The Rules of Regret is LIVE!

Get it now on amazon and B&N!

“Life doesn’t come with a blueprint, which makes it hard to have any plans.”

Nineteen-year-old Darby Duncan is finally on her own. Her boyfriend of six years just left for a high-powered summer internship, though in reality he’s been absent for much longer than that. This newfound freedom wasn’t a part of Darby’s plans, but as she’s come to discover, plans only exist on paper, not in reality.

And guys like Torin Westbrook aren’t supposed to exist in reality, either. But he does, with his disheveled curly hair, irresistible dimples, and endearingly quirky habit of reciting quotes from classic movies and ancient thinkers. When Darby meets Torin as a fellow counselor at the survival camp she impulsively applies to, she’s certain his main goal is to turn her world upside-down.

But Darby’s not sure she can adapt to Torin’s ways of viewing his past and the tragedies he’s faced. Because she’s had her own share of heartache, too, and as much as she wants to believe that it’s all been for a purpose, her grief hasn’t allowed her to get to that point. Yet the more Darby is around Torin, the more she craves the freedom to break out of her carefully constructed routine and mindset and fall into something new.

She’s just not sure that she should be falling for Torin along the way.

(The Rules of Regret is a non-explict, new adult romance.)

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Spring Fling Book Boyfriend Giveaway!

Need a new book boyfriend? Well, with this giveaway, you have the chance to choose between several! Will it be Liam the charmer or quarterback Joel from TRACED? Go for mysterious, dark and moody? How about Adrian from RECRUITED? Or maybe you prefer his brother, Paxton, the laid back, dreadheaded surfer type. Still waiting for your hero to show up and rescue you? How about Ran the gorgeous paramedic from DEMANDING RANSOM. Take your pick, or hey, take them all, I won’t judge 🙂

The SPRING FLING BOOK GIVEAWAY includes:

1. Signed copy of TRACED (Part 1 in The Outlier Chronicles)

2. Signed copy of RECRUITED (Part 2 in The Outlier Chronicles)

3. Signed copy of DEMANDING RANSOM

4. Custom Quote Necklace from DEMANDING RANSOM: “I fell in love with you fast, I fell in love with you forever.”

5. Signed TRACED bookmark

6. TRACED & RECRUITED holographic photograph

To enter to win, just go here and follow the instructions: a Rafflecopter giveaway
.

(Note that some entries can be done daily). The winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 22nd. Good luck!

Demanding Ransom…sneak peek at the photoshoot

I love when my worlds collide. My passion for writing is just as strong as my love for photography, and when the two come together, something magical just happens. I couldn’t have asked for a better Maggie and Ran. Greta and Cameron were truly amazing in front of the camera and really brought my characters to life. I still have hundreds of images to go through, but these are some of my favorites.m1web rm1edit_web m2web m3web r2web r3edit_webrm4webr4bw_web r5bw_web r7web rm2web rm3web rm5edit_web rm6web rm7web rm8web rm9web dr4web r3fb_teaser_web

sneak peek | DEMANDING RANSOM

I’ve been a busy bee over here. While my editors have RECRUITED in their hands, I’ve been spending time with Maggie and Ran from my upcoming new adult contemporary novel, DEMANDING RANSOM. Because I’m terrible at keeping things to myself and because I’m dying for you all to fall in love with them as much as I have already, here’s a rough draft sneak peek to tide you over until it debuts this spring! Enjoy!

DEMANDING RANSOM — due out spring 2013

“Wake up.” I poke Ran’s shoulder with the tip of my ballpoint pen. He doesn’t flinch; his heavy breathing doesn’t falter. “Wake up.” I poke him again, and still no movement, not even the fluttering of his eyelids. Nothing. It’s like he’s in a coma on my bed and has been for the past three hours.

I’ve been able to finish up a significant portion of my essay, enough that I feel comfortable taking the rest of the evening off to go out to dinner with Ran. Comfortable might not be the right word, because nothing about Ran makes me comfortable. Uneasy, anxious, and lightheaded are much better descriptions.

He’s still soundly asleep, so I stick him with the pen and my stomach rumbles a low, hollow growl. Though the thought of dinner makes me nauseous with apprehension, the need to satiate this hunger for food makes going out with Ran feel like a necessity. So that’s what I plan to do. Go out with him because the alternative is starving to death. I think it’s my only option. These are my survival instincts taking over, nothing more.

I push the pen against his bare arm again, lining it up with the ink that’s permanently etched there already, and he’s still totally dead to the world. Opening up the desk drawer, I slide out a pair of scissors, keep them closed, and press them into the flesh on his bicep as I hiss, “Ran, wake up!

His eyes instantly surge open and it takes him a hesitant moment before his surroundings come into focus and can make any sense to him. Then he looks down at the scissors in my hand. I’m not sure how that image can make any sense at all. “What the hell, Maggie?” Ran bolts upright. “What were you planning to do to me with those?”

“I was just trying to wake you up. The pen didn’t work.” I lower my gaze to the floor, only realizing how stupid I sound once the words tumble from my lips.

“And a calm, comforting hand on the shoulder accompanied by a sweet, ‘Time to wake up, Ran,’ wouldn’t do? Instead I get Maggie Scissorhands as my wakeup call?”

“I didn’t want to touch you,” I breathe, yanking on the drawer to stow away my scissors and pen, wanting to pull out the tape dispenser in order to seal my mouth shut. Why do I feel the need to disclose any of this to him?

“I don’t have cooties, Maggie.” Without warning, Ran’s hand seizes mine and he presses my palm onto his chest. It’s firm, like he’s paid skillful attention to this specific part of his body at the gym to make it this way. “See, no cooties.” His confident smile would be enough to make me woozy, but the tapping of his heart pulsing just under my fingertips makes my ears flood with a dizzying rush and my head spins in circles.

“I’m not so sure. I don’t know that I’d be infected right away.” I tug my hand back and twist my fingers in my lap. “I think cooties have a least a 24-hour incubation period.”

“You have nothing to worry about, Maggie.” Ran rakes his fingers through his dark hair, rustling it back into a tousled, bedhead styling. “I was immunized against cooties when I was five. You can’t catch them from me.” He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and his feet hit the floor. Suddenly we’re knee to knee: Ran sitting on my bed and me in my desk chair. “But there’s something you can catch.”

“What’s that?” My lips quiver when I speak. I bite down hard to scold them, drawing up the smallest amount of blood.

“Me,” he says confidently. “I’ve been told in the past I’m quite a catch.”

“And who would have fed you this lie?” I challenge, because he makes it so easy.

“Pretty much every single—and some not-so-single—woman I’ve transported to the hospital.”

“So is that what you do? Drug your female patients to get them to fall hopelessly in love with you?” I ask, not entirely certain that this assertion is as off the wall as it sounds.

“Are you saying that you’re hopelessly in love with me, Maggie?”

“Are you admitting to drugging me?”

“Touché.” Ran winks and gives me that unfair, devilish grin he’s totally perfected. “So, what do you feel like for dinner?”

my latest endeavor

Just when I think I have The Outlier Chronicles fleshed out, a storyline for a completely separate book creeps into my brain and completely takes over. On Saturday night I had the idea for a New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel (sheesh, that’s a lot of words) and now it’s Tuesday and I’m 10,000 words in and can’t get the characters out of my head. Since I’m so excited about this new, stand alone book, I thought I’d share a very rough draft of the first chapter (there is a prologue before this, but you’ll have to wait until it’s published to read that.) I’m working on ideas for titles, and right now am toying with “Heart for Ransom” or “My Ransom.” I’ll mostly likely end up scrapping both of those, but that’s what I’ve got so far.

(This book will be intended for older teens / college age, in that the heavier subject matter will be more fitting for a mature reader.)

CHAPTER ONE

“Ma’am, I need you to lie still.”

The lights are so bright in here. Like at the dentist when they angle you back in those uncomfortable tan chairs and then give you sunglasses to shield the glare. Or maybe it’s to keep stray bits of the plaque they scrape off your teeth from flying into your eyes. That’s probably the real reason they make you wear them, because that would be revolting. Whatever it is, I could use sunglasses right now. Why don’t they give you shades here?

“Do you have some sunglasses I could borrow?” My voice is raspy, crackling like a pre-pubescent boy’s. I haven’t spoken since the call and it feels like I have to relearn how to place my tongue against my teeth and the roof of my mouth to form the words and make them sound the way they should.

He laughs at me, a low, sexy chuckle deep in his throat and catches me completely off-guard. “No Ma’am. We don’t have sunglasses.” He turns to his left and mutters, “Trav, hand me that paper?”

I assume whoever “Trav” is does as he’s told, because within seconds, and after the sound of tape being torn and paper rustling, the light dims significantly.

“There. That any better?”

I attempt a nod, but my neck won’t allow it. “Yes, much.”

“You need to try to stay still, Ma’am.”

I grit my teeth and open my eyes wide. “Ma’am? Really?”

He laughs again. Now that the light isn’t as blinding, I can see him more clearly, which is weird because I’d always assumed you needed light to see. But before he was silhouetted against it, and now it diffuses softly across his face. He has a nice face. I like his face.

Oh man, my head feels really light. So does my whole body. Like a balloon filled with helium. I like balloons, too. Geez, what did they give me?

“You don’t want me to call you Ma’am?” He drags a hand through his hair and the brown strands situate back into their tousled position.

“No, I don’t. I like your face and I like balloons, but I don’t like being called Ma’am.”

A burst of laughter erupts from someone positioned near my head—probably Trav—but the guy in front of me holds his stoic gaze. “If you like my face, then why were you asking for sunglasses? That would make it pretty hard to see me.” I glimpse a coy smile pull up the corners of his mouth. His lips are full and ruby red. I like his lips, too.

“Because you guys keep it so damn bright in here.”

“Well, usually we can turn the lights down while we’re driving, but something went haywire with them last week. Repairing that has kind of taken a backseat to you know, saving lives and all,” he says, still placed in front of me. I hear Trav scribbling something down on a piece of paper nearby. “Plus, we’re supposed to keep a close watch on our patients. Lighting helps with that.”

“You need light so you can see my face,” I explain, just in case he didn’t get it. “I have a nice face, too.”

“Yes, Maggie, you have a nice face, too.” I can hear the smile in his voice and when his hand grasps my wrist, the shock of it spikes my breathing. “You have to slow down that heart rate, Maggie, or we’re going to get in trouble for not stabilizing you in the field.”

“That would be easier to do if you didn’t touch me.” I wiggle my toes. The shoes are gone. Crap. I hope they weren’t left out there with my car. Cora’s going to have my head if I don’t return them. Maybe she won’t notice they’re missing. Not a chance, Cora notices everything.

“You don’t want me to touch you?” He’s done checking my pulse, but his fingers still hover over my skin, fluttering my insides. “Cause I can switch with Trav and he can do all of this if you like. But I guarantee you, his ugly mug isn’t as pleasant to look at as my nice face.”

“Dude, you’re cruel.” Trav pipes up from his post at the side of the ambulance wall. “It’s not right to mess with them when they’re medicated.”

I nod—well more like roll—because nodding my head makes it loll side to side. If it weren’t attached to my neck, I think it might actually tumble right off my shoulders.

“I’m not messing with her.” He checks my pulse again.

“Whatever, Ran. What’s her rate?”

“158.”

A gust of air rushes out of Trav’s mouth and it smells like an odd mix of coffee and mint. “Dude, you seriously need to get that down.”

“Working on it.” Ran pushes off his seat and presses something into an IV bag hanging above me. It looks like a balloon. Weird.

“Are you qualified to do that?” I ask, gesturing toward the bag, lifting my hand slightly but it feels like there’s a weight coiled around it that tugs with an equal amount of resistance.

“Administer an IV?” Ran asks at the same time he clips the cap on whatever is in his hands. “Yes, I am. I’m a paramedic and have completed over 1,500 hours of training. That should give me a little authority.” He drops the syringe into a canister near him and it clatters against the plastic. “I’m more than just a pretty face, Maggie.”

Trav’s shoulders pull up and he situates himself in his seat. “Sit, Ran. We’re here.”

I blink my eyes. “Where?”

Ran slumps down next to me and wraps his hands around the metal frame of the stretcher I’m draped across. He stabilizes it as we rock over a speed bump and coast into park. “We’re at the hospital, Maggie.”

I expel a hot sigh of relief. “Oh good,” I smile, my head spinning like I’ve just completed twenty pirouettes en pointe. “That’s exactly where I was headed.”

Liam Hollander | a TRACED character shoot

When I began writing TRACED, I had a vision in my head for the characters. Both Joel and Liam were easy to imagine, Tessa was much harder. Since the story was told from her perspective, I never really had a clear image of her–everything was seen through her eyes. But when a friend of mine found our “Tessa,” I literally squealed out loud. She just was Tessa. We did her shoot last month, and I’m having an impossible time narrowing down the images to share, but check back this week for a full post of our Tessa (and it’s going to be a long one!).

Though I had a specific vision for what both of the guys looked like, I really doubted I’d be able to find the perfect fit like our Tessa model was. I’ve been disappointed so many times in the past by authors or producers that cast people who don’t match the face I had in my mind as I read the book. So I’ve been so beyond thrilled with each of my models for these shoots. Our “Liam” was a great fit–he really brought my idea of Liam to life.

As both a photographer and a writer, I feel like my creative worlds are colliding and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I hope you are just as excited as I am to “meet” the characters!

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Black Friday FREEBIE!

The kindle version of TRACED is available until midnight for free on amazon. Happy Black Friday!

you are what you cr(eat)e

We’ve all heard it before. You are what you eat. I’ve always hated this phrase because if it’s true, based on what I consume the most of, I’d be a 24 ounce cup of bubbly, fizzy soda pop. I like to think there’s more to me than the massive amounts of Diet Coke I down each day, and I’m quite certain there is.

So if I could change it, I’d coin my own term by adding just a few extra letters to the original phrase. You are what you create.

We all create on a daily basis whether we are aware of it or not. From choosing our children’s outfits for school to organizing a dinner menu, our brains are constantly putting things together, constantly creating on levels both large and small.

It’s in our blood to create. It’s who we are. Just look all around at the creation that surrounds us. There’s creativity at work even in the littlest of things. Watch a spider as it dexterously weaves its web, fashioning an intricate tapestry of thread. Watch a toddler as he stacks his colorful wooden blocks to form a tower as tall as he. In nearly everything we do, there is some level of creativity pouring out of us.

Sometimes our creations are solely for ourselves. Other times they are intended for others. And sometimes, what begins as a creation meant to satisfy an inner desire, a drive to try something new, turns into something that others get the chance to experience as well.

When I wrote TRACED I wasn’t even sure that anyone’s eyes other than my own would ever see it. I felt compelled to get the words out, felt led to fabricate this story that was filling my mind and keeping me awake at night. But what’s interesting about creating something is that we’re wired to want to share it. For those that play an instrument, composing a piece and playing it for others is the ultimate use of their gift. For those that love cooking, there is nothing more satisfying than preparing a four course meal for friends and family. When we create, we want others to share in the culmination of our efforts.

But sharing can be scary. Terrifying, actually. When we create, it’s something that’s in us that comes out. There’s a vulnerability in letting others in, in putting yourself out there. Because when you do, you’re inviting critique. You’re inviting assessment. Because just as much as it’s in our nature to create, it’s in our nature to formulate opinions based on those creations. And that’s a great thing. These opinions are what shape us, what define our likes and dislikes, our preferences and our tastes.

And we all have differences of opinion, which is what makes us unique. I know I wouldn’t want to live in a world where we were all the same, where we all liked the same things. Difference of opinion–and having that freedom–is even at the heart of our society. We’re allowed the choice to support something, to like something, and to even dislike it.

What’s harder is being on the receiving end of those differences. I’d experienced it with my photography–known that not everyone would love my style, the way I photographed, or even the subjects I chose to photograph. But I forced myself to not take it personally. So they didn’t like one photo–no biggie. I liked it and my client loved it and that’s who I created it for.

So I figured writing a book wouldn’t be all that different. I mean, of course I knew there are people that don’t like the dystopian genre. There are those that aren’t fond of love triangles where the protagonist has to choose between two equally likeable guys. There are some that just don’t like young adult fiction. I got that because there are plenty of literary works that aren’t my cup of tea, either. I have my preferences, too. So I figured I’d easily be able to separate myself from the reviews, both good and bad. Shouldn’t be too hard now, should it?

Umm…wrong.

Feedback is powerful thing. Hearing that someone loves the story, that they connected with the characters and can’t wait to read more about their journey ushers in a feeling that is nearly indescribable. It’s the applause for the musician after he has played his composition. It’s the five star review for the chef that prepared a meal with his own hands. It’s the knowledge that something you poured yourself into was well received. That the risk you took in opening yourself up–in exposing yourself–was entirely worth it.

Will everyone like your creation? No, of course not. That just comes with the (incredibly scary) territory. But you’ll never know unless you put yourself out there. If you don’t try out for that school play, if you don’t paint that mural, if you don’t write that book, you’ll never know. And to me, never knowing is even more frightening than the fear of potential failure.

So keep creating, keep sharing, and keep critiquing. And who knows, maybe your willingness to shed your own fears will one day lead someone else to step out and do the same. And even if that’s the only thing that results from your attempt at vulnerability, then it’s entirely worth it in my opinion.

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teen read week | day six

I’ve been loving these daily giveaways! Congratulations Shachi–you won yesterday’s $15 Barnes and Noble e-gift card! I’ll be emailing you today about your winnings!

 

And because I really wanted to spread the love, today’s giveaway is for everyone! Until midnight tonight, I’ll be offering my kindle version of Traced for FREE on amazon.com. So what are you waiting for? Go on over and snag your copy while you can!

And if you feel ever so inclined, feel free to share using the buttons below, or by pinning this awesome graphic my friend Eric made.

 

Source: amazon.com via Eric on Pinterest