Temptation Tuesday – Slide Down On Me

LissaLogoYellow_reasonably_smallSo, now that I’m back from Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together, I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing. Even though I wrote a few thousand words while there, it still takes a few days to get into the groove once home. There’s housework to balance with writing… kids, pets, husband, cooking, etc… It typically takes me two or three days of concentrating on home before I can start in with work, but I don’t have that luxury this week. I need to do both because I’ll be leaving again next week and will have even less time to write while I’m away than I did while at the con.

With all that being said and going on, I wanted to make sure I give you a little bit of a tempting treat on a story I’m working on right now titled Slide Down On Me…

*

Bella locked up the flower shop. Her boss, Mrs. Cleary, had been her mother’s closest friend up until the plane crash that had killed Marianne and William Drake when Bella was in her freshman year at college.

Mrs. Cleary had lost everything, same as everyone else in town had at the hands of Bella’s brother but she didn’t hold it against Bella and had gladly given Bella a job and a place to stay until Bella could get a place of her own.

Bella had been grateful for the help, for the kindness, but every time she looked at Mrs. Cleary, she couldn’t help feeling a little responsible. Then again, Bella felt a little responsible for what everyone had gone through. She was also grateful though that Mrs. Cleary trusted her enough to let her open and close the store.

When she was certain the lock was secure, she turned and couldn’t disguise her surprise to find Travis leaning against his truck in the front parking spot. “I thought we decided on Friday? I don’t have any more money now than I had this morning.”

“I’m not here for money. Thought you could use a ride home. It’s about ten miles out your place and I didn’t figure you’d be wanting to walk all that way after being on your feet all day.”

“Oh. That would be… You don’t have to do that. It’s out of your way and—”

“C’mon.” He cut her off and waved her forward. “I don’t mind.”

Bella stood at the edge of the curb, uncertain what to do. Travis was a secret, a wet dream, a fantasy she’d never be able to have. He was the only man in town who didn’t look at her with distain. Okay, make that the only person, aside from Mrs. Cleary, who didn’t look at her with distain. She hadn’t had control over her brother or what he did, but the way people treated her, she figured they thought she should have.

“I won’t bite,” he teased and Bella laughed. It had been a long time since she had, since she’d even felt like smiling.

“From what I remember hearing, you used to like biting.” Travis grinned and gave her a slow wink which did things to her insides she’d only wished for in the deep dark hours of the night.

“There were stories about you too, so don’t think I believe you’re anymore innocent than I am.” He leaned casually against the front quarter panel of his truck. “Let’s see. If I recall, you liked your sex a little rough and tumble. You were pretty and perfect on the outside, never a hair out of place, but behind closed doors, you were something else entirely.”

Bella blushed. She knew it, from the heat in her cheeks and the way her blood pumped through her body faster. It was summer in the South, but for the first time since she’d stepped outside the shop, she was sweating. “You heard about all that?”

“There was nothing you did that was a secret. Those private school jocks you dated weren’t worth shit when it came to keeping their mouths shut. You were a very naughty girl, Bella Drake.”

Oh dear God. Had her parents known? Her brother? The whole damn town? She wanted to look away, to look down at the ground and wait for it to swallow her whole, but she wouldn’t hide from who she’d been anymore than she hid from who she’d had to become. She kept her gaze leveled at Travis. “Were being the operative word.”

“Really?” At her nod, he clucked his tongue. “Now that’s a damn shame.”

How had they gotten on this topic? And how could they get off it? “Why?” Certainly her asking questions wasn’t the way to do so.

“Why indeed. Let’s get you home.” He moved to the passenger side door and opened it for her.

“Won’t people talk if they see us together? I know it’s only a ride home, but as we’ve just discussed, gossip is rampant around here. Not to mention, I don’t want to cause further harm to your business by you being seen with me. Guilt by association isn’t fun.”

“I can handle myself and any of my customers who may have issues. C’mon now. In the truck with ya.”

Bella couldn’t find any other way to argue with him. She wanted to but couldn’t. Hurting his garage further wasn’t something she wanted. Heck, none of this was what she’d wanted. Her brother’s actions had killed something wonderful in a small town. They no longer trusted anyone, especially outsiders, and especially her. Her family had always done right by the town, had always helped see to its prosperity, its charm, its way of life. They’d lived in the county since before the War Between the States and their money had kept the town from falling into Union hands, into enemy hands.

And now, she was the enemy. Southern pride was something strong and unyielding. As close as she’d come to breaking down, mentally and emotionally over the months dealing with the fallout from her brother’s actions, that pride had never faltered or failed her.

She nodded once and walked toward Travis, then climbed up in his truck. The door closed firmly once she was seated and he climbed up behind the steering wheel. She kept her gaze forward until they were passed the seed store on the edge of town. She didn’t want to see the accusatory looks from anyone. Oh she was used to it for herself, but those looks wouldn’t be aimed at her this time. This time they would be aimed at Travis.

“Why are you being nice to me?” she asked when the silence became too much for the small cab of the old truck. She was too aware of him seated just a few inches over. Dirt, sweat, grease all assailed her, but underneath it all was the scent that was Travis. He’d always has dirt under his nails and oil smudges, but he smelled like the country. Fresh cut grass, hay bales, freedom. It all went against the look of him; hard, inked, pierced. He’d had the tattoos and the piercings for as long as she could remember. Every time she saw him, it seemed there was some new piece of art on his body, but he still had that smell of springtime and summer all rolled into one.

The two lane road out to her side of the lake was deserted but that wasn’t unusual. She’d come to like the solitude, the privacy. She didn’t so much like the pariah stigma, but she’d gotten used to it.

Out the passenger window, the lake glistened under the late afternoon sun. She’d gone swimming in it along with the rest of the county when she was growing up. Even Travis and his friends would hang out on the water. There were several floating docks that all the kids swam out to and sunbathed on, but Travis, his brother, and their friends would water ski, or fish at one end, or swing out and jump in from long hanging ropes that dangled from tree limbs.

It was her guilty pleasure to watch him. She did it discretely so her friends or whatever boy she happened to be dating at the time didn’t notice and if they ever did, she always told them she didn’t understand the foolishness. In truth, she was in awe of him, fascinated by him, crushing on him so hard it made her bathing suit bottoms wet and her heart beat fast in her chest.

She would’ve thought growing up, moving away, living among her own kind in Nashville society, and finally the hell she’d been through would have cured her of fairy tales filled with hot, sex in a pair of jeans prince charmings. She had obviously been mistaken.

“Why shouldn’t I be nice to you? You didn’t do anything to me.”

He said it casually, easily, and Bella struggled not to look at his profile. The cold, businesslike tone he’d used on her earlier that morning and at lunchtime, and while part of her was grateful for it, it made another part of her wary.

“No, I didn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that my name is Drake.”

“You’re not your brother or his actions.” Bella did look over at Travis then only to find him looking at her. There was something unreadable in his eyes, in the slight curve of his lips, but her heart thundered all the same. She nodded once, again grateful, and turned her head until she was looking back out over the water.

When the curve of her driveway came into view and Travis made the veer to the right that would take them to the front of her house, she couldn’t deny the pang of disappointment. She wasn’t ready to be out of his company yet. Though they’d said little after their little bantering conversation outside the flower shop, she found she wasn’t as prepared to be alone as she usually was.

He pulled to a stop and before she could say anything, even a thank you for the ride, Travis had the truck in park and the keys out of the ignition. She gaped at him, but he didn’t look at her, only got out and came around to open her door. “Thanks,” she said, hopping down from the cab.

Travis inclined his head and gave a small smile. “My pleasure.”

She thought he’d leave then, but after he closed the door to the truck and she started up the steps to her porch, Travis cleared his throat. Bella turned. He was leaning against the same front quarter panel as he had been earlier. His arms were crossed over his chest and his feet crossed at the ankle. There was arrogance in eyes, and heat. She couldn’t mistake that because it matched her own. The arrogance however, made her shiver in the humid Tennessee summer heat with uncertainty. “Travis?”

“Sleep with me.”

*

Y’all have a nice Tuesday and try to stay cool…

~lissa

Author Friday – Release Day and Expectations

LissaLogoYellow_reasonably_smallYes, you read that right. Another new release. This one is short, a story I wanted to tell. It’s emotional, very sexual, and all one scene. There’s depth and angst and the need to grow up.

There was a line in a movie, The Expendables. The first one. Jason Statham has a scene with a girl he’d been seeing. She was with another man and there are things said, powerful emotions, especially from him that tugged at me. He makes a comment in another scene “I was worth it”.  That grabbed my gut and the wheels started spinning.

A man you adore, you love, you crave with every beat of your heart, leaves for who knows how long, for who knows where, doing who knows what… Is he worth waiting for? Is he worth it? That’s what Wait For Me is about.

Sometimes that’s all it takes. One line. One word. One look. And my fingers and mind are off to the races, so to speak…

But will readers like it? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. Do I care? Yes, I do, but at the same time, I have no expectations. The story is what it is. And I have tried to practice what I preach in the realm of reading. I want to enjoy the books I’m reading, but I’m also trying not to see too much, not to expect more than what the book is. I find that takes a whole lot of pressure off and does allow for more enjoyment. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t books I approach with this attitude that don’t disappointment and in the end leave me thinking “WTF was that?” but for the most part, it works.

When I wrote Wait For Me, that’s what I had in my head too. No expectations beyond the story I needed and wanted to tell. I kept fiddling with it. I kept adding to and taking away from. I kept trying to see something different, but in the end, it is what it is and I think that’s likely the healthy approach to it, to all books. It is what it is. In hindsight, they can always be better. They can always be something more. They can always morph and change and even become something completely different than we as authors intended them to be when we first started out… However, the trick is to let go and move on. Write the book we intend to write and let the readers have it. If they love it, great. If they don’t, that’s great too. We’ve moved on. We’ve learned. And we hope they’ll like the next one. (the blog WarriorWriters helped me see this)

Occasionally, there’s a hit. Occasionally, there’s one that we hit out of the ballpark without ever imagining that we could. Those are special. Rare. And make all the ones that were hit and miss inbetween, worth it.

There are stories we just need to tell…

Wait

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes and Noble

Melody Ashford has been in love with Vinny since she was sixteen. He told her to wait, come back to him when she was legal. Two years later she crawled into his bed and never wanted to crawl out. They spent one blissful summer together, before he left for boot camp and a life in the military.

Vinny comes back to their little South Carolina town as often as he can, then leaves again for parts unknown. The heartache when he departs takes its toll and Melody passes the time with work, friends, and casual companionship from men she’s known all her life.

If Vin were a better man he’d set her free. But it would kill him to let go of the one thing more precious than life…

Their love is volatile, and full of passion. No one has ever touched Melody the way Vinny does, but he’s never said the words, never asked the question that would ensure no one else ever had the right. He’s got secrets and missions he can’t share, and she’s got dreams of a life with him in her bed every night. Can they put both aside and simply love one another until the time is right, or is his request too little too late?

What about you? What kind of expectations do you have going into reading or writing a book? Do you have any expectations at all?

Have a great weekend…

~lissa

 

 

Author Friday – I’m Not Writing Fast Enough

LissaLogoYellow_reasonably_smallI know you’re shocked. Two blog posts in a row. There will be a third tomorrow for Snippet Saturday so… It’s crazy! Kind of like the NFL Draft last night. Three Alabama Crimson Tide players drafted back to back to back. But really, there’s no surprise there. Just look at them… They’re tough. There were also three of my FSU ‘Noles drafted last night, two were back to back. One was a complete shock and surprise and I’m thrilled… I also digress.

The title of this is “I’m not writing fast enough”. It’s true. I’m not. You’ve also heard me say I’m pretty much starting over with this writing gig. It’s harder the second time around to boost the career than it was the first time. Why? Especially if I have some readers already? Because there’s competition. Lots of it. And there always has been, but it’s different now. Every Tom, Dick, Harry, and their sister Sally can self-publish. There’s also the knowledge of what the numbers or lack there of on rankings means. When I first started out, I didn’t know. I just knew I was thrilled when someone talked about my book or mentioned my name. Now, if anyone mentions either one, it’s lost in the sea of other names fifty different people are talking about constantly. There are favorites…among publishers, readers, book bloggers. So, knowledge can work against a writer and ignorance being bliss is sometimes the way to go. Just not paying attention, just burying your head in the books you’re writing. But even that doesn’t work for everyone anymore. Being visible is a key for some and not for others.

I know now what the numbers mean. I know when a book is selling. And when it’s not. But, what’s left to do? What works and what doesn’t in getting the word out so enough people go after it, especially if you’re not writing in a genre that everyone is buying? It’s easy to want to jump on the BDSM, the M/M, the New Adult bandwagon just so you can maybe get a sales boost.

Then of course there is the not writing fast enough. Day jobs. Kids. Home schooling. House cleaning. Exercise. Family. Sleep. Down time. I can comfortably write four thousand words a day. But sometimes that means ignoring everything else, especially if the words are having to be etched in blood with a razor blade. And I don’t have a husband who picks up the slack. Kids help, yes, but it’s still primarily me. Super mom. Super homemaker. Not so Super writing. So no, I’m not writing fast enough. I’m trying to hock my books on the street corners of the internet. But, when I see authors who do write fast enough, who are churning out books left and right, saying they desperately need sales, begging for them, or authors starting fundraisers in order to continue writing a series… This bothers me. Why aren’t these authors selling? What is it readers are looking for that these authors of multiple genres aren’t giving them?

I haven’t jumped on the street team bandwagon either. I’m not much of a bandwagon jumper anyway, but… Are the street teams worth it? Do they help boost sales? A writer can only write as fast as she or he can write and still write a good book. When readers are reading 3-4 books a day… Maybe this world of Buy Now With 1-Click is killing us… ( I know it kills my bank account)

It’s always been a crap shoot. If a writer is trying to make a living at this, they write. A lot. They publish. And they talk about their book constantly, but when the sales never take off, when the book sits stagnant, what’s a writer to do? Write something else. So they do and still the book sits, stagnant. They advertise, blog, beg for reviews, have giveaways, get swag printed up, and still… Nothing helps, nothing changes.

Some publishers have much better sales than others. But their wait times are a year or more for publication. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I’ve been pondering that question for months as I write. What I turn in this year to one of my publishers, won’t see the light of day until Spring of 2014 and on into 2015. Hard to make a living that way.

Some can make a living self-publishing. Some can’t.

And writing to make money is always the biggest crap shoot of all. When there are words that need to be written, not because readers are (hopefully) waiting, not because you need money to pay the rent or insurance (these are important no doubt), but just because the words need to get outside your head and on to the paper (or screen)… Writing is not a get rich quick thing for most writers. Most of us never see rich or even making ends meet.

So, is it that we don’t write fast enough? Is it that we don’t write the right thing? I write. I put out books. I doubt every word. But I keep at it. I don’t get the multiple contracts or the offers to submit on proposal, but I still keep at it. There’s a lot of what I don’t get. There’s a lot of what I don’t understand. There’s a lot that frustrates me. There’s a lot of second guessing and trying something new. There’s a lot of envy, some jealousy, some plain ‘ol dislike at the unfairness of things and the favoritism and the preferential treatment. In the end though, there’s a lot of writing. A LOT OF WRITING. A lot of putting words down. It might be in a blurb, a synopsis, but it’s getting the words down in order to get the book out. It’s writing and though I want to make money at it, though I want to sell thousands of copies, though I want to make it to a best seller list, though I want, I want, I want… What I need, what I started out to do five years ago, is write. And it might not be fast enough for readers or publishers, but I write. I might get distracted by what I don’t have, but I write. I might get bad reviews and swear I’m never going to write another word, I still write.

This is my job. It pays for the plumber, the transmission, the races, the concerts, the brakes, the tires, the cats, the birthdays, the holidays, the vacations I don’t get to take, the conventions, the promo, the groceries in the house, the gas, the golf lessons for my son, the porch railing, the cell phones, the coffee, the desperately needed night at the movies, etc… But even without a dime, I still need to write. I’ve been doing it since I was a child. It’s a compulsion, it’s an addiction. Just like coffee. Just like reading.

Maybe I don’t write fast enough. Maybe I don’t write what someone else wants me to write. Maybe I don’t write what everyone else is writing. Maybe I’m not writing to suit the reader’s preferences. But, I’m still writing.

And speaking of which…

~lissa

 

 

Writer Friday – Liz Borino

How to Handle Differing Opinions of Your Writing

The first thing people in the publishing industry tell you when you’re getting ready to publish for the first (or hundredth) time is to grow a thick skin to criticism. The truth is no matter how amazing your writing is, there will be some people who can’t see the genius. Some won’t even try. Then again, some people will get it. Hopefully, a lot of people. Here’s a list of reasons that people might not connect with your masterpiece.

  1. People are mean. It happens. Sometimes, people will give a bad review because they’re jealous, they hate sunshine, or they’re having a bad day. No matter why it happens, they woke up and decided to write a scathing review. It’s not a good idea to jump to this conclusion unless they don’t provide any evidence for their negative opinion.
  2. Not their genre of choice. This isn’t your fault as an author. There’s nothing you can do about people buying a book they shouldn’t and leaving a bad review.
  3. The plot contains a ‘triggering’ element for them. A trigger is something that invokes a strong negative reaction. Some people go into panic attacks when reading a rape or abuse scene because of a previous experience. The sad part is there’s nothing you can do about this, either. Trying to write to please everyone will wind up in ‘safe’ writing, which pleases no one.
  4. The reviewer doesn’t connect with your characters. All right this is a little tougher to hear. As any writer will tell you, those characters live in our hearts and minds, not just on the page. They’re the last thing we think about at night and the first thing in the morning… come on! It can’t be just me. Anyway, this critique perplexes authors of every type. This could again be personal preference, but that thought does little to soothe the author. So, look at your overall reviews. What do most people say about the characters? Do they find them likable? Relatable? Yes? Then you can disregard a few differing opinions.
  5. The editing leaves something to be desired. I’ll admit this complaint is the worst for me. Why? I’ve gotten it on a few of my books. Whenever I see it, I cringe. Because I may not be able to control how the reader will react to my characters or plot, but the editing is on me. The product is a direct reflection of the author, and I’m a perfectionist. An e-book author might have the opportunity to change this, but the review will likely still be there, and it’s very difficult to get someone to read it again and reconsider. To prevent this, have more than one editor look at it, in addition to your beta readers. And after all that? It won’t be perfect. But you’ll get better the next time. That’s the goal, after all.

What are the worst reviews for you to get as an author? As a reader, what are your deal breakers in a book? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Mine (1)Blurb:
From the moment Steve Michaels met actor Zack Greene in the men’s room of a press conference, the director knew his snarkiness mixed with angelic features, excited him. What he wasn’t prepared for was the vulnerability underneath the hardened exterior. And he really wasn’t prepared to fall in love.

But they did.

Zack needed some positive press and a second chance after getting out of rehab. He found the director of Ben’s Life, the series he planned to audition for. Steve helped him within a loving structured relationship.

Follow Zack and Steve as they face the challenges of work, family, injuries, and pasts together as they redefine family.

Warning: Contains spanking, Light BDSM, Dom/sub relationship, and two men who can’t get enough of each other. Vol. 1 includes Casting, Action, Cutaway, and That’s a Wrap. E-book Paperback

Casting: FREE- Steve Michaels had one goal for the evening: drink just enough to get through the press conference in promotion of Ben’s Life, the new television series he’s directing. Plans change for him when the seedy producer of the show zeroes in his seduction efforts on Zack Greene, the bad boy of the moment. Now, Steve has to make sure Zack doesn’t sue.

Instead of finding the hardened bad boy he expected, Steve finds a vulnerable man whom life has beaten down. Can Steve help build him back up with a loving structured relationship? Find out how being cast in right roles enriches their careers and lives. Smashwords

Writing: Kris Cook

Why Romance Writers Write

Why romance writers write might seem like a trite question with an obvious answer but I’m not so sure. The first thing that comes to my mind as a response to ‘why writers write’ is: they want to make money. Dig a little deeper and I believe you’ll find more.

The first layer I come to is that all storytellers have wondered what their place will be in the hearts of readers. Will their works be respected, revered, or reviled? That concern (and many others) spins in my head as I type away on my current work-in-progress. A little doubt can fuel us to work harder, but too much, and we become paralyzed. Many an aspiring author never makes it past their first work because of these crushing doubts and overwhelming paralysis. The courage to submit their book to publishers is sometimes never realized. I wonder how many great stories are held hostage in the memory of a laptop or under a bed in a box or on the shelf of a closet never to see another set of eyes beside their creator—the writer.

Deeper still I come to how much the publishing industry has changed and you have a brew that has overwhelmed many a writer. For more than five centuries the printing press ruled my predecessors, my current peers and me. The digital revolution tipped the market on its end. Like any revolution there are winners and losers. Bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer in the world, just like music stores became after the advent of the iPod by Apple. New York publishers’ grip has been loosened on the fiction and non-fiction book markets, though I believe is still present. Self-publishing and small press is a viable alternative to the traditional path for success for many authors. This uncertainty confuses many and makes us have to consider the business of publishing even more than before.

In all this noise the reason of why a writer writes seems distant and unknowable. Dig deeper. The truth is so close.

Sophie Oak gave a keynote speech at The Romance Convention in Dallas this year that moved me.

Here’s a portion of her speech, “…we understand the stigma of writing genre fiction. I can go down the list of all the ways we get marginalized. We write fiction. We write genre fiction. We write women’s fiction. We write romance.”

She went on to say, “There is someone out there who needs to hear your story. There is someone who feels alone, who believes no one understands them until they find a story they can sink into and discover a character who lives and breathes their existences. This is the true power of fiction, and every reader deserves a story that becomes comfort food.”

I highly recommend her speech for any writer from novice to seasoned professional. You can find the complete speech here.

Back to the question I began with. Why do romance writers write?

I can only speak for myself about why I write and especially why I write romance fiction. The stories of my characters, each seeming so real to me, must see the light of day. It’s my purpose. It’s my joy. It’s my passion. It’s the reason I breathe and move in the world. Someone, maybe several someones, might be moved by my stories, my characters, my voice. That’s the best I can hope for.

I’m one of the lucky ones who get to earn my living writing, but if the money dried up I would still write. I must.

Dream Big!

Kris Cook

www.KrisCook.net