maybe it was just sexy on Sgt. O’Donovan. Everything about the man was sexy.

The only problem was, he didn’t want her. He’d made that quite clear. Maybe it was because she was black. Maybe it was because she was too young. Maybe she’d been right about the ex-wife thing. Maybe he was heartbroken and not ready for another relationship. She didn’t know. Whatever the reason, the outcome was the same. She was turned on with no outlet for her passion.

So she danced.

She danced until her muscles ached. She danced until her legs shook with the exertion. She danced until her toes felt like they were going to break. Only then did she stop. She pulled off her pointe shoes, and whimpered at the pain. All she could do was wrap up her toes, slide on her Ugg boots, and hobble to the train. But at least her mind was on the hurt, and not the sexual frustration.

She found herself riding past her train stop and heading for Annata and Christophe’s. They were supposed to be back from Paris that evening, she wasn’t sure what time. They’d probably be jet-lagged and want alone time, but she didn’t care. She was in the mood to be the bratty younger sister.

She rang the doorbell when she arrived and saw the lights on at the townhouse, figuring she would be courteous as opposed to using her key and tromping right in. The door swung open and her sister stood there, barefoot in a sleeveless white dress, a big smile on her face.

β€œLook at you, ringing the doorbell like a guest,” Annata St. James said, her hand on her hip and an eyebrow raised. β€œTrying to pretend like you didn’t eat all the food and drink all the coffee in the house while we were gone.”

β€œIt’s the mice. I swear.” Toni stepped in and hugged her older sister, breathing her in. She smelled like coffee, mint, and Christophe. It was comforting. She’d missed her Natty, like she always did when her big sister was away. They were fourteen years apart in age, and Nat was almost more of a mother figure to her. She definitely looked up to her sister more than she looked up to their mother, who was a quintessential, traditional Southern housewife.

β€œIs that my favorite sister-in-law?” Christophe was calling from the kitchen.

β€œShe’s blaming mice for the lack of food in the fridge. I think we need to call the exterminator,” Nat said, following Toni into the kitchen. β€œEither that, or change the locks.”

Christophe stood against the center island, effortlessly handsome in jeans and a cashmere sweater, opening a bottle of red wine. He held out an arm for Toni and she stepped into his embrace.

β€œIgnore Annie. She ordered sushi already anyway.”

β€œEel? Did you get extra?” Toni wagged an eyebrow.

β€œYes, dear. You’re lucky we love you so damn much,” Nat said, taking the glass of wine Christophe offered her.

β€œSo how was your trip? Are you about to pass out from exhaustion?” Toni asked, sipping on her own glass and hopping up on one of the metal stools at the counter.

β€œWe slept on the plane,” Christophe said, sliding an arm around Nat’s waist and pulling her close. β€œAnd we have tomorrow off.” He pressed a kiss to his wife’s neck.

β€œChristy finally hired someone to take over International Paris, so hopefully we won’t have to go back for awhile.”

β€œYay!” Toni clapped her hands. β€œYou two travel too damn much.”

β€œNow, remind me when your show opens?” Nat said, pressing a finger to her temple. β€œI don’t think I put it on the calendar.”

β€œOpening night is June 23rd,” Toni said.

β€œOkay. You hear that?” Nat poked Christophe in the chest. β€œCalendars clear.”

β€œGot it,” he said, with a smile.

β€œWe might have to go to Shanghai some time in June, but we’ll make sure it’s not then.”

β€œYou don’t have to come, you know. It’s not that big of a deal,” Toni waved her hand.

β€œDon’t be ridiculous,” Nat fiddled with her earring. β€œThis is a big deal, right? The Lilac Fairy is a big fucking deal.”

β€œYes, it’s kind of a big deal,” Toni said, giggling.

β€œOkay then. No arguments.”

β€œSo, my lovely Toni, I know you didn’t come over here empty-handed,” Christophe said, looking at her expectantly. A wide smile spread over Toni’s face.

β€œI brought a little somethin’ somethin’,” Toni said, hopping up and reaching for her purse. β€œI figured you guys would want to relax a bit after traveling.”

β€œYou figured right. Roll that shit up,” he said, downing the last bit of his wine.

β€œOoh!” Annata looked up from her phone, a smile on her face. β€œI am so excited.”

An hour later, when the sushi was gone, they sat out on the patio and smoked and drank until all the weed and wine was gone as well. Nat lay on Christophe in the hammock and Toni curled up in a chair beside them. The spring air was crisp, but not too cold. It was a perfect night with two of her most favorite people.

When Nat dozed off, Toni caught Christophe’s eyes over her sister’s head. She could still remember the first time they met, at the hospital after the accident. She’d been so destroyed and he’d been so kind. In the weeks after the accident, he’d kept in touch with her and helped her through the shitty time, until Nat returned to the city. Christophe was one of the good ones. She smiled at his expression. He looked so… at peace. Stoned, but at peace. Like all was right with the world. And it was. For the most part. There was the nagging little issue in the back of her mind. O’Donovan the Asshole was still there, bothering her. God, she wished she’d never gone to see him. She wished she’d never met him!

β€œYou love her so much,” Toni said to Christophe, her eyelids heavy. He laughed, high off his ass.

β€œI’ve loved her so long, it’s as easy as breathing,” he said, his voice strained. Then he coughed. Toni erupted in giggles.

β€œWe’re so high.”

β€œI know. It’s fucking awesome,” he said, looking up to the inky black sky.

β€œTell me the story again,” Toni said, propping her head on her hand.

β€œWhat story?”

β€œThe story. How you knew my Natty was the one.”

β€œOkay,” Christophe smiled like the drunk in love person he was. His fingers stroked Nat’s arm. β€œShe called me a… hold on. Let me remember the exact words.”

β€œ A ‘pathetic, entitled piece of shit’,” Nat supplied, her eyes still closed.

β€œRight, that’s it,” he said, laughing.

β€œI’m so sorry, baby. Really,” she said, lifting her face. He planted a kiss on her and then she settled against his chest again.

β€œI mean, she was kind of right. Rude as hell, but right,” Christophe said laughing. β€œAnd I just looked at her. I stared right into those golden-brown eyes and I felt my life change. I just didn’t realize how long it would take before she felt the earth-shattering love I felt.” He pressed his cheek against Nat’s hair. β€œAnd then we fucked. After we fucked, I was a goner.”

β€œEw!” Toni raised her hands to her ears, laughing. Nat slapped him on the chest, eyes still closed.

β€œTruth. Stone-cold truth.” Christophe raised his hand in a scout’s honor. β€œYour sister is the best fuck I’ve ever had or will have.”

β€œI should hope so,” Nat mumbled, a smile on her lips.

β€œThat’s cute. Gross, but cute,” Toni said, laughing. β€œWhat about you, Nat? When did you know?”

β€œAfter we fucked,” Nat said with a laugh.

β€œThat is a lie!” Christophe said, his voice rising. β€œYou made me work so fucking hard for it.”

β€œHow else would you appreciate it if you didn’t have to work hard for it?” she opened her eyes and looked up at him.

β€œYou’re so full of shit.” Christophe said, stroking her cheek. β€œI think you didn’t know you loved me for sure until I proposed.”

β€œNo. No! I remember the exact moment. We were – sorry, Toni – we were at that hotel and we were fucking-”

β€œWhich hotel?”

β€œThe hotel, when I was home from Hong Kong. And then we got stoned, and I was in love with you.”

β€œAh.” Christophe looked off. β€œDamn, that was some good weed.”

β€œI’m glad I could contribute something to the love story of Christophe and Annata,” Toni said, giving a light bow. β€œSeeing as how I couldn’t be in the wedding,” she said, tossing a little dig her sister’s way. Their families would never forgive Nat and Christophe for eloping. Nat stuck her tongue out at her sister, but didn’t say a thing.

β€œSo what about you, Toni?” Christophe rolled his head to look at her. β€œYou got anybody in your crosshairs?”

β€œUm. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think he’s really interested in me.”

β€œIf he doesn’t see how great you are, then he’s a jackass.”

β€œI know right?!” Toni said. β€œI’m going to let you tell him that.”

β€œI will. I will tell that motherfucker to his face,” Christophe said, his voice slurring a bit. Nat was giggling now as well.

β€œI think it’s time for bed,” Nat finally said, in between giggles. β€œIf we stay down here any longer, I’m gonna pass out and then you won’t get lucky tonight, Mr. Van der Kind.”

β€œDon’t tease me, woman,” Christophe said and they carefully extracted themselves from the hammock. Nat pressed a kiss to Toni’s forehead on the way past.

β€œAre you going to stay tonight?” she asked. Toni nodded, feeling very tired all of a sudden. β€œOkay, dear. We’ll do brunch or something tomorrow, okay?” Toni nodded again, and then twisted around in her chair to watch Nat and Christophe through the kitchen window. They stopped at the foot of the stairs and kissed, wrapping their bodies around each other like they were starving for each other. Toni felt wistful all of a sudden. She sighed deep. She was so happy for them. But she wanted to be happy, too. More than anything she wanted someone to share her life, and her bed, with. O’Donovan, why do you have to be such a dick? she thought desperately, turning her eyes to the starless sky.