Order vs. Chaos, release day

Order vs. ChaosThis book, this series, has been a long time coming. I’m so grateful to all of you for your help in getting it done. I truly hope you love Sawyer and Kiana. If nothing else, maybe it’ll spark a trip to Hawaii! It’s stunning there.

Kiana’s older brother, Kapena, isn’t so thrilled about Sawyer and Kiana being together. He pushes his sister to answer some tough questions, with Sawyer standing right there!

Excerpt from Order vs. Chaos

I leaned against the couch, watching them square off. It was strange to have them arguing over me, but I felt like I couldn’t defend myself. If Kapena didn’t trust me, nothing I said would change his mind.

“If you like him so much, why has it taken you this long to go out with him?”

“I’m scared, okay,” she said, her back to me. “I’m scared that I’m going to get hurt again. I like him, Kapena. But I liked Anthony, too.”

“If he hurts you, I’ll kill him,” Kapena said, his eyes on me.

She breathed a laugh. “I know. And I love you for it. He hasn’t given me any reason to think he will. I just keep thinking about how things started with Anthony. A kiss here. A late night there. I sort of fell into bed with him. It wasn’t a thought out plan. It just happened. And I know you don’t want to hear this,” she said quickly. “But it’s hard for me to think about getting right back into things with someone new.”

“It’s been months, Kiki.”

She nodded. “I know. Because I’ve been too scared to try.”

“Why him?” Kapena said with another glare for me.

“Because he tries. He looks out for me. He waited after the first wedding until I went home. He bought me lunch. He always wants to help, not for credit, but because he wants to help.” She paused and glanced over her shoulder at me. “And because he doesn’t want to hide us.”

I stared into her dark eyes for a long moment, knowing Kapena would squash our connection before long. He cleared his throat, drawing her attention back to him.

“You’re still a kid to me. I don’t want any man to put his hands on you. But this one doesn’t seem so bad.”

I huffed a laugh. “Thanks, friend.”

“You’re lucky you got a compliment that big,” Kiana said. “He didn’t make you fight him first.”

“That’s still an option,” Kapena said, cracking his knuckles.

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Writing Tips: Creating Conflict

For you aspiring authors out there, I wanted to give you another quick lesson on making your own go at being a writer. Read on for some advice on conflict!

In every story, there’s always conflict. Sometimes it’s big and in your face, like a bad guy chasing someone with a knife. Other times it’s subtle and a little bit hidden, like a person who thinks they know what they want but really has no clue.

The best stories have a little of both.

It’s been three years since Chubby & Charming came out. If you haven’t read it yet, grab it now for free so you can understand everything I’m talking about here. I like examples, and yes, there are spoilers here.

Mandy tells herself she’s happy. That she doesn’t need a relationship to make her happy. We don’t need men, we have each other. She does believe her words, but she wants a relationship. There’s that distinction. She doesn’t need it, but she wants it. She convinces herself that because she doesn’t need a relationship that she doesn’t want one either. There’s your subtle conflict.

When Mandy meets Xander, her past experiences with attractive men bring in a new conflict. She thinks he’s going to dismiss her since she’s not model thin so she dismisses him first. She pushes him away before he has a chance to push her away. That’s a little more obvious of a conflict.

Layering in both elements adds depth to the story. If Mandy just convinced herself not to go for a relationship, or just had issues with cute men, she could get over them and move on. But having both, she’s fighting herself every time she turns around.

Of course, in the Big & Beautiful series, friends also add an element of conflict. Her friends are amazing, but they don’t always fit right in to what Mandy wants and needs. Claire has even more distrust of attractive men than Mandy does and warns her. Sam and Addi are a little more supportive, but at the end, when Mandy runs, none of them are willing to give Xander the benefit of the doubt until he shows up at Mandy’s house.

Xander’s conflicts are a lot more subtle in this story since we aren’t in his point of view. He has never felt like he truly connected with anyone he’s dated. He’s always thought there was something missing. That’s why he goes after Mandy. She’s the first woman he instantly had a spark with. He doesn’t give up because he wants to keep that feeling alive. He’s willing to do anything for her, but he needs to prove that since she’s timid.

Adding in conflict in romance can be tricky, depending on what kind of romance you write. Since this is a contemporary story, a lot of the conflict is internal, meaning within the character. I like to add in external conflict, like Mandy faces with her job and her coworker, Melody. It’s a somewhat minor subplot, but it works to show who Mandy is and push her to stand up for herself.

All conflict needs to be resolved. Anything you throw at your characters, you have to be able to fix it. With Mandy, her external conflict was partly resolved by her internal conflict. Being with Xander for a few months, she believed in him and how he felt. She convinced herself that he was being truthful about how much he cared about her. It gave her confidence she didn’t realize she was missing and the strength to stand up for herself when Melody accused her of threatening her. She didn’t need Xander, but having him changed her. Even when she thought he was gone.

Which brings me back to the internal conflict. She didn’t want him. She didn’t need him. But once she had him, she knew her life wouldn’t be the same without him in it. She couldn’t be with someone who would laugh at her, but she loved him. It was too late. He was the guy she thought he’d be, but she was blown away. Months of dating didn’t reveal his true nature, and Mandy was more hurt than she ever expected.

Of course, she was wrong when it came to who Xander really was. Claire convinced her to give him another shot, and she learned the truth. Conflict resolved.

Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated when you’re threading it into a story, but those are the high points. If you want a really good reference that goes into a lot of detail about conflict, I highly recommend Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s a great book to read to really understand how the three fit together and how to make it work in your story.

This is basically a new column for me on this blog. I want to ask if you have any questions, about writing or anything else. If you do, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy writing your conflict!

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Order vs. Chaos, first kiss

Order vs. ChaosNot everyone is as thrilled with a first kiss as I am! Getting lost in that moment and forgetting about everything except the person with their lips pressed to yours. I love it. The build-up. The acceptance. The kiss. It’s magical.

But it doesn’t always end well…

Excerpt from Order vs. Chaos

She sighed and that vulnerability snuck back into her eyes. “Why do you care?”

I shrugged. “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t care?”

“You don’t even know me,” she whispered, making me wonder if she was talking to me or herself.

“That doesn’t mean I want you to run yourself ragged or get hurt. You need to take care of yourself.”

“I do fine.”

“I didn’t say you didn’t. I care about the people I’m around. And that starts with you.”

She looked up at me with eyes so big she looked like a cartoon character. She was close to me, close enough that I could smell coconut rolling off her.

Her pulse fluttered in her neck, and her breath quickened. I stepped closer to her, unable to resist the tug between us. I’d felt it the moment I saw her, and it only got stronger as she stared up at me with those eyes that begged me to take care of her.

I wanted nothing more.

She rose to her tiptoes as I leaned down. Our lips met somewhere in the middle, a spark shooting through me. Her lips were soft, delicate, tentative. I didn’t know if she was single, if she even liked me, but in that moment, nothing mattered except kissing her.

Her hands wound around my neck, dragging me closer to her. I slid one hand into her hair and the other low on her waist, desperate to feel her curves.

She moaned softly when my tongue traced her lips, then parted them for me. She tasted as sweet as I knew she would. Like everything good in the world wrapped up in one beautiful wedding planning package.

Which reminded me…she was my boss.

One more week!

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Get to know Sawyer!

I thought it was a good idea to reintroduce Sawyer to you. He made his first appearance in Round & Ravishing and was a bit of a jerk to Tara. There’s a lot more to Sawyer than it seems though.

What was your favorite toy when you were growing up? Maybe the one thing you always wanted for Christmas?

An airplane. I had a travel bug from a young age. My parents felt bad that they couldn’t take us on vacations like I asked for every year, but one year I got a plane. It was one of those big model planes and I had to assemble it myself. I spent almost a full year working on that plane. I kept it on a shelf above my bed forever. Shit, I wonder if my parents still have that.

When you’re stressed, what lesson from your past gets you through it?

I think I’ve learned more recently about how to deal with stress, but if I had to pick a lesson from my past, I’d always say that things will change. That might not be good, and it’s definitely not always bad, but it’s different. And different is the most important thing when the shit hits the fan, so to speak.

Is life black and white? Or are there shades of gray in between?

There’s a rainbow of gray out there. I used to think life could be pretty black and white, but there’s too much ugly shit in my past to tell me anything is simple. Nothing is simple. Nothing is easy. Nothing except love.

We know you’re a good guy, but when you lie, what gives you away?

Kiana says my eyes. I used to think I was a pretty good liar, but she can always tell. I can’t keep a secret from that woman to save my life.

Who has the power to hurt you the most and why?

Kiana, definitely. She’s my world, and she could destroy me if she really wanted to. Lucky for me, she loves me as much as I love her.

Order vs. ChaosOrder vs. Chaos will be out December 26!

Preorder it today!

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Order vs. Chaos, meet Kiana

Order vs. ChaosThis series has been a long time coming. I know you loved the Big & Beautiful series, and I really hope you love Opposites Attract just as much. Early readers certainly are!

The first story in the series is all about Sawyer. Sawyer is Noah’s brother, from Round & Ravishing, but things are a bit different in Opposites Attract. These stories are all told by the men. Instead of digging into the woman’s mind, now I’m playing around in the guy’s. It’s been an interesting journey!

The first time Sawyer meets Kiana, well… It’s not what he thought. Check it out!

Excerpt from Order vs. Chaos

I let myself in with the key he gave me, trying to feel comfortable in his house. I didn’t think anything of the car in the driveway until I saw a perfectly round, bitable ass in front of the fridge. I walked closer, staring at her and wondering who she was and why she was there. Her red shorts were short, the way shorts were meant to be, and I could use my imagination to fill in the small parts blocked by the fabric between her thighs. Her curvy legs would look damn good wrapped around my waist. My cock twitched at the thought, until I remembered I was in Kapena’s house.

Which meant she was likely his girlfriend.

“Fuck,” I whispered, turning away. I bumped into a table, and a lamp rattled. I snatched it before it fell, but she heard me and spun around.

“Who are you? And what are you doing here?” she demanded, the accent in her voice adding a melodic quality that made me want to hear my name on her tongue.

I settled the lamp and faced her, noticing that her long, brown hair fell to the middle of her back. It had a slight wave to it, but not enough that I would call it curly. She wore a white tank top that offset her rich skin, and damn if I didn’t want to trail my tongue over all that sweet flesh.

“I said who are you?”

“Kiki!” Kapena bellowed from behind me. He rushed past me and swept her up into a hug, confirming what I thought.

Girlfriend.

She grinned, her face transforming to a look of pure happiness when she saw him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and closed her dark eyes when he held her. He lifted her feet from the floor, easy to do since he stood a good ten or twelve inches taller than her.

Kapena set her down and immediately chastised her. “This is Sawyer. How do you not know who he is?”

Shit! He called her Kiki! Fuck me, I was checking out my new boss. Not only that, but I was living with her boyfriend. What. The. Fuck!

“Sawyer. Sorry. I didn’t realize you were here.” She walked toward me with her hand extended. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“You as well, Kiana.” I took her hand in mine, surprised by the strength in her grip. Her skin was soft, like silk against my skin.

Damn. There went my cock again. Thinking about getting her between some silk sheets.

“Are you staying for dinner, Kiki?”

God, please, no! I wouldn’t survive a night watching her and those big…eyes. Yeah, that was it.

She swung them my way and shook her head. “I should go. I just wanted to see…um…”

“You wanted to see what I was cooking tonight?” Kapena supplied.

I watched the two of them with interest, surprised they weren’t more affectionate. Noah and Tara, his fiancée, were practically all over each other at all times. Aside from their hug, Kapena and Kiana hadn’t touched.

“Come on, sis, you know you want to stay. I’ll grill some fish,” he taunted her.

Wait. Did he say sis?

Coming December 26

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