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.

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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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