#WriterWednesday – My Journey Through Publishing (Part 1)

writer-wednesday

Today I want to talk about my publishing journey for #writerwednesday. I’ve been publishing books since 2005. I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since I first had a story accepted for publication!

Although I didn’t publish (or should I say I didn’t have anything make money) until 2005, I’ve always been a writer. Isn’t that what most writers say? As a child I was always composing stories. Always living in an imaginary world. Maybe that’s because I grew up an only child. Had to make my own fun. I didn’t write anything through my early teenage years, until I discovered the wonderful world of X-Files fan fiction.

When I was 17, I loved The X-Files. In fact, I’m still an X-Files geek. I got back into writing by composing X-Files stories on my electric typewriter (oh yeah, I had one of those. Very annoying to make a typo and use correction fluid). In my stories, Mulder and Scully definitely had a lot of romance.

After that I moved into fan-fiction about movie characters – specifically Vin Diesel’s Riddick from Pitch Black (love an ambiguous anti-hero). I published this online. Long story short, I got a fan base and won some awards. This made me realise I wanted to write original stories. I am ashamed to say that I turned one of my fan fics into an original and submitted to a digital publisher – Ellora’s Cave. I loved their books. They introduced me to super steamy romance back in the early 2000s and I wanted to write for them so much. It was promptly rejected for being too tropey. My first rejection.

I moved on to reviewing romance for a couple of review sites and in 2005 saw an open publishing call from a new digital publisher, The Wild Rose Press. They were looking for novella length romance in a number of categories. I wrote and submitted The Invitation – a Christmas themed paranormal romance. Back then I was all about paranormal romance. I devoured every paranormal romance I could get my hands on. I still love to read it, but my tastes have changed.

The Invitation got accepted for publication by The Wild Rose Press. Yah! I was over the moon. I was finally a ‘real writer’. I would be making money from my books for the first time, and that feeling was amazing.

The story got some good reviews, but the sales were minimal to say the least. Undeterred, I wrote 2 more stories for The Wild Rose Press – A Conqueror’s Destiny (historical fantasy romance fiction) and Devil’s Dance (a contemporary BDSM lite romance). 

Devil’s Dance was my longest novella at around 30,000 words and I found I loved writing daring erotic romance. I really liked it, but the same problems occurred with Devil’s Dance. Minimal sales. Sales aren’t everything, but it was really disheartening.

Although I loved working with The Wild Rose Press initially,  I got pushed from editor to editor when my regular editor left and I lost my passion for publishing. I left my work with The Wild Rose Press and stopped creating anything new. I just didn’t have the heart. In 2010 I got my rights back and the copyright reverted to me.

Between 2010-2011 I dabbled with writing. I worked on a dark futuristic romance thriller (that I am hoping to publish next year) when I saw an editor call from Carrie Jackson of Ellora’s Cave. She was a new editor looking to acquire super sexy romance. On a whim, I submitted Devil’s Dance. She loved it, really loved it, and signed me up as a new Ellora’s Cave author.

Oh my god. Ellora’s Cave were my dream publisher. I’d been reading and reviewing EC books for years and now I was working with them. I was ecstatic. We changed the title of the book to Beg Me, as well as major revisions and expansion of the storyline.

Digital publishing rocketed at this point (this was before the Kindle took off). Beg Me debuted at the highest spot for a new author on the indie site ARR. My sales were huge compared to The Wild Rose Press.

I started writing again. Next came a few novellas – At Their Command, Wicked Game, Darkness Comes, Fourth Time’s a Charm, Owned by the Night. The Invitation got republished. Again, my sales rocked. My working relationship with Carrie as an editor was amazing. She just got me. My style. My ideas. I loved working with her. I’d heard rumblings about Ellora’s Cave – late payments etc- but I was riding high. Surely such an established e-publisher would be fine.

When I pitched an idea for a BDSM trilogy, Carrie acquired all 3 on a proposal.

claimingruby_msr

Claiming Ruby released and my sales exploded. I was seriously considering giving up my day job and writing full time.

And then in 2014 the bottom fell out of my world…

Read the first chapter in my upcoming NEW release – TAKEN (KOH #2)

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We are days away from the release of Taken – the second book in my MC biker romance series. I’m sure all of you are desperate to know how the end of Sinful turned out, I’m evil leaving y’all on a cliffhanger. Mwahahaha!

I’m really sorry, but Zeke made me (he really did!) 😉

But the wait is almost over.

TAKEN is already avilalbe for pre-order on Amazon here:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

On September 1st it will also be available in Kindle Unlimited.

Keep reading below for the 1st chapter…

Copy of Her temper flared and the words tumbled out. “Am I just too much of a good girl, Zeke_ Too good that you can’t even get it up…” “Shut the fuck up, Grace,” he growled seconds before his lips were on hers. Fo

Blurb:

“If I lost you, I’d be broken. I’d be brutal and cold and I’d tear the world apart. Losing you would destroy me. I’d burn the whole world to get you back.”

Second installment of the smouldering, contemporary biker romance series.

Zeke Knight is unlike any man Grace Burton has ever met. The gorgeous MC President came into her life and turned it upside down. Her heart and body belong to him, but being in love with the leader of a motorcycle gang isn’t easy, and she is still trying to navigate her way through Zeke’s world.

Zeke never wanted to fall for the beautiful, feisty Grace. The hellion broke down his defences and worked her way into his heart. Life is perfect until someone decides to take what Zeke loves the most.

And he has to take the Knights of Hell to war her back…

Grace and Zeke’s story continues in:
Possession (book 3) – release date Nov 2020

Prologue

Zeke Knight didn’t have an impulse control problem. He’d never had issues with holding the rage inside. His Pops had been the opposite. A hair trigger. Someone looked at him funny and the old man beat on them.

Growing up, Zeke saw the mayhem this caused. Although he’d inherited the old man’s temper, he controlled it better.

As his crew dragged Lachlan, the piece of shit that laid his hands on his woman, from the back of the van and walked him into a dense thatch of woodland, Zeke felt his control slip.

Deep, dark rage clouded his vision. The fucker put his hands on Grace. On his woman. He always had a problem with men that beat on women, but this asshole had touched Grace. Had backhanded her and made her bleed.

That couldn’t stand.

Lachlan stumbled as Tiny pushed him forward. “You’re all just a bunch of pussies! Can’t be men and take me on, one on one.” He spat at Tiny’s foot. “Pussies.”

“Says the man who slapped around two defenceless woman,” Jay sneered.

Zeke fingers twitched. Lachlan might be a weak ass piece of shit, but something deep inside, something primal and untamed, called for his blood. “Pussies, huh?”

He stripped off his cut, handing it to Jay before cracking his neck.

“Oh, so you are gonna fight me?” Lachlan raged, eyes bulging and spittle flying from his lips. He really was a psycho motherfucker. “Big, bad Mister President of your pathetic motorcycle gang.”

Lachlan laughed. “Don’t tell me Grace’s pussy is really worth it? No bitch’s pussy is. Especially not hers. Dumb cunt had me put away. She’s an uptight bitch. Bet her cunt is dry as the Sahara—“

The dam burst and Zeke’s rage erupted. His fist connected with Lachlan’s jaw. An audible crack filled the silence, followed by a spurt of blood from Lachlan’s broken nose. Darkness consumed him and he continued punching. His knuckles ached as the skin split, but he didn’t feel the pain. Didn’t feel anything except the rage and untamed desire to make the fucker pay for what he’d done to Grace.

He didn’t stop until the beast was quiet and Lachlan was dead.

Chapter One

With Rafe snoring softly on the couch and Kadence still out from her ordeal at Lachlan’s hands, Grace tweaked Zeke’s blinds for the millionth time. She heard the bikes before she saw them and her pulse spiked.

It seemed like a lifetime ago when she’d spied on her sexy next door neighbor. When all that mattered was getting a look at the hot guy across the road, and blood and vengeance were things she read about in books. She strode out onto the porch, pulling the door gently closed behind her as she waited for the president of the Knights of Hell.

Acid burned in her stomach. It rose to her throat along with a storm of questions whirring in her mind.

Was Gabe okay? Had they killed Lachlan? Could she live with herself knowing they’d killed for her?

Zeke took off his helmet, hanging it on the handlebars before throwing one leg over the metal frame and walking towards her. Dark intensity burned in his eyes, scorching her. He mounted the stairs, stopping two from the top so they stood eye-to-eye.

He cupped her face and said, “Lachlan won’t be bothering you, either of you, ever again.”

The storm of emotions she’d kept at bay broke. Grace collapsed into Zeke’s arms and unleashed a torrent of grief, pain, anger and guilt she’d stored up since she’d seen that animal attacking her sister.

Zeke stroked her hair as she sobbed. She fisted her hands in his patch and inhaled, letting the scent of him—leather, smoke, and masculine heat—calm her thundering heartbeat. She couldn’t stop crying.

“Watch Kadence. Any issues, come get me,” he said to Tiny.

 He swept Grace up, strode into the house and mounted the stairs.  

She didn’t have the strength to be embarrassed. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face into his neck. She’d always been the strong one. The sensible, rational one. The one people turn to in a crisis. It felt good to have some of the weight taken from her shoulders. To be able to give in to her emotions.

Zeke shouldered the responsibility, allowing her to break down.

He kicked his bedroom door closed and lay her down on the bed, covering her with the comforter.

She bolted upright, her pulse pounding in her throat. “Gabe?”

Zeke gently pushed her back down. “Is fine. He has a concussion. They are keeping him there overnight. Before you ask, they did a CAT scan. No bleeding. The overnight stay is just precaution.”

“Thank god.” She watched Zeke kick of his boots and strip off his patch. The aftershocks of her meltdown continued to rack her body. Despite the comforter, she shivered. Not even Zeke stripping could warm her. “Zeke, we need to talk.”

“Not now. Not tonight.” He got on the bed, climbed over her and settled himself against her back. He wrapped one arm across her stomach, gently pulling her closer until he spooned her, cocooning her with his warmth.

She relaxed into him. For the first time since she found Lachlan in her bathroom with his hands around her sister’s throat, she felt safe.

Tears fell in a silent stream as Zeke rubbed tender circles on her belly. “Ssshh, Grace,” he whispered, kissing her temple every few seconds. “It’s okay. You’re okay. Nothing is going to happen to you. Not while I’m here.”

She wouldn’t let Kadence see her like this—weak and broken. She needed to be strong for the emotional fallout.

But here and now, in the privacy of Zeke’s arms, she allowed herself to break and knew he’d be there to catch her.

Sunday Book Nook – Every Dead Thing and The Year of Less

Book Nook

Due to being off my feet for the last few months with COVID-19, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I set myself a Good Reads challenge of 52 books for 2020, I’m already on book 62!book nook 1

No matter how bad life gets, I can always lose myself in a book. For that reason I thought I’d bring back the Sunday Book Nook posts and share some of the books I’m reading.

This week I’ve been reading The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than You Can Buy by Cait Flanders and John Connolly’s first book in the Charlie Parker series, Every Dead Thing.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Book Nook 2

I saw this on fellow author, Rachel Burton’s IG a few weeks ago. The title resonated with me. I’ve been buying lots of ‘stuff’ online during lockdown, especially planning stuff, hoping it would make me productive. I look at all that stuff now and admit I probably don’t need half of it. What a waste! So the book title spoke to me. I want to start buying less.

I picked this book up on Kindle for £1.49 and it was one of my best purchases in a while. The book charts Flanders’ ‘no-spend’ journey, but also how she kicked other addictive habits. I won’t spoil it for you, but it really made me look at my own spending habits. I’ve read things like the No-Spend Year before, but that ethos always seemed too extreme for me. Flanders’ book offers a gentler no spend plan – no spending on things like magazines, clothing and books. She could buy things that needed replacing – for example if something broke or was beyond repair.

The book was a quick read and helped me get back into reading first thing in the morning instead of scrolling through social media. I’ve even implemented some of the mindful spending tips – I’ve cancelled my unnecessary subscriptions and am asking myself if I really NEED something when I buy it (for example I been agonising over purchasing a new kettle!). There are some parts of the book, especially the parts dealing with alcohol addiction, that I skimmed over, but overall this was a great read.

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Every Dead Thing by John Connolly (Charlie Parker Book 1)

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I’m going to admit I have a literary crush on John Connolly. I met him in Leeds a few years ago and was totally star struck. To me the man is a writing god! I picked up a copy of Every Dead Thing in Waterstones in 1999, went home and read the book over the next few days, curled up on the sofa under a blanket drinking copious amounts of tea (ahhh, such a happy memory).

The book drew me in completely. The characters are complex and memorable (shout out to all the Louis and Angel fans!). Charlie Parker, the main character of the series, has been with me since 1999 and will always be in my top five favourite fictional characters. The story is dark and the book weaves stories within stories. If you like gritty crime thrillers with gory serial killers, you’ll love Every Dead Thing.

John Connolly is releasing his newest book in the series, The Dirty South (which I think is book 18) in August so I wanted to go back to where it all started. I hope to be curled up on the sofa drinking tea again in a few weeks time. Can’t wait!

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What I’m planning to read over the coming weeks

I’m planning on reading The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter – another one of my favourite crime authors (actually I’m starting it today). I’m also re-reading the Dark Hunter paranormal romance series by Sherrilyn Kenyon starting with Fantasy Lover. This was the book that got me back into romance just over 15 years ago, and what made me want to pursue writing professionally.  I might not re-read the whole series, but I’m going to go back and read at least the first 10 books.

August is a big month for new releases as the new John Connolly is out and so is the new Laurell K Hamilton book – Sucker Punch. I think this one is book 27 in the series. Another new release is from J.R. Ward in her Black-dagger Brotherhood series. I’m definitely a series reader!

What are you reading? Any recommendations for me to add to my wishlist?

Happy reading!

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#writerwednesday – When it all starts to go wrong

writer-wednesday

It’s July. We are more than halfway through this strange and crazy year. And it’s #campnanowrimo. I didn’t take part in April because I was laid up with COVID-19. I’m still struggling with the after-effects, but have been writing for a few months. I’ve spent those months (since I received my rejection from Mills & Boon at the end of April) working on getting my MC romance trilogy ready for release over the coming months. I’m so pleased that after a number of YEARS working on it, it’s finally done. Sinful came out on July 1st, and will be followed by Taken (September 1st) and Possession (November 1st).

This meant I was free to start a new project for #campnanowrimo. Last November I set a goal of 1000 words per day and managed to stick to it despite having lupus and going to my day job. For July I set a goal of 750 words per day. I’m still recovering from COVID, my Mom is gravelly ill, and the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket, so 750 words a day seemed like a nice, manageable number.

For the first 9 days I smashed my target, often writing 1400 words in two 20 minute sprints. I had it. I could do it. I was amazing. I was riding high and the writing was flowing despite everything else. Then I hit a wall. My chronic fatigue flared up so badly I could barely move off the sofa, let alone think about opening my laptop.

The mind was willing – I had so many thoughts and ideas, so many ‘things’ I needed to be doing as a writer: promote new books, promote back-list, get a cover made for a upcoming Christmas release, write new words. On top of that, I have a number of things going on with my Mom’s personal home care to sort out from a distance, and dealing with my own recovery. Yet I still continued to push myself – I needed to keep up my morning routine (yoga, journal, meditate) because I believe it made me more productive and that’s what successful authors do – have a morning routine. I baked, I gardened, I wrote, I promoted, I cleaned like a whirlwind.

And I burnt out. Again. If I could smack myself on the forehead without causing myself more pain, I would. I have this cycle. Doing, doing, doing, bust. Burnout. I ignore the signs of my body telling me to rest because I put all these expectations on myself. Especially as an indie author trying to build my community and producing consistent releases. If I take one day off from the schedule I’ve set myself, regardless of what is happening in other areas of my life, I berate myself – I’m not good enough, I’ll never make it, I’ll never be good enough to write full time and make a career out of it, I’m just lazy.

Because of that nagging voice, I set myself gruelling schedules – for all areas of my life. And then I get burnt out and the cycle starts all over again. It’s classic boom and bust, which then leads to me not doing anything writing wise for months.

The last few days I’ve taken a complete rest, mainly because for a few days I could barely move. It’s made me re-assess. Again. Cut things from my schedule. Focus on what I really want to do. What my body and mind can handle. I don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS. Just a little every week. I need to be more mindful of recognising the signs. Of not fighting my body. It’s not failure to take some time for rest or self-care. I need to realise this more.

goals

This week sees the beginning of a new schedule. A gentler, slower schedule. I enjoy meditating and journaling, so I’ll keep that in my morning routine, but I also like to read. So I’m taking out yoga and putting in reading. I’m going to write 3 times a week in longer chunks, immersing myself in the story instead of stopping at a designated word count. The other four days I’m dedicating to resting and self-care activities – gardening, baking, knitting, yoga on 2 days and a walk on most. Movement helps me mentally and gives my inspiration, so it’s something I’d like to keep up – body dependant.

My new schedule is more about flow and doing what I feel like doing rather than what I SHOULD do. It’s probably going to be trial and error again, but I’m not going to give up.

I wanted to write about this for #writerwednesday because I want this blog to be real. In the past I’ve wrote about how my new daily writing schedule was amazing, and productive, and totally working for me. And it was. Until it wasn’t. As writers it’s okay to let go of what doesn’t work for you anymore. There are so many videos and articles talking about the hustle – the need to go, go, go to be successful. Sometimes you go through periods like that, but it’s not sustainable for different seasons of your life. It’s okay to change your writing habits. It’s okay to let go and try something new. You are not a failure if you want to try a gentler, slower flow.

So I may not meet my #campnanowrimo goal this month, but I’m going to keep doing what I love – writing, creating – and I’m going to listen to my body, listen to my mental health. Being a writer is about being in it for the long haul (for me anyway).

My mantra for the rest of the year: it’s a freaking marathon, not a sprint.

Here is to a slower, gentler, more focused and creative month.

My first book release in three years, how I’m feeling about it, all the cake and #campnanowrimo

Meet Zeke KNight

This week marked my first book release in 3 years. Sinful (Knights of Hell MC #1) came out Wednesday, and I’ve been going through a barrage of emotions. It’s amazing and wonderful and scary as hell.

I’m super excited because it’s the first book I’ve put out in 2-3 years. During that time, so much has happened in my personal life – illness, my Mom being sick, moving house, etc. I never thought I’d been able to finish anything again. But I DID. And it’s out there, in the world, and people are reading it. I celebrated with a special cake because, come on, the occasion definitely calls for cake (or as my husband would say, any excuse for cake in my eyes).

you can never haveenough

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who pre-ordered, reviewed, purchased or promoted Sinful in the last few days. You are awesome and I can’t thank you enough for all the support.

As well as excitement, there have been moments of sheer terror. Oh god, I have a book out in the world. What will people think? Are they going to like it? Wow, there is so much to do from editing, to marketing, to uploading the book, to creating ARCs and finding readers…Not to mention the weeks I’ve spent arguing with Amazon about Sinful being a romance. They don’t agree and have labelled it “erotic romance”, so it’s not visible when people search for “contemporary romance” or “biker MC romance” 😦

The last time I really published anything, I had a publishing house behind me. Now I’m doing it all by myself. It’s scary and rewarding. I have complete control, which means if it bombs, it’s all on my head.

Like I said, soooo many emotions.

But I am proud of this book. Proud of this trilogy. Zeke and Grace’s story has been with me for 5 years. Yes, 5 long years it’s taken me to write and get their story out there, and I wouldn’t change a thing. They are finally ready to be released into the world, to be shared and (hopefully) swooned over.

As with all my books, Zeke and Grace DO get a HEA, but they have a hell of a ride getting their. Zeke is president of an MC club, so of course there are going to be dangers and pitfalls. The chemistry between Grace and the bad boy biker is off the charts hawt.

If you like steamy romance, bad body bikers and feisty heroines, maybe try Sinful.

There is a sneak peek of chapter one below. Right now I’m going to eat some more cake, make a cup of coffee and continue on with #campnanowrimo. I’m working on a new steamy romance series which I’ll be sharing more about in the coming weeks.

For now, enjoy a peek into Zeke and Grace’s world…

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Chapter One

She wasn’t spying. Technically, spying involved binoculars and stealth. It didn’t involve looking up from a book every five minutes and checking the street. Or so Grace Burton tried to convince herself as she settled further into her window seat.

She was waiting for them.

Grace had only been in town six weeks. Four of them spent in her new house. Most of those nights she’d ended up cozied into her window seat, lights dim enough to still read, spying on the man who lived across the street.

She’d moved here to escape the claustrophobia of New York and the neighborhood was exactly what she needed. Quiet. Suburban.

She never expected someone like him.

A rumble hummed in the distance. The roar of motorcycle engines grew louder as they approached.

She checked the clock. 2.15am. Although they always came back after dark, they were much later tonight. She rolled her eyes, ashamed she’d become so aware of their schedule.

Six gleaming Harley Davidson’s pulled into the large driveway across the street. The male riders removed their helmets. Three of the men were good looking but only one captured her attention, had done from the first night she saw him. From watching them together, she assumed he was their leader.

Despite pulling into the driveway first, he removed his helmet last. He hooked it on the handlebars before swinging one toned thigh over the saddle. With crew-cut dirty blond hair, a chiseled jaw encased in a beard and shoulders a line-backer would kill for, the man commanded attention. He oozed masculinity and projected a dangerous edge that excited Grace.

She couldn’t stop the physical reaction every damn time she saw him. Her heartrate quickened, her nipples tingled and the flesh between her thighs pulsed with unsated desire.

It had been a long time she’d had someone in her bed.

A very long time.

Maybe she was just desperate. Maybe if she had sex, she’d finally stop fantasizing about her neighbor. That’s what she tried to convince herself after she touched herself in the bath and imagined his rough fingers bringing her to orgasm.

God, she was delusional. Who fantasized about having sex with strange man they spied on?

It wasn’t as though he was a complete stranger. From the patches they wore of devil skeletons holding swords, she knew they were a motorcycle club. As a trauma nurse in NYC, she’d treated numerous men like him.

He was most likely trouble. Trouble she didn’t need. She’d come here to get away from trouble. To break away from violence and death.

But that didn’t stop her from looking. And wanting.

Five guys crowded around the oldest man in the gang. His arm hung at an odd angle and he couldn’t walk on his own. Two of the other members helped him towards the house. She narrowed her eyes, squinted, trying to get a better look. As they passed into the porch light she caught the unmistakable gleam of dark ruby on the older guy’s white t-shirt. His whole side was soaked through with blood.

That amount didn’t come from a scratch.

Shit. 

Acting on pure instinct, Grace dropped her book and bolted from her hiding place. She ran to the bathroom and grabbed the extensive med kit she kept beside her vanity. It looked more like something an EMT would carry than a regular home med kit. She liked to be prepared.

You could take the nurse out the hospital but you couldn’t stop her from being paranoid.

She slipped on a pair of sneakers and jogged across the street. Her heart hammered in her chest. Silently she prayed the men weren’t too belligerent or pissed off by her intrusion. At best they might label her a nosey neighbor. At worst they would see her as a threat.

As she knocked on the black front door of the spacious two store house, she made a mental note to make better choices in the future. Especially if she were still alive and not bundled into a freezer somewhere.

The door cracked open a few inches and she came face-to-face with one of the younger men. Black hair curled slightly at the nape of his neck, stubble shadowed his jaw and his piercing blue eyes narrowed when they focused on her. “Yeah?”

Grace swallowed, tried to moisten her dry mouth. Despite his good looks, fear danced along her spine. Too late to back out now. “I saw your friend was injured. It looked serious.” She patted the med kit. “I’m a nurse. Was. In New York. Just moved here.” The babbling wouldn’t stop. The words continued tripping off her tongue. “I live right across the street. I came to help.”

The guy was about the shut the door in her face when a smooth, deep, sexy voice asked, “Who is it?”

Tall, dark and dangerous responded. “Chick from across the street. Said she’s a nurse come to help.”

She heard a few curse words, a snort and some laughter. Grace tapped her foot while the man deliberated. The foot tapping was a nervous habit she picked up as a child waiting to go in for tests. She hadn’t done it in years. She was wayyyyy out of her comfort zone.

After what seemed like an eternity but couldn’t have been more than five seconds, sexy voice shouted, “Let her in.”

Tall, dark and handsome scowled as if he were about to question the decision, before shrugging and opening the door wide enough for her to slip inside. She brushed against his chest, caught a hint of zingy male cologne mixed with cigarettes and tequila, and blushed. Despite throwing off a badass aura, he was extremely attractive.

He jerked his head in the direction of the kitchen, completely oblivious to her reaction to his closeness. “That way.”

She walked into the kitchen and five pairs of eyes turned on her. Four of the guys still wore their patched leather vests. She felt like a museum piece on display as they appraised her, seized her up and assessed her motives. The air hung thick with tension. She’d learned the art of processing information without meeting a person’s gaze in the ER. Sometimes patients hyped up on drugs or booze disliked being looked directly in the eye. Back in the early days, some patients had attacked her for looking at them and she still bore the scars.

Two of the gang members stood idling against the counters. One was older with a shaved head and tattoos covering his neck and arms. The other was younger and could have been tall, dark and handsome’s twin brother.

The three other men, including her patient, were seated around a small kitchen table.

The injured man had long blond hair laced with grey. He kept it tied back in an old fashioned cue. They’d removed his patch and cut his t-shirt so his arm and shoulder were exposed. She could see the ink on his chest, but the injury grabbed her attention. There was cylindrical hole in his left shoulder. The puckered wound was small compared to some of the stuff she’d seen, but the ripped flesh oozed a steady stream of blood.

Gunshot wound.

Her instincts kicked into overdrive and she pushed forward, hauled her kit onto the table and muttered under her breath. “Jesus Christ.” Addressing her patient, she unzipped the bag and pulled out some latex gloves, snapping them on before saying, “I’m Grace.” The injured man grimaced. “Jay. Nice to meet you, Grace.” She appreciated his polite tone even if it did come through gritted teeth.

She gently gripped his arm and leaned over his shoulder. Exit wound. Good. She didn’t want to go digging around muscle to find the bullet.

“Through and through. Clean wound. Didn’t hit any major arteries.” She met his gaze and focused on his dark brown eyes. His pupils were wide but not enough to indicate shock or inebriation. “I’m going to probe around the wound and it’s going to hurt. You ready?”

Jay nodded.

Grace inhaled. “Okay then.” She poked around the flesh and a fresh trickle of blood ran out. Jay grunted but took the pain like a pro. “Good news is there are no early signs of infection. Bad news is I need to stitch it.”

“You have the provisions to do that?”

Grace turned towards the sexy voice she’d heard from outside. She looked directly into the whiskey colored eyes of him—the man she’d been fantasizing about for four goddamn weeks. For a few brief seconds, she lost herself in the intensity of his stare. Electricity danced across her skin. Lust slammed into her gut.

Surely a huge fucking lightbulb flashed above her head reading ‘fuck me now’.

Trying to hide the embarrassment of her visceral attraction, she snapped off her gloves and rummaged in her kit, distracting herself from his penetrating gaze. “Of course. This is a fully functional medical kit used by medical professionals. It’s a mini triage kit and can be used in most emergencies.” Her words came across prissy and haughty. Another one of her defense mechanisms.

“I’ll take your word for that, Doc.” She risked a glance in his direction to see if his face matched the condescending tone. His features spoke of concern for his friend and a hint of curiosity. Nothing more. “Can you fix him?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Good. I’m Zeke by the way.”

Zeke. It sounded wild and untamed. It suited him. “Nice to meet you, Zeke.”

“Likewise.”

She snapped on a pair of fresh gloves, ignoring the pitter-patter of her thrumming heartbeat. The hint of pain from the latex sting pulled her back to the task. Focus. She needed to focus.

“She handles latex well,” the guy with the shaved head snarked, dripping sexual innuendo.

She injected a local anesthetic just below the wound site to numb some of Jay’s pain. As she set up a needle and thread, she answered the snarky comment, “It’s from years and years of anal examinations. If you’d like, after I’m done, I can show you how well I handle that too. I’m so good, I don’t even use lube.”

Bellows of laughter erupted from the kitchen as she began sewing together the torn flesh. She concentrated on repairing the skin, ignoring the men. Someone said “I like her” and she smiled. Maybe she wouldn’t end up chopped into tiny pieces.

She did a mental eye roll. She’d been watching way too much Netflix. Just because they were an MC, didn’t mean they were Sons of freaking Anarchy. Most motorcycle clubs were about brotherhood and bikes. Not guns, drugs and murder.

So how did one of them end up with a gunshot wound? A niggling voice questioned in the back of her mind.

She couldn’t ask. It would be rude. And really, she had no desire to get involved in whatever shit they were in to. She was here for one thing—to heal.

It took less than ten minutes to sew and dress the wound. She removed the gloves and rolled them into a ball, along with some soiled gauze and thread. Looking around she located a trash can, got up and disposed of the material before heading to the sink to wash her hands. Now the immediate crisis had past and the adrenaline worn off, she felt uncomfortable surrounded by men she didn’t know. She was all too aware of their gazes on her.

She covered her anxiety with medical chatter. “You should only have a small scar. Take painkillers if it hurts. Keep the area clean and no showering for a day or two. You might have some restricted movement for a few days. Stiffness. If it starts to burn, gets really red or hot, you’ll need to see a doctor.” She dried her hands on her shirt and turned.

Everyone stared at her. Their emotions—sexual curiosity, slight animosity, gratitude—overwhelmed her. She needed to leave ASAP. She had no business being here.

Jay tested the movement in his shoulder and grinned. “Seems good. You did a good job, Doc. Thanks.” As though sensing her unease, he scowled at his friends. “You big brutes are scaring her. Where’re your manners? You know my name, and Zeke’s.”

She refused to look at the object of her deepest lust lest it show on her face.

Jay pointed at tall, dark and handsome. “The guy that let you in is Rafe. Latex boy here is Tiny. The guy next to him, Gabe, is Rafe’s brother. And finally the dude sitting opposite me is Sammy.”

She should have guessed Gabe was Rafe’s brother. They both rocked the dark, brooding thing and the resemblance was clear. She’d not really had chance to look at Sammy so she directed her attention at him. Much younger than the rest of the crew, she put his age around early twenties.

He practically beamed at her. “Hiya, Ma’am. Nice to meet ya.” He was like an excited puppy.

She couldn’t help smile at his sunny disposition. “You too, Sammy.”

Tiny ribbed him for being so polite and a blush heated his cheeks. The dynamics between the men fascinated her. They communicated without using words. It was obvious she was an outsider and that made her uncomfortable.

Unsure of how to extract herself from the situation, she began gathering her things. “I’m done here, so I’m just going to…” She closed her medical kit and gripped the handles, evading eye contact. She prayed she could make it out the door without any repercussions.

A large, warm hand covered hers and she started. Zeke stood less than an inch away. His scent—leather, cigarettes, tequila, citrus, man—seeped into her and she wanted to lean in and inhale his spicy, erotic scent.

What the hell was wrong with her?

“Let me get that for you.” His brushed the pad of his thumb across the back of her hand. “I’ll walk you back.”

Grace swallowed. Fantasies were fine. They were safe and could include anything her heart desired. Reality never lived up to fantasy, but the briefest touch from Zeke outstripped anything she imagined. Her skin tingled where he’d touched her. Her whole body primed, ready for his next move. Nipples hardened. Knees weakened.

She wanted to tell him no. That she could make her own way back across the street. Instead, she let go of her bag. “Okay. Thanks.”

Jay rose and gave her a quick, one arm hug. “Thanks again, Doc.”

She walked towards the front door in a daze. Once outside, the cool night air hit her heated body and she took a deep breath. With the adrenaline wearing off, her heart pumped blood around her body so fast she thought she might pass out.

Silently, she chastised herself for racing across the street. They didn’t know a thing about her and she’d bulldozed her way in to their house.  They probably thought she was crazy, or a groupie, or worse, an undercover cop.

“Grace, you okay?” Zeke’s broad hand caressed the base of her spine through her shirt. A soothing gesture that did nothing to dissipate the heat licking along her nerve endings.

When she looked up at him, his whiskey eyes were a mixture of concern, wariness and, dare she hope, need. Confusion replaced desire.

Men like Zeke didn’t lust after women like her. Looking like he did, like sex on a stick, he could have any woman he wanted. Why would he lust after her? She was average in every sense—boobs slightly too big to be called perky, hips a little too wide. Boring and unexciting for someone like him.

And she was totally okay with that. Life wasn’t a romance novel.

She stepped away and moved towards her house. “Fine. Just thinking. Sorry for barging in. I’m not usually this impetuous.” A few more steps and she’d be in the safety of her own home. Away from the erotic pull of bad boy Zeke.

“It’s not every night I get a woman banging on my door.”

She gave him a droll look. “I find that hard to believe.”

His deep, husky laugh sent shivers down her spine. “Okay, busted. It’s not every night I get an intelligent woman banging on my door.”

She climbed her porch steps and fumbled with her keys. She unlocked the door, stepped over the threshold and turned for the medical kit, eager to go back to her normal, boring life.

Zeke put it beside her on the floor and idled against the frame. He leaned down, filling her personal space, crowding her. She could step back, away from his masculine presence, but she didn’t want to. She was completely enraptured by him. And for a few heartbeats she wanted to entertain the fantasy that Zeke was interested in her.

“So, Grace, how did you know that Jay needed help? It’s well after midnight. Shouldn’t good girls like you be in bed dreaming of pretty princes?”

She bristled at his patronizing tone. “I was getting a glass of water and saw you come back. I saw the blood in the light and came to see if I could help. It’s what I’m trained to do.”

Not a complete lie, but not the whole truth either. He didn’t need to know she’d been spying and drooling.

“So you haven’t been sitting in your window seat for the past four weeks watching us?” His amber eyes blazed seeing directly into her soul.

Busted.

Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I beg your pardon?”

He reached up and flicked a strand of her hair. “At first I wondered, new tenant in the neighborhood. A woman who likes to spy. Maybe a threat. Maybe sent by the authorities. But now I understand.”

His soft, baritone voice lulled her. She watched his sensual lips move. Zeke was dangerous. Extremely dangerous. She knew that now, yet she couldn’t move back. Moth and flame came to mind, and she was going to get burned.

“What do you understand?” Her voice sounded huskier than she wanted it to be.

Her breasts swelled and tingled inside the confines of her bra. She yearned to reach out and run her palm across his bearded jaw, feeling the wiry hair abrade her skin.

“I understand you aren’t a threat. You’re a voyeur. You like to watch don’t you, Grace? When you came into the kitchen, I wasn’t sure which one of us you wanted to fuck. Rafe and Gabe are real pretty. You wouldn’t have to choose between them—they’d do you together if that’s your thing. But it’s not them, is it?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. “It’s me you want to fuck.”

She inhaled, started to protest even as her body screamed yes.

Yes, she did want to fuck him. Deep and hard and all night long.

He stopped her with a finger pressed to her lips. “Ssshhh. No need to lie to me.” He rubbed the pad of his thumb across her lower lip. Zings of pleasure followed in its wake. “If I kissed you now, I’d have you naked and under me within five minutes. I’d probably be the fuck of your life. I like sex. I like beautiful women.” He waited a beat, rubbed her lip some more. “But there is one problem.”

“What’s that?” Her mind was still trying to process the image of him, naked and on top of her. She had no doubt he’d be an excellent lover.

He pushed the tip of his thumb gently inside her mouth. “I don’t fuck good girls.” He cupped her cheek. “I’m not a good man, Grace. I’m bad and dangerous and damaged. You may think you want me, but you don’t. Now go back to bed, get out your conventional vibrator and bring yourself off thinking about me. And then forget I exist. I’m not for you.”

He brushed his lips across her cheek in a tender, brief kiss that ignited her senses. And then he was gone. He’d set her body on fire and destroyed her with his words.

Arrogant, conceited asshole.

Anger bubbled in her gut. Where did he get off presuming to know her?

Not wanting him to have the last word, she called after him. “Zeke?” When he stopped and looked over his shoulder, she continued. “I’m not a good girl.”

She flipped him the bird and slammed the door.

Good riddance to the misogynistic asshole.

 

Sinful (Knights of Hell Book 1) Copyright © 2020 Scarlett Sanderson PLEASE DO NOT REPRODUCE THIS TEXT WITHOUT PERMISSION

My experience with COVID-19 – the symptoms, the fear and the aftermath

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What strange times we are living in. I truly hope you and your families are all well and safe. I’m sending hugs to everyone who is struggling at this difficult time – whether will illness, finances or the emotional toll this is taking on all of us.

 

I’m writing this blog post to share my own experience of COVID and how it’s affected me physically and mentally. I’ve had suspected COVID-19 and complications since March 13th – 74 days and counting. It’s been one of the scariest, most frightening times, and it’s still dragging on. For people who think “it’s just the flu”, I am telling you now, I’ve had flu, I’ve even had walking pneumonia and I have never experienced anything like this.

As many of you know, I have lupus. This means it isn’t unusual for me to take time out of writing. I can be gone for months at a time whilst dealing with a flare-up, or a particularly busy time with work and my mother (who has terminal cancer). But usually, in the background, I’m still hammering away writing. Since March 13th I haven’t been able to do anything. COVID hit me hard and I’m still experiencing symptoms 74 days in.

The first week I got sick I had a temperature, a bit of a cough and a tight, sore chest. For 7 days I foolishly believed that it wasn’t so bad. That I could manage it like I do my lupus – with rest, painkillers and fluid. By the second week I was struggling to breathe. On the Thursday of the second week I was gasping for breath so much, my husband had to call an ambulance. The sheer terror of not being able to get air into my lungs and having a paramedic dressed in full protective suit (complete with respirator) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through. Although my oxygen levels were good, because of the underlying lupus they recommended I go to hospital. However, I refused. There is no guarantee I would have been tested and without the need for oxygen at that point, I was at more risk of infection if I went to the hospital. After all, although everyone was pretty certain I had COVID, what if I didn’t? I chose to stay at home and continue with antibiotics, painkillers. I also had a very irrational fear – what if I was taken to hospital alone and never came out?

I just want to say a big thank you to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service here. They arrived quickly, we’re amazing and stayed for a few hours to make sure I was okay. I cannot thank them enough for their assistance at such a scary time for me and my husband. They were brilliant. And immensely reassuring.

I won’t bore you with the mundane details, but some of the symptoms I was having over the following weeks including extreme fatigue (and this from someone who deals with fatigue on a daily basis), shortness of breath which meant I could barely walk a few steps without panting, a chest so tight it felt like my lungs were being constricted, vomiting and upset tummy. At one point in the last few weeks I even had conjunctivitis.

74 days in and I am still getting some of those symptoms. Yes, my temperature is down. Yes, I’m not coughing as much. The breathing, however, can still be horrific on some days. And the tiredness is off the charts. If I try and do too much, I’m back on the couch, symptoms reoccurring with a vengeance. This is 74 days in. That’s not taking into account the total paralysing fear that comes with having shortness of breath flare up – is it coming back? Am I reinfected? How bad is it going to be? Is this the time I’m going to have to go to hospital and risk being put on a ventilator? With no guarantees of immunity, I’m living in daily fear of a killer I cannot see.

In the grand scheme of things, I am lucky. So, so lucky. I’ve not been in hospital, I’ve not been in an intensive care unit, but the aftermath of dealing with the disease is debilitating. I’m still not working my day job as I can’t manage more than an hour or so at my computer. I need to sleep lots and physical activity is very limited.

My husband has been amazing. He’s supported me every step of the way. He lifts me up on days I’m sobbing and don’t feel I can stand another episode of breathlessness. He goes out to the supermarket to get food and prescriptions, risking his own health so I have food and medicine. He’s taken over all the household duties, despite still working from home. He is truly my rock. I can’t thank him enough or tell him how amazing he really is. He is my ultimate romance hero.

The other thing this disease has robbed me of is visiting my sick mother. She lives miles away and since lockdown has been in place, she’s been extremely ill. And I’ve been unable to travel down and be with her as I would be risking her and myself. The guilt is almost as crippling as the symptoms of COVID. My Mom is my best friend. Not being able to hold her, hug her when she’s crying or in pain, is one of the worst things imaginable.

Relatively speaking, I am so much better than I was at week 4 or even week 8. It’s been a tough ride. There have been setbacks. There are going to continue to be setbacks if you read the reports about people recovering from COVID. It’s comforting to know it’s not just me.

One thing this journey has made me realise is the life I was living before lockdown wasn’t serving me. I was super stressed out about the smallest thing. Day job stress was through the roof. I was bouncing from one thing to another – home, work, my sick mother, hospital appointments for me, always doing, doing, doing. Yet all the time resenting myself because I wasn’t taking care of myself or my mental health. I wasn’t taking small, productive steps towards the life I want for myself – becoming a full time writer. And all of that was leading to resentment.

During lockdown I’ve reorganised some of my priorities. Sure, I have days when all the fear and doubt and resentment comes back into play, but I know what I want now. I know how I want to feel in life.

Joyful. Creative. Calm. Resilient. Optimistic.

My priorities are my health, my husband and family, my creativity.

With these in mind, I’ve completely re-thought how I structure my days. Obviously this will change once I am back at the day job, but that’s where resilience comes in. Go with the flow. Don’t sweat the smaller stuff. It doesn’t matter what people of think of me (having a chronic illness makes me over achieve, over perform, so people don’t think I’m lazy), it only matters how I feel about myself.

The past three weeks have seen me take a completely new outlook on writing. Even though I’m still sick, I’ve managed through small steps to finish editing two books of a trilogy I’ve had written for a while, and create a whole marketing plan for those books. I’m now on to editing the 3rd book and every single day I feel joyful to get to work. To be creative. I’m even finding joy in doing the things I used to hate like writing blurbs, creating teasers images and revamping my website.

One thing I am grateful to COVID for – giving me back my passion and joy for creativity.Untitled design (4)

There is a long road ahead in which there will be illness and grief, but there is also light and laughter and joyfulness. There is hope.

Take care and stay safe,

Scarlett

Sunday Book Nook – The Lost Ones and Fire Bound

Book Nook

For 2020, I thought I’d do a regular spot on what I’m reading. As I like to curl on Sunday’s with a cup of tea and some reading, I thought I’d call these posts “Sunday Book Nook”. It’s just a glimpse into what I’m reading at that particular time.

Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. Doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – if I’m sick, or tired, or full of energy – or travelling – at work, at my folks, on holiday- or just at home, I LOVE to read. I can always read and always carry at least one book with me. Probably not a revelation considering I’m a writer!

Early last year I finally got a room in our house that is just for my books. It’s my ‘library’ with a cosy, comfy chair that I spent some time in every day. It’s my happy place.

To start off 2020, I’ve been reading The Lost Ones by Anita Frank and Fire Bound by Christine Feehan. A gothic story and a paranormal romance – awesome choices in my opinion.

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The Lost Ones is a true gothic ghost story. I love a good gothic story and this one didn’t disappoint. I found it really atmospheric and eerie. What I did struggle with was the first 80 or so pages. There were a lot of places where it lagged in the beginning, not really gripping my attention, but there were snippets that showed me I had to keep reading. And I’m glad I did. If you like historical gothic ghost stories, this is definitely a book for you.

I’ve been reading Christine Feehan books for 16 (yikes!) years. I adored her Dark series when I first started reading them, but got bored after a while and stopped reading them. I was so excited when she started doing a number of different series. I recently found the Torpedo Ink series and as I’m also writing an MC romance, thought I’d give it a go. I LOVED it. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Torpedo Ink series and cannot wait for the next books to come out this year. One is out in January so I’m definitely going to treat myself to that if I hit my writing targets 🙂 Although part of another series, the Sea Haven series, Fire Bound has characters with links to the Torpedo Ink series (brothers).

It’s a great paranormal romance. Although at first I was confused – mainly because I was coming into the Sea Haven series near the end as Fire Bound is one of the final books – but as soon as I got into it, it’s well worth it. Sexy hero, strong heroine, paranormal abilities and a spy thriller story-line wrapped up with some hot sex – perfect read for a winter’s afternoon. Not as high on my list of favourites as the Torpedo Ink series, but it’s definitely reinforced my renewed love of Christine Feehan.

Up next for me, another gothic ghost story and one of my favourite reads of the last few years, The Silent Companions. It’s sooo creepy. I wouldn’t have chosen to read it right after The Lost Ones but it’s our book club read for a book club I run at work.

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Until the next Sunday Book Nook, happy reading!

 

Happy 2020! What do you have planned for the year?

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Happy 2020 to everyone! It’s a new year and a completely new decade. How exciting.

I hope you all had a great festive period and got to spend time with people that make you happy. I took some time off over Christmas to spend with Mister Scarlett and my parents. As most of you know, my Mom has terminal cancer so it was a quiet Christmas with lots of laughter and some tears. But the most important thing was we all had a great time 🙂

This week marks the beginning of a new decade. I can’t believe where the time went! 2010-2019 was a great decade for me. Of course, there were some lows, but the highs were amazing.

I got published with Ellora’s Cave in 2011 – something I’d been hoping for since I started reading their books. It was a dream come true (for a while, but that is another well publicised story) and I met some wonderful readers and authors – you are all amazing!

I got married to a wonderful man who is everything to me. Loving. Handsome. A great friend and champion of my writing. I love him more than words can say.

We had some beautiful holidays in places I’d never been. Got a lovely new house and a garden where I can grow veggies and plants.

It also saw my lupus and chronic illness restrict what I can do. I had to drop my work hours to part time and then my Mom – my best friend – got cancer. We got the terminal diagnosis not long after, and I know the next few months are going to be very hard, but I’m still blessed to have her here.

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What are my hopes for this year?

Well, I’m on a regular writing schedule. Woohoo! So the motorcycle club romance trilogy I’ve been promising you for years will finally be released. I’m working on those books this month and by spring, the first book WILL be available on Amazon. I’m also going to submit the manuscript I wrote during #NaNoWriMo to the Mills & Boon Dare line. *Fingers crossed* you’ll see that some time this year!

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As a child, I always got a fancy fountain pen for Christmas and this year Mister Scarlett surprised me with one in my favourite colour. So there will be definitely be lots more writing.

I did the Good Reads challenge last year and managed to read 111 books. I’m not setting a goal this year for reading as it pressures me into the mentality that I’ve “gotta read”, but I am committing to one hour per day.

Other goals include increasing my strength and fitness. I love to go for walks, but since I’ve been ill that is so much harder. I’ve started exercise routines in the past that have crippled me over the weeks, and diets which have made me ill. This year is about strength. Emotional and physical. As with my writing goals it will be manageable. Slow and steady.

Finally, I got some circular needles for Christmas. I’ve never been able to knit in the round, so this is the year I want to learn 🙂 If you have any patterns for beginners, leave me a link below. I’ve already started and, after a shaky beginning, seems to be going well.

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So to sum up, my goals for 2020 are:

  • Write and release more books with a regular writing schedule.
  • Manageable strength and fitness for my health
  • See family and friends more – make time for them
  • Grow my edible garden
  • Knit in the round

2020 is a new page, a new chapter. Let’s make it a good one 🙂

Let me know what your goals, hopes, resolutions. I’d love to hear them!

Writer Wednesday – writing year review for 2019

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For the last #WriterWednesday of 2019 I thought I’d do a post on my writing year in review. It’s been a rocky one – ups and downs galore – but I’m happy to admit I’m ending 2019 on a writing high 🙂
So, let’s start with January.

In January I decided to get my sh*t together and create a plan (okay, so the plan didn’t come together until the end of January, but hey, it was still January!). I love watching YouTube videos from the author, Sarra Cannon. She has a craft channel called Heart Breathings. She is such a breath of fresh air with videos on the craft and the realistic life/goals of a writer. I love her because she is so generous to her fans – always creating work books for free – and not being constantly all about the hustle, hustle, hustle. She is real and talks about the real struggles of writing when you have other commitments – a job, family, school, chronic health issues.

She has a system called HB90. You plan your writing goals for 90 days at a time and be laser focused for those 3 months.

I could do this. It would give me structure and 90 days was a good period of time.

So I planned. I planned my 3 monthly goals.

  1. Increase sales and engagement
  2. Finish and release the first book in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy
  3. Plot and write first 3 chapters of a Mills & Boon Dare submission

Easy. Sustainable.

Err…not. I failed. Oh, for the first month I wrote, I promoted and then I got lazy. Life happened. I got sick. Mom got sicker. Work got crazy. Life got in the way and I didn’t make writing a priority. It came way down my list of commitments.

Lets skip to June. I did some editing and started that Mills & Boon story while I was soaking up the sun in Santorini with Mister Scarlett (who wouldn’t want to write in such a beautiful setting?!), but it never got past 1,000 words.

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Fast forward to August. I’m writing here and there. Book 1 in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy, Sinful, is complete (first draft only though). I made the decision not to release it until the other two were finished. I did add some words here and there, but nothing substantial. All the while the sales on my old titles have dwindled to nothing.

In September, I release an old story with Totally Bound.

By the time November rolls around I’m determined to get my ass in gear and do NaNoWriMo. As I explained in my other post, due to numerous things, I couldn’t commit to 50000 words. It just seemed too…insurmountable. So I made my own goal – 30000. 1000 words per day. Again, I charted my progression in another post (but I’m happy to say I hit it!).

One thing NaNo did for me was create a manageable, sustainable goal. I had to commit to just 30-45 minutes per day to getting the words down. That’s it. Just 30 minutes.

And you know what? It worked! By the end of NaNo, I had 36000 words. I’m happy to say as of Saturday just gone, I completed the first draft of the Mills & Boon submission I’ve been wanting to write for so long. Whoop, whoop.

Compared to this time last year, I feel in such a good place. I’m not doing 1000 words per day now, but I’m aiming for 750 a day. Mister Scarlett asked me how I was going to be accountable to myself now that NaNo is over and that’s a good question. After all, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. I’m a known slipper. Always have been. There is always something else I can find to do – binge Netflix, read, scroll through Instagram, watch YouTube videos, nap.

So for the end of the year and first few months of 2020 I have a manageable, sustainable (you seeing a theme with the buzzwords here?) plan.

From now until 31st December – I’m working on an erotic Christmas romance that I started in 2018. 750 per day, and I want to try and hit 10000 words by the end of the month. That’s with taking the holidays off. I started on Monday and I’m already 4063 words in.

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January 2020 – I’m going to finish the Knights of Hell MC trilogy. 750 words per day. 20000 word target.

February – editing the Mills & Boon submission, working on the synopsis and putting together a trilogy proposal.

See? A plan. Manageable. Sustainable.

One of the things I have found in 2019 is the joy of writing again. It sounds like a cliche, but I lost that for so long.

Some days it’s still hard, but there are the days when it flows and the words fly onto the page, and there is such a joyous feeling inside me when that happens that I can’t explain it to people. The consistency helps the words fly. If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the past year it’s consistency is the key to the words. The more I do it, the easier it gets (not always, but mostly). The writing has also been helping me, mentally, deal with a lot of stuff. It’s an outlet. A sorely needed one.

As 2019 draws to a close, there have been ups and downs, I haven’t published anything new, but I have lots of things coming together. The best thing about 2019 is I’ve rediscovered why I write. I’ve rediscovered the joy and that makes 2019 worth it!

I hope your 2019 has been everything you imagined. Let me know if you have any plans for 2020. I’d love to hear them!

 

Writer Wednesday – #Nanowrimo update

Writer Wednesday

It’s time for another Writer Wednesday post. This time it’s an update on how #NaNoWriMo is going.

I’ve been really quiet on my blog and on social media for the past few weeks because I’ve been writing. And *gasp, shock horror, blow me down with a god damn feather* I have been sticking to my word count and writing every day.

Remember the post I wrote back at the beginning of November? If you can’t, I’ll link it here . I set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day for the whole of November, with the aim of reaching 30,000 by the end of the month.

I’m happy to say as of 25th November I reached 30, 117 and I’m still going. Woohoo.

There has only been one day in the month so far that I haven’t written. That was due to being sick so I gave myself the day off – and didn’t feel guilty about it! All the other days, even on work days where I only had 15 minutes to write, I managed to get words down. Most days I reached 1,000. Some days only half that. Other days It hit 1,200.

The important thing for me has been consistency. I only had to write 1,000 words per day. That would take about 30 minutes or so. I broke it down into two 15 minute stints. Sometimes I’d write a little bit more – another 15 minutes or so, but never more than that.

For me, 30,000 words is nearly a whole novella. Although I haven’t finished my Mills & Boon Dare submission yet, I’m proud of the fact I CAN write a full novella in a short amount of time. This is the most productive I’ve ever been with my writing, but the most important thing is it has helped me remember the sheer joy I get from writing.

Yes, some days it’s been hard. Some days it’s like pulling teeth to get the words on the page, but I kept doing it. One word at a time. Other days it simply flowed. After each writing session I came away feeling elated. I love my characters. I love sitting down and creating imaginary worlds on a page. It allows me to lose myself and forget about whatever else is going on for little while.

Another important thing I’ve come to realise is how good a regular writing schedule is for my mental health. I’ve always found writing cathartic. Over the past 26 days I’ve found it’s had a positive effect on my mental health. With everything going on at the moment, the ‘side effect’ of writing has proven to be healing.

I need to write. I’d forgotten that.

With social media and keeping up an online presence (which is important, and I love each and every person whom I’ve met online), promoting my books, the admin side of the business, I’d forgotten the simple joy of sitting down to write. As J. R. Ward said “The work always comes first. Magic happens when you put the work first.” I’ve got this pinned on my board at home to remind myself that the writing, the stories, come first.

Although I set my own goal for NaNoWriMo, the month allowed me to find the joy in writing again. It gave me space and clarity to remember I can do this. I love doing this. I might not do 1,000 words per day from here on in, but I will set a regular word count for each week. After all, I know I can do it.

I just need to keep on doing it 🙂