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Jade's Books on GoodreadsTangled Web (Tangled Web, #1)
ratings: 400 (avg rating 3.36)
Everything But (Tangled Web, #2)
ratings: 116 (avg rating 3.83)
ratings: 97 (avg rating 3.44)
Then Kiss Me
ratings: 51 (avg rating 3.82)
Got the Life (Nicki Sosebee, #1)
ratings: 28 (avg rating 3.86)
Tag CloudBlind Bullet Covers Dead Everything But Fabric of Night Fake famous writers genres giveaway Got the Life Innocent Bystander Jesse Roberts Lost loyalty MADversary Nicki Sosebee No Place to Hide Old House One More Time Quickies Right Now rock stars Sean Ramsey Stating His Case Tangled Web Then Kiss Me Worst Mother WriMos writing themes writing tips
This is absolutely crazy…and I mean that in the best way possible. At the end of last year/beginning of this year while I was writing Bullet, I knew it was special. But I had no freaking idea just how many people it would touch, would continue to move. And because it resonated with so many people, I am continued to be floored by its success. I ended 2012 with fewer than 200 Likes on Facebook. Now I have ten times that amount. That is crazy, but I am excited. And so, as my thanks to you, I’m holding yet another giveaway. This time, though, I’m sharing even more entry options. You’ll get the chance to Like and Follow some of the awesome bloggers who have helped me on this journey. I know I’ve forgotten some of that, and I’m offering an apology in advance for that, but they all deserve my deepest thanks. They were instrumental in my success, because they put me in the spotlight, and for that, I really will be eternally grateful. I’m also grateful to YOU, my readers, because you have helped too. You’ve loved it and you’ve talked about it. You’ve hyped it. So…this giveaway is but a token of my gratitude. Thank you so very much!!!
What a weird weekend it was in the world of writing. I was consumed with one author pulling her book off the shelves indefinitely, but then a fellow author alerted me to yet another author doing her best to decimate her own career. I won’t mention the self-destructive author by name, but unless your head was under a rock like mine, you probably know who I’m talking about. However, I have never and do not plan now to speak negatively and publicly about another author. That said, I feel the need to address that author’s words head on, because her views are not my own, and they are not the views of most of the writing community.
Said author basically used her blog (from what I’m told) to bemoan the fact that she had spent years of blood, sweat, and tears writing and developing her baby, an urban fantasy trilogy, and it had largely gone unnoticed by readers. But then she wrote another book—one that could be described as erotica—but the voice was fresh and funny and different. It climbed the Amazon charts rapidly. She sold hundreds of copies and made thousands of dollars in weeks. She was angry that readers bought what she considered her “trash” while ignoring her “art.”
That author quickly realized her misstep and pulled that blog post, but not after angering the very fans who had bought her book and raved about it. It was a book I was going to break my “read only out of my genre” philosophy for—that’s how different and exciting it looked. But now as I reread her “disclaimer” wherein she states that the plot is “ridiculous and insipid,” I believe she meant that. It seems that this woman is ashamed that she wrote this book and preemptively apologized for it. And, being floored by its success, went on a rampage and said some pretty nasty things about the intelligence and integrity of her readers.
Again, I don’t wish to judge her. She had a moment of weakness. Don’t we all? However, I thought it best to say a few things on my behalf right now, a reaction of sorts to her words.
- I respect the hell out of my readers. I know you are intelligent and discerning. I have interacted with a good many of you and I am proud to be writing for you. I am thrilled that you enjoy my writing, in spite of the fact that I often go against the grain of what many other authors in my genre do. Does everyone like what I write? No, not even close. And that’s okay. Whether or not you read my writing has nothing to do with your intelligence; it has to do with personal preferences. And we’re all a little different in that respect.
- Some of my books do not sell as well as others; that’s true. Again, though, it has no bearing on the intelligence of my audience. Most of my audience found me either through my rock star books or the Nicki Sosebee series, and those are the books of mine you want to read. Some fans then go on and read everything I’ve ever written. I think that’s fantastic! If you don’t, though, that has no bearing on what I think about you. As I’ve said multiple times here, it’s instead a matter of preferences.
I didn’t mean to spend so much time picking apart that author’s post. I meant instead to assure my readers that her opinions are simply that—her own. I and many of the other authors I converse with regularly value and respect our readers. Actually, I should say we love our readers and feel so fortunate to have your loyalty. I never want to abuse or misuse that, so I will close by simply saying thank you. I appreciate you more than you know.
A reader took the time to write me about this post. She knew the author I was talking about. She happens to love said author and read the author’s most recent blog post explaining the situation in its entirety. While it definitely puts a new light on what that author may or may not have meant, it doesn’t change my message here to my readers, which is that I want you to know that I love, respect, and value you. (That said, though, if you do know the writer I’m speaking of, you might read her side of the story as well.)
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that M. Leighton has felt compelled to pull her book Until I Break from publication. I read her blog post about her decision which, I’m sure, was quite agonizing for her. She wanted to explain to readers that writing is not just about the money—it’s about telling a story, a story that needs to be told, and not everyone is going to like that story.
I agree with her 100%. Sometimes even we as writers get frustrated and angry with characters, but if we try to push them to do things they don’t want to do, the story feels like a lie. It’s fake and unreal, and you can tell—both as a writer and as a reader. Some readers don’t understand that…that book characters are very much like real people. Sometimes, as writers, we are merely the transcriptionists. We are merely telling the story of people who are already alive in our heads. And I think we, as writers, simply have to ignore the readers who scream how much they hate or don’t understand a particular character or storyline. They’re the ones who don’t get it. WE’RE NOT WRITING FOR THEM. Again, though, I respect and understand Michelle’s decision. I just wish she’d change her mind and stand her ground and ignore the folks giving her a bad time. That is the last I will say about it, though, because it’s her decision.
It got me to thinking about the situation, however. No matter how good I think one of my books is or how many readers love it, I have always received a few negative reviews. There’s no getting around it. You will never make everyone happy…and you will always have readers who misunderstand. That’s life, and I think it’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned as an author. Sure, you hear growing up that “you can’t make everyone happy,” but it’s another thing entirely to understand it, live it, and accept it. It helped me to see how many of my favorite rock bands persevered when misunderstood. I’m reminded of the time when I was a teenager—my favorite band Judas Priest (perhaps you’ve heard of them? ) released an album called Turbo Lover. It was still Judas Priest—screaming guitars, screaming Halford, lovely heavy metal, and I loved it!—but there was some synthesizer, some different stuff going on, and even my pop friends liked it. All of a sudden, metalheads all over were in an uproar. JP had sold out, they said. It sucked. It was the end of metal.
No, it wasn’t.
JP had wanted to try something different. And know what? I GOT IT. Did I want a steady diet of Turbo Lover? Hell, no, and JP didn’t provide it either. But I respected that they wanted to try something different. You will always have your naysayers, but you know as well as I do that nothing ever stays the same. And, really, (in the case of JP), if you wanted more Defenders of the Faith (kick ass album, by the way), put that cassette in your boom box and crank it. Don’t buy Turbo Lover if you don’t want it. But respect that they as artists wanted to try something different. If you love them, you need to realize that they needed to go there.
It’s the same as a writer. You have these characters, these situations, these lives in your head. You have to write them down, see how they play out. You endure the torment with the characters. You laugh with them; you cry with them; you live their lives in that microcosm in your brain. Sometimes their lives are not what you’d originally thought they would be, but you write it down anyway. Sometimes they’re naïve and gullible and will p*ss your readers off (think Val in Bullet). Sometimes they’re damaged and seem sleazy (think Ethan). Sometimes they’re cocky, conceited, and self-centered (think Riley in Tangled Web), but they’re actually sensitive and sweet when you see them from the inside (the other side of Riley in Everything But). They are just like real people. Do YOU like everyone you have ever met? If you tell me yes, I believe you’re either a liar or shallow. But just because readers don’t like those characters or their story, why do they feel justified crucifying an author for telling the story in her head? Why not instead just realize that it’s not their cup of tea and go read something that is? The author didn’t set out just to make them angry or upset…so those vitriolic readers need to stop making it so god***ned personal.
Sorry. I think I feel better now. And I support you, Michelle, no matter your decision, and I’m glad you didn’t flinch when you told Sam and Alec’s story.
P.S. I’m not sure yet, but I think this may have hit close to home because I’ve had several readers already angry with me about Fake based on the teaser. I’m tellin’ ya, folks…I just write it down. The story’s already there inside my head, and sorry if you don’t like it. Again–nothing personal.
I figure by now, you’re used to my potty mouth. If not, why the heck are you here? I am seriously blown away by all this love, and it makes me that much more excited to be a part of the upcoming Naughty Mafia Rocks Vegas event in August!!! So…my thanks to you. Best of luck!
Finally…my 1000 LIKEs Giveaway!!! Good luck! Giveaway begins tomorrow. Thank you all so much for this honor. I am proud to be YOUR author!
Have I said lately how much I love the internet? There are so many reasons, and I’m going to wax poetic for a few minutes. I got my bachelor’s degree a long time ago, when I had to type essays on a typewriter and research was done in dark corners of the campus library and involved card catalogues and microfiche. When I got my master’s degrees, it was all computer based. All of a sudden, research that would have taken weeks could be done in an hour or two, and if you wanted to revise a paper, it was a matter of cutting, pasting, deleting, and adding…not completely starting from scratch.
But another reason I love the internet—it has allowed me to, first of all, reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years. Secondly, though, it’s allowed me to meet people I probably never would have if the internet had not connected us. I have met so many wonderful people across the world, forming friendships with women I likely would have never met otherwise. The internet has also introduced me to a woman I’ve been calling my “astral twin.” I’ve said I think we were separated at birth, and I think Sarah called us “soul sisters.” Our tastes are eerily similar but—more than that—our lives are quite similar too, in spite of the fact that I live in the U.S. and she hails from Great Britain. So, thank you, internet, for introducing me to my soul sister. You waited long enough.
Believe it or not, though, this post is going somewhere and it’s not just for me to get all sappy. Sarah Storm and I have similar taste in guys and we have a love of rock gods. For a while now, we’ve been putting together The Rules of Rock Stars, because—it seems—some of these rock stars blatantly disobey them, and we don’t appreciate it. Ultimately, though, we’ve put this list together as a public service. Guys, if you’re in a rock band, it would serve you well to memorize this list and make sure you follow it. It could save your career (after all, who do you think is buying all your CDs, t-shirts, and other cool merch? It ain’t the boys).
The Rules of Rock Stars (especially the men of metal):
1) Long hair is a must. If as a rock star you have short hair, you must be super hot—enough that we can overlook the short hair. (Sully Erna and Davey Richmond are obvious exceptions to this rule.)
2) You must take your shirt off once in a while, enough that there are pictures so we can see what you look like without your shirt for proper fangirl lusting. (Jerry Horton is an exception to this rule, but we really wish he’d rethink it.)
3) You must have several tattoos. It’s okay if it takes time to find the perfect ones, but you must be working on it. We need to see evidence that you’re taking it seriously. (I think they’re all obeying this one.)
4) Piercings are optional but usually helpful. (I think they take this one pretty seriously too.)
5) You need to wear ripped jeans once in a while. Really helps our imagination go a little wild.
6) You need to have a wallet chain. No exceptions. There’s just something about a rock god wearing those ripped jeans and a wallet chain draping down the side… (How many of those have I written about?)
7) At least one video should be filmed in the rain. We like seeing you dripping wet. You can film more than one video in the rain if you like, but sometime during your career, you really need to make the rain video.
8) Guyliner only if you can pull it off. Scary makeup is sometimes also a plus…again, if you can pull it off. (Scary makeup–think Angelo Parente.)
9) Necklaces/chokers are optional but work on the right guy. (Matt Tuck is one of those right guys.) Same with wristbands and other assorted accessories.
10) Black should be the main color in your wardrobe. White is also acceptable. Red and gray are good occasional colors. Blue jeans are perfect. All other colors should be carefully considered.
Whew! Our work here is done. Now, guys, would you mind helping us out by completing these job duties fully and to the best of your abilities? Your fans would very much appreciate it. Obviously, there are little extras you can do along the way (like writing a sexy song or pumping some iron), but if you master the ones here, you are a rock god…well, that is, if your music kicks ass too…
Oh! We have an addendum! After much thought, there is one more to add…but don’t think that just because we thought of it later that it is any less important!
11) A little facial hair is nice (we can go for a little stubble, a goatee, a chin strap beard, or even sideburns or mutton chops on the right guy), but please leave the bushy beards to ZZ Top (no offense, Zakk Wylde and Lamb of God–the only reason you guys get away with it is because your music is so kick ass).
As the indie author market grows, so do the number of indie authors…and I think that’s exciting! People who have dreamed for years of having their work read now have the opportunity.
As my own writing has become more noticed, I’ve had lots of up-and-comers ask me for advice…more than I would have expected. And—like interviews—after a while I’ve noticed a lot of the same or similar questions. Most often is the question: Do you have any advice for me starting out? I decided to put it all here in a blog post so I don’t have to keep repeating myself. And who knows? Maybe it will help someone out there, maybe someone who hasn’t ever even read my work.
My advice to new writers:
1. Write a lot. Have your work read. Take feedback. The best way to do this is to find a group of writers near you. Get together frequently and read each other’s work. Then offer honest feedback—both critical and praising. My philosophy (and this comes from being an English instructor) is that every story has something worthwhile about it, even if it needs work. You can tell someone gently what needs work. Don’t hesitate to tell the person what is good too, though, because otherwise she might toss out the whole damn thing…and we don’t want that.
Can’t find a group? Organize your own—in your community or online. Or take a creative writing class.
Read widely too. Don’t just read in the genre you plan to write. Branch out, because you’ll learn so much more and it will improve your writing.
2. If your grammar, spelling, and/or use of punctuation sucks (for lack of a better word), have an expert fix your work. This piece of advice should perhaps be number one, but your story comes first. That said, some readers will be forgiving…others will not. Again, I’m going to play the teacher card. I tell my students when they complain about instructors grading them down for poor grammar that while your content might be solid and well thought out, a paper riddled with errors can be confusing and hard to read. Your readers just might not have the patience to wade through your book. This is an area where you should spend a little money. It will pay off in the long run. It also doesn’t hurt to have a few beta readers along the way who are willing to give you feedback not only on editorial problems but also other things that might require revision—things like pacing, dialogue, and the like. And grow a pair. Or, if you’d prefer, put on your big girl panties. If you want to be good, you need to listen to criticism. You won’t always want to make changes and that’s okay, but listen, because a lot of times your beta readers will be onto something.
And it’s best to develop a thick skin now, because I promise you won’t always get five-star gushing reviews…no matter how good your story is.
3. Have a high quality book cover. You might have to spend a little money for it, but it’s worth it. I’ve learned this from personal experience. You might have the best story in the world, but people won’t read it if they’re turned off by the cover. If you’re clueless, pay a little money to have a graphic designer take care of it for you.
4. This one I learned from Stephen King (you haven’t read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft yet? Get thee to a bookstore NOW!!! One of the best books about writing ever!): Tell the truth. No, I don’t mean write nonfiction. I mean feel the story; listen to your characters. They will tell you where to go and what they are going to do. Are you always going to like it? Hell no!!! Your characters are going to p*ss you off, make you cry, and frustrate the hell out of you…just like they will your readers. And that’s good. If your readers want a boring book with flawless characters, I can recommend a few. Remember…you’re not perfect and neither are your characters. Early in my writing days (prepublication), I’d censor my characters. They’d say damn on paper when in my head they really said f*ck. I don’t censor them anymore (and you’ll never read a book like that from me). They say and do what they’re going to do. I’m merely a scribe. And that’s the way it should be.
Enough said. I could go on and on, but most of you didn’t ask. :) Thanks for listening anyway!
One cool thing set up on my website is that I can see most search terms people use when being referred to my website, so I know how people arrive here. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks are looking for excerpts from Bullet, so I’ll do that here. Those of you who already read my books on a regular basis were treated to all kinds of excerpts on Facebook, but new readers haven’t had that opportunity, so here are three excerpts from Bullet that will give you a feel of the book.
But before that…just a couple of things. First off, a reminder about my upcoming Bullet Blog Tour, hosted by Shh Mom’s Reading. For those of you who have read Bullet already, I hope this will be a treat. There are a couple of interviews from yours truly, but you’ll also read a hot Jet interview, some alternate POV scenes, and even a deleted scene. Doesn’t that sound like fun? And…Bullet is finally available in paperback on Amazon!
Now for the excerpts! They are edited some for the internet (and also to avoid major spoilers), but you’ll get the idea.
When I stuck my head out the door, I saw Ethan. Oh, goodness, he looked extra cute in the shadow of the tiny hallway. His hair was growing out, adding to his ever-mysterious look, and over the past few weeks, he’d been working on a goatee. I didn’t exactly mind seeing him there, but I wasn’t decent. I was in one of those positions I knew my dad had worried about. But that was okay. It was just my head out the door. “What’s up?”
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be?”
He was quiet for a moment. “Can I come in for a second?”
I hesitated. “Um…sure.”
I think I took his breath away. He must have been expecting to see me in the robe. When he walked in, he took me in for longer than he should and closed the door behind him. But then he said, “Seriously, Val. Sorry you had to hear that s**t in the other room.”
I smiled. “Not a big deal.”
He got close and wrapped his hands around my waist. “Only one girl I’m thinking about right now.” Oh…I hoped that was true. He brought his lips to mine in a soft, sweet kiss, but that only lasted for a few seconds. We turned passionate quickly, and before I knew it, my back was pressed against the wall. My hands that had been spread against his chest soon slithered up to his neck, and I slid my hands into his hair. His hands moved to cup my a**, and his touch sent a shiver through all my nerve endings. I was beginning to feel sensations that I’d rarely felt, but I was enjoying them.
He lifted me up, and in a natural motion, I wrapped my legs around his so he was pressing right into me. Oh…his p**is was hard and pressing into that one area…the one that I’d had to ignore and deny my entire life. I had put it into a figurative box, locked away, trapped, and the only time I’d had contact with it was in the shower when I cleaned it. I’d only ever touched myself in the most clinical of ways, blushing when I’d do a breast exam and thinking about upcoming science tests or the cold weather when I’d wash my vaginal area. But now it was awakened. I’d felt the first tinglings before when I’d gotten overly friendly with Brad, but this was an intense sensation. He was pressing into me, and it made me feel desperate, urgent. I didn’t notice at first that my breathing had changed.
Ethan broke off our kiss and looked me in the eyes. He looked like an animal, fierce and needy, and I wanted him. Just seeing him like that made every single fiber in my body stand at attention, and I wondered if I looked like he did. I thought I saw an inkling of a smile in his eyes. “You like that?”
I knew what he was talking about, but the words were gone. I was breathless.
He ground himself into me, and I gasped. Oh, yes. Oh, hell, yes. I liked it. But I still couldn’t say anything. He knew, though, by the sharp intake of air into my lungs that I more than liked it, and he buried me in a kiss again.
I knew then what my body was made for, and now I knew why my mother and father had tried so desperately to hide it from me. Sweet heavens above, I wanted nothing else now, and as that boy’s manhood continued to awaken my hidden desires, I knew my virginity was soon to be forgotten.
Ethan broke off the kiss again to look at me. “God, I want you.”
My voice sounded foreign to my own ears–throaty, hoarse. “I want you too.”
I saw it register with him, and I guess I was lucky he didn’t take me right then and there. But he restrained himself. “Not now. Your first time…can’t be a quick f**k up against a wall.” His eyes looked tender when he said, “Soon. When the time is right.”
Now I felt desperate, but I hoped I didn’t sound brazen. “When will be the right time?”
His eyes searched mine. “Soon. I promise. I’ll take care of it.” He kissed me again and then held me close, my legs still around him. He nuzzled my neck, and that didn’t help. Then he looked at me again. “I should go.”
“So, seriously…do I call you Clayton or Jet?”
He got a huge grin on his face. “Well, it depends.”
“Do you want me sweet or dirty?”
Oh. Wow. He really was pushing all the right buttons. But I was a good girl. “Well…considering I have a, uh, well, um, I’m kind of seeing somebody, I think I’ll have to take you sweet.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Kind of seeing somebody?”
I’m not sure why I told him, but I said, “Yeah. He’s my secret boyfriend.”
“Secret boyfriend? If you were with me, the whole world would know it.”
I wanted to change the subject. My relationship with Ethan was off the table, and I didn’t want Zane overhearing our conversation anyway. “You still didn’t answer my question.”
His eyes grew serious, but I could see the playfulness in them. “Then I guess you’d better call me Clay. You want the bad boy, ask for Jet. He’ll come running, secret boyfriend or not.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
I felt a chill shudder down my spine. “You’re making fun of me.”
His smile was gone. “No, I’m not.” He shook his head. “Sorry I made you feel bad. I just can’t get that image out of my head…of you. I don’t know how Ethan can just…do what he does to you. In case I never told you before, Valerie, I think you’re sexy as hell. A woman can get up on that stage and do what you do has all my respect…and my attention.” He set his bottle on the coffee table in front of us. “And Ethan’s a stupid f**k for doing what he’s doing. He doesn’t deserve you.” He sucked in a deep breath.
I’d heard that before, but I couldn’t remember when or where. I wished Ethan felt the same way. But I wasn’t going to talk about that with Clay or anyone else. Before I could speak, he said, “And if that makes you p*ssed at me, so be it.”
“I’m not.” But back to what he’d said earlier. Even though I didn’t plan to talk about my relationship with Ethan, I felt the need to explain, even if only on a superficial level. “Let’s just say Ethan has a lot of issues he has to work through.”
“Sure…but why does it have to affect you?”
That was a good question but again nothing I wanted to discuss with someone else. I shrugged. “Ethan has some growing up to do. Were you perfect in your early twenties?”
“Oh, hell, no. But I didn’t have a steady girlfriend either.”
I smiled and looked at him. “I’m wondering why you’re so worried about my problems.”
His return smile didn’t look so innocent. “I’m not going to lie to you. I have ulterior motives, and I think you know exactly what those are. But, Val, you need to think about yourself too. Your life isn’t just about the man you’re with. You’re a woman with desires and passions that need to be fulfilled, and you need someone mature enough to handle the relationship that ensues.”
Yes, he had a point there. Clayton was in his late twenties. He’d sown a lot of his wild oats. Ethan, though…he was still tasting life, had barely started. He didn’t realize that emotional commitment was important too. Clayton did. But my head stopped me. Wait. You can’t be sure this is a good idea.
I looked in his beautiful dark green, almost brown, eyes for lots longer than I should have. “Clay…you are tempting, but… We’ll both respect each other more for deciding not to.” I took a deep breath and placed my hands on my thighs. “I can’t. I’m heading to bed.”
He pursed his lips and looked at me. Then he nodded. “Your decision. But…if you change your mind, I’m in room three-oh-seven. Anytime.”
It was hard tearing myself away. He was difficult to resist, but I knew as soon as I could get out of his magnetic field, it would be easier.
I went to my room and took my shoes off. Just as I’d suspected…no Ethan. And there was no evidence that he’d even been to the room. His suitcase was still by the front door where he’d left it when we’d arrived that afternoon. I sat on the bed, thinking of the past week and how angry I was with him. It was almost as if he enjoyed trashing my heart.
And then my mind wandered back to Clay. God…he was so cute…and sexy. And then I started asking myself…what would it hurt? Just one night. One night with a guy who wanted to be with me, who wouldn’t be looking for the next woman, wouldn’t be thinking of someone or something else while I was in his arms. As I considered it, I felt my heart start beating a little harder, and I tried to think of ways to talk myself out of it.
But there were no good reasons not to.
I put my shoes back on and found my key. Three-oh-seven?
As I made my way up the flight of stairs, I started questioning myself. What if he’d changed his mind? What if he wasn’t even there? What if he’d instead decided to go to bed?
In spite of my shaking hands and numbing toes, I continued the journey, and I made myself knock on the door before I changed my mind. But as I stood there and the seconds dragged on, I started chickening out. I felt my heart speed up again, like a drum at a thrash concert, and I decided if he wasn’t at the door in ten more seconds, I was outta there.
But then I heard the lock turn, and my heart started fluttering again.
He opened the door. Holy s**t. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. Why the f**k had I never seen him without a shirt? Jesus Christ. He was gorgeous…rock hard and tight and tattooed all over. Pierced nipples too.
Okay, so, I was nervous as hell but no longer did I regret my decision. I know my eyes scoured him and I’m pretty sure my pupils got bigger. I don’t think my jaw actually dropped but it might have. I do know I lost every thought in my head…every real thought, that is.
He smiled at me, and if he had noticed, he wasn’t giving it away. “Well, hello, Valerie. What a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you?”
I swallowed and found a reserve of courage. When I was able to make my lips move, I said, “Actually, I’m here to see Jet.”
He smiled then, and I saw the twinkle in his eye. “What kind of fun?”
Oh…so stage Brad was visiting. I felt my heart start to thud in my chest. No. No. I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t f**k up what had become the best friendship I’d ever had…no matter how badly I thought I wanted to f**k him. But the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. “Any kind.”
He was sitting up, his elbows resting on his thighs, his hands pressed together in a praying fashion, his lips resting on his index and middle fingers. He grinned. “Any kind, huh?” He turned his head to look me in the eyes. “That could get you into trouble, Valerie.”
I sat up too, my face close to his. My voice was throaty when I said, “Don’t I know that.” And I couldn’t help but look down at his full, sensual lips. God…when was the last time we’d kissed? Like I could forget. It was in the back of his van that one summer night, before I’d joined the band. He’d promised to do incredible things to me then…then when I’d been a naïve, unknowing virgin. Now, though…I knew exactly what to expect, and just from what I’d remembered about Brad, I knew he’d be worth every second.
So did it surprise me when I was the one to make the move? It wasn’t the rum. It had been one shot, not enough to affect my judgment and barely enough to loosen me up. But I set my glass of water on the table and leaned forward. My lips just barely brushed his. Holy s**t. He smelled so good. He must’ve showered before the party too. Not only did he smell clean, but he had some spicy cologne on that I hadn’t noticed until I got close. And I could taste the rum on him when I ran my tongue on his lower lip.
Oh, I’d grabbed his shirt into my fists and pulled him closer. What the hell? Maybe I was becoming my stage persona. I felt his arms wrap around me as he responded to my kiss. God, was he filled with passion. I imagined he had the power of a thousand horses in his body, and they hadn’t been out driving for quite some time. I could just feelHell, when was the last time I’d been with someone? It had been a helluva long time ago. I was coming up on a year. No wonder I was so brazen.
Hell, when was the last time I’d been with someone? It had been a helluva long time ago. I was coming up on a year. No wonder I was so brazen.
No, it was more than that. It was Brad. For far too long, I’d denied my true feelings for the man, sublimating them into this best friendship I’d wanted to work so desperately, but as I felt his tongue enter the warm confines of my mouth, I knew I’d always wanted Brad…from the first time I’d met him.
But he stopped and pulled back enough to look in my eyes. “We can’t do this, Val.”
I felt confused. “Do what?”
“This. Us. We can’t.”
I was feeling desperate now, but I didn’t dare show it. “Why not?”
“Ethan, for starters…and he’s right over there.”
“Are you kidding? Ethan? The guy who f**ked around on me more than once? We haven’t been together in a long time, Brad. That ship sailed a long time ago.”
“And the band, Val. That’s why we stayed away in the first place.”
“That was your idea, and if mine and Ethan’s f**ked-up relationship hasn’t ruined the band…” I was starting to feel p*ssed. I took a sip of my water. “Know what? You don’t want to, just grow a f**king pair and say so.” I stood. “Jesus.”
“Val, that’s not it–”
“Good night, Brad.” I walked to the front door and left without looking back.
I stormed down the hall the few feet to my room. God, was I angry. It made me remember that saying, that hell hath no fury. Yeah, but I wasn’t just a woman scorned; I was a woman spurned. And, yeah, it stung. And from all people.
When I got to my room, I decided I was going to brush my teeth and go to bed, and I’d play some angry music on my iPod to help me drift off to sleep. So when I got done brushing, I took off my shoes and peeled off my pants and turned back the covers.
There was a knock at the door.
And I was pretty sure I knew who it was before I even got out of bed. Still, just to be sure, I looked out the peephole. Yep, it was Brad.
So what should I do? Should I answer it and let him explain to me what he’d wanted to say back there? Or should I just pretend I didn’t hear the door and go to bed? He could still say what he had to in the morning.
But Brad and I didn’t have a relationship like that, and that’s why I opened the door. We’d always been open and honest with each other, even when it hurt, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I took a deep breath, trying to remove the sour woman-scorned look off my face, and pulled it open.
I could tell just from his expression that he hadn’t expected to see me without my pants. But he was cool about it. Frankly, he’d seen more of my skin onstage, so I wasn’t concerned. “Can I come in?”
I nodded, pulling the door open enough for him to pass through, and then I closed it. I wasn’t going to say a word. I was going to let him spit it out, get it off his chest, and then let him go. There was no sense in prolonging the agony.
We walked to the center of the room and faced each other. “I know you’re not with Ethan now, but that doesn’t mean your heart’s not.” I just stared at him, hoping my face looked unamused if nothing else. “And I promised your dad.”
I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing. “That was over two years ago, Brad.”
“I don’t know what’s so funny.”
I cocked my head. “Seriously? Brad, he was worried about my virtue and of some guy forcing me to do something I didn’t want to do.” I couldn’t help myself. With him there and my mind roaming back to what I’d been considering earlier, my eyes wandered back to his lips. “Do I look unwilling to you?” I stared into his eyes again, challenging.
He was struggling. I could see it. Time to kick him while he was down. I continued, “I might not remember what he said word for word, but three words stuck in my mind–without her consent. Know why I remember that?” He shook his head. “Because up until that point in my life, I’d been told how premarital sex was a sin, and I should save my virginity for marriage.” I inched toward him. Holy s**t. Why was I being so ballsy? “For my dad to throw in that he’d kill anyone who touched me without my consent…well, that kinda blew everything else out of the water.” I was just a breath away from Brad when I said, “So give me one good reason why we shouldn’t do this.”
His voice was soft. “I can’t.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Still want more but not ready to buy? You can check out the free preview on Amazon or download a large excerpt on Goodreads to help you decide. My writing’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, there’s plenty where this came from.
As you all know by now, my latest novel Bullet “went live” on February 18. It was in the top 100 on Amazon’s U.S. Paid for Kindle charts for over five days (and it’s still in the top 200), and over 1100 people have added it to their “to read” lists on Goodreads. I’ll also be doing a blog tour beginning March 25 (huge thanks to the wonderful gals arranging it for me at Shh Mom’s Reading). To date, Bullet has received well over 80 reviews on Amazon (U.S. and U.K. sites combined) and 434 ratings on Goodreads with over 120 text reviews. I always say I’m not going to read my reviews, but who am I kidding? Of course, I read them. Some of them–the ones full of vitriol who act like I personally made it my mission to ruin their entire lives by writing a book they didn’t like–I don’t finish. But I can tell you one thing–most people either love or hate this book, and it’s evoking a lot of emotions in readers. As a writer, I can’t say I want to do much more than that. If you feel something, I’ve done my job. If it also makes you think a little along the way, even better.
So I began this post thinking I would offer some sort of apologies to the haters, but I’m not going to. I just can’t bring myself to do it.
I’m not sorry my book isn’t your standard cookie-cutter romance. There are thousands of books out there like that. Choose one of them if you must. Bullet has been described by multiple readers as “gritty,” “raw,” and “real.” If it hits too close to home (as lots of readers have said it has) and you can’t take the heat, find something fluffy and warm to read. I’m obviously not writing for you.
I’m not sorry I didn’t draw out the end for another five thousand words. I know that’s a complaint a few readers have had (and not just about this book). Let me tell you where I’m coming from. I’m from the school of “get in and get out.” I don’t like to linger, and when the party’s over, I’m out of there. Could I have spent more time with Valerie after she discovers true love? Oh, sure…but you got what you came for. You get the climax; you get a snippet of her realization and conversation with her best friend where she contemplates her next move; and you get the denouement where you realize that Valerie and her guy have a Happy Ever After. What more do you need? I have always felt like more than that is just prolonging it, and so I sincerely apologize to my readers who do want more. I just can’t do it, and when I read books that have five scenes of HEA, it personally drives me up the wall and I think, “Okay, I get it! They’re together now! Curtains, please.”
I’m not sorry I evoked a lot of emotions in you, be they anger, frustration, sadness. I can’t tell you how many reviews (including good ones) had readers saying they wanted to “throw their Kindle (or Nook)” at the wall and how many readers were literally shouting at the device in their hands. When I read that I got that powerful a response from you, it tells me I’ve done my job. I’ve made you feel something, and in this day and age, I think that’s pretty cool, even if you feel like you ultimately hated my book.
To those of you who hated Bullet or any one of my other books, consider this a lesson. I don’t write like other authors, and I obviously don’t plan to any time soon. Please don’t read any more of my books and let’s part as uncomfortable acquaintances.
The rest of you…hang on to your seats, ‘cause I’m not done yet for a long shot. And I’m sorry I offered an insincere apology.
No…I’m really not.
It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!!!! Publication day for Bullet, my much-anticipated epic rock star novel. I am giddy beyond belief. Now you’ll finally all understand the depths of my rock star obsession.
I’m half kidding, of course, but I’m quite excited for you to read the book. Fans on Facebook were–after being treated to dozens of teasers mercilessly–shocked when they read the first chapter, but that’s only because they know of Valerie’s three love interests in the book. I’m not going to say more in case you haven’t read the book yet, but I’d like to talk about the three main men in Valerie’s life.
Just like the description of the book hints, Ethan is “idealistic, handsome, reckless” and…damaged. But Valerie, naïve and overly optimistic, begins to believe she can save him. This man, through her eyes, can be perfect. She believes in him and her love for him blinds her to the man he really is. Oh, he might be rock god hot, but he’s a mess, and he drags Valerie’s heart through the mud more than once. Still…he has his moments, which is part of why it’s so hard for Valerie to see Ethan for the guy he really is.
A real sweetheart, but don’t think that means he’s not masculine, because he really is all that. He and Valerie develop a genuine friendship, and he understands her better than anyone else. He knows when she’s lying to herself. He sees her heart. He loves her and tells her he’ll wait for her.
Oh, Clay is your quintessential bad boy with a soft heart. He helps Valerie explore her sexuality while having fun. She becomes a true woman with Jet. And, boy, do they have fun. Jet is one of those guys most girls would love to spend just one night with…and then another and another, because they find out there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Which guy does she end up with? Will she ultimately find true love and happiness? Follow Valerie’s epic journey in the pages of Bullet; get swept up in an epic story of love, betrayal, lust, and heavy metal. You’ll get lost in it, and you’ll be glad you did.