The Wolf and the Moon: 10 Years Apart

In The Wolf and the Moon, Dag and Myka are reunited after spending 10 years apart. Dag believed Myka to be dead, and trudged on with his life – what was left of it. Myka knew he could never see Dag again and dedicated himself to the care of his family. When the two are reunited, they are completely different people that the ones they fell in love with so many years before. It’s a strange thing to think about. Many couples, after years together, comment that they feel that they’ve grown apart, but these couples were still together every day and could see the changes taking place. They can look back on their years and identify these points. For Dag and Myka, they lived completely separate lives as if the other didn’t exist – until they were thrown back together. They can’t pick up where they left off, even though they try, because they are no longer the same people. Can the love they felt for each other last through the years and transform into a love for the people they have become? Find out in The Wolf and the Moon – get your copy here!

The Wolf and the Moon: Your Debt Dies With You

In The Wolf and the Moon, a recurring theme is debt. Myka’s father died young and left him to care for his mother and sister – and his father’s mountain of debt. In order to pay these fines, Myka becomes an arena warrior. The master of the house agrees to pay off Myka’s debt in exchange for Myka’s services; once the house recoups this money from Myka’s fights, he is free to go – if Myka lives long enough to see that day come. Dag is not from the city but from an outlying tribe. He tells Myka that in the tribal lands, when a person dies, their debt dies with them. Myka finds this incredibly appealing, to find a world where debt wouldn’t loom over the heads of his descendants for generations to come, if Myka himself is unable to pay back his father’s debts and the medical bills he has incurred caring for his mother and sister.

I’ve worked in the health insurance industry for six years, and this idea of debts dying with a person was appealing to me as well. I’ve handled calls before from surviving spouses where their partner has recently died and they are receiving the medical bills from his hospital stay. Some people assume that these bills just disappear when a person dies – but that isn’t the case. Hospitals and doctors still expect to be paid for their services, even if the patient doesn’t live long enough to pay them. The same is true of credit card debt and loans. People imagine being left with an inheritance when their loved ones pass, but instead might be left with a staggering pile of bills.

See if Myka is ever able to escape this cycle of debt, violence, and heartbreak in The Wolf and the Moon. Get your copy here!

Fight For You: How Characters Were Sold

Fight For You takes place in a civilization where characters are “sold” to pay off debts, similar to indentured servants. Everyone has their own story, though many are similar (as you can guess). Plenty of people rack up gambling or shopping debts and can’t pay when the bill is due. In Fight For You, a number of people end up in The Zone for this reason, but even more find their way there because of circumstances that are not their fault. Take Cherry and Berlin, our main characters, for example.

Berlin’s parents died when she was a child, and she ended up in an orphanage when no one would adopt her. Her bad luck continued after she left the orphanage and no one would hire her. With no one to care for her, and no way to provide for herself, Berlin was sent to The Zone to keep her off the streets and out of trouble.

Cherry ended up in The Zone because of her father. After her mother died, her father fell apart. He drank, he gambled, he spent money they didn’t have, and he didn’t work enough to pay the bills. When the debt collectors came, he gave them Cherry instead, sending her to The Zone as payment. Cherry can leave The Zone after her father raises enough money to pay the debt she is taking the place of. But he never does.

Even though it’s not their fault they ended up in The Zone, both Cherry and Berlin are ready to fight for their own freedom. Get your copy of Fight For You today!

Fight For You: Original Title

Coming up with titles are NOT my strong suit. Most of my stories have a working title while I’m writing them, and then I try to figure out a title at the end. In some lucky cases, a title comes first during my plotting process. That was not the case in Fight For You.

When I was writing Fight For You, I was very into Fall Out Boy. I think Pete Wentz is a very clever lyricist, and I fully enjoy interpreting his lyrics to find metaphors and nods to cultural references. Around this same time, I was attempting to write some lyrics of my own, in Pete Wentz fashion. I don’t think any of them were any good, but I remember this one line “Peach trees and coffee tables, mother*ckers” that I just thought was so catchy, possibly because it made absolutely no sense. Even I don’t know what it means, it just popped into my head.

ANYWAY, the original title (that I submitted to my publisher) was The Truth About Cherries. It was supposed to be a little ambiguous and a little witty (in my mind, anyway) but my publisher quickly (fortunately) put the kybosh on that. Her exact words were of course more polite and professional, but she essentially told me that the title made no sense at all, didn’t relate to my story at all, and had to go. She was the one who suggested Fight For You as the title, and I immediately adopted it. You can get your copy of Fight For You (formerly The Truth About Cherries) today!

Fight For You: Where’s Waldo?

It’s like “Where’s Waldo” for romance.

No, Fight For You doesn’t have any characters clad in horizontal stripes, BUT it does have a character for you to find! My husband-to-be and I met shortly after my first story was published. It was a head-over-heels romance for me (my first love!) and you can find nods to him in almost every story I’ve published. Some of them are more subtle (I have given away some of his quotes and childhood experiences to my characters) but in Fight For You, it’s fairly obvious. As in many of my early books, I named characters after my boyfriend, Nate. As you’re reading, keeping your eyes peeled for a character whose name is a variation of Nate—be it guy, girl, or pet! You can get your copy of Fight For You today.

Happy Reading!

Fight For You Culture Still Relevant Today

I first wrote Fight For You more than six years ago. After it was published, I wrote and sold nineteen more short stories and put Fight For You out of my mind as I worked on new things. I remembered the general premise of the story, but a lot of the finer details were lost to me. When my publisher contacted me about renewing my contract and releasing a second edition, I read Fight For You for the first time in years and was surprised by several of the scenes.

First, Fight For You is darker than I remember it being. That darkness is to be expected in a setting similar to that of gladiators, but what really caught my attention was the rape culture. There are a handful of scenes that deal with this culture, and in my mind, this issue is even more relevant today than when Fight For You was originally published. When I was preparing Fight For You to be re-released, I considered these scenes and what it would mean to the story to remove them. After all, my stories are generally lighter in nature now than they were when I first started publishing. After a lot of thought, however, I decided that not only were these scenes integral to the setting and to the story I wanted to tell, but they were also integral to the phenomenon that still exists today—a culture where someone thinks they have the right to physically possess someone simply because they can and there is no repercussion because of the different statuses of the attacker versus the victim. While these scenes are not graphic and all assault takes place behind closed doors, hopefully these scenes are still powerful enough to move readers to remember that all men and women must stand together as human beings to condemn this type of action and do whatever is necessary to raise the next generation to do better than the generation before. See for yourself and get your copy of Fight For You today

Behind The Scenes: Fight For You Cover

Fight For You - 2nd edition - Copy

I am NOT good at coming up with cover art. I can walk into a bookstore and see all the beautiful covers, find myself gravitating toward certain ones and shunning others, but when it comes to my own stories, I draw a blank. Even after seven years, I still panic when it’s time to sit down and write my cover request for the artist. My mind grasps at straws, trying to find bits and pieces of the story to put on the cover. Which generally means I request a jumble of items that would look like a junk drawer if a cover artist actually included all my requests (which thankfully, they don’t, because they are much smarter at this than me). If I remember correctly, for Fight For You‘s second edition cover, I requested “something with a woman looking up at the sky” and “maybe a window or the bars of a gate” with a “fantasy feel.”  Not incredibly helpful (and now that I think about it, not my worst request. That would be for my last piece, Glamour, and is a story for another day).

Instead, the artist created this BEAUTIFUL cover which fits my story perfectly and is in my opinion the most beautiful cover on any of my books yet! You can get your copy of Fight For You today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Gifts for Adults

DIY Adults

There are so many DIY gifts for the adults on your Christmas list – including gift exchanges, and in-laws who are often difficult to shop for. Here are a few of my favorite handmade Christmas gifts that I’ve made this year and last year. Enjoy!

Flavored Salts
There are so many options for salt flavors: chili lime, lemon & rosemary, garlic & onion… I combine one part dry herbs to three parts salt, and bake in the oven at 200 degress for one hour, stirring every twenty minutes or so to prevent clumping. You can grate garlic and onions and zest lemons and limes to combine in as well! These salts may need to bake just a little longer to make sure that there is no liquid left in the mixture or it will go bad. Put your salts in cute jars and label with a tag!

HOME Bottles
These bottles are rustic chic and SO easy to make! Start by gathering four bottles (I use bourbon bottles, since that’s what my boyfriend drinks) and remove the labels. This can be tricky! I peel off as much of the label as I can, then soak the bottles in the sink before scraping off the remaining sticker. Next, paint each bottle a solid color. I used standard acryllic paints that I already had at home, so I painted each bottle two or three times to minimize transparent areas (though a few scratches and streaks may improve your rustic look!). I also spray a sealer on the bottles that I spray on all my paintings, but I don’t know if it actually makes a difference. For the ribbon, I bought a roll of burlap ribbon from WalMart and printed out the letters HOME in a font I liked. I then cut the ribbon long enough to wrap around the bottle and traced each letter onto the corresponding ribbon with permanent marker, then glued them to the bottles. Voila!

Flavored Butters
Like flavored salts, the options for flavored butters goes on forever! Mix a stick of butter with jam, honey, garlic, cinnamon or a variety of other flavors and put in small jam jars to give away. Pair with a loaf of homemade bread for a gift basket!

Spice Rubs
There are so many recipes for spice rubs on Pinterest! After a quick search, I was able to find several recipes where I already had all (or most) of the ingredients in my cupboard. I bought cute jars from my local craft store and tied on a tag with the name of the rub. This is a great gift for men who can be notoriously hard to make gift for.

Foot Soaks
Foot soaks are a simple DIY Christmas gift that can be paired with a foot bath or even just a basic tub (like a baby bath tub) and a small towel. I make mine with mint tea, green tea, and black tea, mixing one part tea with three parts epsom salt. Put each soak in mason jars and tie on a little tag with the tea type of the soak.

DIY Gifts for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults

DIY Teen

Teens, tweens, and young adults could quite possibly be the hardest people to shop for – not to mention make DIY gifts for! I’ve put together a handful of gift ideas that should (hopefully) help make the process a little easier on you!

Emoji Pillows
I have given out so many handmade emoji pillows in the last year and they are always a hit! For this project, you will need pillow stuffing, yellow fleece, and colored felt. Start by choosing whatever emoji you want to make. Use your computer to blow up the image to whatever size you want your pillows to be (I usually do 14 inches across) and print your pattern. Cut the face shapes out of felt and two large circles out of the fleece. If you sew, you can sew the pillow (don’t forget to leave an opening for the stuffing!) or use hot glue. I stuff my pillow, seal it shut, and then hot glue on the faces. All done

Beauty & The Beast Shirts
For the lovestruck teen in your life, consider making “His Beauty, Her Beast” shirts! Beauty and The Beast was such a hit this year, and certainly young lovers like nothing more than wearing their hearts on their sleeve – almost literally, in this case. Locate a picture online that you like and blow up the image (I usually make it the size of a full sheet of paper). Then transfer onto a shirt using transfer paper and paint in your design. Be sure to follow the instructions on your fabric paint for proper drying to make sure your hard work doesn’t come off in the wash

Wooden Yard Dice/Giant Tower
If you’re handy with a saw, or know someone who is, then this could be the perfect gift for you to make! Simply head to your local hardware store to purchase some wood and cut it down to size. You can pick just  how giant you want your yard games to be. In this case of yard dice, either use paint or a wood burner for the dots.

Lavender Lemon Sugar Scrub
Sugar scrubs are so quick and easy to make, and can be made in a variety of different scents. I see a lot of people making peppermint scented scrubs for the holidays. As a general recipe, mix 1 cup sugar, 5 drops food coloring (unless you are okay with a more natural looking off-white scrub), 4 tablespoons coconut oil, and 10 drops essential oils. Put in a cute jar and top with a tag. Voila

Terrarium Kit
Terrariums are so popular right now, and you can do something as simple or complex as you like! You could build a terrarium yourself. Or you can put together a kit of all the items someone would need to build a terrarium: a jar, dirt, small rocks, and small plants. Craft stores have a wide variety of glass containers in different shapes and sizes, and home and garden stores should have at least a few small plants at this time of year.