With five cats in the J Crew, this place gets haired up very easily so I kinda have to clean every day whether I want to or not, just to stay ahead of the furry apocalypse. In the process of cleaning the Bachelorette Pad yesterday (it’s a large wire crate with padding and cat beds on top, and a high-sided litter box inside. We refer to it as the Bachelorette Pad because the girls like to hang out there), I discovered to my dismay that one of the more … skilled felines has managed to pee over the 14 inch high edge of the litter box, spattering the bars of the crate and the floor and wall behind it).
As this is not the first time said skilled feline has managed this, I decided to take action. With a certain amount of effort I folded up the crate and dragged it outside to hose it down along with the crate tray, then located a piece of plexiglass that we’ll drill holes into and wire onto the back wall as a pee shield.
Then it was time to tackle the pee. To my increasing dismay, I discovered that the pee had run along the back of the cage and wicked into the base of a small wooden bookcase next to the Pad. This is one of two used bookcases that Ramón had picked up when he was in college, and I had always meant to refinish them when I had the chance. It seems that Fate intends that time to be now, so I unloaded the bookcase in order to move it into the garage, hit the affected area with Nature’s Miracle, then strip and refinish it.
(The floor? Eh, we want to replace the Pergo in there with hardwood anyway, so I’ll just Nature’s Miracle the crap out of it.)
In the process of moving the books, however, I found — well, I can’t really call it hidden treasure since it was out in clear view. Forgotten treasure, perhaps, in the form of a bunch of crime writer reference books (from back when I thought I would take a crack at writing mysteries and cop thrillers), plus a tome that is going to come in handy right now, Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England. I bought this back in 2009 when I was working on Most Malicious Murder, and it was incredibly helpful in supplying accurate background details for Eddy and Charles’s adventure in 1850. Now that I need to do research on 1894 for Shadow of the Swan, this book is once again going to come in handy.
The moral of this story is, if you’re a writer you can Marie Kondo the rest of your house to your heart’s content, but don’t touch your library because you never know when a specific reference books is going to come in handy.
The contract job is currently at a halt due to lack of work (hardly surprising) for at least May and possibly longer (seeing as a significant amount of Texans completely lost their shit and started crowding into public spaces on Friday during the state’s “partial” reopening, I’m bracing myself for a large spike in new COVID cases here in two weeks). But Ramón is still working, and I’ve spent the last eight months paying off almost all of our debt, so we should be able to weather it financially. And frankly, I need a break after the non-stop pace of the last four months.
What this also means, however, is that I can — ta da — go back to being a full-time writer for the foreseeable future! I sat down and worked out the following schedule (which may have to be adjusted if the contract job restarts at any point):
- May: Finish Shadow of the Swan and Shifter Woods: Growl (Esposito County Shifters 4).
- June: Let SotS cool, finish King of Blades (Two Thrones 4), edit and publish SW:G.
- July: Let KoB cool, edit and publish SofS, finish Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2).
- August: Let UP cool, edit and publish KoB.
- September: Edit and publish UP.
That would give me three 80+K novels and one novella for 2020, which is not bad. And yes, I know my timeline seems insanely short, but all those books are partially finished (21K on SofS, 4K on KoB, and 5K on UP), so it won’t take as long as it would do to finish a brand new book. Hell, SotS is supposed to be 80K and I can finish the remaining 57K in three weeks if I push.
But wait, I have stretch goals!
- September: Edit Deep Water (Olympic Cove 3) for re-release at the end of December, finish One Sweet Christmas (novella) for holiday sales.
- October: Finish Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), edit and publish OSC.
- November: Let CC cool, finish Windrider and the Deuce (Two Thrones Novella 2), release all four Shifter Woods novellas as a box set.
- December: Go on a fucking cruise and let my brain relax, edit CC and WatD, release DW once I get the rights back, release CC and WatD a week later.
Which would give me four new novels (SotS, KoB, UP, CC), one re-released novel (DW), three novellas (SW:G, OSC, WatD), and a box set (Shifter Woods) for 2020. Kinda challenging, but I also have to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2019 so I may as well go for it.
I am speaking from a place of immense privilege right now, and I’m well aware of it. Both of us are still working, we have money, we have food, we both still feel okay, and the relative who was ill with COVID-19 is now home and recovering. So lots of blessings there, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
Thing is, since I know how privileged I am, I’ve been pushing myself maybe a wee bit more than I should as a thank-you to Fate. For the last two weeks my average weekday has followed this pattern: wake up, feed the cats, do the WFH gig, do housework, make masks, make dinner, make more masks, fall into bed. My weekends have been: wake up, feed the cats, do a bunch more housework, make a bunch more masks, make dinner, maybe watch a couple of episodes of whatever on TV, fall into bed. Lots of masks made and sent off to people, lots of things cleaned around here, lots of work done for the day job … not a lot of down time for Nicola.
Today was similar — got up, fed the cats, attended the weekly company meeting then got to work, spent my lunch break making two more masks, worked through the afternoon, got the print proof of Breaker Zone and realized I needed to change something on the back cover for that and Storm Season, made the changes and uploaded them to Amazon, made an update to a client’s website, started a load of laundry, critted a friend’s poem, ate dinner that Ramón blessedly brought home, then suited up and went out to mail masks and do the weekly food stock-up (store was almost empty, got pretty much everything I needed apart from TP, nobody came within six feet of me, it was all good).
Part of my brain is saying, “Well, hey, don’t be a slacker. You still have over an hour before you need to go to bed — you can work on Shadow.” The other part of my brain is saying, “If you do anything other than make yourself a rum and coke and watch something soothing on Netflix, I swear to God I will blow an artery.” I want to write, I honestly do. But I’m so freaking exhausted that the idea of doing one more iota of work today is … no. Just no. Maybe I’ll have time tomorrow, and more energy.
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with C.R. Moss’s hot new release To Be His. Take it away, C.R.!
Thank you for having me on your blog! I’m happy to share with you and your readers my latest release.
First is some information about the series and the book…
About the Series
Nestled within the hills of central Texas is a special ranch. A place that defies the laws of physics—that of time, space, and dimensions. It’s a place where normal morphs with the paranormal and supernatural. A place that seems to know what a person’s true desires and needs are, and then allows the right circumstances to occur to fulfill those wishes.
Welcome to the Gateway Ranch.
Your gateway to all things possible…
I’m Professor Arianna Perez, and I’ve been asked if I’ll ever trust, let alone love, another man again. After dumping an abusive boyfriend, I doubted I would. At least, that’s how I felt until fate had sexy wrangler, Gavin Bishop, reappearing in my life in a way I never expected.
Against my better judgement, I fell hard for the cowboy, believing everything he said, including how he wanted to treat me like a queen and keep me safe. Little did I know, though, that the circumstances that brought us together could also tear us apart…
And possibly claim my life.
Smiling, I studied him some more. Every time I looked at his chiseled chest and the strip of hair going in a line from his belly button to a spot hidden by his jeans, my heart fluttered. Sure, I’d seen a lot of him in class, but this was just the two of us.
This was intimate.
I wanted to run my fingers along his skin. Play with the patch of hair. See where my caresses would lead to. I wanted to create with him. I’d felt this way with other boyfriends, even Chad, but never had the urge been so strong. Nor had I been able to gather the courage to do anything about it in the past. Except once. When my relationship with Chad had started imploding, a friend of mine gave me an art kit, one designed to help couples grow closer to each other. I’d shown it to Chad. He’d then called the gift, my idea, and me stupid, telling me I must be an idiot to think he’d be interested in such a “childish, preposterous activity.”
Asking him if he thought my career were those things, as well, spurred on a multi-hour argument that ended with him leaving and not returning for two nights. When he’d finally come home, he’d seemed remorseful and promised to do better by me. He had, too. For a couple of weeks. But we never had used the present.
Now would be a good time to make some new memories surrounding those art supplies.
After all, I seemed to have a very willing participant, who happened to be gorgeous in my opinion, beautifully proportioned in a trim, well-toned way, and desired little ol’ me. Gavin wanted me, had admitted to dreaming and fantasizing about me. Despite my concerns about our ages and how we used to know each other, I realized I felt the same about him.
I hungered for him.
“God, I want to paint you,” the awed words fell from my mouth before I could stop them.
“Thought that’s what we’re doing,” Gavin responded.
Clearing my throat, I jerked my attention from him, went to my paints, and faked looking for one. “Well, yes, but…” Spit it out, girl. Be brave. Have some fun. Gathering my resolve, I continued, “I want to get out a gift a friend of mine had given me a while back. It contains non-toxic paints. This way I can paint you. Use you as both palette and canvas. And, if you’re up for it, you can paint me.”
An impish grin stretched his face. “Sounds interesting. What do we need to do?”
Where to Buy
About the Author
An eccentric and eclectic writer, C.R. Moss pens stories for the mainstream and erotic romance markets, giving readers a choice of sweet, savory or spicy reads, usually within a sub-genre or two — paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, time travel, or western flare. She also has a passion for penning dark fiction. Writing as Casey Moss, she delves into the darker aspects of life in her work, sometimes basing the stories on reality, sometimes on myth. No matter the path, her stories will take you on a journey from the lighthearted paranormal to dark things unspeakable. What waits around the corner? Come explore…
Yes, darlings, I’m back, and happy Wednesday to you all! Today I’m here with Lea Bronsen and her smouldering new contemporary romance Shade Addiction, now available from all online sellers of fine erotic romance. Take it away, Lea!
Ex-boxer Mike Logan struggles to put a brutal past behind and make ends meet as a bus driver. When a young runaway settles for an all-night ride, he seizes the chance to do a good deed—get her home safely. But first, they’ll drive around and talk.
What he doesn’t anticipate is that this broken night angel is also a sexy little minx needing a lot more … and not just the gentle kind.
**This is an expanded edition of the story previously featured in the anthology Passion, Pleasure, Pain in 2019**
She gives me a long, languorous look. I think I know what it means: She’s interested by my wild side. Dark attracts dark. She believes she’s found the same kind of fallen angel as she is, a soul mate.
Wrong, kiddo. What you need is someone good, not broken like me.
She reaches over the table to pat my chest. “So hard. Jesus. You definitely work out.”
Her touch sends electric sparks to my groin. My cock pulses. I push her hand away. “Don’t do that.”
I sigh. “I’m thirty-two, you’re what?”
“Nineteen, that’s very young. I could easily be accused of taking advantage of you. Did you see how the waitress treated me?”
She crosses her arms underneath her boobs. “But I’m an adult, and I have boyfriends.”
“You have boyfriends.”
“Yeah.” She holds my gaze.
I don’t know why I had to make a deal of that.
She continues, “So, it’s not like I’d let anybody touch me if I didn’t want them to.”
“Well, I don’t want you to touch me. Let’s go.”
Where to Buy
Put the book on your to-read shelf on Goodreads
About the Author
Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.
For one thing, I’m grateful that I’m not using that as the title of a book. I have nothing but compassion for the agents and publishers out there who are going to be inundated with quarantine memoirs in a year or so.
I was going to write a post about be grateful for the things we have right now, but to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if folks’ response was, “So what? I got laid off and I don’t know how I’m gonna feed my family. Fuck you.” We’re damn lucky at the moment (well, not at this precise moment as JJ has decided to drop a truly foul deuce in the litter box closest to me. Jesus, that cat’s shit is foul), and I also know that things could start heading south tomorrow. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and, yeah, that’s more than a little anxiety inducing.
I mean, they’re closing all casinos in Vegas and shutting down all gambling machines at midnight tonight. Has that ever happened in the history of Vegas? Disneyworld and Disneyland are closed, movie and live theaters are closed, a bunch of malls in my area are closing, Starbucks is strictly drive-thru, most restaurants are now pick-up or delivery only, and pretty much any gathering of size has been called off. The floor around the Kaaba in Mecca is empty — as @tha_rami said on Twitter, “I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see a photo that looks like this in my life.” It’s weird, and kind of scary, and it doesn’t help to see idiots on the beaches in Florida yammering that “It’s spring break, man, and I’m gonna party, I don’t care.”
But there are pluses as well. The lack of boats and other traffic on the Venetian canals has allowed the silt to settle to the point where you can see the fish again. People are walking in the park a lot more, being careful to maintain a six foot distance from everyone. The air pollution in China is settling dramatically. There are some freaking amazing classes available online now, and highways that are usually jammed with cars are pretty much empty. People are stepping up to help those who are stuck inside or can’t go out to the stores, and while there’s still idiocy and assholery in profusion, there also seems to be a slowly growing sense of compassion and willingness to at least hear one another out.
Maybe human beings don’t suck quite as much as I thought. Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?
So anyway, I’m currently at *checks Scrivener* 8,737 words of a projected 80,000 on Swan, and things are going as smoothly as possible seeing that I also have a day job that cuts into my writing time. But our bills are also steadily dropping (I actually paid off my car in December! Whee!) so I’ll suck it up and shove writing time into whatever available crevices I can find.
That came out weird. Never mind.
I also have what I’m pretty sure is going to be the final cover — still need to make some tweaks here and there, but I absolutely love that Belle Epoque dress and the way the model’s turned head artfully exposes the bite marks of a certain Tudor vampire, ahem. I know it doesn’t scream paranormal romance, but I can already tell this book is going to straddle the boundary between PNR and UF so what the heck, I may as well go with a cover that flirts with both genres.
In other news, the lurgy that I came down with two days after Christmas and two days before Sister and BIL were due to arrive (which made cleaning the house SO much fun, and great accolades have been awarded to Ramón who stepped up to the plate like a champ and did all of the heavy lifting so that I could rest as much as possible) appears to be finally, FINALLY on the way out. After, I must say, producing the most amazing neon yellow mucus I have ever seen. I honestly had no idea my body could make something that color. I’m still coughing intermittently but that seems to be related more to my usual allergy-induced sinus drainage than any actual infection. Nonetheless, I’m going to monitor that bit because a lot of people seem to be getting hit by pneumonia this winter and I really want to avoid it if at all possible.
Happy holidays, and enjoy this unedited snippet from my current WIP, Victorian paranormal romance Shadow of the Swan. Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least I’m writing something.
“Tell me that I’m imagining things. Tell me that there’s nothing between us, that everything I feel is some sort of foolish dream kindled by my own imagination.”
He opened his mouth, intending to assure her that what she felt was one-sided and fleeting. What came out was, “No, you’re not imagining things.”
She nodded. “Good. I’d hate to think that I was that self-deluded.”
If you are, my treasure, then I’m equally deluded. “But we can’t act on it,” he added heavily.
“I know. The queen has decreed that I marry Richard Bolton, and you—” She gave him a sidelong glance. “Can you marry? Legally, I mean?”
“You mean, will I burst into flame if I set foot inside a church?” He squinted up at the weak December sunlight. “Another myth. I can go into a church, hold a crucifix, be splashed by holy water without harm.”
“You’re not answering my question.”
Damn her perspicacity. “I can marry, yes. Many vampires wed, for various reasons. But it carries certain complications when we marry a human.”
“An immortal being marrying a mortal one. It must seem like a human marrying a butterfly.”
“Not quite that unequal, I assure you. But it’s painful to know that you’re guaranteed to outlive the one you love.” Memories of Anne crept forward, sweetly harrowing. “At least humans know that they will both age and die at some point, ideally to be reunited in the afterlife. Vampires cannot indulge in that comfort.”
“Do vampires usually marry each other, then?”
He wondered if she truly wanted to know, or whether it was a ploy to delay their return. “Sometimes, or other creatures with extended lifelines. But those unions can also be problematic. The married couples I know often spend large periods of time apart.”
Louisa was silent for a moment. Then, to his surprise she said, “Yes, I can see how an eternity together might begin to pall after some time. Still, they do reunite eventually, don’t they?”
“The ones I know do, yes.”
“Well, then.” They continued around the curve of the pond, the December breeze chilly as it riffled the water’s surface. “Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Another of her solemn glances. “Although that doesn’t bode well for us, does it?”
Once again, she cut to the heart of the matter. “I’m afraid not.”
She let out a soft sigh. “At least we’ve had these few days together. That’s something.”
Relief that she hadn’t asked to be turned warred with an urge to snarl. Moments walking side by side or talking weren’t nearly enough; all they did was whet his appetite for her. “It is nothing,” he ground out. “I have spent nearly five hundred years working to protect the monarchy. I have witnessed momentous events, seen fools and wise men ascend the throne, and have done whatever was required of me to make sure that this green land and its people remained safe. And in all that time I have never been tempted to shirk my duties, until now.”
She stopped and stared at him, eyes huge with wonderment. “I don’t know what to say to that,” she whispered.
“You needn’t say anything. You shall marry and, with Bolton’s help, produce the next generation of Britain’s leaders. Meanwhile, I shall continue in my position at the Ministry. My consolation is that my duties will now include protecting you and your children.”
One hand rose, fluttering to a rest at the base of her throat. “I—I wish—”
He stepped closer, acutely aware of her scent on the crisp air, the warmth that emanated from her body. “As do I. But it’s not to be, my lady.”
He would never forget how she looked in the swiftly fading daylight, how he would have given up his immortality without a second thought, if he could only take her in his arms and kiss her. Finally, she nodded in resignation. “We’d best get back. Pandora will be wondering where we are.”
You can see the subtle reference to Where’d You Go, Bernadette in the title. Because I’m clever that way.
I think I need to apologize to everyone who follows me, reads my books, and has supported me over the years for 2019. My output, or lack thereof, has been a big issue all year, and I’ve pretty much spent my time re-releasing books for which the rights have been returned to me.
So, why no new books this year? Well, it’s complicated, and some of it is personal, but the upshot of it is, I spent the first half of the year stressing over Ramón’s impending unemployment, and the second half of the year scrambling to cover bills while he looked for a new job and then getting a contract job of my own.
Let’s talk about the stress first. No matter what La Bohème or RENT would like you to believe, stress does not help your average creative type. In fact, it tends to shut us right the hell down. And knowing that 1) Ramón’s contract would end right on my birthday, and 2) he’s now of an age where the contract jobs–actually, the jobs full stop–are becoming thinner and thinner) made buckling down to work kinda difficult.
I mean, I tried. I got started on Uncertainty Principle, and King of Blades, and Shifter Woods: Claw, kept picking at the holiday romcom novella, and wrote down notes for a sorta-sequel to To My Muse. But bills kept piling up, and trying to juggle them and keep a roof over our heads and the J Crew fed with R’s impending unemployment staring us in the face made it difficult to focus. It didn’t help that I could make more money right away by creating jewelry, so I focused on that for much of the year.
And then in May, Ramón admitted that he was worried about the job situation, and as much as he hated it would I mind looking for a job? Not being a selfish asshole I said of course, brushed off my resume, and started hunting around on Linkedin and Indeed. It took a couple of months and one false start, but by mid-July I had signed a contract with my current employer to do specialized tech writing for them on a client-by-client basis.
When my birthday came, Ramón handed in his card and laptop, signed up for unemployment, and started job hunting with a vengeance. In the meantime I started work at the end of August, juggled our finances even faster because I wasn’t making as much as he had been, and prayed that he would find a job soon. As it turned out he didn’t find anything until October and didn’t start until mid-November, which made August through November … interesting. Yeah, let’s call it interesting.
But. My beloved is now gainfully employed for a year, with a company that is known for extending its contracts, and he’s building a good rep with his contract company so even if the client doesn’t extend his contract he should be able to find something else fairly quickly. In this year, while he pays the daily bills I plan on taking any contract jobs that come my way with an eye towards clearing off all of our outstanding bills (two have already been cleared and in the first half of next year I work on zeroing out our credit cards) and finally getting my bad knee replaced. Once that’s done, I’m going to sock away as much money as humanly possible in case his current contract isn’t extended or he can’t find another job soon afterwards. Because man, being broke over the holidays sucks ass.
That being said, having money again relieves a lot of stress, so I do intend to put out at least three titles in 2020 (for one thing, I have to take some time off after the knee surgery, so what better time to write?) And I want to thank everyone who has hung in there with me and waited for things to settle down to the point where I could get back to the keyboard and do what I do best. I adore you all to bits, and I really hope that you’ll enjoy what will be coming out from me next year.
In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a happy and safe December, and watch Ryan Reynolds’s new Aviation Gin commercial because that shit is hilarious.