Less Busy, More Nature

With so many things here in the PNW still closed I’ve spent the past several months getting outside as often as I can. Our weather is often rainy right up until July 5th or so, and some years it’s just not feasible to get out there and enjoy some early summer rays.

I’m grateful that this year we’ve had a fair amount of sunshine interspersed with our typical gloom since I’m now using the great outdoors as my gym, therapist’s office, and entertainment source.

Over the past three months I’ve learned how much nature really centers and, much like creativity, it’s also a balm for the soul.

The lush greenery of Washington is also inspiration for a new series I’m working on. Originally I’d planned to set this series in a bustling metropolis, but the past couple months getting back to nature convinced me to create my own world. One where there’s a small college city nestled in the mountains, near water, and that also boasts a burgeoning nightlife scene.

The town of Cascade Falls, Washington has captivated me and I hope it will enthrall my readers as well. Stay tuned over the next couple months, as I share more about Cascade Falls and the people you’ll meet there!

Creativity is a Balm in Tough Times

Do you have to go through dark times in order to be more effective in your creativity? I’ve had this debate with myself for years now.

While I know I don’t subscribe to the outdated thought that I have to suffer for my art, I think in tough times I turn to my writing as a way to cope. And because of that I’m more productive, and perhaps, I dig into a different place within myself and my writing just “feels” different during times of strife.

For the past few months I’ve walked this weird line with my writing. I find real solace there, when I’m creating. But also, when I’m writing I struggle so effing hard. I doubt. It’s a slog. Most of the time it feels like I’m doing a 300 lb. dead lift with my brain. I’m most definitely not what I think of as being in the flow state, yet my editors are praising the things I’m writing right now as some of my best work.

Say whaaaaat?

mug of coffee and a laptop

I’ll be the first to admit that creativity is weird, and a process that is both unique for everyone and something we can’t fully understand.

I try hard to keep this space light and fun, but it’s difficult when reality is heavy and heartbreaking. I don’t want to be tone deaf, but I do want to offer people a space that is positive and try my best to fill the world with love the only way I know how, by sharing stories about flawed people in an imperfect world finding their way to each other.

And the only way I can do that is keep going in my creative work.

 

 

A Little Fun to Get You Through the Week

Hi! I’m writing this post without wearing pants. I also haven’t brushed my teeth or hair yet today. Welcome to week 856 of quarantine!

I think I’m actually in like week nine of quarantine, but who the hell knows, tbh.

Anywho, I figured you could probably use something a fun to get you through the rest of this week and I have a solution. It’s a snippet from my novella Wild Ride, a story about a shy quiet girl who embraces her rowdy side.

Read on for an excerpt, and if you enjoy it, please share this post with someone who could use a fun read!

She’s in for one Wild Ride…

Fresh from being dumped for being too boring, shy and geeky Cynthia Goode decides to shake up her dull life by entering a provocative contest at a popular country western bar. She doesn’t win first prize at the Naughty Nightie mechanical bull riding contest, but she does win the attention of sexy biker Brody Cruz.

Living out what she thinks is a fantasy, she lets Brody take her home for a night she won’t forget.

Cynthia stripped down and butterflies swam in her belly. She’d greatly underestimated how scary walking across a bar and onto a raised circular stage would be dressed only in a corset, lace panties, stockings and heels. Nevertheless, she strutted toward the emcee, the spotlight tracing her movements as she walked. A series of howls and whistles erupted when the man helped her gain her footing and straddle the bull. 

They think I look hot. Well, at least if I plummet off the bull right away it’s good to know I’ll look sexy as I fall flat on my face.

The emcee reiterated the rules to her and Cynthia tried to concentrate on what he said. 

“Keep your clothes on. Hold on to the pummel with one hand. Keep your other hand raised high. Try to add some personal flare. Aim to ride for eight seconds. Have fun, sugar.”

With that he smacked the side of the machinery and gave a nod to the man controlling the device. The bull started up, the base spinning in a slow circular motion while the saddle rocked front to back. Cynthia gripped the pummel with her right hand and lifted her left hand high in the air. She gazed out into the crowd and flashed a smile. Several cat-calls and shouts rang out. 

I can do this.

The device started to speed up, the movements becoming rougher. Cynthia undulated her body as she’d seen the other contestants do. She rocked forward as the bull tilted back and used her knees to grip the wide body. A shrill whistle sounded from the crowd around her and she smiled. She thought back to the look on Paul’s face when he saw her wearing the corset. 

“Cynthia? Did you lose a bet?”

What an asshole. Not every man thought the way he did, thank goodness. From the shouts, some of the men in the bar found her attractive. Determined to put on a decent show, she tossed her hair. 

Or she tried to anyway.

The small movement made her lose visual focus. Suddenly the machine bucked at the same time that it spun to the left. She tried to recover, but her body slid to the side and she fell onto the mat in what she worried was an ungraceful heap. 

“Let’s give contestant five a big round of applause, everybody,” the emcee said. 

Two bouncers rushed forward to help her off the mat so the next contestant could take her place. When they got her off the stage and let go of her, Cynthia smiled and tried to take a step forward. She wobbled and the room spun. Drinking, bull riding and stilettos so did not mix well together.

“You good?”

“I think so,” she clutched his massive forearm. She blew out a breath and tried to walk again. “I think I’m okay now.” 

The bouncer led her out of the cordoned off area near the mechanical bull and then let go of her arm. She scanned the bar, trying to find Nina, but it was still difficult to focus. She craned her neck, but she didn’t see Nina at the bar where she’d left her before the bull ride. Someone pinched her ass and she let out a yelp at the sting. Where the hell was Nina with her skirt? 

Panic crept in like a fog. What the hell was she even doing? She was standing in a bar in her underwear. No, not her underwear. If she’d been wearing her standard skivvies it wouldn’t be nearly as mortifying. Her usual full-coverage briefs, what Nina insisted were granny panties, would’ve at least kept her from showing off her ass cheeks like two prized melons. 

“I’m so stupid,” she said softly to herself. Scanning the bar again for her friend, she still didn’t see Nina anywhere. Straining her neck every which way, she took a step forward without watching where she was going and wobbled, crashing into a solid torso. 

 “Easy there, sweetheart.”A pair of large hands cupped her shoulders.  “Why don’t you lean against me? I don’t think you’re ready to walk just yet.” 

Cynthia nodded, knowing the kind stranger was right. She only wished she wasn’t wearing her undergarments. 

“Thanks for the help—”

She looked up into the man’s face and her mouth went dry. He was tall, even in her stilettos he towered over her. His dark hair was short on the sides and long on top. Her gaze trailed lower, to the way the black tank hugged his broad chest. How could such a simple garment look so outstanding? Maybe it had nothing to do with the construction of the  plain cotton and everything to do with the man wearing it. 

“It was nothing. I’m Brody. And you are?” He asked with his mouth near her ear.

She had half a mind to give him a fake name, something exotic. But then she remembered that she was a horrible liar. She’d never get an alias out with a straight face. 

“My name’s Cynthia,” she shouted above the hoots of the observers and the emcee’s announcements.

His gaze landed at her throat and her fingers flew to her pendant reflexively. The word GEEK was stamped on its surface. She wore it with pride, because damn it, she was a geek at heart and had no shame in it. What would a guy like Brody think of her geeky ways? 

“That’s a cool necklace.” His gaze connected with hers again and she let out a little giggle. Had she heard him right? He thought her geek necklace was cool.

“Thank you. I made it myself.” 

“Really? Awesome.”

She felt her face flush under his praise. Her jewelry business wasn’t something she told people about. Even when someone complimented her on one of her pieces. It was always something she shied away from telling people about. 

“Well, Cynthia, I feel compelled to see you safely out of this area.” He leaned closer while tightening his hold on her. Surprised, she inhaled sharply. Her nose was filled with a rich, sexy cologne. “This place is a wolf den tonight. I wouldn’t feel right leaving you now. That okay with you?” 

She glanced around at all the men nearby and then back to him. Her gut told her she could trust him. She nodded. Brody steered her away from the throng of males, his hand riding low against the curve of her hip. In a weird way, she liked the way he took control and led her away from the crowd. 

“Do you think you could help me find my friend?” Her words were drowned out by hoots from the rowdy crowd. She turned and caught sight of the next contestant on the bull. The woman wore an aubergine teddy that set off her dark skin. As she undulated on the machine, the filmy material billowed around her like a purple cloud. The DJ had put on a provocative song and the contestant was milking the song lyrics, incorporating the suggestive words into her ride. 

“What? You’re gonna have to get real close to me so I can hear. This crowd’s going ape shit.” He’d stopped walking, tightening his grip on her so she would halt too. Brody pressed his body against her and leaned down, so his mouth was near her ear. He swept her long hair off her shoulder. His breath was a warm caress against the skin on her neck. “See, I bet you can hear me much better now.”

She nodded. Her pulse pounded in her ears, and lower, she felt the beat thrumming in her core. Their gazes connected, held. The strobe light circled and limned his irises. His light brown eyes were flecked with gold. She swallowed hard and with trembling hands she gripped him by the shoulders and gently urged him downward. He lowered his head toward hers. 

Oh, God, does he think I want to kiss him?

She did, of course. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t? He was gorgeous and seemed captivated by her. She turned her head and angled her mouth toward his ear. Instead of speaking, she froze, her fingers tightening around his muscled shoulders. For the first time since arriving at the bar, the intensity of the erotic atmosphere threatened to overwhelm her. 

The heavy bass strumming from the speakers. The humid air and male bodies pressed in close. The catcalls and shouts from the men cheering on the contestants. And, damn it, the lyrics of the 90s R&B song where the sexy male voice promised that his saddle was waiting and commanded a woman to jump on it. Maybe that was good advice. Maybe she needed to jump on it. Well, not on Brody’s…saddle, but she could at least capitalize on the situation. What possible harm could come from a little flirting with this handsome stranger?

Want to know what happens next between Cynthia and Brody? Get Wild Ride for just 99 cents at  AmazonAmazon AUAmazon CAAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboPlayster, and Scribd.

Where My Burning Women At?

“The Dalai Lama says that the world will be saved by women. Not any women, perhaps not all women, but Burning Women. Women who have stepped out of silence and into the fullness of their power. Angry women who love the world and her creatures too much to let it be destroyed so thoughtlessly for a moment longer. Burning Woman is the heart and soul of revolution inner and outer. She burns for change, she dances in the fire of the old, all the while visioning and weaving the new.” -Burning Woman

This quote appeared in my Facebook some time ago and I was immediately struck by it. Not just because we’ve seen an uprising of strong women recently with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.  It connected with me on another level because as a romance writer I feel its imperative that I create strong and unique voices, especially female voices.

Since November I’ve been working diligently on a new series. I’m not ready to reveal much about it yet, other than to say it’s going to be focused on feminist heroines and feminist heroes. This series will be full of swoon-worthy Beta males, and yes, some might call my leading ladies Alpha females.

I’m okay with that.

Time and again we see art giving the world what it needs, in what seems to be just the moment the hunger for it begins. I think that’s what the rise in feminism and women leadership is all about right now.

The romance community is fertile ground for pushing this movement forward. We’ve always been at the forefront of subverting the culture that tells us that women’s books are frivolous, or that romance creates unrealistic expectations (um, how is it unrealistic for me to know I deserve a partner that treats me well and cares about my pleasure????). Romance has been written off and dismissed for, well, as long as the genre has existed, basically.

What has changed in recent years is women feeling as though they no longer need to hide who they are, what they feel and believe, and yes, even what they read. I know I’ve found my voice in the last eighteen months or so and I’ve struggled with whether or not I should let those beliefs spill over into my writing.

I’ve come to realize they’ll spill over whether or not I talk about them, so why not vocalize about them on my blog and social media? I feel like I can use my voice and platform (no matter how small it may be at the moment) to give truth to power. And, really, isn’t that what a Burning Woman should do?

Insights and Inspiration for Writers/Readers from Tom Hanks

I don’t talk about the process of writing nearly enough on my blog, but with NaNoWriMo beginning tomorrow, I couldn’t help but create a post after I listened to a helpful podcast earlier today.

I’ve followed self-help/entreprenuer blogger/writer Danielle LaPorte for years now. As much as I love seeing her written messages, I think I enjoy her video and audio messages more. Danielle has a calming, soothing aura about her that I really dig.

This morning on Instagram she shared a photo and link to her podcast she co-hosts with Linda Siversten called The Beautiful Writers. In their latest podcast they interviewed Tom Hanks abut his new book Uncommon Type and I found the interview to be super insightful, fun and inspiring.

Tom speaks about his experiences as a writer, his preference for typewriters (he owns over 200 of them!) and his thoughts on chasing the Muse in the modern world (here’s a hint, put down your Smartphone).

I hope you’ll take a listen to the podcast and you’ll get as much enjoyment out of it as I did!