Friday, January 12, 2018

Smuggler's Cove - Knight of Pleasure

Book one in the Smuggler's Cove Series.

Wounded in Iraq, Dean Hudson is forced to give up his dream of a career in the Marine Corps. Nearly recovered from the physical wounds that left him scarred, he resigns himself to a life alone, and begins to deal with the emotional and mental scars the war left behind while he tries to rebuild a life. Having kept his homosexuality a secret for so long, he doesn't expect to find love or acceptance in the arms of a knight.

On the weekends, successful brewery co-owner, Dom Ethan Moreland dons armour and a sword and fights other knights. The adrenaline rush and stress relief provided by the atmosphere of the renaissance faire also serve as a constant reminder of the love he still hasn't found and can't remember having.

When Dean meets Ethan dressed as a knight, he never dreams that he will find happiness and love on his knees while submitting to Ethan.

Dean nodded and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wanting to bolt. The crowded open area of the faire set his nerves on edge, and he longed for peace and quiet and solitude. Jennie wriggled out of his lap, and he waited for her to climb down to the bench in front of them to join her two brothers before he edged away from Carla. 

Dean rubbed his sweating palms on his jeans, thankful the breezy day spared him the awkwardness of explaining why he wasn’t wearing shorts. He hadn’t worn shorts since before his last deployment, when his body and life were changed forever. It was a day like any other, but one he would never forget the day of his last patrol. Two years later, he was looking at an uncertain future as a disabled vet who couldn’t stand on his own two feet without the aid of a cane.

He watched the maroon-clad knight, Ethan, round on his opponent, swing his sword and drive the man to his knees. Kicking him in the chest, he raised his hands in celebration as the man toppled backwards. Half of the crowd cheered. The other half booed. An armour-less man dressed in a black and white tunic bearing the colours and crest of the entertainment troop rushed forward to help the defeated knight to his feet.

“Honour her majesty!”

One after another, the armoured men dropped to one knee, heads bowed in the direction of a short, round, blonde-haired woman, who despite her smile, looked as though she’d just tasted something disgusting. Ethan stuck his sword into the dirt, removed his helmet then knelt on one knee.
Dean inhaled sharply. Long, light-brown hair was tied at the nape of the man’s neck, and beads of sweat ran down the sides of his face. His angular jaw gave way to the subtle lines hidden beneath armour.

“Ethan’s gay, by the way, and single,” Carla whispered in his ear. “I thought you might like him.”

“You told me in one of the letters you sent me. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to play matchmaker,” Dean said good-naturedly, hugging his sister.

“Why shouldn’t I want my brother to find true love?”

He wasn’t sure about true love, but Dean wondered what it would be like to get fucked by Ethan. The single photograph Carla had sent him of Ethan was decidedly less sexy than the sight on the field in front of him. Dean started. How long had it been since he’d thought about another guy? Too long, he chastised himself. There was no guarantee that Ethan was single, and Dean had to meet a player he liked. He strongly suspected Ethan was a top, which suited him fine. Dean had topped before, but he preferred bottoming. So had Brad, his ex, so he’d ended up topping more often than not, wanting to make his lover happy. It hadn’t been enough to keep Brad from cheating on him.

Dean remembered the day he’d come home early and found Brad in their bed, technically Dean’s bed, with one of the company clerks. Dean shook his head, pulling himself from his memories, surprised to find all of the armoured men standing in the centre of the ring. The combatants squared off. Dean winced when Ethan was hit first in the leg by one person followed closely on the back of the helmet by the knight in the green and yellow tunic.

“Come on, I’ll introduce you to him. You’ll like him.” Carla giggled.

Dean smiled and nodded trying to keep his excitement at bay.

“Ethan! Lord Blackmoore!” Carla called out, drawing the attention of several knights.

“You fought wonderfully, as always,” Carla said, hugging Ethan.

“Ethan, this is my brother Dean Hudson,” Carla said, reaching for Dean. “Dean, this is one of my best friends, Ethan Moreland, also known as Lord Blackmoore, one of the Knights of Steel.”

“Nice to meet you, Dean. Welcome home.” Ethan held out his hand.

Dean moved his cane to the other hand and shook hands with Ethan, who ran his thumb over Dean’s knuckles. Desire ran rampant through Dean’s body, pooling in his groin at the contact. “Nice to meet you too,” Dean replied, wishing he knew Ethan well enough to move the errant strand of light brown hair that fell across one dark eye.

“You’re being summoned my lord,” Carla said, turning from them towards the arena where the other knights had gathered.

“You will be staying for a while right?” Ethan asked, looking from Dean to Carla and back again.
Dean saw the plea in sister’s eyes, pushed aside his growing discomfort and nodded. He wanted today to be special for her. On top of working, raising her kids and trying to have a life, she’d been looking after him since he’d returned home.

“It was nice to meet you,” Dean said, half hoping he’d get to know Ethan better.

“My pleasure, Dean. My pleasure,” Ethan answered, running two knuckles along Dean jaw line. Dean thought he saw a look of possession in Ethan’s eyes before the man turned and left them.

“Come on. Let’s go see more of the faire,” Carla began as soon as Ethan was out of hearing distance. She hooked an arm through his and pulled him away from the arena. “So, what do you think?”

“They do this for fun?” Dean looked around at the vast array of costumes ranging from elegant to gaudy. He leaned heavily on his cane, carefully picking his way over the rough terrain.

** You can find Knight of Pleasure Here** 



Monday, January 8, 2018

From the Writer's Desk - An Interesting Start

2018 is off to an interesting start. I'm still not sure what to make out of it. I still believe it is going to be a great year, but forming new habits is difficult and if it's not something that is done everyday, it's easy to forget. Especially achieving goals. 

I had an extended weekend from my day job to ring in the New Year. What I hadn't quite realized was the extent I needed that vacation or how close to burn-out I was. I did manage to write on Behind the Masque on Monday, the 1st. But that was the only day. I did write on Thursday and Friday of last week on Marked, a book that I'm writing longhand, generally at work, but it goes everywhere with me, so it's an anywhere sort of work in progress as my laptop is no longer portable. The screen has to be in just the right position so I can see what's on the monitor. I woke up late both Thursday and Friday and decided to forgo my normal morning routine. Again. It didn't bother me that I missed my routine, but I did notice that I wasn't as productive or focused on my goals, both the big picture and the monthly goals. I also had a headache that lasted from Wednesday when I woke up through Saturday, which meant writing would have been harder, but not impossible, it's not like I had a migraine or one of those extremely intense and painful headaches, this was more annoying - pain-wise, but added to the stress from work and it was an easy excuse to not write. Or do much of anything.  And that's bad, because it was an excuse to not do something hard in favor of something easy. Since I'm having to re-establish my writing routine, anything that I allow to distract me from that routine, because it's easier, less messy, less whatever, means my goal of being able to write full time is no longer my priority. 

I also didn't write over the weekend. I worked Saturday, then did laundry, which isn't bad, but I have to go to the laundromat and that seriously sucks. Sunday was a different story - furnace died sometime during the night on Saturday or early Sunday morning, and the pipes froze, which meant I didn't have heat or water. We had space heaters, but the furnace needed a part that the tech had to order. It was a long, cold day and night.

We should have heat today and the pipes should unthaw between the heat in the house and the heatwave - it's over freezing with extremely cold windchills (for Michigan). So,  I have an extra day off. R's second semester at college started today, so s/he couldn't miss that.

I plan on writing today. My word goal for the year is 365000 words, which is 1,000 words a day.  Writing in 15 minutes increments, with a daily goal of to only write 15 minutes a day, means on average, I may only write 250 words a day, which is a bit less than 1,000. But the 15 minute goal is really only a starting place. It's small enough that I'm not setting myself up to fail, but it also lets me challenge myself. So, if my word count for 15 minutes was only 87 words, then I've challenged myself to go again for another 15 minutes to get a more respectable word count. And by then, I'm at a point where I want to know what is going to happen. I'm a pantser, I have no idea what's going to happen before I write it.

This week's goals/tasks are:
+ Write 15 minutes everyday on Behind the Masque (working on Marked is fine, but doesn't go toward my goal because I want Behind the Masque finished by the end of January)
+ Work on my Series Bibles for Bissari Confederation and Smuggler's Cove. - I'm using One Note to create my Series Bibles, but I want to look into other options as I want to move Apple and I want something that I can use on that platform as well so I don't have to rebuild everything and I don't lose everything.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year - Looking Ahead to 2018

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope everyone's 2018 is better than their 2017. May you have a year of blessings, surrounded by people you love and who love you in return. Pursue your dreams. They can happen - become a reality. Set your goals and work every day toward them. Personally, I've been looking forward to 2018 since probably the middle of November. I took a hard look at my year, both professionally and personally.  I summed up the results below.

My favorite memories from 2017 include:

* R graduating from high school.
* Taking R for first a college visit then to get books after s/he was accepted to the local community college.
* Visiting with family and friends, especially my aunt and uncle from Texas.

The Positive:
* I made sense of money matters.
* I discovered the Miracle Morning
* I discovered the Writing Excuses Podcast
* Learning to deal create and update my own website.

The Negatives:
* Depression, PTSD, and Stress
* Lack of motivation
* I didn't finish, submit, or have anything published this year.

What held me back:
* Fear
* Depression
* Anxiety
* Lack of planning
* Lack of focus

What helped:
* Establishing a morning routine (Miracle Morning)
* Listening to the Writing Excuses Podcast - motivation
* Readjusting my goals so I'm setting myself up for success instead of failure. - Short, time based goals.
* Accountability - posting my word count update to Instagram.

My 2017 Goals were:

* Ideally, I want to write 12 books, my goal is 5. -- I didn't finish any

* Write 365,000 words -- which sounds like a lot until you realize it's only 1,000 words a day.  Some authors manage 6,000 - that's my goal, but I still have a day job and life stress, so, 1,000 it is.

1st Quarter - 14, 455
2nd Quarter - 12,049
3rd Quarter - 8,368
4th Quarter - 6,631

Total - 41, 503 words

Best month - January (7,303)
Worst month - October (79)

* Read 26 books
      3 Classics
      3 Non-Fiction
      20 - Whatever

 Read 12 - 
    3 Classics
    3 Non-Fiction
    6 Whatever - 
          5 fiction
          1 non-fiction

* Blog Weekly - nope.

In Review -

Numbers are nice, but without a point of reference or context, they're just numbers.  January as a high number makes sense, because I entered 2017 with tons of energy. October as the lowest number kind of surprised me. It's probably misleading a bit though. I wrote long-hand on a couple of stories - started them anyway, but those words aren't counted in the numbers above. It could be as much as 2500 words off, but I haven't counted and I'm not sure where I stuck either notebook to count. I figured I'd count them when I typed them in, but I haven't done that yet.

October and November are particularly busy at the day job, but this year there was a lot more stress, and it leaked over into December. All of it. The paycheck was nice, but I'm burnt out. It's taken about a week for me to start to feel normal again. I have a long weekend and because of the crappy weather, I haven't had to go out or do a whole lot. Which is nice. I stitched and read. Mostly stitched. But, I'm ready to get back to work. Not to my day job, but to writing. To the job I really really want to have.

One of the things I have to take into account going forward is the almost non-stop negativity and hatred that seems to be permeating everything. For me, it's draining. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically. It's more important that ever for me to find the joy in the every day things. In small things. Squirrels playing. Deer eating. Early morning undisturbed snow. The brilliant Full Moon tonight.  It will come in finding people and causes to support, that are worth spending the energy on.

Looking Ahead to 2018

I plan on continuing my short, time-based daily goal of  writing 15 minutes a day. I have to build the writing momentum back up, and it's hard to start again after not writing for a while. At least it is for me with all I've been dealing with.

One of the things I realized that I missed and am missing in my life is a writers group. More than just a writer's group, but to hang out and talk with other writers. I need to get out and meet new people period. But, I do need to find a critique group or start one and I'll rejoin RWA when my taxes come in.

I do have a word count goal I'd like to hit, but I would rather focus on finishing projects. So, I'll be tracking my word count in my Sprint Log and on my project trackers, but my focus is for 2018 is to really get back into a regular writing routine. I know I will need to deal with mental health issues occasionally, but hopefully they won't become debilitating.

I have broken my yearly goals down into quarterly goals and monthly goals. To me, goals should be in manageable chunks that don't set you up for failure, push you or motivate you, and can be measured accurately.  

For January my goals are:

Finish "Behind the Masque"
Write 15 minutes every day

I thought about saying I only have to write 5 times a week, but the idea is to re-build a habit. New habits take 30 days to form completely and solidly. So, every day. Because, I actually don't like my job. Not really. I love the mission of the organization, but it doesn't make me happy. Writing makes me happy. This is how I want to spend my days. My goal in 2018 is to myself on the path to being able to write full time. 

Happy New Year!!
Have a Blessed Year,

Monday, December 18, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Mid-December

I'm really not sure where 2017 went to. I do know that I've been looking forward to 2018 since the last couple of days in November.

I started Bullet Journaling sometime around September/October of 2016. I discovered it earlier in the summer, but wasn't sure how it would work for me. I have a day job and a teenager. Some things are routine and other things come out of left field. But it became tremendously helpful as R and I started planning for graduation and college. One of the Bullet Journaler's I follow is Boho Berry, one of the books she mentioned last year and again this was Lisa Jacobs - Best Year Ever 2017 and Best Year Ever 2018.  The idea sounds good - plan for business or life and how to improve them to get where you want to go. My goal is to be a better me, to be the writer I want to be, that I know I can be. So, I look for the books and the tools that will help me be the best me possible.

I hemmed and I hawwed,  then I decided to purchase the e-Book version of the Best Year Ever 2017, which was on clearance, to see if there were enough principles, enough ideas that I could use. And, there seems to be. Lisa's books are really meant for online entrepreneurs who have direct sale products. But, I think with some slight modifications the exercises will work for me. I'm still hammering out my 2018 goals and plans, when I do, I'll share. Because if I put it out to the world, then I'm responsible - accountable for those goals in a way that keeping them private doesn't make me do. I can fudge more, ignore them easier. Harder to ignore or fudge something when you talk about it with others.


At the end of November I mentioned that I was changing my daily goal from an hour a day to 15 minutes a day. I started that November 27th. I think I've missed 4 days of writing since then. 3 of those were this past week - Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. One of the days I wrote for an hour and a half and wrote 1300 words. That is phenomenal for me. So, the 15 minutes a day works. For me. So, I'm going to continue it. 

I have been reading - not always daily, beyond my morning routine. I finished Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, which is dark and interesting - fascinating. I can't wait to read the rest of the series/trilogies.

I started Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Which is SOOOOO different from the Movie, but it's an easy read. I started and finished Your Best Year 2017. I'm challenging myself to read more and different next year. I need to put a few more finishing touches before I mention that though.

I'm working longer hours at the day job, which I don't particularly like, but it's helping to pay my bills, which keeps my stress levels down, which means it's actually a bit easier to write. I write by the seat of my pants, but in my own life I work better when I have a plan - even a barely working one - that lets me deal with whatever issue is going on in my life.

This week, my goals are:

+ Write 15 minutes a day
+ Finish my Series Bibles
+ Finish purging the crap in my house.
+ Schedule an appointment to get a quote on the plumbing for my house.
+ Read 30 minutes a day.

 What are your goals for the New Year? Do you have a plan to succeed?


Monday, November 27, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - November Wrap-Up

I think it's safe to say that the goals I set at the beginning of November and my NaNoWriMo plans are a complete wash. I was so swamped at work, I'm still catching up with my normal job in addition to the mound of stuff that I was slammed with, that I didn't do much of anything outside of work, eat dinner, and sleep. That is a really crappy way to spend a month. I miss writing. I miss all of my friends that I've met through writing. I focused on self-care during this month, because of the stress and the high number of hours that I've been working that I don't normally work. It served to remind me that I would, actually, rather be writing. That is my goal. My dream.

We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, with the busiest part ahead of us. With the New Year, there are new Goals and resolutions that will be made - to lose weight, be healthier, be kinder, be richer, to travel more, to travel less, to buy a new house or car - or both. I am in the process of setting my goals for 2018, they aren't definitive yet. I will share those later. But, those goals revolve around my goal - my dream - of being a full time writer. Whatever your dream is, that is what you should be following - unless it's illegal/unethical/immoral - then there could be some issues.

As we enter the last week of November, my goals this week are fairly simple. I'm making them with the knowledge that finding the motivation to write every day is easy if you write every day, but it's extremely difficult and somewhat overwhelming if you stop - whatever the reason.  I found a podcast that I've been listening to on the way to and from work and when I walk - Writing Excuses - hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal  - in Season 11, Episode 4 - here - Mary mentioned that starting writing again was like going to the gym for the first time in a while - you have to start small.

Currently, my daily goal is to write for an hour every day, which doesn't seem overwhelming - it doesn't feel overwhelming to me - mentally or physically, yet I don't do it. So, with that in mind, and that I still have a fairly busy schedule at my day job for the next 2 weeks or so, I'm resetting my goals:

- Write 15 minutes every day
- Read 30 minutes a day
- Spend 15 minutes a day on the series bibles.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.


Monday, November 20, 2017

From the Writer's Desk -- Thank You1

Every day I'm grateful for not only for my abilities to write, but the chance to meet and interact with all of the readers, authors, publishers, and editors that I have met since I began seriously writing.  I am incredibly blessed, Thank You.

Monday, November 13, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - It's November!!

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month Started almost two weeks ago.  It's something I've participated in for years. I've yet to win -- completing 50,000 words in one month, but I always try. This year, I started. I have 63 words on new project. Not only am I stuck on it, I have been working a lot of over time this month at the day job. It's our busy season. So, my NaNo participation became - well, if I write - I write, if I don't - I don't. I'm sure there are those people out there who can work 10 to 12 hours a day plus a commute and deal with kids  - and probably a spouse - and come home and cook dinner and still have time to write - I'm not that person anymore. It's draining and I end up half-assing everything, which isn't good for anybody. So, self care comes first. If I can write, I do. If I can't, I don't. I still set a goal to write one hour every day or 7 hours a week.

This weekend, I did absolutely no writing, however, I did spend almost 6 hours working on my Series Bibles for several of the series I have in the works in addition to the 3 hours of research I did over the course of the week. So, that goal has been met, even if I didn't write a word towards NaNo.

My goal this week is to write 7 hours on the same writing project - either the NaNo project, Behind the Masque, or Marked.  I'm still working on my New Year Purge, I'm finding it very freeing to get rid of stuff, condense, and organize things.