Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Release Date Set for Turn & Burn! (And some early reading)


I'm blown away by the response to Gas or Ass.

Just. Blown. Away.

I never expected the reception for this story to be so overwhelmingly positive. I want you to know how much that's meant to me, especially now, at a very uncertain time in my life. And a huge, heartfelt thank you to those who've left reviews. I cannot overstate how much they've meant, personally, as well as professionally.

And the question on everyone's lips is, "When is Turn & Burn coming out?"

June 19th.

Come Hell or high water. June 19th.

I've decided not to put up a pre-order link. Amazon expects me to upload the final file two weeks ahead of release if I do that, so I can't see the point in us all twiddling our thumbs for fourteen days in order to have a buy link now, because of some whim on the part of the 'Zon.

So, buckle up and get ready for another wild ride with Shelby and the Hannah brothers.

And while you wait, enjoy the first three (unedited) chapters of Turn & Burn.

Thank you so much. Have a great week. I'm moving into an office! A place where I can shut the door and write without being constantly interrupted. (party) So, by Wednesday, I'll be hard at work in a tiny little room filed with a desk, a chair and a ton of determination. There's not room for anything else. I think it'll be like going back to college, minus the lackluster cafeteria food. :D

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sneak Peek at Turn and Burn

Now a college senior, Shelby has little choice but to attend the annual Christmas party at Ridenhour Motorsports when her stepfather's boss asks her to be the keynote speaker to honor Dale's twenty-fifth year with the team. She takes an instant dislike to the team's young superstar, Kolby Barnes, due to negative comments the guy has directed toward Dale in the press. After she tells the arrogant NASCAR driver off, things take a bad turn when Dale casually offers to bet his '71 Barracuda Hemi agasint the new Audi Kolby drives if he can beat Shelby in a drag race. Thanks to her big mouth and hot temper--along with some unjustified faith in her racing skills from her stepfather--Shelby finds herself where she swore to never be again, drag racing on the lonely country lane where Colt Hannah ruined her life. 

I set the emergency brake again and hit the gas. The rubber was hot now, so the car didn’t slip before the tread grabbed the asphalt.

“Better.” Jonny grinned and patted my knee. “Take her ass down. So fucking tired of seeing these folks who can’t drive with these high dollar cars.”

I managed not to smile. Maybe I could entice him to race her next. It would do my heart good to see him have to go to his knees and—

Uh, no. Not going there. What the fuck am I thinking?

I took a deep breath and slid my hands to the two o’clock and ten o’clock positions on the unfamiliar wheel. My anxiety faded into concentration. I narrowed my focus to the two white lines bracketing the deserted lane and the guy on the yellow line in between our front fenders.

“Ready!” The brown-haired dude raised the colorful necktie again. Really, who was he? Even his voice stirred a memory, but I couldn’t place him. Had he paid Colt to fuck me? Or paid Brandon to fuck Caroline?

My concentration faded as the questions brought my anxiety roaring back. I just wanted to get out of here. I let the clutch out about halfway and just stomped the pedal to the floor, letting the handbrake do all the work.

“That ain’t gonna work. You burn out that brake and you’re screwed. Doubt there’s any place open to get a new part. So quit doggin’ it, Shelby.” I ignored Jonny’s ill-tempered bark.

Drop the flag and let’s rock. In my head, I pictured Caroline’s taillights. There was no way I could beat her.


“Go!” The tie began to fall. I let the clutch out. The rear tires made a gratifying grab. The front tires lifted off the asphalt, by design, so the rear tires would grip, but the Mustang just kept getting air under the front tires. My heart knocked against my ribs but I kept my foot on the gas. What goes up, must come down.

The front end kept rising, until I could see wet asphalt through the spaces in the engine compartment.
It’s gonna flip. I yanked my foot off the gas pedal. Relief sent a hot flush across my skin when the tires dropped to the pavement. Pressing the gas again, I yelled, “No!” when the chassis began to slide sideways, toward the woods. I spun the wheel in the direction of the skid and jerked my foot to the brake.

Caroline’s taillights flashed—a quarter mile ahead. I twisted in my seat to look out the back. The guy on the start line gave the Mustang’s rear deck a pat.


“Fucking amateur hour.” Jonny scowled. “Jesus, Shelby, you gave up three quarters of a second before you even got off the line. Then you lost control of the goddamn car.”

“Well, I know all that!” Puffing my cheeks, I blew out a breath. “I just don’t know why it happened.”
His almond-shaped eyes widened. He unhooked his safety harness and made a grab for his phone.

“See if you can get her backed up. Think you can handle that?” He jabbed a number and put the device to his ear. “Yo, Caine. Seriously, what’s Plan B?”

I reversed so hard, he snapped forward, but to my annoyance, he slammed a hand to the dash so I didn’t get to see him bleed. When I had the car lined up, I turned off the engine and rolled out. Slamming the door, I stalked from one end of the car to the other, watching Caroline’s smooth reverse through narrowed eyes.

She hung out of the window. “What happened?”

“I don’t know what the hell Colt’s done to this damn thing. It’s… it’s possessed.” I threw my hands out. Jonny let out a loud groan and slid down in his seat. Slapping a hand to the side of his face, he spoke into the phone, but I was too pissed to listen while he tattled.

“C’mon, Shelby. Let’s give it another go,” Caroline urged. “You just gotta get used to the car, is all. You can’t quit. We just got started.” She giggled. “And I still got gas in the tank. Fire it up, girlfriend. Let’s go before my babysitter calls to say I need to come home.”

Easy to say sitting on sixty grand worth of ‘my daddy don’t have time for me but he can write a damn check’. And why, oh, why, did she mention that baby? How could Colt ask her to do this? What if something happened? If the car continued to malfunction, I might hit her car. If she got hurt, how would she work? I’d never be able to forgive myself if I made it impossible for her to look after her child.

“I’m telling you, it’s that… that,”—stabbing a finger at the monstrosity sprouting from the engine, I spluttered—“whatever the fuck that is. It’s not set right or something.” I crossed my arms over my chest and bent my knees, stooping to glare through the window until Jonny slung his door open and got out.

Scanning the engine compartment, he gave me what I guessed passed for a wide-eyed look. “Huh. Hang on, I see the problem.” He reached in to wiggle a belt on the chrome plated phallic symbol the guys called a breather. “Oh, okay.” He straightened with a smile. “You were right. All good now. Let’s go.”

“Do you think I was born yesterday? How many damn hours have I spent watching Caine and Colt play around in this engine? You didn’t fix a goddamn thing.”

“Because there’s nothing to fix.” His reasonable tone only set me off. “Let’s try again.”

“Grrr!” I yanked the door open and flopped into the seat. Feeling for the lever, I tried to adjust the seat forward. The seat slid forward the extra inch I needed, but there didn’t seem to be a catch at the right spot.

“We didn’t make any adjustments to the upholstery. You need to worry about some shit that might help.” He made a noise I took as derogatory.

“I will slap you.”

He ducked his head to study the side mirror before he cut hard eyes to mine. “Do I need to explain what would happen next?”

His hot and cold act reminded me too much of Colt. “Look, Jonny, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I left you standing in that parking lot yesterday because I don’t want what you have to offer.”

He raked his hands through his hair, as if it wasn’t already a hot mess. “Thank God you did. I need to play nice with the Hannah family. Giving their little sister a much needed spanking would’ve blown up in my face.”

Before I could figure out how to respond to that, the crunch of tires made me glance into the rear view mirror. Caine skidded to a halt off the side of the lonely lane and got out of Dale’s truck. Waving to Caroline, he strode to the GT500’s engine compartment and peered at the blower. To my relief, he began to nod after a moment’s perusal.

“What’s the matter with it, Caine?” Caroline called.

“Lubrication issue. You might wanna suck face with your buddy while I handle it.” Caine straightened and stalked to my door. Yanking it open, he barked, “Get out, Shelby.”

I slid out of the car, but didn’t get why Caroline started clapping. “Oh, this is the best Christmas gift ever,” she squealed.

Looking from her to Caine, I tried to catch up. “So, you brought what you need to fix it?”

Caine curled a hand around my arm. “The car doesn’t need lubricating. You do. Spread your legs.”

I jerked from his grasp, alarmed by the hard thump his commanding tone sent to my girlie bits. “No! I’m not some young kid who just does whatever you say anymore, you bastard.” I had plenty more to say, but Jonny’s presence saved Caine from hearing it.

He took the wide stance I was learning to hate and crossed his arms over his chest. “Now, just hear me out. After Jonny called, I got to thinkin’. When I taught you to drive, I mixed racin’ up with sex in your head. I think that’s your problem, because all that big blower’s doin’ is gettin’ more air to the fuel mix so you can fly.”

I wanted to scream, but kept my voice low. “You’ve been here all of one minute, Caine. You don’t know what my problem is.” His grin told me I’d misspoken. I hurried to say, “What the car’s problem is, I mean.”

The way his eyes narrowed made me wish I wasn’t backed up against the Mustang’s  door.

He lifted those damn broad shoulders. “You can fight your nerves, or whatever’s holding you up from making a clean start. You can keep swearing it’s a mechanical problem, when we all know it ain’t. Or, you can ask me to wipe everything out of your head except the thought of how good Caroline’s little tongue is gonna feel when you kick her ass.”

Caroline’s cry rang through the silent woods. “Oh, in her dreams. I’ve been waitin’ on this for a long time. Hope you ate some rich girl pussy at college, Shelby. I ain’t got time for no amateur head.”

I wrenched around to stare over the top of the car, but I was too damn short and her new car sat too low for me to see her, so I just yelled. “Do you get head from many women, Caroline?”

“No, baby.” She giggled. “I been savin’ my girl-on-girl cherry for you all this time. Can’t wait to feel those dainty fingers slidin’ in and out of my pussy. And as soon as you get me off, Russ is gonna bang my fucking brains out, ‘cause watching is gonna make him feel like Superman, even though I doubt you can make me scream. But still, if he asks ‘em real nice, maybe Caine and this hot little number you brought along will dive right in for seconds. But all you’re gonna get is my cream on your chin.”

“I grew up in the wrong goddamn town,” Jonny blurted. “Fuck me, are y’all serious?”

Caroline’s teasing tone evaporated. “Get her ass behind the wheel and find out.” She gunned the Viper’s engine, then let the motor idle. “If she can get that bitch off the start line, that is.”

I tried to think of a way to back out of this, but all I could think about was all the nights spent out here that culminated in the best sex of my life. And how close Caine stood. I realized I stared at the growing bulge in his Wranglers and jerked my gaze to his face.

Caine grinned like he’d learned how from the devil himself. “The Shelby I used to know would be christening Caroline’s hood in… oh, maybe fifteen seconds from now. If you let me and Jonny help, you can make her use her tongue for somethin’ besides talkin’ smack. Or… not.”

Heat flashed over my skin, leaving a fine film of perspiration. The hard thump in my clit made me squeeze my thighs together. Caine’s grin said he knew that, too.

The promise of explosive orgasms that shook me to the core was something I should resist, but four years of lackluster sex danced in my brain. Blood rushed to my folds and I was already wet. I’d taken enough Psychology courses to know that Caine might have a point about the operant conditioning that made my brain connect sex with racing. Every time I’d raced in the past, I’d been aroused out of my mind. All I wanted was to hit that finish line and collect my trophy fuck.

Why not? It wasn’t very likely Caroline had found two boyfriends in a row who secretly pimped her out. I’d almost fucked Jonny the day before—and still wanted to. I’d do whatever it took to beat Kolby. Fucking Caine might be the best way—the only way—to get his help to screw Colt, metaphorically speaking.

“You better know how this is done, Caroline.” Spinning, I yanked open the door and gripped the top edge of the door frame, butting my ass against Caine’s groin.

His chuckle sent a shiver down my spine. Or maybe it was due to the way he gripped my hips. “Nice try, but you ain’t in charge. Pull those pants all the way down, Shelby, and then spread those legs wide. Then ask Jonny real nice if he’d please put his fingers in your pussy. My palm’s itchin’ to get reacquainted with your ass.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

99 Cent E-book Blast 4/10-4/12 Over 175 Titles to Choose From


Over 175 ebooks from over 150 authors--including USA Today Bestsellers--are on sale for 99 cents.

This promo will last only April 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Find paranormal, fantasy, romance, and much more.

Don't forget to tell your friends so they can one-click too!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Oh, noes! Stepbrother porn? Really, Eden?

Is there a line authors shouldn't cross? Are some topics just too taboo?
Is monster porn okay because we can see that's pure fantasy, yet pseudo-incest is just yucky because... it could happen?

I've seen the debate. It takes place in my Facebook feed a great deal. One author will reveal she wrote a monster porn story, and sure enough, three days later, she's posting indignant statuses seeking validation because some other author wagged a finger in her face and said "Tsk, tsk. That's just beneath you." Or, "That crap gives us all a bad name." Or, "Yes, my characters have sex, but I'd never go THERE." (implying that no one else should, either.)

After absorbing several similar posts, I got pissed off. Sex fantasies are just that--fantasies. Mine aren't 'better' than yours because the idea of sleeping with someone who's strictly off limits isn't what floats my boat. To be honest, my deep, dark fantasy is a three-way with Charlie Hunnam and Taylor Kitsch.

(Let's all stop and imagine that, shall we?)

It's no secret that I have a thing for blue collar bad boys, and this pair have played some roles that tickle that spot very well.

So, what if they were brothers? I'd still do 'em in my head so hard their bones would rattle.

How hard is to to take that next step and imagine they were my stepbrothers? Would I turn off that part of my brain that acknowledges they're hotter than hell, just because of one label?

Hmm, maybe not. C'mere, you two and let's find out.

That is called blurring the line. To move from a fantasy that once worked to one that's new and more forbidden is normal. And our fantasies are nothing to be ashamed of. If we write about some fictional character shagging the hell out of some fictional stepbrothers, it's not an idea that's going to sweep the nation and have kids bunking with their blended families.

I mean, do you see a bunch of young kids quitting school to go be billionaire BDSM Masters? Really, do you? Because I don't. (Well, maybe two or three, but they had to give up on their quest to become sparkly vampires first.)

Any more than these young minds I reckon some authors are trying to save are gonna grab their stepsister and drag her into a closet--or vice versa. And these shaming authors have to be fighting to keep young minds pure, because, frankly, dammit, it's too late for the rest of us. And they know it. So, surely they aren't saying to their PEERS, for God's sake, that they need to stop writing that crap because they KNOW some readers can' t separate fact from fiction.

But that's precisely what's being said. So, after I put some thought into the issue, I realized that what I was muttering was "Oh, get over yourselves already." And the next step was pretty clear. If I truly believed that, then I  had to get over myself too, publicly as well as privately.

So, I wrote a book. It's not my 'normal' fare of erotic romance that ends with a HFN.

It's....wait for it...stepbrother porn--and I wish you could see my face, because I'm grinning like a mule eating briars. I decided, what the hell? Let's throw down the gauntlet. Could I write a story that had a riveting plot, plenty of taboo sex, and still come out the other side of the rabbit hole with something more than 'nasty stepbrother porn'?

You tell me. I think I nailed it. Beta readers have been consistent, with the most frequent comment being "I couldn't put it down."  Your mileage may vary.

I'll defend a reader's right to hold to a hard limit any day. My rant is directed toward authors. If pseudo-incest is a line you can't cross as either a reader or a writer, no hard feelings. Just don't wag that finger in my face.

If, however, you're tempted to cross over to the dark side, yeah, that's my elbow you feel in your ribs.

Gas and Ass...coming April 17th.  Available now for pre-order.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Look at The Love Gov

Author's Note
The only thing people in S.C. argue about more than football is politics. I've long wanted to write a story set against a political backdrop. After all, dirty politics and dirty sex just go together. When I went to vote this past November, Ben Collins, homegrown Spartanburg boy and self-made man, popped into my head. I knew Ben wanted to run the state in the black and with a clean conscience, but I had no hook. I did have a long history of S.C. governors who've had their sexual peccadilloes made public, from Strom Thurmond to Mark Sanford. 
With those two in mind, I sat down to binge on Scandal on Netflix. Somewhere in the middle of Season 2, I wondered who'd have to get their hands dirty in order for Ben to keep his so clean.

And I had my hook. 

There's nothing partisan about this candidate's sex life....

But now, Ben Collins is running for governor of South Carolina. He's determined to manage the state with a clean conscience and a balance sheet in the black, but his ulterior motive has little to do with politics and everything to do with love. He’s going after the one who got away—Evony Millwood, the woman who just got engaged to his opponent. 

Evony's running, too--from Ben. All the mud Ben's opponents are about to sling is dirt Evony buried with her own hands. Can she keep a lid on her misdeeds or will the brewing storm sweep her into the arms of the man she's loved from afar for years?


June, 2030

Cigarette smoke made a blue haze throughout the exclusive Columbia men’s club. At the back of the dim room, a man got to his feet. Maybe five-seven, his red hair gleamed despite the lack of light. When I approached, the political advisor’s smile slid across his face like an oil slick. His hazel eyes lost the look that made me want to put my fist through his face, but I left my hand clenched, in case I changed my mind.

“Mr. Collins. So nice to meet you.”

“Thank you for taking the meeting, Mr. Gaines.”

The man didn’t respond, but that might have been due to the fact he was busy kicking me in the ankles under the pretense of settling down to talk. Fucking Napoleon complexes. This is a waste of time. This man was my third choice for a manager, but by the time I’d made up my mind to run, the first two had already signed on with other people.

“What are y’all drinkin’?”

“Bourbon,” I snapped.

Gaines lifted a hand. A waitress scurried to his side. The asshole stared at her thighs, not her face. “Darlin’, we need two fingers of bourbon in two glasses.” He raised his eyes long enough to wink at the poor woman. Something told me he was a bad tipper. Like the fact the twenty-something server barely smiled.

“Let’s get right down to business. I want to run for governor.”

“On the Democratic ticket.”

I despise being interrupted, but fought to keep my tone smooth. “Yes. And I need a campaign manager. When I asked around, your name came up.”

“Of course. Gaines men have put governors in office in this state since the first settlers landed at Charles Town. But it’s been a minute since a Democrat sat in the governor’s seat.”

Oh, right. Rub your blue blood in my face. I nearly asked what fault in his family DNA led them to strive for second place, but the waitress’s return stopped me. The way the young woman flinched suggested Gaines ran his hand down the back of her leg. Disgust burned my throat far more than my big gulp of liquor.

“The Tea Party has ruined the GOP. People are fed up with this ultra-conservative bullshit. I have the backing of some powerful men. I just need someone experienced to guide this campaign.” Ultra-conservatives called this land home, but the winds of change were blowing.

Gaines swirled the amber liquid in his glass. “Let me be blunt, Mr. Collins. You’ve done a helluva job raising your public profile. I mean, restoring the governor’s mansion with your own funds? Getting PBS to film a documentary while you did it? Talking the producers into letting your movie-star ex-husband narrate? Brilliant. But that’s hardly enough to overcome the fact that you were, indeed, married to Jericho James. If you’ll pardon my French, no one in this state will vote for a man who’s sucked a dick.”

You mean no straight man. I clenched my glass so hard, the cut crystal bit into my fingers.

“You’re overlooking one thing, Mr. Gaines. There’s a significant gay constituency here, whether men like you want to admit it or not. They’ll vote for me. When George Millwood’s candidate gets beat in the primary, the black vote will swing to me.”

He kept his eyes on me and smirked. “That’s not going to happen. The black ministers will fall over themselves to condemn an un-Christian lifestyle.”

Don’t throw the glass. My lawyer might not show up to bail me out of jail.

“Besides, I don’t think you can beat Keelan Bonner in the primary.”

Bonner started out as an investigator for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and worked his way into to the top job after a huge scandal a few years back. He stood for law and order in a state that believed in that above all.

And if I didn’t beat anyone else, I’d spend whatever it cost to take down Bonner.

I slid out of the booth. “Sorry to have wasted your time, Mr. Gaines. Thanks for the drink.” Blood pounded in my ears, but I forced a smile. “For the record, a man who’s unemployed might want to hide his shortcomings the next time someone offers him big bucks to do a job.”

I recounted the meeting to my driver on the way home. “Your restraint was remarkable, Ben. I can’t believe I’m not down at the Columbia jail, coughing up bail money. What a jackass.”

I stared out the window at the downtown buildings, wishing I had the guts to order him to head for Melrose Heights.

“Listen to me, Ben. You will be governor of this state. You’re not giving up. Find someone else to run your campaign. You deserve to sit in the governor’s chair.”

Nicholas was a sweet kid. “What about Bonner? Why wouldn’t you vote for him?”

“It doesn’t matter how many people vote for Bonner. He can’t win because he won’t pull a single white majority district. And Ben, thanks to centuries of gerrymandering, they’re all white majority districts.” Nick struck the wheel with a closed fist.

Bonner would become the first African-American on the ballot for governor of South Carolina. An historic moment, to be sure. I could hardly wait to wreck it.

A few miles flashed by.

“We headed home, boss man?” Nicholas asked.

I growled. “Stop for cigarettes.”

Nick tut-tutted, but he got me a pack of Marlboro Reds and a lighter. “You know, they say smoking will be eradicated in another generation. Think about your lungs, chief.”

I ripped the cellophane off the pack and made a mental note to look for a reason to let him go.

“Dessert, darling?” Keelan patted his lips with the linen napkin.

I shook my head. “No. I want a piece of cheesecake in the worst way, but it’s not worth the added miles on my morning jog.”

“Your father called. He’s going to join us for coffee, if that’s all right with you.”

I couldn’t drink coffee this time of night. Keelan knew that, but I nodded. I’d have to endure more endless campaign talk, but with any luck, Kee would break things off at a decent hour. I had an early class the next day. 

Keelan stood when my father wound his way toward us through the close-set restaurant tables. “George, so nice of you to join us.”

“Honored to be asked, Keelan.” Dad bent to kiss my cheek before the men shook hands. “Evony. You’re looking beautiful tonight.”

Because Kee had made it sound like Dad asked to come, and not the other way around, my bullshit meter revved into high gear.

Dad took a seat, but to my surprise, he didn’t lead with his favorite topic, Keelan’s campaign for governor. In fact, he didn’t say a word.

Keelan cleared his throat. “You know I’m an old-fashioned man, Evony.”

Was he looking to win a prize for understatement of the year? I loved the man, but… Gotta put my tough week aside. He’s really trying. The campaign had already put stress on our relationship. I worked long hours, hoping for tenure at the University of South Carolina. We just couldn’t seem to make time for each other. This dinner was the first time I’d seen the man in days. We aren’t kids. Time spent apart isn’t going to kill us.

Keelan reached into his jacket. Dad folded his hands on top of the linen tablecloth, leaning forward slightly. My gut clenched as I looked from one man to the other.

“Mr. Millwood, you’ve been my closest friend and advisor for years. I respect you more than any man I know. So, I’m sweating bullets here, but I’d like your permission to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

For fuck’s sake. I’m nearly forty-two. There’s old fashioned and then there’s archaic.

My father beamed. “Took you long enough, son. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see Evony settle down with, Keelan.”

Kee pulled his hand free. I stared at the box, admiring the robin’s egg blue. The crisp black logo sent my pulse racing. “Evony, I love you, darling. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” He placed the box in my shaking hands.

Aware that conversation had ceased at the tables around us, I managed to lift the lid and pry the black velvet ring box free. Lifting the lid, I gasped.

The oval-cut solitaire threw off rainbows from the candle in the table center. I tugged the white metal setting free, unable to resist a peek at the inside of the band. The bold ‘950’ stamped beside the elegant Tiffany maker’s mark told me the lacy fretwork around the stone was platinum.

I raised my eyes to Keelan’s. He’ll make a good husband. He’s solid. Dependable. He loves me. “Yes.”

Polite clapping broke out. My father’s laugh seemed a bit too loud. Keelan took the diamond from the box. I extended my left hand. He slid the ring on my finger, holding onto my hand. Leaning over, he pressed a kiss to my lips.

Pulling back, he stared into my eyes. “I’m going to put you in the governor’s mansion as First Lady, Evony, if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

“Hrmph.” My father only cleared his throat before he delivered bad news. I wanted to admire my diamond, but turned my attention to him. “Ben Collins asked Perry Gaines to handle his election campaign. He’s planning to run against you for the Democratic nomination.”

Oh, shit. He can’t do that. The press will go digging. Daddy will go digging. Ben has no idea what he's walking into.

Thanks to me.

Want more? Click here

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Panties...They are a' Bunchin'

If you can handle the dust in here, grab a chair, because I'm about to rant.

About an hour ago, I was perusing my Facebook feed, searching for the post from my local news channel about the prediction of freezing rain. (Don't judge, I'm Southern.We don't DO ice.) I spied a post by a fellow author about reviews. My friend didn't write it, she shared another's blog post. So...I clicked, hoping to find the post I reckon I'm gonna have to write. Because this one was more of the same.

I'll link the blog post here, but I'm also going to post a screen shot of this author's "Wish List" for reviewers. Because...edits, they happen. <grin>

After some preliminary words, she gets right down to it: "Don't knock my work! I'm a new author, go pick on someone who's been doing this a while."

Oh, no. Not again.

Let's take them one by one, shall we? Because I sure as hell don't want anyone thinking this author speaks for me.

1. If you think my work deserves a 3-star review, by all means, write and post it. That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. As a writer, I'm a big fan of a little thing we Americans like to call the First Amendment. If there's a kernel of validity in your remarks, I assure you I will find it and hug it to my heart, because I understand that a calm sea never did a strong sailor make. If I didn't move the Earth for you, let me know. (pun intended) Tell other readers. I lack motivation anyway. (That's not sarcasm, that's a fact, Jack.) Don't 'discuss it with me first'. Unless you want to. Then, I'll be glad to talk about anything you like. Because YOUR OPINIONS MATTER TO ME. I'm grateful that, out of the bajillion titles that went up online this year, you took the time to read mine.

2. If you want to review a book I wrote that you didn't finish, by all means, do it! Again, not sarcasm. Because I will work my ass off to figure out where I lost you, so I NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. I write to be read. I write for the money. Believe me, I know the market's glutted, particularly in contemporary erotic romance. My work has to shine to gather a readership. Every time you quit I get motivated. But I gotta know you quit, so for God's sake, leave that review on a DNF title I wrote. Please. I treasure those, because I'm a professional writer. I have crit partners and beta readers and editors and sometimes, I still come up short. It's not your job to help me improve, but your unvarnished opinion does help me.

3. I guess since the Author (sic) writes, we can overlook the fact that she can't count from one to six, consecutively. Artists. We don't always get teh maths. But I won't stoop to make fun of her. She was clearly.. in a snit rushing to publish and failed to proofread. Typos happen.

4. (This is my personal fave, and the one that fired me up enough to blow the dust off my blog.) Did she just say she sits back and makes herself feel better by criticizing the grammar and punctuation and general typing skill of a non-writing professional?

I think she did. I think the remark is petty, for openers. A reviewer doesn't have to turn in the perfect piece to give an opinion. It's a situation not unlike  the one former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart found himself in when he had to resort to describing pornography as "I know it when I see it." Many many readers know bad writing when they see it, but (WARNING: Pro Tip Ahead), baby they ain't the one purporting to be a  professional writer.

Please, please, never hold back from writing a review of one of my titles because you fear snark or rebuttal from me. It will not be forthcoming. I have never, and will never, ask my fans, friends, or fellow writers to vote down a bad review. I promise to put my big girl panties on and dig for the gem of wisdom you offer when you knock my story. I honor all opinions. If I didn't get you on board this time, you bet your ass, I'll, bring my damn A-game next time...if you let me know I missed the mark.

5. Wanna give my titles 1-stars 'just because you can'? Do it. I have several, and wouldn't dare presume they'll be my last. Take a second to look over those 1-star reviews I linked you to. Please, see that those reviews have not been replied to by me or by anyone  I asked to respond, (and I ain't got time for no sock-puppet bullsh*t), or voted down. Because I accept that the forum is for readers. Customers. If I want unconditional love, I'll buy a Golden retriever. I'd rather have your respect and I accept that in order to get that, I need to give it.

In fact....

I ONLY read one-and-two-star reviews these days. It's funny how those reviews give me confidence that all of the reviews for a title didn't come from a street team or some dude with an ad on Fiverr. Yeah, we're all jaded now. So those dings? Honey, they're what I like to call street creds. You've been bloodied in the pursuit of your craft. Now, shut up the whining and get back on the horse or get out of the way. It's a crowded playing field. I'd rather spend my limited time and money on a book that has well-rounded reviews, those that run the gamut, because, hey, guess what? I'm a reader first, and I'm intelligent to boot, so I'll figure out if they were deserved or not, just by reading them. To suggest I can't..well, let us just say, this isn't the first time I felt insulted by your little wish list.

6. (sigh) I grow weary of repeating myself. Reviews are for the reader by the reader. Anything personally gain from your review to help me in the pursuit of my craft is all gravy, baby. Write on. Don't you dare let one more entitled whiner make you think twice before you leave a review. Whatever you want to address, go for it.

We need more truth in reviews, not less. But I guess I must address the 'trolls'. I believe those who leave retaliatory 1-star reviews say a helluva lot more about themselves than they ever could about my work. If I earned that 1-star, in your mind, feel free to tell others in your review. Your opinion is respected, wanted, and I'll be grateful. No matter how many stars you dazzle it up with.

I would much, much rather hear what I did wrong than lukewarm praise because you think you owe me some certain number of stars, since you recognize that it "takes guts just to write a book." That's crap. You know what it takes to write a book? A gadget that throws letters on a page and a way to upload the result to Amazon.

Where the guts come in is in learning to take criticism, to be a professional in public at all times, to not bully reviewers who review for the pure love of reading and sharing with other readers, and to not act like an entitled little diva because you managed to get from "Once upon a time" to "The End."

Because that ain't all the job requires. It takes poise and the ability to accept that once you put yourself out there as a public figure, you give up the right to whine.

Wanna quit? Do it. I'd rather a hundred of writers who whine about their reviews would quit, than watch one more talented author give up because she couldn't find readers willing to leave her reviews, good, bad, or indifferent BECAUSE OF ALL THE BLOG POSTS AND DRAMA AROUND LESS-THAN-PERFECT REVIEWS ON THE PART OF AUTHORS. Those are the folks my heart hurts for. They might find it hard to keep asking, which is so not the same as "I'm ungrateful and entitled and.... and...I'm new so cut me a break," which is what I got from this piece.

As for book bloggers, you're the sugar in my tea, ladies. Don't think for one second that we're all like this chick. I know you get hammered by requests. If you pick my title to review and you want me to name my next-born after you, just ask. You got it. Write your review any way you like. I'll be grateful.

To the author of the original post, never let anyone tell you your writing doesn't move people. I mean, you moved me to write my first blog post in months. So that's something.

/end rant/

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Title: Flawed and Damaged
Author: Emily Krat
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 22 July, 2014

Two people haunted by their past…
The collision of two damaged hearts…
Meet Elizabeth Williams. She is at the airport on an important work assignment. If everything goes smoothly, after three years of hard work, she’ll get a promotion and a much-needed raise. Elizabeth is putting her life back on track after it was ripped out from under her feet four years ago when she lost her parents along with all her dreams. Standing here, she believes her life is going to change for the better any moment now. Nothing can go wrong, right?
Meet Ryan Price. He came to Moscow on business. Right now, Ryan is standing at the airport looking at a ‘present’ from his brother, judging by the sign a beautiful young woman is holding. Damn his brother for not cancelling this arrangement as Ryan asked.
Miscommunications and misunderstandings and a love story begins.
There will be a scary flight, lovely breakfasts, long evening conversations, sharing a secret or two, discovering one another, a lot of laughter, tender moments and some tears, a fight and, of course, the I-am-ready-for-the-end-of-the-world kiss.
Somewhere along the way, they won’t be able to fight their feelings any longer.
For the first time in his life, Ryan will experience a different shade of lust. And for the first time in her life, Elizabeth will have to trust despite all of the times she has been hurt.
Will these two wounded lost souls find love, peace and comfort in each other or will they just break each other more? Is it a train wreck of a love story or a happily ever after?

“Ryan, I love you.” He looks confused, but relief is evident in his eyes, so I continue. “It was wrong of me to tell you about my feelings like I did yesterday. I was being a coward. I’m glad you shared all this with me. I won’t run, Ryan.”
“But, I don’t understand. How can you love me? Even after I told you about what I’ve done … How can you love someone so … horrible?” he says bitterly.
“You are not horrible, Ryan. I know it. I feel it.”
“How?” The desperation in his voice squeezes my chest.
I stare into the deep green pools that are his eyes and wonder how I can show him what I see.
“In here,” I point to my heart, “I believe my heart. And from what you told me, I can tell that you had no family except Mark. You were a kid at thirteen who didn’t want to lose his brother, you were a young man who sacrificed his own freedom for someone he loved the most. Now you are a big business mogul who may be harsh toward his employees, but puts them first even when seeking revenge. It’s an honor for me to love someone as devoted as you.”
“Liz, I’ve lied – ” I interrupt him.
“We are people, Ryan. We all make mistakes. You think I’m so pure? I wanted to use David to stay in Seattle. I agreed to marry someone for my own selfish reasons. Then I came to Russia and spent more than six months making my Granny’s life a living hell. She lost her only daughter. I never once thought about her feelings. She was old, she needed my care, and all I did was sulk for my old life. Even with you, how do you know I’m not using you? Maybe I just like this sense of fulfillment I feel with you that overwhelms the loneliness I've felt for so long. I am not a saint, Ryan. I also did awful things.”
Ryan contemplates my words for several minutes. Then says quietly, “I lied to you.”
I sigh. Now I don’t like the direction this conversation is taking. “You already told me that you didn’t need an assistant. There’s more?”
“I read your journal.” 
The blood drains from my face.
“You what?” My voice trembles.
“When we were in Nice – the night you got drunk with Mark – I saw your notebook and I read it.”
“I … I …” No words come out of my mouth because I don’t have any. I can’t believe he did it. I wrote my sacred thoughts there, poured some raw feelings on those pages. They were never meant for anyone’s eyes other than mine.
“I’m sorry I did it. I was at a loss, I couldn’t understand what I was feeling for you.”
“So you read my journal to understand yourself? Ryan, it’s private. I poured my soul there. How could you do this?” I may be screaming now, but I don’t care. Some boundaries can’t be crossed.
“That’s who I am, Elizabeth. I don’t care about people’s privacy.”
“I’m so mad at you right now. I don’t even know what to say. Is that all?”
Oh God!
“Tell me.” He almost looks scared. That’s when I know there are so many more lies he doesn’t want to tell me about. “Now, Ryan. You are going to tell me every damn thing. You owe me this.”

Always an avid reader who consumes whole books in a single day, Emily Krat is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page. For her writing stories and developing ideas for novels is a true passion and a dream come true. Emily is a chocolate junkie, “Grey’s Anatomy” fan, and admirer of good music. She loves summer rains, warm blankets on cold winter nights, as well as traveling, sleeping in late, watching TV shows, cooking, and baking. When she’s not writing or rewriting, she loves spending time with family and friends.

Find Emily at:

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