#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

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

Pink & Gold Simple New Year Social Media Graphic

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.

Bokeh Lights New Year Quotes (1)

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!

pens

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.

knitting

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

writer-wednesday

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.

santorini

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.

word count tracker

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 🙂

Writer Wednesday – #NaNoWriMo

Writer Wednesday.jpg

I’m going to introduce a new feature for Wednesdays. I won’t be updating every week, maybe once a month (don’t hold me to that, I’m notoriously bad at updating my blog!) I’ll do a post called ‘Writer Wednesday‘. I’ll chat about the writing process, publishing, the practicalities of writing.  Let me know in the comments below if there is a particular topic you want me to cover and I’ve be happy to do a post on it.

Sooo, for this week’s ‘Writer Wednesday‘ I’m going to be talking about NaNoWriMo. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s National Novel Writing Month. You can visit the website for more info. The basic premise is you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo. I tend to keep my own schedule and committing to a certain number of words per day (if you do the 50,000 that’s 1,666 per day) just makes me antsy and terrified. But this year I decided to sign up. Go, me!

 

Nano

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, feel free to follow me 🙂

I decided to sign up because I really want to complete a rough draft of a submission for the Mills & Boon Dare line. This has been on my to-do list since April. I’ve started the story (about 5,000 words in already) and have it all plotted, but the Knights of Hell series has been taking precedence. I came to the conclusion I would NEVER get to this Mills & Boon sub if I didn’t do something.

So I signed up for Nano.

The terrifying thing for me is, I’m not an everyday writer. With lupus, a job, and a sick Mom, other things sometimes have to take priority. Added to that, my books have NEVER reached 50,000 words. Some have come close. I think Claiming Ruby comes in around 42,000. I’m not even sure I can do 50,000 words.

But I want to do this. NaNo provides a perfect opportunity to get in regular writing sessions and to have a whole community of support. That is one of the best things about NaNo – the community. There is an online forum for support, but also regular local writing sessions. Honestly, if you are looking to write that novel and want to stay motivated, NaNo might be the thing for you.

I signed up a few weeks before November 1st…and then totally freaked out. I can’t commit to writing 1,666 words per day. Am I crazy? Sometimes I don’t even do that in a week! Lately I’ve implemented a 15 minute writing stint every day where I can average around 400 words, and at the end of the week those word counts add up. But 1,666 EVERY day? Nah. I can’t do it.

And knowing me like I do, I’d feel like a complete failure for not meeting those word counts. No matter how sick I felt. No matter what else was happening, I’d still feel like a failure. And that would put me off sitting down to write at all.

Being a writer is easy you say? Pfff. Hell no. As well as figuring out a writing schedule and actually getting the ideas down, you have to deal with all kinds of guilt (but that’s another blog post).

Anyhoo, at the advice of the awesome romance writing community, I decided to set my own goal for NaNo.

30,000 words in 30 days. 1,000 words a day. I can cover this pretty much in two 15 minute writing stints. Easy, right? I’m already doing one 15 minute stint, another one and I would have 30,000 at the end of it.

It’s now 6th November and I’m hitting my word counts *whoop, whoop*

nano 2

I can’t give you my typical NaNo day. Sometimes I write for 30 minutes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Never at night as I’m just pretty dead after 6pm.

I write at my desk, in a coffee shop, at work on lunch. I write on my computer and in notebooks.

Bascially, I’m doing what I can, when I can.

Mister Scarlett asked me what happens if I don’t hit my word count one day. I’m not sure, but I’m determined not to beat myself up. If at the end of the month I don’t have 30,000…that’s okay. But I will have a big chunk of wordage that I didn’t have on October 31st and that is something to be celebrated 🙂

Wish me luck for the rest of the month!

Gardens and the search for the perfect pizza dough…

Well, it’s been another eventful few weeks since I last wrote a blog post.

Our garden landscaping is now finished! It looks so pretty. It’s very low maintenance, with raised beds and tiles instead of grass. Exactly what I need with me having lupus. It means I have easy access to do some gardening and grow veggies.

What do you think?

Now the fun part starts 🙂 I haven’t had a workable garden for a while, so I’m doing my research on what is best to plant in containers, and what vegetables I can grow in a small patch. I’m already propagating chillies.

Mister Scarlett had some specially built food prep areas. He’s intending to get an Uni Pro pizza oven and become a pizza master! While we wait for the oven to be delivered, we’ve been experimenting with pizza dough and various proving techniques. I love cold proving (something I’ve only just discovered!). Here is our most recent attempt at pizza (my toppings were ham, mushroom and olives):

pizza

Do you have any good dough recipes we could try out?

On the writing front, I’m steadily working my way through edits on Sinful. The more I get into the story, the more I fall in love with Zeke and Grace. She is so feisty. Such a perfect match for Zeke despite their differences, but whew! they do go through the ringer! *evil laugh*

One thing I hate doing (and I do mean hate – it’s torture!) is writing blurbs. Now I’m self-publishing, all these admin tasks are solely my responsibility. Before, my editor used to help out. I truly suck at it, but I’ve been writing and re-writing the blurb for Sinful, so fingers crossed it’s okay.

That’s pretty much it for this blog post. I’m heading back into the writing cave…or maybe out into the garden…

Writing, WIP, libraries and EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Sinful

Greetings, everyone!

I realise it’s been another long period of time between posts. I promise to ‘try’ and get better at writing more regular posts.

It’s been another busy few months! I’ve been really ill a few times, but the latest bout of sickness really knocked me off my feet. I had a terrible chest infection and was on pneumonia watch for a while. That slowed my writing/editing down considerably. Boo.

It does mean I’ve been reading a lot though. I’m more than half way through my 2019 reading challenge on Good Reads.

reading challenge

I’ve become addicted to Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Can’t get enough of it! I’m trying to pace myself with them so I don’t binge read them too quickly.

A new author discovery for me is T.M. Frazier. Just read the first 2 books in the King series and oh, my…*fans self* Love her characters. So dark and raw. Yum.

There has also been lots of stuff going on with the house. We are finally getting the garden landscaped. More on that in another post, and about our experiments with the perfect pizza dough! The most exciting thing, after a year of being in the house, we finally got the library shelving fitted. I have a library!

book shelving

A comfy snuggle chair is arriving tomorrow, and then I’ll have the perfect reading room. I’ve always dreamed of having a library/reading room. I’m so lucky to be able to have one thanks to the wonderful Mister Scarlett. Although he may lose me to the room…haha

Publishing wise, I’m still working on editing the first book in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy. As I said at the beginning of the post, after a great January, February/March has been a really slow starter.

However, here is a sneak peek excerpt to keep you going. I’m definitely going to have the first book, Sinful, finished before Spring is through.

She climbed her porch steps and fumbled with her keys. She unlocked the door, stepped over the threshold and turned for the medical kit.

He put it beside her on the floor and idled against the frame. He leaned towards her, 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.

“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 up in your window seat for the past four weeks watching us?” His amber eyes blazed with heat.

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, yet she couldn’t move back. Moth and flame came to mind, and she was going to get singed.

“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. Feel 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.

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. “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 hot. She had no doubt he’d be an excellent lover.

He pushed the tip of 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 then destroyed her with his words.

Arrogant, conceited asshole.

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

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 then slammed the door. Good riddance to the misogynistic asshole.

NHMCR (2)

 

Over the next month you can find me taking part in The Romance Reviews anniversary party. Head on over for a chance to win tons of prizes until March 31st.

Big Banner 940x300 copy

Finally, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! You get all the exclusive news, sneak previews and stories. If you sign up, you get a FREE copy of BEG ME delivered straight to your inbox!

Beg Me

That’s all for now.

Until next time, take care.

Scarlett

Autumn update on what the heck I’ve been up to!

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Hi everyone,

I don’t really know where to start with this blog to be honest. It’s been a long few months since I posted back in…May. Gah. Sorry for the radio silence!

I was quite ill over the summer months. Finally went back to work to my day job as a librarian at the end of July, and then found out my Mom’s cancer has come back. The very sad news is she only has about 6 months to live, so I’ve been spending time with her. We have lots of stuff planned. The only blessing so far is she seems fairly ‘well’. It’s particularly hard as she is my best friend.

As for writing, I haven’t had much of a chance to do that over the summer, however I can tell you in September I set up a regular writing schedule that I have been keeping up with.

tenor (1)

it’s amazing to be writing again. It helps me process some of the my emotions, or just takes my mind off things. I’ve written 15,000 words in October so far, which is a big increase in my productivity!

What are you writing? I hear you cry!

Well, I have been working on a new series…

I can reveal the cover for the first book in my new trilogy, the Knights of Hell MC series:

NHMCR (2).jpg

Sinful is book one in Zeke and Grace’s story. I cannot wait for you to meet Zeke. He’s a badass, MC President and sex on legs! Poor Zeke and Grace do get some shit thrown their way though *evil grin*

Meet the inspiration behind Zeke, Mr. Tom Hardy *swoons* Raise your hands if you love Tom Hardy!

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Sinful should be out Winter time, followed by Taken and Possession.

In other news, I’ve been reading soooo much lately. I’m tracking everything on Good Reads now (get me being all organized! haha)

If you want to know what I’m reading you can follow me on Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1661269.Scarlett_Sanderson. I also tend to hang out at some of the erotic romance groups on their, sharing my love (and fangirling) for the genre.

I just finished The Glue by K.Webster – wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Other reading obsessions over the last few months include:

  • Redemption – the last book in the Vincent and Eve series by Jessica Reuben (OMG it was sooo awesome).
  • Stygian by Sherrilyn Kenyon – even though it’s book twenty-something, I still enjoyed it. Found it a bit too long though.
  • Wanting Mr Cane by Shanora Williams – again wasn’t sure I was going to like it as the main female character is only 18, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Have downloaded the next one!

On my TBR pile is Consumed by JR Ward, Blood Communion by Anne Rice (Lestat!) and tons of others.

I think that’s all the news I have to print right now 🙂 Look out for snippets of works in progress over the coming months and regular updates on what I’m reading/watching.

Until next time, take care.

Scarlett

Pre-order my erotic, paranormal Christmas romance, The Invitation – only 99c! Available Nov 17th.

THE INVITATION EBOOK COVER

Just in time for Christmas, my Christmas erotic romance, The Invitation is available for pre-order. The official release date is Friday November 17th.

This is one of the first stories I ever wrote and submitted for publication. Gabriel Longthorn holds a special place in my heart, and I’m so happy that his story is once again available – with a spectacular new cover.

Big thanks to the amazing, R. L. Weeks for creating this masterpiece!

THE INVITATION BANNER (1)

As always, the book will be available via Amazon for 99c and free for Kindle Unlimited readers!

Blurb:

Every Christmas, Evie dreams of attending the glamorous masquerade ball at Longthorn, home of the reclusive Gabriel. She watches from afar, wishing she could be near him. Gabriel, the man in her most erotic fantasies. Then the invitation arrives, along with a beautiful mask and dress. Her presence is requested.

Gabriel needs Evie. As king of the Shadow world, he knows only one woman can complete him, can sate both his infinite carnal lust and the ache in his lonely heart. He’s spent years waiting for Evie, and he plans to claim her, body and soul.

 

Excerpt:

Her blood thickened. Desire punched through her fear. Her breasts swelled and her nipples tightened. Moisture slicked her thighs as if she’d inhaled a potent drug that made her instantly pliant and aroused.

Her drug had a name. Gabriel Longthorn.

The man of her childhood dreams. The man of her womanly fantasies.

Time slowed and the music became a distant echo as his gaze met hers. A predatory smile spread across his chiseled face and her heart almost beat out of her chest. Christ, he was beautiful. Devastating. And she wanted to fling herself on him.

Her strong physical reaction defied explanation. She’d been around handsome men before and never felt this sexual.

Both women scowled when they realized Gabriel no longer cared what they had to say. Evie resisted the urge to glance over her shoulder. Was he really looking at her and not some stunning redhead standing behind her?

He unfolded himself from the chair in a way that was much too graceful for a man his size before moving through the crowd.

She stared. He was hypnotic. Mesmerizing. The crowd parted. All eyes watched as he purposefully strode toward her. A smile curled the edges of his lips.

Dressed in a white ruched shirt and a frock coat of the finest dark-blue velvet, he was the epitome of an old-fashioned mystical being. His white breeches pulled across his groin as he walked, leaving nothing to the imagination. Black knee-high boots completed the outfit.

He stopped inches away from her. She could smell his spicy scent as he took the champagne from her grasp and handed it to a passing guest. His ice-blue eyes stared intently into hers.

“Miss Ward. Thank you for the pleasure of your company this delightful Christmas Eve.” He bowed and took her hand. He brushed his lips gently across her skin. His breath caressed the tiny hairs and she felt that caress between her thighs, as if he’d pressed his lips against her clit.

Her breathing hitched. She chided herself for being so enthralled. He was just a man. Granted, he was unlike any man she’d ever seen—charismatic, charming, gentlemanly, not to mention studly.

Good and evil warred inside her mind. She wanted to slide her body against his, run her hand across his groin and test the weight of his cock. Would it be as impressive and thick as the outline in his breeches promised?

Pervert, the voice inside her head cried.

She gathered her wits from the gutter. “The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Longthorn. I do wonder why I received an invitation.”

He stroked the pulse point at her wrist, rubbing slow circles and stoking her arousal. “Because, Miss Ward, you have a very fertile imagination. Sometimes we all need to take a little time to dream.”

Another footman brought out a chair to match Gabriel’s. The staff was amazing, anticipating the guests’ every need. Where did he find these people?

Gabriel turned to the crowd and walked toward the raised dais. Everyone stared at them as if she were a specimen under a microscope.

As if sensing her discomfort, Gabriel smiled and addressed the guests. “Please, my honored and most noble guests, continue with the ball! There is champagne to be enjoyed, food to be savored and decadent pleasures to be tasted…”