This is an idea I’ve been pondering for a while. It’s not about writing a book or changing the world. It’s about having fun, doing something I love (aside from writing), connecting with readers, bloggers, other authors who might enjoy it too.
I’m going to start a baking group called Books ‘n Baking. Sort of a take on Julie and Julia and sort of a take on an idea that a food blogger I follow is doing, but with my own spin. (No, we’re not going to bake our way through a Julia Child tome, I promise.)
The premise is, we take a cookbook (a general baking one) and bake our way through it for a year. One recipe a month. And then, we blog about it. The why, the what, etc… (more…)
Now, the message in this about saving face, not acting crazy, just smiling, keepin’ it together… Yeah, I wasn’t raised that way. There’s been a lot of stuff going on the last few weeks in the publishing world and for the most part, I’ve kept my mouth shut save for a few cryptic comments here and there and agreeing with others who’ve taken a stand… I’ll be posting about that later this week, but for now, it’s Music Monday…
This song was also the inspiration for my book, Keep It Together…
Jilted bride? Check. Hangover? Check. Shotgun? Double check. Wayward groom’s half-brother Colt on her porch the next morning, hat in hand, with concern in his sexy blue eyes, and apologies on his full kissable lips? Uh… Check?
That was six months ago. Now, with a job she loves, her heart mended and her pride put back together, the last thing Chrissie expects is that same half-brother standing behind her saying he’s got an answer for her. Problem is, she can’t seem to remember what she’d said on that long ago day that would warrant a visit from him.
Colt does. And as the CEO of a cookie company, it’s his job to pay attention to the details.
“Maybe I should have married you instead.” She’d been right. He was the brother she should have married and all he has to do is convince her of it with a blend of persistence and seduction. But their first kiss is hotter than the southern Georgia summer and catches him off guard. She’s primed and ready to burn up the sheets and he’s not inclined to say no. Will she believe that he won’t ever leave her? Maybe. If he brings her cookies…
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Feeding the Flames ~ Leah Breamel: When chef Tabatha Morgan returns to Barnett Springs, her burning crush on firefighter Zac Buchanan flares back to life. Trouble is, Zac has made a promise to keep his distance from Tabby, so Zac’s best friend and fellow firefighter Quinn decides to help feed the flames of their mutual desire.
Combustible ~ Lexxie Couper: Arson investigator, Desmond Russell is the best in Australia. Cool, calm and collected, nothing ruffles him. Until he meets Outback fire brigade captain, Jess Montgomery, a woman who ignites all his sexual desires. The initial spark will engulf them both…but will their hearts survive the inferno?
Wet Down ~ Delilah Devlin: Out with the old, in with the new…Or so Sherry Thacker thinks. Problem is, her ex is always on her mind and right across the street. When a “Wet Down” ceremony to retire an old fire truck is planned by the city council she has to put aside her hurt and anger and do her job. Blake Thacker wants his wife back—in every way and he’ll use whatever means necessary to win her back. Sex is always best served WET.
Two to Spark ~ Marie Harte: When a psychic predicts that a faulty toaster, a black cat, and the wrong address will bring Cooper together with Ms. Right, he shrugs off the notion as crazy. But before long, fate has something else in store for the sexy firefighter when a spark of attraction ignites into true love.
Controlled Burn ~ Desiree Holt: Montana Wade was home after writing off the past ten years of her life, but she needed one more night of courage before she faced her family. Boone Crider, hotshot firefighter, was burned out form the rash of malicious fires. They thought one night as strangers would cure them both, but the fire they started between them soon became a barely controlled burn.
Up In Smoke ~ Lissa Matthews: Half-brothers, Josh and Jay, share everything from a house, to a love of curvy, older women. So when their dream woman accidentally sets her kitchen on fire, they ride to her rescue, sirens blaring, promising to kindle flames that may never be extinguished.
Rekindled ~ Cari Quinn: Some blazes refuse to be contained. It’s been months since ex-firefighter Katie Kemp has spoken to her former lover and squad mate, Dash Carlton. But when a late night drive down memory lane leads her to a small fire at Dash’s house, she realizes she’s not willing to turn her back on the hottest flame of her life.
Into the Fire ~ Shelli Stevens: Shannon has always prided herself on holding her own in the male dominated field of firefighting. She likes to be in control. Until she strikes a bargain with a sexy man from her past who makes her give it all up in the bedroom.
Stick Shift has a new look, a new blurb, a new price, and some new words. I’ve been working for weeks on the revisions and published it through Amazon.
For now, it is only available through Amazon. I am giving their Kindle Select program a try to see how I like it and wanted to do so with a re-release first before trying it with a brand spankin’ new book.
I mentioned that Stick Shift has some new words, and it does. I extended many scenes and left others along. It’s a little naughtier and Cam revealed some things to me that he wanted me to add in, which I did. There’s also an excerpt from the second book in the back which I am nearly finished with, and a molasses cookie recipe. Since Cam makes these cookies for Lily, I thought it was only right that make sure y’all have a chance to try them for yourselves.
If you’ve read Stick Shift before, thank you. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll give it a try.
The new price is $2.99 as opposed to the previous price of $5.99 when it was published through Loose Id. I don’t believe I’e undervalued my book, but I do believe that a re-release shouldn’t be priced anywhere near that high.
Now, how about that cover, huh?
Cam Carter is young, hot, and cocky as hell. He’s loved by some, respected by few, and hated by more. He’ll do anything to win the next race, the championship, or the heart of the girl.
Lily is unlike any other challenge Cam has faced. Quiet, full-figured, and several years older, she’s trying everything she can to resist the pull of this bad boy of racing.
Can they find a way to cross the finish line and take the checkered flag together? Or will obstacles, both inside and out, push against them until they crash and burn?
Oh God. She was really there, staring at him, and he – bless his gorgeous face – if his smile was anything to go by, he looked happy to see her. She suddenly felt out of her element again and not quite up to the dress code in her blue, lacy knee-length skirt and white frilly t-shirt. Her pink painted toes curled under as she shifted her weight nervously from one foot to the other in the cute, sparkly flip-flops Alli had talked her into wearing. Then again, there probably wasn’t a dress code, given that he was in faded, threadbare jeans with holes in the knees and one of the back pockets ripped at the seams. His T-shirt was black with a washed-out logo she couldn’t make out, and his sneakers had seen much better days. Still, she felt uncertain about how she looked standing there while they stared at each other. What was it about him that drew her and scared her all at the same time? Maybe it was his freshness, his youth, his smile that was all too knowing and aimed at her. Maybe it was because she was out of her depths and he was way out of her league.
Things like this just didn’t happen to women like her.
He stopped in front of her. “You’re here.” He sounded pleased and Lily hoped she wasn’t making a terrible mistake.
“I-I hope it’s okay that I just showed up without calling first. My friend drove me here and wouldn’t let me call. She was afraid I’d chicken out.”
“Would you have? Chickened out?”
“I tried several times, but I was already strapped into the seat of her car.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here. I can stop checking my phone every thirty seconds now.”
Checking his phone? Surely he wasn’t serious. Guys didn’t do that sort of thing. Guys like Cam Carter didn’t do that sort of thing. “I’m sure you probably made plans for tonight. I just wanted to…” She wanted to what? She was stranded. Alli had left almost as soon as Lily’d stepped from the car. She hadn’t wanted to give Lily a chance to escape.
“You just wanted to what?” he prompted for her to continue.
Lily hated that she was stumbling all over her words. The man had her tongue-tied and she wished she hadn’t had that particular thought, because she would love to be tongue-tied, naked, and wrapped around him.
She had to stop thinking like that, too. Instead, if she could just stay focused on how much younger he was than her, how different their lives were, she might actually get out of this awkward mess unscathed.
“I don’t know, but I shouldn’t have shown up out of the blue.”
“I love the surprise. I don’t have plans other than you. If I did, I wouldn’t have told you to meet me. No one needs me until tomorrow, so that means I’m all yours tonight.”
“Oh.” She likely hadn’t hidden the surprise at his choice of words, because he laughed. All hers? Yeah, right. In what universe was a man like Cam Carter ever going to be “all hers”?
“You like that idea.”
He was reading her mind again, just as he’d done at the autograph session. She had to learn not to be so transparent. Alli was forever telling her that everything she thought or felt could be seen in her eyes and in the expressions on her face.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She could do this. “Well, yes, of course. How could I not?” She’d play along. How often did an average, ordinary music teacher get this kind of opportunity? “I’d be crazy to not want you all to myself.”
“Great. Because that’s how I want you.” He stepped close and traced the outline of her cheekbone with his callused and scratched fingers that melted her even more. “All to myself.”
He was going to kiss her. She knew it because he took off his sunglasses, because the pulse beat in his neck had kicked into high gear, because his lips actually brushed hers. Oh. My. God.
He’s too young. He’s too young. He’s too young.
Her mind rattled off the litany, knowing she needed to remember it, no matter how weak it might be. It would be so easy to get carried away if she spent any kind of time with him. But all of her reminders, all of her good intentions drifted away at the softness of his lips, the insistent tip of his tongue, the feel of his hand sliding into her hair, the pressure and control he exerted in holding her mouth to his.
It was a brief kiss, just a small taste of him, but it was enough to whet her appetite for more. The little devil inside her head laughed. As if she needed her appetite whetted. For days she’d thought of him and little else. She’d never wrestled with anything more.
Should she or shouldn’t she?
More than once, she’d picked up the phone and dialed his number but never let the call go through. What if he hadn’t remembered her by just her name and voice alone? What if he put her off or changed his mind or hadn’t meant for her to take the date and time on the picture seriously? What if it was a bum number?
Lily’d been so uncertain what to do that Alli had forced her into the car and dropped her off at the race shop, exactly as she’d told Cam. As soon as Alli left, Lily entertained the notion of walking to the nearest bus stop, but then Cam stepped outside, and she couldn’t move, could barely breathe. She didn’t want to leave without trying. Trying what, she didn’t know, but there was definitely something in the air between them.
“Just as sweet as I knew you’d be,” he said softly, his lips still grazing hers
Just as hot as I remembered you being. Lily smiled, not trusting her voice to speak just yet.
“My shy little kitten.” He chuckled and shook his head. “What do you want to do? Dinner? A movie? A concert? A club? Whatever you want to do, we will do.”
“Shy, little kitten?” That had cleared the fog enough for her to open her mouth.
“Yes.” He nipped the tip of her nose with his lips. “You’re all shy and timid, like a scared kitten. Relax, beautiful. I won’t hurt you. I just want a date with you.”
His brow wrinkled and his mouth twitched at the corners when she stammered out her question. She wanted to kiss that mouth again and she wanted to brush her fingers against the creases in his forehead. She wanted to touch every inch of him, commit him to memory.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “What did you think this was?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know you… A date? In public? With me?”
Cam’s smile faltered as he gazed at her curiously. Now he was the one looking uncomfortable. “Was I being presumptuous in thinking that you might like to go out with me?”
“I… No. No, not at all. I definitely would like to go out with you.”
“On a date? In public?” The light returned to his face as he teased her, and it took her breath away. Damn. The effect the man had on her.
She wasn’t strong enough to deny him or herself. He was offering her a chance few women ever got, just as Alli had said. Alli told her to make the most of it and Lily couldn’t think of a reason why she shouldn’t throw caution to the wind just once and do this one thing for herself.
“And just so we’re clear, Lily? It’s entirely possible that I’ll want more than one date by the time the evening is over.”
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Time and distance have a way of sneaking up on feelings thought long buried.
The Bar Next Door, Book 2
Five years ago, Eli held the hand of his dying lover and made a promise he never intended to keep. Find someone new to love? Be happy? Fat chance. Eli’s happiness died that day. He’s doing well to put one foot in front of the other, much less risk his heart again.
The only thorn in his side is Asa, part-time waiter at The Bar Next Door, who can’t seem to take a hint.
After years of carrying more responsibility on his broad, cowboy shoulders than most people twice his age, Asa knows what he wants when he sees it. Eli. Shadows haunt the gorgeous older bartender, who also happens to be one of Asa’s bosses, but Asa doesn’t care about potential complications. He only wants to banish Eli’s ghosts—and bring Eli back to life.
Persistence, a little impatience, and Asa’s very wicked mouth go to work on Eli’s grumpy, prickly defenses. But Asa may have to block the door to love with his foot—or his heart—before Eli slams it in his face.
Warning: Beware of stubborn cowboys, sticky bar floors and hot sexy showers, eavesdropping cooks and well-meaning friends, Irish whiskey, and a young man who doesn’t understand the word no.
“You’re changing the schedule again?”
The voice startled Eli and he struggled to keep hold of his pencil. He hadn’t expected Asa for another half hour or so. The younger man was light on his feet. That he could sneak up on Eli was testament to just how deep in his own mind Eli often was. And what pissed him off most? His thoughts weren’t of Thad and all he’d lost. No, his thoughts were of Asa. His thoughts and his fantasies centered around Asa. Cocky and quiet. Contradictions from head to toe. It drove Eli nuts.
“I am,” Eli confirmed. “We’re going to be short-handed tomorrow night. We need you.”
“So you automatically assume I can work the late shift and close? Again?”
Eli gritted his teeth. He forgot smart-aleck in his rundown on the little pain in his ass. “Yeah. I automatically assume everything.” He felt belligerent, sounded belligerent, but when it came to Asa, Eli couldn’t seem to control his reactions to the man. “You’ve been closing for the past couple of weeks. Now you’ve got a problem with it?”
The tension in the small room jumped a few degrees but leveled off again just as quickly.
“Nope. I’m good. I don’t have plans and don’t have class until noon the next day.”
Asa was standing so close—right up against the back of Eli’s chair. He was leaning over Eli’s shoulder and his breath fanned Eli’s neck with each exhale. Tension coiled in Eli’s shoulders until he bolted up and out the office door. The late afternoon bar crowd was small. Things wouldn’t pick up for another few hours and he huffed out a frustrated breath. What he wouldn’t give for wall-to-wall cowboys, ranch hands, business men and college students. At least then he’d have a hell of a lot more to do that didn’t include having to escape Asa’s all too interested blue-eyed stare.
“Why do you avoid me?” Asa asked, close on Eli’s heels.
“I do nothing of the sort.”
“Bullshit,” Eli growled. He slipped behind the bar as fast as his booted feet would carry him, but damn if the punk wasn’t hot on his ass.
“See, you’re doin’ it now.” Asa’s tone was a little too cheerful for Eli’s taste. He was tired of clenching his jaw. He was tired of fighting the two things he wanted most: Asa…and Thad.
Only Thad was dead and Asa wasn’t. Only Thad had made Eli promise to keep living, to fall in love again.
And only Asa had stirred any kind of feelings in Eli since. Only Asa made him want to start doing more than simply getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night.
“I think it’s ’cause you like me,” Asa teased.
“I think you should get to work.”
“I think you want me.”
Inwardly, Eli nodded at Asa’s jab. The waiter had no idea just how much Eli wanted him. “I think you need to shut up or find another job.”
“I think you just need to know I want you too.”
Eli whipped around. “I’m warning you.” His heard the low, dangerous tone of his voice. He hadn’t gotten so worked up since… He shook his head. He wasn’t going to think about that night. “Get to work. That’s all I want. You.” He pointed at Asa. “Work.” He jerked his thumb toward the bar.
When he pushed past the stunned and no-longer-smiling man, he hoped he wouldn’t have to get into this again. His fantasies and dreams of Asa needed to stay private. They were keeping him sane, as strange as that was for him to understand. But he didn’t need anyone knowing about them, especially Asa. It was bad enough he felt he was cheating on Thad, even though finding someone else was Thad’s deathbed wish. Damn dead man. Eli would love to wrap his hands around Thad’s shoulders and shake him. He’d love to beg him to explain why he wanted Eli to keep on living. There wasn’t a day that had gone by since Thad’s death that Eli hadn’t wanted to die too.
He shut himself back in the office and picked up his pencil. He sent it flying across the room and watched it bounce off the wall and clatter on the wooden floor.
Asa could never know how Eli felt about him.
Eli had no interest or intention of fulfilling his promise to Thad, no matter the tug Asa had on Eli.
“Asa, will you grab the last of the tumblers off that back table?”
Those were the only words Eli had spoken to him all night since he’d stormed off to the office. Anytime Asa needed anything from Eli, he asked and the deed was done without a sound, gesture, or grimace. Nothing. What he wouldn’t give to take back whatever he’d done or said to send Eli over the edge. He didn’t care much for the chasm that grew between them as the night wore on. That hadn’t been his intention at all with his teasing. He’d only hoped to get Eli to smile or laugh, something that would crack the stony facade he always seemed to put up.
“Sure, boss,” he said lightly.
“Make sure to wipe it down too. Those yahoos were back there for several hours tonight.”
“Got it.” Did the man not think Asa knew how to do the job? And what the hell was up with scheduling them together the last few nights? Asa didn’t have an issue closing the bar with Eli—he just wasn’t sure why he was suddenly the chosen one. A small smile stretched his lips. It wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last time he’d wonder if Eli returned his feelings. He didn’t know what was up with Eli and why he held everyone—especially Asa—at arm’s length, but Asa wasn’t planning on giving up either. He wanted Eli, even if he was grumpy most of the time. There was something riding him, something keeping him from getting close to anyone other than Malachi, the other bar owner, and Asa wished he knew what it was.
He grabbed the glasses from the table and made sure to wipe down the surface. Twice. The second time in a big show of effort so Eli wouldn’t have reason to question whether or not he’d done what he was told. The floor around the chairs was sticky and Asa didn’t want to know why, shuddering at the possibilities. Anything from sodas to spunk. All kinds of things took place in the back of a bar where no one could see unless they were right up on you.
“Everything all right?” Eli asked when Asa set the glasses on the bar top.
“Sure. Why wouldn’t it be?”
Asa shrugged. “Okay.” He headed for the back and returned with the mop bucket. Eli didn’t say anything else, but Asa knew if he turned his head, he’d find Eli staring a hole in his back. The soapy water in the bucket was clean to start with, but as the mopping concluded some minutes later, it was nothing but a dingy gray. This and the bathrooms were the parts of closing he could do without. He’d rather be in the kitchen washing a mountain of dishes than cleaning a bar bathroom.
“You ’bout done?”
Asa turned. Eli was half sitting, half leaning against one of the stools with his arms crossed over his chest, one booted foot hanging by the heel on a low rung. Eli’s hat sat low on his forehead and Asa nearly came in his jeans. Eli was the hottest man he’d ever wanted, and he’d wanted many men. He could admit to having been a slut—though a very safe slut when he first came out a few years ago—wanting to taste and touch and lick every gay cowboy he could get his greedy hands on. He could top or bottom, but what he really loved was a man’s arms tight around him, a rough whispered Southern drawl, a bit of facial scruff and a gruff voice. Give him all that and he was putty. Eli fit the bill perfectly.
“Yeah. Just gotta dump the water and I’ll be ready.”
“I gave you tomorrow night off.”
Asa whipped his head around. “What? Why? I don’t need it.” Eli was pulling even further away. Shit. The boss man was going to drive him completely insane.
Eli shrugged and tipped his hat back. “We don’t need you.”
“We? Or you?”
“Boy, I’m telling you now, you don’t want to go there.”
“Why not? Afraid of me?”
“Turn that question around.”
Asa scoffed. “You don’t scare me, Eli, and the all business all the time boss routine isn’t going to work.”
“I should scare you.”
“You scare yourself and you’re scared of me.”
“You’re a kid and my decision is based on nothing more than we are fully staffed tomorrow night.”
“You weren’t earlier.” Asa called Eli’s bluff.
“We are now.” Eli was nothing, if not stubborn.
“You can try to get rid of me all you want, but I’m not going anywhere.”
“I can fire you.”
“True. But you can’t keep me from coming back as a customer.”
Eli’s cheek twitched. Irritation. Asa had become inordinately good at pushing Eli’s buttons. It hadn’t been on purpose at first, but for weeks now, Eli had made it way too easy. Now Asa didn’t even have to try to worm his way under Eli’s skin.
“Just take the night off. Go out with friends. Have a good time. We’ll see you on your next shift.”
“What’s with all the ‘we’ and ‘we’ll’ crap? Don’t you mean you? You will see me on my next shift?”
“I’ll see you, but others will be here as well. Don’t take everything quite so personal. Nothing is meant by anything.”
“You’re kidding yourself, Eli. You know it and I know it. Every bit of it is personal. This attraction between us is very personal.”
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