Wednesday, October 11, 2017


In my book, Promise Me Light, the characters talk about fate quite a bit. It was fate that brought Cash and Cat together. It was fate that reunited them in the middle of the war. I believe in it whole heartedly, sometimes spelling fate with a capital F because I picture it as a powerful, Roman god-like woman wielding power over us mere mortals. I’m a sucker for looking for the signs. I believe they’re out there; we only have to pay attention. The universe is trying to tell us something.
But it had to yell for me to hear it.
When I was younger, I lost quite a bit of my hearing. I became trapped in my own muffled world, closed off to the outside. I struggled to hear even the tiniest bit of sound or conversation and when I did, it sounded like it came through a long tunnel. My life was muted. I was a viewer looking in.
Because of my lack of hearing, my speech suffered. Words were suddenly difficult for me to say. Because of that, I became very quiet. I remember going a week (sometimes more) only saying a few words to others outside my family. I couldn’t hear myself or anyone else speak clearly and I struggled to say the simplest words so why should I talk? It seemed logical to me.
By that time in my life, books were already a constant. Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, and Alice in Wonderland – they were some of my favorites. In those pages, I escaped. I lived. I became a part of a world where there was no speech impairment, no lack of hearing. As I read, my imagination went wild, picturing myself living in the harsh conditions of the American plains or following a rabbit down a hole for a crazy adventure. I ran through fields with Laura Ingalls. I sat around a fire with cowboys and listened to their tall tales. I couldn’t get enough. Many, many other books followed, year after year, each leaving an impression on my life that I would never forget.
It wasn’t only impressions and comfort the books left behind. They also give me friendships. For a little girl who could not hear and rarely spoke, making friends didn’t come easily. But reading did. Books became everything to me. They were my friends, filling the quiet that filled my ears. They were my family, accepting me despite my hearing loss. They were my escape from a frustrating reality. The sounds of the real world might have been lost (or when I could hear, overwhelming) but inside the pages of a book, I was normal.
Simple words on simple pieces of paper did that for me.
Books gave me the power to imagine. The power to believe in something more than me. Because I couldn’t hear, when I read my imagination took flight. How else do you spend time when everything else is silent? I pictured cities and characters. I saw adventures and dangers. I heard conversations and saw interactions in my head that I could never have in real life. Simply put, I read what I couldn’t hear.
Losing my hearing gave me something. Something I still depend on to this day. It gave me the ability to be quiet. To watch. To observe. To see things others may not see. I learned a lot about people and their characteristics. (It’s amazing how much you learn about someone just by watching them, not talking.) I learned to be okay with the stillness. You wouldn’t believe what that has done for me.
It gave me a love of books. A desire to read as much and as often as possible. It gave me a different perspective on the world, a viewpoint some may never see. It helped me develop my imagination. Without it, I may not have dreamed up make-believe worlds to keep me entertained or written my first novel as a teenager as a way to escape. I may not have written Promise Me Darkness or imagined any other characters. I may not have an inventory of stories in my head if something had not been taken from me.
Over time, most of my hearing returned but I remain the same. I still find myself observing rather than being in the middle of conversations. I still like getting lost in books and finding friendships in them.
I think back on that girl, who was silent and alone. If I could tell her anything, I would tell her it would be okay. Fate had plans. I might lose my hearing but I would gain so much more.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What You May Not Know About Book Signings

It has come to my attention lately - via messages and emails - that many readers are in the dark about certain things in regard to book signings. What determines the price of the entrance tickets? Where does the money go? I've been getting these questions a lot.

If you're about to attend your first book signing or you're a seasoned signing attendee, you might want to read on. I'll tell you some things you may not know when you buy that ticket to see your favorite author.

First of all, just let me say that I'm not an expert in organizing a book signing. I have never organized one, taking part in planning one, nor experienced the frustrations that come along with running one. But as an author, I have attended many.

The first year I published Promise Me Darkness I was traveling all over the United States every single month. In fact, I never unpacked when I was at home. I just lived out of a suitcase. I challenged myself to pack my kids faster and faster each time. By the end of six months, I could pack everyone to travel cross-country in less than thirty minutes. (I'm still proud of that.) I wrote Promise Me Light on planes, in cars, and huddled in hotel rooms. I became an expert traveler, including two months in the United Kingdom for signings. I attended ones with a thousand people camped out the night before to get in. I've attended signings that went for days and weekends. I've sat in huge conference rooms with close to two hundred authors signing and discussing characters falling in love. I've been on panels, taken part in after-signing parties, roamed cities with authors after hours and listened as they discussed the good and bad about signings. I've been to wonderful ones and terrible ones. I'm not an expert but I've been to my share. I can tell you what I know.

First, many readers do not know that authors are not paid to attend signings. I repeat - we are not paid to attend signings. Now, that is not to say that some aren't paid. I'm sure they are a few that are reimbursed by either a publisher or the book signing organizer to attend but I'm not familiar with them nor have I heard any rumors in that regard (it's probably very hush-hush) so let's just ignore that little anomaly. The normal author is not paid to attend. In fact, we pay to attend. You heard me right - we pay. It's called a table fee. It normally includes the cost of a table, a tablecloth, two chairs, and help (if we need it) in the form of a volunteer assistant (who is not paid). A few more exclusive signings I have been to also included a lunch with the table fee and an author-only party. The table fee for an author can range anywhere from $150 to $200. Overseas signings can run more in my experience.

Second, we - as authors - do not get paid a percentage from tickets sales. The only money we make at signings is when readers buy the paperbacks we have at our tables or other items we might be selling such as t-shirts. So if an author paid $150 to sign at a book signing and she only sold $50 worth of books that day to readers, she is at a loss of $100 plus the cost of books, travel, hotel, food, gas, freebies to readers, etc. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say (don't send me nasty messages, authors) that the average author doesn't break even when it comes to book signings when you add in all those other costs. We attend because we love books, we love our readers, we're overjoyed to be invited, we want to meet new readers, new authors, new people and so on. We enjoy everything about the community so we go.

So where does the money you pay go? Again, I'm not an expert but I'll tell you what I've heard and have gathered from being an author at signings. The table fees authors pay, the ticket sales you pay - they go toward renting the venue. The venue is the hotel, conference center, rental spot, you name it. It is where the signing will be held. Expenses include chairs, sitting up the tables, tablecloths, sound systems, speakers, microphones, wifi access, special parking, the list goes on and on. After that, the fees you and I pay provide marketing to get the word out about the signing, gifts for you such as bags or other little items you can carry around and have the authors sign, might include parties that your ticket gets you into later that evening or part of the money might go toward a charity. It just depends on the individual signing. But I do know that the venue does cost quite a bit.

Does anyone pocket the money personally? The answer is yes. Some signing organizers pay themselves. Some don't. Some use their own money to pay for things but this usually only occurs with smaller signings. Is it wrong for organizers to pay themselves? There are mixed opinions on this. On one hand, putting together a good, awesome signing is very, very hard work and takes lots of hours and can be stressful so what's wrong with reimbursing oneself? On the other hand, I've never been to a signing where there is an accounting of where the money goes or just how much someone is paid so an organizer could pay themselves an ungodly amount of money and no one would know the difference. In my experience, organizers who are fair, honest, trustworthy, and are putting on signings because they really and truly love books and authors and not because they are trying to rack in the cash (even if they pay themselves), put on the best signings. It just seems to show. The ones that are only in it to make a buck, cheat the system, pocket a huge chunk of change, etc. put on - shall we say - not so great signings and these manifest themselves into terrible, disorganized events. They usually are not held again. Word gets around fast in the book/writing world and we don't forget.

Signings are exciting events for the bookworms in all of us. There's nothing quite like hugging a new book to you, freshly signed by an author. This might be more information than you wanted to know about the financial side of them (from an author's point of view), but I like to be informed about where my money goes and I know some of you do too. Again, if you're an author or a book signing organizer, you might have a different experience or opinion but this is from my point of view. If you've never attended a book signing, find one near you and go!! I've had many readers tell me they were nervous about attending and meeting me but believe me, authors are just as nervous about meeting you! We're there because we love books. What better reason to get together?

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Last Letter

Today is Valentine's Day. The day of love, romance, candy, and cards. But sometimes words from the heart can be more powerful than gifts.

The following is a scene that proves just that. It's a scene I wrote for a blog a while back. But no matter when it was written or how long it's been, Ryder from Promise Me Darkness, proves that his love for Maddie will go on and on.

The Last Letter

I stared across my desk at the imperfect, pain-in-my-butt, bad boy of Promise Me Darkness, Ryder Delaney, refusing to flinch when he frowned at me.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, Ryder. Give me something,” I pleaded, resisting the urge to beg.
He scowled, his blue eyes piercing and full of fire. I recognized the hardness lining his face and turning his lips down. He wasn’t going to talk. Hell could freeze over first.
“Pleeease,” I said, almost begging. “For the readers of your and Maddie’s story.”
He sighed and leaned further back in his chair. I tried to ignore the way his crisp shirt outlined his muscles and the sexy way he reclined in his seat, relaxed like he didn’t have a care in the world. But I knew beneath that façade was a man ready to attack at the first sign of trouble. Without an ounce of remorse, he would take out any danger, leaving nothing but bruises and blood in his wake. The man was a living, breathing specimen of raw sexuality and dangerous power. The combination was lethal.
The desire he invoked by just walking in a room - overwhelming.
“I need something romantic,” I said, forcing myself to focus on the conversation, not on the effect of him.
“Romantic?” he scoffed. “Do I look like someone that spews romance like a damned fool? No.”
“Please?” I asked again, begging now.
He stared at me with those cold eyes, making me uncomfortable. The clock ticked, counting the seconds until one of us gave in. Finally Ryder broke the silence.
“Fine. For the readers.”
I smiled. He could be an ass sometimes. But that’s why I loved him.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his jean-clad knees, taking his time. And I would give him all the time he needed. This man was dangerous. The ultimate badass. He could tear a man apart with one hand or make a girl melt with only one glance. He was the epic bad boy with not a care in the world. He had no rules and no boundaries. He cared for no one and nothing.
Except for Maddie.
She was the only woman that could bring him to his knees. His best friend. The love of his life. They were inseparable but I knew the world had tried to tear them apart.
And only succeeded in pushing them together.
“You ended the story too soon, Paige,” he said with a rough voice meant to scare me. “There was more, so much more that happened between Maddie and I.”
“I know…” I said. “But I had to stop somewhere, Ryder. The book couldn’t go on forever.”
“But my love for Maddie has.”
I opened my mouth to respond but no words came out. I mean, what do you say to that?
He pushed back his chair and stood up. Without missing a beat, he started pacing, wearing a path on my floor.
Memories played out across his face. Darkness. Suffering. The hunger that ate at a person’s insides until they went mad. It was all there for me to see. He didn’t hide any of it.
Finally he stopped in front of the window, staring outside, seeing another place. Another time.
“The day that the war hit, hell came to earth. Death and destruction were everywhere.” He paused. His throat worked hard to get his next words out. “But that hell gave me something. Something I can’t leave without. It gave me Maddie.”
With two strides he was back in front of me, resting his knuckles on my desk and forcing me to look up at him.
“I spent weeks in that terrorist prison,” he said with disgust. “I was a dead man walking, full of bullet holes and almost beaten to death. But I thought of Maddie morning, noon, and night. It’s what kept me alive. The only thing that made me want to live.”
I didn’t say anything. How could I? What did you say to a man that had been shot and nearly killed? That had dragged himself - bleeding and dying - back home in the middle of a war-ravaged land. And for what? Just to get to Maddie. The only person he had ever loved.
He reached into his pocket, drawing my attention to his low-riding jeans that hugged his hips perfectly.
“I came back home with something else besides those bullet holes and nightmares,” he said, pulling out a piece of paper that looked like it had been folded many times over. There was a red stain in one corner and black smudges in another. It looked like it had been to hell and back.
But maybe it had.
“What is it?” I asked.
“A letter. Note, I guess. I wrote it when I was sitting in the terrorist camp.” He put the paper down on the table and pushed it toward me. “It’s for Maddie.”
Before I could respond, he picked his hat up from the desk and slapped it on his head, pulling the brim down low. His eyes blazed down at me, hidden in the shadows of the ball cap.
“Show it to the readers,” he said. “Tell them it was all I needed to let the person I love, the person I would die for, know how much she meant to me. I didn’t need candy or roses or a damn Hallmark card.” He pointed to the paper. “I just needed that.”
Without another word, he turned on his booted heel and walked out of my office, leaving nothing but a heavy quietness in his wake.
Slowly I picked up the piece of paper and unfolded it. Ryder’s long, elegant handwriting looked shaky, forced onto the page. I imagined him sitting in a makeshift prison, beaten, bleeding, and barely holding on. That place had almost broke him but I knew what was in that letter had made him live on.

Dear Maddie,

As I write this, my body is bleeding and my heart is hurting. I miss you, Maddie. God, I miss you so much.
I dream at night of pastures and slow moving creeks. The sun is bright and the air is warm. I can feel it on my skin, heating me from the inside out and making me feel alive.
I see a girl with hair as dark as midnight, smiling at me in the sunlight. She is my best friend. My childhood playmate. She tells me to live and to never give up. Her smile alone makes me want to stay alive.
So I follow her, running through the tall grasses. I swim with her in the creek, watching as water runs over her body. I touch her and come alive. She is beautiful, perfection in my imperfect world. Just being near her makes me see things in a clearer light. She is everything to me.
That girl is you, Maddie. You are my heaven in this hell. You are my heart and soul. I ache for you. I crave your touch like a dying man craves a miracle. I want to hear your voice just one more time. I want to feel you next to me, whispering my name. It’s the only reason I want to survive. Each breath I take is for you. Each moment I stay alive is for you. Only you. I’ve begged God to take me home. Just take me back home to you…
But if he doesn’t, I will die a happy man. I’ve loved my best friend, loved her more than life itself. Time cannot change that and death will not take that away from me.
I love you, Maddie, with all of my heart.
Always and forever.
I love you…


Monday, January 9, 2017

Goodbye and Hello

Hello 2017. Goodbye 2016. (Can I get an amen?) I’m glad it’s over. Catch you later 2016. Adios.

You might have noticed (or maybe not because you have a life and - really – who cares what I do) but I’ve been kind of AWOL for a while. Well, most of 2016. I’m here to tell you why.

(First let me say, I usually don’t spill my guts on social media. It’s just not me. But since this is my website and damn it, I'll do what I want, I'm going to spill.)

It really started in 2015. I was writing around the clock. Seven days a week. Sometimes 15 hours a day. You might wonder if that was the case, why I wasn’t putting out book after book. The truth is, I’m just a slow writer. There I said it. I’m sloooow. I want every detail to be perfect, to be the things that readers feel, live, experience along with my characters. Maybe that's a bad thing. I don't know. And by the way, I'm not saying that authors who manage to put out book after book don’t put out great books. It's just how I do things. And that’s okay. I do what works best for me.

But back to 2015…all those long hours in front of a computer were starting to take its toll on me. I started suffering from insomnia, migraines, neck problems, backaches, my doctor said I had carpel tunnel. Not fun. But I wrote Promise Me Forever at a whirlwind speed and published it right after Christmas 2015. Some said it was my best book to date and I was elated about that. But after it was published, I hit a wall. Smacked right into that sucker. I spent the release week sick and weeks after the release sick. One illness after another. Not such a great way to spend Christmas or start the new year of 2016. Nope. So for the first time in three years, I told myself it was time t0 take a break.

But that bothered me, this break thing. Who did that? I was writing and people were loving my stuff. They were asking for more! I had hit all the big lists and was successful at my dream. I was crazy for taking a break! But I needed it. Big time.

So I spent time with my kids. I read, oh my gosh, how I read. I gobbled up books faster than my Kindle could download them. For years, I had focused on my own writing but I missed that quiet time between the pages of someone else’s books. I yearned for it with all my heart and gave into what I needed.

I’m also a big crafter; something most people don’t know about me. I love to sew and cross stitch and find things on Pinterest I’ll never be able to copy perfectly. So I returned to that, picking up stuff that was stuffed back in my closet. There is just something about working with your hands that calms the soul. At least, it does for me.

I enjoyed life again and didn't freak out if I didn't get my word count in for the day. What once was an enjoyment became a job. I had to write faster and faster and faster. I was giving myself headaches stressing so much then.

The break was supposed to be for two months but things just kept on happening. My daughter was sick again and again. Pneumonia, not once but twice. Partly collapsed lungs. I lived at the doctor with her. Then I lost my grandmother. She was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader. The woman meant everything to me. That was hard. Still is. My husband ended up in ICU with pulmonary embolisms. Something that happened out of the blue. It’s a miracle he’s alive today. And other things happened. Things that were hard to deal with and made me really look at things. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes people can just be mean and terrible and I had to take a deep breath and move on.

2016 just seemed like it was shaping up to be the year of terribles. Between sicknesses and losing someone close to me and the physical problems along with some other things, I just needed to refocus and take a step back. I did write. I promise. I’m too much of a pushover to just ignore the characters that live in my head. I started a story on Wattpad just out of the blue. I knew about the site and had been pushed by a few industry people to write on it. So My Dirty Little Secret was born.

Now we’re in 2017 and I’m ready to start fresh. Books are coming. More writing will be done. In the past, I only posted book-related stuff here on my website but I thought what the hell. I’m going to change things up. Get more personal because why not? If people don’t like it, they can move on (but I hope you like it and stay).

Maybe you’re asking why any of this matters. Why I decided to let you know what’s been up with me. I mean, I’m not that important. I’m just a girl who writes some books. But I wanted to tell you, a) so you know I didn’t fall off the planet and that yes, I’m still writing, but more importantly, b) that we all need a break sometimes and it’s okay. It really is. Life doesn't end if you don't check in once a day on Facebook or Instagram. They will still be there, I promise. So just take a breath. Find some quiet time. When life gets too demanding or anxious or just too much to handle and our bodies say enough is enough, return to the basics. Read a good book. Spend time with close family. Find some quiet. Remember what’s important. Just be. If I can do it, so can you.