Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Tackling My Second Novel And Why It was Harder Than The First - #WriterWednesday

After publishing my first novel, the question then became 'what's next'?


Around the time, I was becoming rather frustrated with writing fan fiction. While I loved the interaction and feedback from readers, there seemed to be this growing sentiment that I had to take the story in whatever direction the readers wanted it to go even if it wasn't the way I felt the story should develop. It was killing my creativity. And I feared if things kept going the way they were, I would never finish writing it.

The story was unique, despite it being written as a fan fiction. In fact, the only real connection it had to the original story was the characters names and the couple pairings. So when my new publisher asked me 'what's next'? the answer became obvious.


Within a matter of weeks, I pulled the fan fiction story and began working with an editor to make all the necessary changes in order for it to be published. The entire process took about three months with several editors going through it to make sure we hadn't missed anything. It wasn't only spelling and grammar we had to look out for, but also phrasing and situations that might be similar to the story the fan fiction had been originally created around. 

In July 2011, Slave, the first book in my Finding Anna series was publish. I didn't realize at the time that I'd be spending seven and a half years with these characters, and publishing three more books in the series: Need, Truth, and Trust.


At the end of Trust, I'd thought that Stephan and Brianna's story was finished...


Monday, February 22, 2021

Italian Pasta Bake Recipe.

I've been making this for a few years now and it's one of my husband's favorites. When we went to visit his family in New Jersey earlier this year and I made it while we were there. It was a huge hit!


I'm all about simple when it comes to recipes and it doesn't get much simpler than this one. 


Here's what you will need:

  • 1lb mild Italian sausage

  • 2 small cans of tomato sauce (we use Aldi)

  • 1 can Stewed tomatoes

  • Italian seasoning

  • salt & pepper

  • 1 box farfalle pasta

  • Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, or an Italian blend cheese

  • Parmesan Cheese 


Saute the sausage until it's cooked through and beginning to brown. I use a stock pot or my NinjaFoodi. Once the sausage is ready, add the tomato sauce and the stewed tomatoes. I will typically fill one of the tomato sauce cans with water, going back and forth between the two cans to make sure I get all the tomato sauce from the cans. 


Stir the sauce and add the seasoning. I don't usually measure how much seasoning I put in, but it's roughly 1 Tablespoon of Italian seasoning, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Stir, making sure all the spices are mixed into the sauce.


Cook the sauce on medium heat for about 20 minutes.


While the sauce is simmering, cook the farfalle in a separate pot.


The pasta and the sauce should get done around the same time if you start boiling the water after you've put the sauce together.


Before adding the pasta to the sauce, add 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, or an Italian blend cheese to the sauce. Stir until all the cheese has melted, and then add the pasta, mixing until combined. Top with Parmesan cheese to serve.

If you decide to give this recipe a try, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought.

Friday, February 19, 2021

What I'm Currently Reading - #FridayReads

 What are you currently reading?


This weekend, I'm reading the third book in Serenity Woods' Billionaire Kings series. We met Albie and Remy in the previous two books. Albie is in charge of the IT department at The Ark animal sanctuary and Remy is in New Zealand on a work visa. There's been a hint of something between these two since the first book in the series: My Best Friend, the Billionaire. I can't wait to see how their story unfolds!


Never fall in love with your roommate…

I am not going to fall in love with Albie King.
That was the first thought that passed through my mind when I met my new landlord.
For four months, I’ve managed to keep my distance.
Lord knows, I don’t need another rich playboy to break my heart.
One was enough for any girl.
But Fate, it seems, has other ideas.
First, I find out what Albie does at the weekends, and I lose one quarter of my heart.
Then, I discover what happened to the dogs he loved, and the quarter becomes a half.
Next, I watch him be a hero when the storm hits the Ark, and the half turns into three quarters.
And finally, I see how much he loves his family when disaster strikes.
I’m only in New Zealand for another three weeks. After that I’m going home to France. There’s no point in starting anything. But now he’s captured the whole of my heart, and he doesn’t seem keen on giving it back.
So I kiss him. Then he kisses me.
You can guess what happens next.
Mon Dieu. I’m really in trouble.

Buy your copy on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

My First Published Novel - My Publishing Journey Part 5

Once I signed the publishing contract for my first novel, Hidden Threat, it was time to get to work. Matthew and Cali's story had been floating in my head for fifteen years in one form or another, and now it was time to go through it with a fine-tooth comb. I was a bit nervous. 


The story was sent to an editor and we began going through the story, chapter by chapter, line by line, to get it ready for publication. If you've never gone through the editing process before, it's daunting. If you're offered a publishing contract, you think your story is pretty good. Then, and editor gets their hands on it and begins picking it apart. It's a very humbling experience.


 After going back and forth for a couple of months with the editor making sure to close any plot holes and correct grammar and spelling mistakes, it was time for the book to be formatted and the cover to be designed. I was lucky in that my publisher allowed the authors to have a say in the cover design. A lot of publishers don't.


The story was a romantic suspense set in Chicago and I decided to go with a title that reflected that. 


Hidden Threat released on December 31, 2010. 


Five years after it's release, I got my rights back from the publisher and decided to republish it, but under a new name. I'd learned a lot since I'd released my first novel and while the book had a lot of suspense in it, the romance was the driving factor. I realized that the title Hidden Threat, didn't really fit the vibe of an office romance.


So...after doing a complete rewrite which added 15,000 words to the story, I re-released the book under the name Strictly Professional with a new cover and loads of new content. 


Strictly Professional hit stores January 2016.


Which cover to you like better?



Saturday, February 13, 2021

What I'm Currently Reading - My Boss, The Billionaire


Serenity Woods is one of my favorite authors. Her stories always pull me in and have me rooting for the couple to get together. 


This is the second book in her Billionaire Kings series, which is about three cousins who run an animal sanctuary called The Ark. This is a sexy office romance and I can't wait to dive in!


Never fall in love with your boss…

I’ve worked for Leon for two years now.
Which means I’ve been in love with Leon for about, oh, 730 days, give or take.
He’s tall, gorgeous, hardworking, and strict. Most of the staff at Noah’s Ark are scared of him. But I can handle the Lion King, as I like to call him.
I’m his PA. I book his dental appointments, pick up his dry cleaning, keep his diary, walk his dogs, and organize his accounts.
I know him as well as a wife would, although unfortunately without the added benefits that role would bring.
I’d tell him how I feel, but he’s made it quite clear he’s against relationships at work, so I know it’s never going to happen unless I leave the Ark, and I love my job.
Then, on the day the Prime Minister’s supposed to arrive at the Ark, his crazy dog knocks me over and gives me a concussion.
And, as if I’m Snow White needing to be awoken from her slumber, Leon kisses me.
Crap. Now we’re in trouble.
How on earth do you un-forget being kissed by your handsome prince?


If you'd like to read Leon and Nix's story, click on the click below to get your copy. This book is in Kindle Unlimited.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Changing Directions - My Publishing Journey Part 4

 Haven't read parts 1, 2 and 3? Click HERE to start reading from the beginning.


After finishing my first Twilight fan fiction, Perspective, I embarked decided to deviate from the wold Stephenie Meyer created and write a story with Bella and Edward both being human. 

I'd begun reading stories with BDSM elements and I was intrigued by the level of trust and communication such a lifestyle required. Also around that time there was a huge story in the news about a young woman who'd been held captive for twenty years before she was rescued. My first thought was that when she decided to enter into a relationship that it would take a great amount of trust and communication after what she'd been through.


The wheels in my head began turning and before long I had the idea for a new story I titled Finding Bella.


Around the same time I was writing Finding Bella, E.L. James, better known at the time as snowqueens icedragon, was writing her fan fiction, Master of the Universe. As both of the stories began to gain some traction in the fan fiction world, they inevitably got compared to one another.


Eventually, the comparisons began to create a problem. Some readers felt Finding Bella should go in a different direction and they were very vocal about it. As time wore on, I began to lose my motivation to finish the story and realized that if I wanted to see if finished, I was going to have to pull it.


As luck would have it, there was a small publishing house that was setting to launch their first stories at the end of 2010. They were looking for new authors and had stumbled onto Finding Bella. They wanted to know if I had anything I was interested in publishing. I still wasn't sure what I was going to do with Finding Bella. And it wasn't finished at that point regardless. 


However, I had written another story that had nothing to do with Twilight or even fan fiction. It was a story I'd been playing around with in my head since I was fourteen and that I'd finally written down. I sent them the manuscript and within two weeks I had a contract on my desk for my very first published novel.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Valentine's Giveaway


Valentine's Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a giveaway. 

 Head on over to my website to enter!

Would you rather get chocolates or a new book for Valentine's Day? Now you don't have to choose!