Ten Facts About Me

My Family Christmas 2013
My Family Christmas 2013

It’s time to get personal. If you’ve read my about page, you know a bit about me, but I know there’s still things you don’t know. I figured if you’re reading this, you might want to get to know me a little better. If not, that’s cool.

So I’m going to tell you ten things about me that you may or may not know. Then I want you to tell me something about yourself. I love getting to know my readers. You are so important to me because without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this. So share!

1. I’ve been married for ten years and a mom for almost six and still feel like I’m not old enough for that kind of responsibility. I’ll be 34 in a few weeks, but I’m still fakin’ it! I told my hubby that I’m finally getting used to being married so maybe in four more years I’ll be used to being a mom. Who knows!

2. I listen almost exclusively to country music. In middle school one of my best friends had two older cousins that listened to country music and got me into it. It helped that I thought they were cute! Even in New York, I always listened to country music, but being in South Carolina, it’s everywhere, and I love it!

3. I’m a cat person. I have two cats, Abigail and Zada, and begged my parents to get me a cat when I was seven. I love dogs, but I can’t handle the responsibility of a dog. Cats are easy, especially with how much we get out to visit family.

4. I’m a Cock! That’s a Gamecock. I graduated from the University of South Carolina, just like Paige, Brooke, and Tiffany in my Love On Deck series. In college sports USC usually refers to Southern California, but for us Gamecocks it’s an insult because our USC was a college in 1801, 49 years before California was even a state and 79 years before University of Southern California was founded.

5. I was adopted. You know this if you’ve read More Than Adopted (available for free to my subscribers), but if you haven’t read it, it might be a surprise. My parents took me home from the hospital when I was four days old and I’ve always lived with them. I don’t know my birth parents, but they wrote me letters when I was born. They loved me very much and were willing to give me a chance at a life they couldn’t provide when I was born (they were 20 and 24 but both in college).

6. I have an older sister and a younger brother, neither of whom were adopted. Yep, it’s weird. After my sister, my parents were told they couldn’t have more kids. When they adopted me, four years after my sister was born, they figured we were it. But my brother was a surprise. He’s 17 months younger than me.

7. I have 2.5 kids, just like the typical American family. Huh? I can hear it. I have two kids that live with me and one baby that I lost in my first trimester. I know he’s growing up in heaven and waiting for when we can meet, but I hope it’s not for a while. I have a lot I want to do here.

8. Writing romance novels is my fourth career. I went to college to be a chemical engineer and had that as my paid job for almost twelve years. I wasn’t ever happy so I started a business as a wedding planner then as a working mom’s advocate before going after my true passion and writing romance novels. If I have my say, this will be my last career!

9. When my husband and I started dating we agreed he would be a stay at home dad. He’d always wanted to do it and I was set on working. Unfortunately too many poor money choices left us in too much debt for it to happen, but maybe one day. We’re still hopeful he’ll get to live his dream!

10. The day I met my husband I knew he was someone special. If someone had told me we would get married that day, I would have believed it. But, it took three weeks before I knew his name, four months before I knew he wasn’t dating our classmate, six months before we started flirting heavily, and nine months until our first date. And yep, I asked him out, three times before he said yes.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me. I really do want to learn about you. Leave a comment below if there’s something you’d love to share!

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Are You A Rule Breaker?

Rules Cover 11I’m so excited that Playing By The Rules is finally available. I’ve been thinking about this book for months and couldn’t get Amber and Caleb out of my head. They teased me a bit, not telling me what was going to happen at first, and they even changed things at the very end, but I’m so happy their story is written.

I wanted to give you a little sneak peak of the two of them. These two lit up the pages for me. It was a lot of fun to write someone a little snarky, like Amber, and a little alpha, like Caleb. To watch them dance around each other and eventually fall for each other was fun. When things fall apart for these two (because they always do for some reason), I wanted to shake them. Yep, I was in control, I knew what was going to happen, but I still wanted to reach through the pages and shake some sense into them.

I hope you like this little snip of them. It was a fun scene to write. Make sure you pick up your free copy (if it’s not free, it will be soon) at your favorite online retailer!

When most of the crowd had died down Amber decided to go. She turned the key and nothing happened. She tried again. And again. She dropped her head to the steering wheel and tried to figure out what to do.

Amber reached behind her to find an umbrella but only came up with a snow scraper. “Fat lot of good that’ll do me,” she mumbled. She climbed back from her car and lifted the hood, hoping inspiration would strike.

She pushed her wet hair from her eyes and looked around. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. But then again Amber rarely lifted the hood on her 2004 Honda Civic. She let the guys who changed her oil every three months do that.

As Amber leaned against the open hood she closed her eyes and tried to come up with something. She was going to have to call Emily to get picked up. And hopefully whatever was wrong wouldn’t cost too much to fix. Amber’s brain raced with all the things she needed the money for besides her now broken car.

“Shit,” she swore. The rain drenched her. Amber turned her face up to the rain, welcoming the refreshing feeling. She was supposed to hate the rain. But at that moment it felt good.

“Do you need help?” she heard from behind her. She knew who it was before she turned around. Her body knew before he spoke. She felt her nipples trying to make a run for it, straight to his mouth if they had their way. Heat pooled in her gut and she knew she was in trouble. Deep trouble.

“No,” Amber called without turning around.

“Well, it looks like you need help. Are you a mechanic?” Caleb asked. Amber heard the door slam closed on his truck and knew he was coming to her. She held her breath against the power of his presence.

“No,” she said again without facing him.

“Then maybe I can help.”

“You know how to fix cars?” Amber asked. She dared to look into his deep brown eyes. Chocolate. No, coffee. They reminded her of coffee. Deep and rich. And hotter than hell.

“Yeah,” his eyes sparkled at her with his amusement. “I know a little about cars. Do you want me to take a look?”

“No,” Amber said glancing toward his truck. “You don’t need to keep your family waiting.”

“No worries. Becky took the girls home. We drove separately today.” He wanted to tell her that Becky encouraged him to talk to her, but he could tell she didn’t trust him. She wouldn’t be open to getting to know him without trusting him.

“Oh,” Amber mumbled. She felt deflated. She had the guy, literally the guy of her dreams, right there in front of her. And she couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Obeying the rules sucked sometimes.

“Why don’t you let me look at it? If I can fix it, I will. If not I’ll give you a ride home.”

“Absolutely not,” Amber nearly shouted. She could barely stand next to him. Being confined in a car might push her over the edge.

“Why not? Is your boyfriend the jealous type?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend. But I don’t think your wife would appreciate it.”

Caleb turned and stared at her. Becky was right. He was shocked. And a little taken aback by the venom in her voice as she said ‘wife.’ He ran a hand through his dripping wet hair and said, “I’m not married.”

Amber scoffed at him, “Yeah, okay. Then who’s the woman you’re always with? With the two cute girls, one who looks just like you?”

“I’ll tell you if you let me help you.”

Caleb and Amber are fun. They felt like friends, and I love that.

This series will continue! I’m working on Becky’s story, Back In The Game. The first chapter is in the back of Playing By The Rules. You’ll get to meet some more great residents of Paradise Park and read their stories too.

Thanks for reading today and make sure you sign up for my mailing list – right below!

Meet Amber Wilds

Rules Cover 11

I’m so excited to introduce you to Amber Wilds. Amber is the star of my latest novel, Playing By The Rules, which will be available next week. The best news is it will be FREE on all platforms so you can get your copy without spending a cent!

A little background on Amber…

Amber grew up with two great parents and a little sister, Gabby. They were close growing up, but Amber and her dad had a special connection. She was a tomboy and her dad taught her to play softball and love it. She went to college on a softball scholarship.

Just before the start of her spring semester of her senior year, Amber was out drinking with friends and got arrested. Her arrest wasn’t okay with the team and she was kicked off the team, lost her scholarship, and had to drop out of college because her parents couldn’t afford to pay for her college.

The story begins five years later when Amber is trying to put her life in order. She is sick of working crappy jobs to make ends meet and is ready to go back to college and finish her degree.

Here’s my “interview” with Amber so you can get to know her. And make sure you pick up her story next week! Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for updates on the release.

MET: What are you doing with your life?
AW: Nothing right now, but I want to make more of my life than just being a drain on society. I don’t take handouts, but I know I’m not contributing to the world.

MET: What is standing in your way?
AW: I don’t have the money to go back to school and without a degree I can’t do much other than what I’m doing.

MET: What do you do for a living? Are you any good at it?
AW: I work because I have to. I’m sort of attached to eating. And having a place to live. And clothes. I work at the Y because they let me keep a set schedule so I can work my other jobs around my Y hours, Delta Sonic is cool because I get to be outside which I like, even in the cold. My ump job is new but I took that because the money was good and I needed some extra for my bff’s wedding. I also figured it would be a good way to figure out if I can handle that world again, the one that cast me aside after I got arrested.

MET: What is your secret dream?
AW: I’d love to meet that cop again and kick him in the shins. Or maybe the nuts. He ruined my life and I wish I could share an inkling of my pain with him.

MET: Where do you live?
AW: Emily and I share an apartment in Paradise Park, NY, about thirty miles south of Buffalo along Lake Erie (and totally fictional). Our apartment isn’t in a great area of town, but it’s all I could afford and Emily was saving money for her wedding so it worked for her too. The place is small but we each have our own room and bathroom. The kitchen and living room are tiny, but it works for us.

MET: What are your hobbies?
AW: I don’t have time for hobbies. I work constantly so I can eat. Does eating count as a hobby?

MET: I don’t think so. It’s more of a necessity. What is your biggest fear?
AW: Seeing that cop again. I joke about wanting to kick him, but I’m not sure I could control myself if I ever met him.

MET: What do you avoid more than anything else?
AW: Breaking rules. The last time I broke a rule was when I got arrested. I haven’t done anything ‘bad’ since then. I don’t drink anymore, and I always make sure I’m in line with the rules. I can’t risk going through the same thing I went through before.

MET: What is your biggest strength?
AW: I guess working hard. I’ve been killing myself for so long just to survive I guess I’ve gotten good at it.

MET: What do people like most about you?
AW: Hell if I know. I think I’m a bit bitchy most of the time.

MET: What do you wish you could do?
AW: I wish I could go back and get a ride home with my friends that night. I try to imagine how different my life would be if I’d never been arrested, but everything about my life that sucks goes back to that one night, one stupid decision.

MET: What talents do you have?
AW: I guess I have a unique was of looking at things. I wanted to become an architect because I’ve always loved creating things, but I’m a good artist. I can listen to someone talk about something and draw it for them. Architecture seemed like a good fit. I just hope I can get enough scholarships and financial aid to make it happen.

MET: Who do you have a crush on?
AW: Does Channing Tatum count? Coach Caleb intrigues me. He didn’t back away when we met, but he’s married which means he’s totally off limits.

MET: What do you believe matters?
AW: Truth and obedience. I learned the hard way that if you aren’t obedient you will get punished for it, even if you didn’t really do anything. I’ve always believed in truth. Too bad some people don’t want to know the truth.

MET: What’s your favorite expression?
AW: Go suck an egg because it’s a nice way of telling someone to fuck off.

 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Amber a little. She was a fun one to write about. I can’t wait for you to read her story.

Happy and Inspired

Hubby and I have been talking a lot lately about what we want. We’re trying to move to Buffalo, NY where I grew up to be around my family. We aren’t really happy where we live now and want to be in a different situation, so we’re working on changing it.

I know how lucky I am. I love my job. Writing is what I feel like I’m called to do. In my engineering career I felt like I was going through the motions but never really into it. When I finally started writing, I knew it was what I was meant to do. But it scared me.

Finding your true calling is hard. I searched for a long time. A lot of people do. I see my husband struggling now. He comes home tired and frustrated and doesn’t enjoy the evenings with our family because he’s so wrapped up in his day. I hate seeing him like that.

But with freedom comes happiness. And I’ve found that with happiness comes inspiration. It’s amazing how many ideas I have for books. Every day I feel like a new idea pops into my head. If I could write faster I’d have published twice as many books, at least. I wouldn’t change a second of it.

We’re still not where we want to be, physically and financially. We have struggles. I spend my days at my computer writing love stories and dreaming about more. My career and my life help me to stay focused on what really matters. What matters to me is my family and friends, my work, my life, and my health. I want different things than I have now, but I still love my life.

As a Catholic, this week I celebrated Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for sacrifice and reflection for Catholics. It’s a time to remember the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before he was crucified. Thankfully, I hope, my end is not coming in a few weeks, but I still use this time to reflect on my life.

Every year we are asked to give something up. Many people choose candy, alcohol, even sex or swearing. I know how hard those choices can be. But I like to try to do something that makes me a better person. So this Lent, I’m giving up negative thinking. I’m going to look at every situation I’m in as a good one, and see the bright side of everything.

I know I’ll have my slip ups, but I’m hoping by Easter I’ll be a more positive person. I have a lot to be thankful for. My life is not nearly as bad as I tell myself at times. And I’m happy. And inspired. I know if I wasn’t meant to be a writer, God wouldn’t be inspiring me every day with new and fabulous ideas. He has my muse on overdrive. And I love it!

Even if you aren’t Catholic, or Christian, think today about how you can make your life just a little better. Maybe you want to focus on polishing your resume so you can get a new job. Or you’re writing a book and want to publish it. Maybe you want to take the leap with your heart and fall in love. Or it could be getting up and exercising a few times each week. Whatever you’re struggling with, make a commitment to yourself to change that this Lent. Tell yourself you can do it. Then do it!

We all have it in us to change and live the life we crave. Don’t settle for a life you’re not happy with, you only have one, so go live it!

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How Dare They?

I discovered this week one of my books, Breathing For The First Time, was stolen and published on another site. I’m not going to tell you which site because it doesn’t matter. They took it down within hours of me finding it and reporting it to them. But I am going to tell you why I did it.

Love On Deck 2 Breathing For The First Time Cover

Hubby said it was a compliment that someone uploaded my file to a file sharing site. I was annoyed. I still am a little bit. Okay a lot.

Here’s the thing. I work hard on my books. I write for days, weeks, months, to create something I’m proud of. And it’s my job. I take it very seriously because I love it and I want to do well.

To have someone take my hard work and publish it for anyone who wanted to go read, without my permission, is effectively stealing from me. It hurt my feelings to think someone who (I’m assuming) bought my book thought it was okay to share it.

I don’t encrypt my books. That means when you buy my book there’s nothing in there to stop you from doing this. I TRUST that people will be honest. I’d love for you to share my books with your friends. Amazon has a great sharing program that controls sharing (I’m assuming so one person doesn’t buy books for a book club or organization then give them to everyone – it’s their rule, not mine so I can only speculate). I’m great with sharing. But I’m not happy about stealing.

Why am I sharing this with you? I don’t know. A part of my feels like a whiny kid whose sibling just stole her favorite toy. But a part of me feels violated. I think that’s why I’m sharing. The best news about all this is that companies that support file sharing and publishing are great at cracking down on thieves. The site my book was on had it removed within hours (instead of a day or two like their website said). I’ve read Amazon is very aggressive with it as well. I just wish people didn’t do things like this.

I don’t know who published my book. I didn’t look at their profile. Maybe s/he didn’t realize it wasn’t okay. Maybe they thought they were doing me a favor. I hope that’s the case. But the reality is I price my books low so they are accessible for everyone. I want you to be able to buy my books without it being a hardship. I love to read and I know how expensive it gets. I don’t want my readers to feel like it’s a burden to buy my books.

All this is why my next book is going to be free. Completely. For Everyone.

But I’ll still report it if I find it on a site I didn’t publish it on.

Thanks for reading my rant today. Tell me, do you think I’m overreacting? What would you have done in my shoes?