July 6, 2015

Contours of the Heart - the Poem

I received an interesting question through email last week - one I've answered before in interviews, ask-the-author queries on places like Goodreads, and other email inquiries, but never here on the blog: Where did Lucas's tattooed poem originate?

Short answer: I wrote it.

Longer answer: I wrote it months before I had any conception of Jacqueline or Lucas - or Easy. I woke up with the lines in my head, but I was still half-asleep when I snatched my glasses off my night table, yanked the drawer open, grabbed a pencil and scratch paper, and jotted it down. (I'm convinced our brains are in full swing while we sleep, working through pressing problems and tackling all sorts of creative tasks like the Shoemaker's Elves. Whatever I'd been pondering when I nodded off must have been quite the romantic puzzle!)

I didn't recognize what I'd written as a poem, which was funny because I'd been composing poetry since age thirteen and you'd think the five binders I'd compiled over thirty some-odd years would have made it obvious, but nope. I did recognize it as, "Whoa. I should probably keep this," however - hence the drowsy scribbling. After coffee, I used the whatever-it-was (an epiphany of sorts?) as my daily blog post, because lazy. (Thank you for that, inherent inertia.)

Fast-forward a year and a half. I was writing Easy. I'd created a hero with a good heart, a tortured soul, and no desire whatsoever to tell my heroine (or ME) anything about his past. Lucas was the opposite of communicative. I had come at his story through Jacqueline, and I felt every ounce of her frustration at what she wasn't being told. She feared a likely heartbreak in his past - something that shattered him, something his feelings for her could never touch.

Four lines were inscribed on his ribcage - a tattooed poem. I was ahead of Jacqueline, finally, in that I knew what she would find when she went digging. I knew how those words connected Lucas to his painful past. Having examined the poetry collections on my shelves and online, looking for the perfect verse, I was losing hope of finding anything acceptable when it hit me that Lucas's connection to Jacqueline was all too similar to his father's connection to his mother: a brooding, logical man in love with an sensitive, artistic woman.

That realization was triggered by a song from my playlist: Hardliners by Holcombe Waller. (Proof that art inspires art, and the reason I create a playlist for each novel which I often listen to on replay while writing.) I pulled up my blog, entered logic into the search box, and found the short post I'd written more than a year before, titled Absence. Rearranged, those words became Lucas's tattoo:

The final four words also became the title of the series that now includes Easy, Breakable, and Sweet.

April 30, 2015


My husband and I were teenagers when we got married. We were clueless about many things, but education was not one of those things for Paul; neither was ambition. He began college at seventeen, graduated at twenty-one, and leapt full-force into his career. Not content to slide into a position and resign himself to it, he continued to learn - trading skills he'd attained skills for those he wanted. He has been a software engineer, a development manager, an operations VP, a finance director and an adjunct professor.

My career road was more winding. We started a family and I spent my time raising children, reading and writing. I'd always wanted to be a novelist, but it seemed a near-unattainable goal. There was no such thing as indie publishing. Back then, it was called vanity publishing, and it was accomplished by paying thousands of dollars to have books printed so a few could be sold to family or friends and the rest could molder in a garage or basement or coat closet. This was not something a writer did if he or she ever desired be taken seriously in the literary world.

When digital publishing took off a few years ago, it was viewed the same way… Until gatekeepers were swept aside and authors found readers and began to make a living writing novels New York didn't want.

My novel-writing aspirations weren't dreams of fame and fortune - my dream was to tell the stories in my head. My hope was to write something that would be meaningful to faceless future readers. But when I checked back flaps of novels in the bookstore, novelists seemed to belong to an elite club to which I would never gain entrance. I thought I would need an MFA in creative writing and contacts in publishing and a NYC address to even have a shot.

Eventually, I decided to push those fears to the side because even if obstacles seem insurmountable, striving toward a goal is better than doing nothing and making that impossibility absolute. So I returned to school to complete my BA in English literature. I raised my family. I worked at jobs that helped fill the coffers but didn't fill my soul. My soul was fed when I sat in front of my computer for hours during evenings and weekends to write. My hopes were reignited when I attended conferences to master my craft at a deeper level and meet likeminded people and literary agents.

My efforts to become a "real" writer were never merely tolerated or treated as a frivolous hobby by my significant other. At every point along the way, he was encouraging and emotionally supportive. And when Between the Lines began to amass rejections from agents as had previous manuscript attempts (shelved on my hard drive), and my belief in doing the one and only thing I'd ever really wanted to do waned, he empowered me with the words You can do this.

And then he backed up those words by spending his weekends formatting manuscripts into digital books.

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of my journey as an author - four years since Between the Lines went out into the world. My intention was to get it out the door so I could focus on writing the next book. My quiet hope was that I would sell fifty copies. To date, that book has sold 100,000 copies, has been translated into Hungarian, and will be published in Portuguese and German within the next year. It turned into a four-book series that helped me grow as a writer. Without it, Easy would not exist. Without Paul's love and support, none of the books I've written would exist, because I'd have given up a long time ago.

I love reading and writing romance, but I don't need a hero. I've got one.

The dedication page of Between the Lines

April 27, 2015

Birthing a Book

I've just sent my seventh book out into the world.

Proof copies. So pretty on my kitchen counter!
Like flowers my cats can't destroy.

The birth of a book is a formidable event for most authors, no matter how excited we are. Like giving birth in a physical sense, there is an unavoidable loss of control while a million emotions battle for first place - from tenacious optimism to sheer terror.

Recently, someone asked me if the process gets easier with each subsequent book, and I couldn't help but laugh. In some ways, yes, experience pays. That's true of anything we human beings do (hopefully); the more we do a thing, the more skilled and seasoned we become. At the same time, expectations increase from one book to the next - those of the author, the publisher, the critics and the readers. This is especially true if we're ever wildly successful with one particular project.

Sweet is a slow-burn, character-driven romance about a love founded in friendship - my favorite to read and my favorite to write. Why? Because I believe the concept of friends-to-lovers is not merely a romantic trope. Because my heart knows this type of narrative inside and out, but never grows tired of it. Because friends who fall for each other is the best of real-life-love possibilities.

Happy book birthday, Sweet.

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