Happy November, Everyone!
If you follow me on Facebook or just about any other of my social media platforms, you may have seen a post that I began circulating around mid-week last week. Tragedy has struck members of our chosen family, but before I talk about, I want to go back to the beginning.
In late 2009, Mr. Paige, then my fiance, headed off to California with full-ride scholarship for his Master's degree, and a dream that I would be joining him in the summer after our wedding. Living apart was one of the hardest times of my life. We coped the best we could, but it wasn't easy planning a wedding when one half of your partnership was on the opposite end of the country. A month into his move, I received a call that I never expected.
Glen had hurt himself on a youth group trip to Six Flags. He assured me he was okay, but turns out, he wasn't. He struggled for weeks to get medical care and an answer for his shoulder when a guardian angel came into our life in the form of our friend, Pat. A woman in her 70s who was a board member at my husband's church. She showed up to Glen's apartment with a few of the church men in tow, and moved him into her house while he sought medical treatment. She drove him to class, helped him do his laundry, typed papers for him. etc. You get the idea. Throughout the months he lived there, they became close. You see, Pat, had lost her to youngest son to drug addiction. Her husband followed soon. After losing two important people in her life, Pat began giving back. Her home became a shelter to those who needed help. Friends in need became her family.
Even after Glen was forced to move back home for medical treatment, she never let him give back her house key. This wonderful woman even flew in for our wedding that next summer, and even came home for the weddings of friends who had come with us on our annual trip out to see her. Her home became our home. A refuge for us all.
In July 2018, our annual trip was something much different. The minute we arrived, Pat's beautiful smile was a little dimmer. You see, Pat's breast cancer that she had bravely fought off the year before was back. This time in her lungs and very aggressively growing. Something that she knew weeks before we arrived, but hadn't told us. We made it a mission to spend as much time with her as we could that week because I knew how bad it really was.
Two weeks after we got home, she passed away. Her death hurt us both so much. Hurt the friends who she had welcomed into her home and life as family. But, her legacy wasn't over yet. Her son, Darren, continued her life's work by offering her now vacant home to our friends and their family, filling it with love once more.
That is until last week when a plane tragically crashed into the master's bedroom, and destroying the house. With a friend's husband and 18 month old son inside the home. Thankfully, they escaped, but their home. Our home was gone. Watching the national news coverage brought so many memories back for me this week. The love we shared in that house now gone. Our memories there the only thing left. You can read more about the crash here.
Until I realized tonight that it was just a house. Not the definition of her life. Her spirit and her love is still with us, and a part of me truly believes that she kept our friend's safe. That she protected them from harm. The house may be gone, but her love will always live on.
Now, I know that this isn't the kind of story you expected to read this month, but it's the story that was on my heart when I sat down to start writing this month's newsletter. I hope that you found hope in it because even if you lose every physical possession you own, life and love is all that matters. And with Thanksgiving this month, I can't help, but feel thankful for Pat being in our lives and how she impacted those around her.
Hug your love ones a little tighter today.
“I’m going to miss this, Iz,” he laments. His voice, trailing off as if he has something else to say. “Sitting here with you. The town. Just everything.” He pauses. “Maybe, I shouldn’t go.”
“This is your dream, Alex. You can’t just turn your back now. This is your chance to change your life. Why wouldn’t you go?”
“You,” he answers quietly, but without a single bit of hesitation. All the while, not looking at me. My breath hitches, as my chest seizes. Why now? After all this time. Is it because he’s leaving, and he’s trying to check another girl off his list, or is this one last desperate act of a boy finally admitting what I have been feeling all this time? Neither seems likely, but yet, here we are. Alex adjusts to face me, and I notice his knees, bouncing with his nervous tick.
“Me? Alex, are you crazy?” I fire back. “There is absolutely no reason why leaving me behind should be any reason for you not to chase this. I’m not that special. There’s bound to be hundreds of girls already lining up in Nashville, waiting to take my place.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Iz. No one can replace you,” Alex leans in. His face is so dangerously close to mine. “None of this makes sense without you.”
“What are you saying?” My voice is soft and cautious.
“Come with me.” He leans in closer. His lips so close to mind that I feel the heat rolling off of them. I move closer, but the front porch light flickers on. I turn to see Dad standing behind the screen door, scowling. I stammer out an excuse, but when I turn back trying to explain Alex’s presence on our porch yet again in the middle out the night, he’s gone.
Falling for your best friend, who just happens to be an up and coming country star, is probably not the best idea. Not even being a blip on his romantic radar? Yeah, shoot me now.
Growing up in Alex McCloud’s shadow was far from easy. Then, he blew out of town, before the ink was even dry on his recording contract, with empty promises of keeping in touch that he has never once kept. Some best friend, right?Now, he sings his heart out to millions of fans, and I milk cows on my family’s struggling dairy farm.
Well, that is until Alex strolls back into town, and he’s got more than writing his new album on his mind. I know from experience that I need to guard my heart, or I may end up being just another girl in a country song. It’s just harder than I thought, trying to get my brain and my heart on the same page.
Grab your copy now and meet 24 swoon worthy book boyfriends and decide which one is your favorite‼️
Its still $0.99 but only until the 25th!!
Apple Books: https://apple.co/31OEId
You may be wondering about the title, and why I would want to blog about my not so perfect wedding. Why would I want to share about one of the scariest times in my life? Sure, the pictures above look happy and blissful, but that day almost never happened.
It's weird thinking about to 9 years ago today, and our wedding day. The flowers fragrance filling the old church my husband served as minister. Our family and friends gathered around us, surrounding us with love and support. A perfect dress. But, the only thing out of place was my soon to be husband, carefully being helped to the alter by his groomsmen. You see a our wedding was delayed a week. My husband the Tuesday before our original wedding date began experiencing severe pain and swelling in his leg. He thought he'd strained it at a church league softball. That it was just the remnants of one of his horrible night time leg cramps. I was at work over an hour away, unable to see his pain and to access what might be going on. It was until that night when I arrived at the home that would soon be ours together that I realized something was very wrong. My soon to be husband, stubborn as always, assured me it was fine, but when he struggled to walk, it took my dad coming over to help me convince him to go to the emergency room. It was there his condition went from concerning to life threatening.
He had a blood clot in his leg, but that wasn't the most concerning part of it. It was the at least six other smaller clots that had passed through his heart and embedded into his lungs. The next few days were a blur. Spending my days in the hospital with him. My nights at our hopeful home with my cat, and re-planning our wedding. The biggest event of my life on hold until we knew whether or not Glen would make it through. After an experimental procedure, he was released, but we weren't out of the woods yet. As much as I wanted to postpone our wedding further, Glen insisted we would get married the next week.
And, we did. On my 24th birthday. Of course, things weren't perfect. Glen was restricted in the length of time he could stand so we had to have a stool for him to sit on for the ceremony. He had to walk with a cane when he did walk, and the only time he stood unaided was our first dance at our reception.
That was not so perfect wedding, but I wouldn't trade it for the world because I almost didn't get to be his wife. I almost didn't get to marry my childhood best friend. The boy I had fallen for in the 5th grade while he read the morning weather report over the intercom, and spent years admiring after him until he finally saw me for me. I may write happily ever afters for a living, but the best one of all is my own.
How do you describe the indescribable? That’s pretty much how I feel about how this week has gone. I knew when I was asked to join the Love, Loyalty, and Mayhem Anthology that there was something different about this group of women. Something special. The potential to do great things clear from day one. Potential that now only ten days post release has far exceeded any of our wishful dreams and near impossible realities.
I’m sure if you following on any of my social media platform you’ve seen the news, but I can’t help myself from shouting about it again. Not only did LLM hit USA Today’s Bestseller list, #28 I might add, but it also made #10 on Wall Street Journal’s list as well.
Writing those words now associated with my name seem surreal. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to claim two titles. Let alone one, and for the same book.
This means so much more than I could ever explain. After a tough year of self-doubt, stress, medical issues, and battles with my disappearing muse, I can feel myself falling back in love with writing. It’s like the veil of darkness that has been shrouding me since the end of last year is finally being lifted. And that is in part due to the response of Love, Loyalty, and Mayhem. Seeing how the twenty of us worked perfectly and harmoniously to make this anthology happen gives me hope about the future. We accomplished so much together that these amazing women are no longer just friends within the author community. They are a part of my extended family.
Just like every single person who purchased, shared, reviewed, commented, etc for our book baby. Without you, achieving these goals would have been impossible. Without you, our charity couldn’t be benefiting for our donation. I can’t say officially how much that will be yet as we are still waiting for numbers to come in, but it’s an amount that can bring great hope to those who face bullying on a daily basis.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. From all of our hearts for giving us this opportunity to help others.
I am so excited to see the month of July. Why you might ask? Vacation, of course. It's been over a year since I had any length of time off from work, and currently, I'm enjoying day six of my two week vacation in Orlando, Florida. I know it's not exactly the best time of year weather wise to visit the sunny and humid air of Florida, but a cold drink and a dip in the resort pool takes my mind right off of it. We have a great itinerary in store, and I might just be able to squirrel away a few hours to find some time to write. I find that I do my best plotting away from home. One of our annual trips out to California is the sole inspiration behind the Heaven's Rejects Series. It's not every day that you see a bunch of MC patched members taking their little girls in princess dresses to Disneyland. Mr. Paige just has to worry about me being the princess dress wearing adult Disney fanatic when we go in a few days, but he still loves. Weird and all.
I have something else to be excited about this month. Love, Loyalty, and Mayhem is LIVE! This anthology has been an amazing experience for me personally to get to work with so many talented authors. This is bar none my favorite anthology to work on to date. Not to mention the fact that all of the proceeds are going to a great cause. As someone who was bullied during nearly all of my childhood years, I am proud to be supporting a great cause, Bikers Against Bullies USA. If you'd like to find our more about their organization, you can do so by clicking here.
Don't forget, I have one more HUGE release coming up next month with the Sweetest Obsessions Box Set. It has been over a year in the making, and I can't wait to see how we do.
See you next month!
I know in my last few blog posts that I have touched lightly on the stress that comes with being an author. Life behind the fictional is far from easy. Every single time you sit down to put down a few thousand words on your new work in progress (WIP) are slivers of time away from your family, your friends, your responsibilities, and more. Being a working author like myself, it's even more difficult to find the time to write. Add in medical issues, and you have a firestorm of issues that just keep coming and coming until it feels like my brain is about to explode from the pressure.
I know many people have been asking over the last few months where my new books are. The books that I had been teasing since early 2019. The answer? They're coming. When, I don't know.
That's the hard truth about working in a creative field. Real life tends to supersede the fictional. Muses disappears. Words dry up. It happens to the best of us, and for me, it's been happening for over a year. Any time I sit down to start working on Demons & Desires or Devil's Queen, every ounce of motivation and creativity dry up. Poof! Gone. I hate it. I hate that I can't deliver on my promises. I hate that I can't get back to my early days where I could hammer out a story in a month, and be so utterly in love with it. Other than the two short stories that I had started long before this hit, I have nothing. A few paragraphs out of a several thousand words that I haven't just scraped.
Something has to change. It has to. I have too many stories floating around in my head to be told to not put them down. I have an entire series plotted out on paper that needs to be written and published. Finding that place again isn't going to be easy. The first step? Two weeks away on vacation where I don't think about writing. Our annual vacation to California is where Heaven's Rejects were born, and I have to hope that vacation will help me finish the series with one final book.
I have always been one of those people who set goals for themselves. Usually revolving around hitting a milestone or checking off every single box on my to do list for the day. But, I want to talk about other life goals today. A goal that I could have only dreamed about when I started this writing journey in May 2015.
To hit a bestseller list.
I never thought it was even possible for me. Just hitting international bestseller was an accomplishment that I absolutely beamed about when it happened in 2017. It was a goal, and when I achieved it, I made another one. To hit a bestseller list by 2020. Was it a stretch goal at the time? Of course, it was. The numbers to hit the lists seem so daunting. I knew that if I was going to fail at self-inflicted challenge, it was more than likely going to be that one.
Until late last year. I was giving an opportunity to join a like-minded group of authors who had the same life goal as myself. The impossible dream was inching its way closer to the reality dividing line. Then the non-Amazon pre-order launched in February, and flurry of emotions hit me.
The impossible was very much possible.
We’re motivated. We’re pouring ourselves into this set. But, we can’t do it alone.
I can’t reach this goal without every single person’s support I can garner. iBooks and Nook are the biggest hurdles to reaching it there. Fall short of the minimum and the dream is gone. Those two retailers are the end it all, must hit the sales marks, for this set. Apple especially because even if we have one less sale than the minimum, the sales won’t be reported to the list compilers. That’s how critical it is to hit those numbers, and exceed them. This set hitting the list is my purpose in 2019. I want those letters so badly that I can taste them. Together we can jump all hurdles and achieve great things. Writing is my passion, and goals like this fuel me to take that passion and turn into it my career. This set gives me another opportunity to make that happen.
This post isn’t some shameless plea for help because honestly, it is. I can’t do this without you. If you have the ability to help, please consider pre-ordering our set. If you do, please shoot me a PM on Facebook or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org because I want to personally thank you for helping me get closer to my dream.
I recently sat down with a co-worker from my day job who knows about my books. To be honest, I don’t really publicize my writing to those at work or to even extended family members. It was a secret that I even kept from my best friend for nearly a year. Crazy, right? Not really when the few times I did open up to a few family members did the conversations go like these.
Me: “So, I write romance novels.”
Them: “What kind?”
Me: “Biker Romance.”
Them: “Like Sons of Anarchy? *Laugh* You’re kidding, right? What do you know about bikers?”
Or my personally favorite, the thin-lipped response of “Oh. That’s nice” before changing the subject completely.
Those words you’ve just read have happened to me more than a dozen time, and one the biggest reasons that I don’t advertise my books with some of my more extended family and friends. It hurts when those who you think would respect and be interested in a new successful direction in your life scoff at it like a child trying show off a new skill that they see as trivial. Some of my friends thought this was just a phase. A new “thing” that I was trying out to pass the time. Little did they know that this “thing” was and had been a dream of mine for quite some time, and that losing my father was what spurred me to start living life to the fullest.
You see in writing romance, the stigma is always there for those who don’t really understand the drive for what we do. I can’t tell you how many different times I’ve been asked by those around me who I have eventually told if my books were all Mommy porn. A term that again, let’s be honest, came about with the popularity of Fifty Shades. But, romance novels have been around way longer than the early 2000s. In fact after I did a little digging, I discovered scholars site the first romance novel to be published came in 1740 with Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. While wildly popular in its time, it wasn’t until Jane Austen began publishing her great works, personal favorites of mine, that romance as a genre began to really sprout in the industry we see today.
People, women especially, love reading about love. The intimacies of it. The anxiety and excitement of starting a new relationship. The heartbreak and soul-searching that comes with it.
So let’s to circle back to the title of this post, why is writing romance so hard for those who don’t write to grasp? To those who aren’t fans of the genre, it’s not realistic. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten reviews about “that’s not how romance works” or “she would never go back to a man that keeps secrets from her.” They don’t see the possibility of meeting your soul mate on the first date, and just knowing they’re the one. Magic. Lust. Romance. Concepts lost in translation from critics of the genre. You see, skeptics want to apply real world principles to fictional stories, and it just doesn’t work. If you are one of those people, I hate to break it to you, but for some, that’s exactly how their romantic lives have occurred. Are they unorthodox stories of love? Of course, but just because you don’t find them to be realistic in your view of the world doesn’t mean they aren’t truth dripping from the pages for someone else.
Think about it in other genres. Paranormal romance, for example. Shifters, vampires, and all those different creatures that go bump in the night aren’t real, but yet readers devour those stories. Why? Because despite the fact they aren’t real, we can step into a different world and still find the love stories we crave. It’s different. We as people like the odd and different. It breaks up the monotony of everyday life. Escapism and the feeling of diving into a new world full of romance and adventure.
On top of that you get the added stigma that romance writers are just women or men unhappy with their home life. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty happy in my normal life. My writing about two fictional people following in love isn’t some unfulfilled need for passion in my life. The last time I checked, I had plenty of passion and fulfillment so does that make me an outlier? Highly doubtful, but haters will hate, and just find something else to complain about to discredit anyone who differs with their opinion.
So let’s circle back to my co-worker and the conversation we had at lunch about writing. A question that literally took me aback for a few minutes. K’s not a reader. In fact, she’s a self-proclaimed non-reader, but her genuine interest about the other side of my life is intriguing. She has known the research scientist part of me for nearly 10 years so when I finally revealed to her about my writing, she didn’t scoff or brush it off. She asked me questions. The hows, whats, and whys. Just like today’s lunch, her question wasn’t any different.
What is the hardest part about writing romance?
Because writing about love makes me happy.
No bells, whistles, or adornments needed. Writing about love simply makes me happy. A better me because in a world where I often find myself muted in social settings with my husband’s career, the entirety of my being came be unleashed with the words that I write. So many special nuances about my female characters are plucked straight from the side of me not many people really get to see. The real me. These stories may be fictional, but to me, they are pieces of me presented to the word one page at a time.
I am sure that many of you have seen posts or tweets regarding the latest plagiarism allegations against Brazilian “author” Cristiane Serruya or known in the Twitterverse as #CopyPasteCris. The term author in regards to Serruya being used loosely here because I have yet to see evidence that she has actually penned a book herself without ripping off someone else’s words. If you haven’t seen or heard about this, pull up a chair, pop some popcorn, and be prepared for a bumpy ride.
I know there have been several great posts regarding this issue, and in part, this is just a summary of those that have been published before me. Yet, as in the case of #cockygate, I can’t just let this go without adding my own remarks to the situation. This is too serious of an issue to just sweep under the rug unnoticed because just like #cockygate, #copypastecris is going to be yet another game changer to the industry.
Ms. Serruya at the time of writing this has been accused of plagiarizing 51 books, 34 authors, 3 articles, 3 websites, and 2 recipes per the source of blogger, CaffeinatedFae. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Have you wrapped your heard around that? No? Well, I’ll be honest that I am in the same boat. I have no idea even how to process this news that seems to spiral even more out of control every day with the edition of new authors. This entire ordeal started off with one author then escalating to the numbers listed above in just a week. A WEEK! And I have no doubts that more will be found today or even tomorrow. One such article theft still had the website’s hyperlink still embedded into the text. The evidence doesn’t lie, and I personally think this is just the beginning of her fall down the rabbit hole of career implosion.
Every time I think about this, my head and heart hurts. How does she call herself an author? She didn’t write the words. Not a single one yet she clearly profited from them despite her claims she didn’t. See this article here from Lucas Mato where she says this and more in an interview since the story broke. You don’t get bestseller status without selling books. Maybe in the alternative universe she seems to be residing in, but not in my experience. That’s not how the system works. Ask any legitimate author publishing in today’s industry that question, and see how quickly it takes for them to laugh in her face. Seriously. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Why did she even start down this road? Is Ms. Serruya allergic to hard work? Too busy to write? When are stealing from so many books, I can imagine that free time is a bit of a commodity. Sarcasm there if you didn’t pick up on that. If I can work a full-time in a demanding science career while still producing a few books a year then surely she could have done the same thing? Right? The answer though would be no because the evidence points to the contrary. The list of authors she has stolen from are some of the best in the business. The real bestsellers. Authors with literally thousands of fans who devour their words. Nora flipping Roberts, y’all. How did she think she was going to get away with it? Reality check. She did, and did so until this last week. There is absolutely no way to gauge just how much money she made off of “her” books. Not without a court order, but I have a feeling that is coming far more quickly than she can imagine.
But it gets even worse. First, Ms. Serruya blamed the ghostwriters she hired for the plagiarism. The use of ghostwriters has been around for far longer than any of us can remember in this industry. It’s common place especially for those who work with the larger publisher houses. For indies? Not as common, but it still occurs. Yet here we see an “author” shoving the blame off on the ghostwriter, claiming she had no knowledge of it. But the thing about passing the blame buck is that sometimes those who you are chastising clap back, and they did. The ghostwriters came forward with evidence of what exactly she sent them. Many of them stating they had refused to work with her after they realized the words were not her own. Some refused her. Others took the money and did it. I guess I have wonder why someone hadn’t blown the whistle on this earlier knowing that she was peddling chunks of various stories to ghostwriters, but that question is one we will likely never get an answer for. However, I digress.
This fiasco, I suspect, is far from over, and the implications down the road for the rest of the indie publishing world has the potential to be staggering. Just like Faleena Hopkins’s copyright last May. When things of this magnitude strike, the ripple effects will hit us all. What that means is still yet to be seen going forward, but I have a feeling that we will be seeing them soon enough with the sheer number of authors and publishers involved in these allegations. I have no doubt that the addition of plagiarism checks will be coming soon enough before we can publish, and honestly, I welcome them because in the grand scheme of things it could curtail a lot of the problems we see with plagiarism. That is if they are implanted correctly. Yet scammers will always find a loophole. Just ask those who have manipulated the KU charts for years who were banned last summer and are already back in the self-publishing game.
This entire ordeal while I may not be directly affected by it gave me a kick in the pants to stop procrastinating and to get my copyrights file for my books, which at the time of publishing this story, I have. It’s time like this that reminds me to never let my guard down because next time it could be my words being stolen. Not only does this hurt me as an author, but our community as well. We put far too much trust and stock in the systems that are supposed to bring us success instead of systemically screwing us over. I’m looking at you, Amazon, when I say this. Fix your KU system, and put gate keepers in place that don’t help the scammers win. You are the industry leader in e-book sales, and until you take a stand, the authors of this world will still fall to plagiarism, theft, and a broken KU system that benefits the scammers and not the authors who provide you the stories for which you make money off of. This is a dark time for the indie world, and I hope that we can find the light at the end of the publishing tunnel soon enough. If we don’t, the community that we love will be changed forever.