I have been cleaning ALL THE THINGS

Which is why I haven’t posted since last Friday, sorry about that. The Sister arrived yesterday and I’ve spent the last week digging out this house and making it look like grown-ups live here (because deadlines + five cats = FUR EVERYWHERE). I still have to clean out my office in preparation for the mutual HS friend who will arrive tomorrow for a girl’s weekend, but after that I am DONE, people.

And oh, I am full to overflowing with the need to write. I completely overhauled the first few chapters of Cross Current in my head, worked out a great subplot for Lady of Thorns, rearranged some plot points in Uncertainty Principle, and even roughed out the outline for Shifter Woods: Snarl. Y’all are going to be inundated with new Nicola stories over the next few months, I promise.

Speaking of that, both Degree of Resistance and Shifter Woods: Howl are now off KU and available at all online retailers, so if you prefer .epub files you are good to go.

Fabulous Friday Reads: On The Run

TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Charity West’s new mainstream New Adult novel On The Run, now available from Evernight Publishing and other purveyors of fine online fiction. Take it away, Charity!


With blood-stained hands and a guilty conscience, Raylyn Beechum sets off for parts unknown, on the run from a crime she had to commit in order to save herself. When her car breaks down in the parking lot of a fire station in a small town, her plan is simple: get the car fixed and hit the road as fast as possible. Then Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Yummy saunters over with his bare chest and uniform pants, water dripping off his pecs, and all Raylyn can think is hot damn!

Oliver Gonzalez has always had a hero complex, and a damsel in distress is right up his alley. All of his protective instincts come out when he sees the blood on Raylyn’s hands and the scared look in her eyes. He might not know her story, but he knows he wants to take care of her. Getting her to trust him is easier than he’d thought possible, but he wants more than trust for him to keep her safe. He wants her to trust him with her heart.


Story Excerpt

The hands gripping the steering wheel didn’t look like mine. The skin on the knuckles was bruised and broken. Dried blood was embedded in my cuticles. I’d washed my hands, but apparently not well enough. I’d burned the clothes I’d been wearing, along with the knife I’d used. Some might say that made me guilty, and maybe it did, but I’d learned long ago that the police were of no help. Not where I came from. No matter how many times the scene replayed in my mind, I couldn’t stifle the sobs welling in my throat. I’d taken a life, killed a man. No, not a man. A monster.

My heart crashed against my ribs, and my fingers curled tighter around the steering wheel. For years I’d suffered, but I’d had no idea just how far the madness went. If I’d had a clue as to what the man was capable of, I’d have acted sooner. Maybe so many lives wouldn’t have been lost, if I’d found my courage before now. The world should thank me, but I was certain if anyone knew what I’d done, the police would arrest me, and I’d spend the rest of my life in jail. Life wasn’t fair sometimes.

I blew out a breath and tried to redirect my thoughts. Puppies. Bunnies. Fields of flowers. Anything pleasant that could wash away the bad memories. I was starting over, creating a new life. Thanks to Miguel back home, I had everything I needed. I’d planned my escape weeks ago, but it just hadn’t happened quite the way I’d pictured. My new life was going to be fantastic and full of all the things I never had before. I was going to get a job, have a nice place to live, and I was going to get a boyfriend. Not necessarily in that order. I’d covered my tracks pretty well and felt I was safe, as long as I didn’t use my real name.

My car was almost out of gas as I entered a small North Carolina town a little after six in the morning. I’d been on the road for a few hours, and my best bet would be to keep driving until I couldn’t stay awake anymore. I crept through the quiet streets of a town that reminded me of Mayberry, and as I neared a fire station on the corner, my car began to shimmy and sputter. I’d barely pulled into the parking lot before my car coasted to a stop, the engine completely silent. I banged my hands on the steering wheel and uttered a slew of curses. The gas gage mocked me as the needle rested on E.

My gaze lifted and my jaw dropped a little. The fire truck was pulled part of the way out of the bay, and shirtless, sexy hunks were washing it. That was one sure way to make me forget my problems for a little while. One of them stopped to stare, removing his sunglasses and propping them on top of his head. His dusky skin glistened with sweat in the summer heat and I felt my cheeks flush.

Mr. Sexy made his way over to me and my heart raced for a new reason. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been around hot guys before. Just not this hot. He tapped on my window and I rolled it down. He bent and placed his folded arms on the windowsill. His blue gaze was warm as it scanned me. It was several minutes before he said anything.

“Want to pop your hood?” he asked.

“I ran out of gas. If you can tell me where the closest gas station is, I can go fill up a can and I’ll get out of your way.”

His lips twitched with amusement. “Sweetheart, this car isn’t going anywhere, even if you put gas in it. That wasn’t just an ‘I’m out of gas’ rattle. It was a death rattle.”

“Death rattle?”

His gaze focused on my hands and I wanted to hide them. I swallowed hard, wondering what kind of questions he would ask, or if he’d only call the police. My hands tightened on the wheel again and I wished I could throw the car into reverse and get the hell out of town. I didn’t need trouble, and this guy could turn my world upside down, and not in a good way.

“Why don’t you come inside and we’ll get those hands cleaned up a bit?”

“I don’t want any trouble.” I couldn’t hide the tremor in my voice. Had I made my escape only to be turned in by a good Samaritan now?

He stood and opened the car door, reaching in to gently take my hand. I slid out of the car and tipped my head back to look up at him. He towered over me, making me feel small and helpless, which I hated. I was anything but helpless. He studied my hands before leading me into the fire station. One of the guys looked our way and Mr. Sexy motioned for him to follow us. Inside, I shivered at the air conditioning as he led me down a long hall to a large, open room with sofas and a kitchen area.

“Have a seat,” he said, pulling out a barstool.

I eased onto the stool, my feet dangling above the floor.

“My name’s Oliver Gonzalez, and this,” he said, motioning to the other guy, “is Jared Waylon. I’m a fireman and he’s a paramedic. Will you let him check out your hands?”

I nodded hesitantly.

Jared grasped my hands and studied them a moment before looking into my eyes. I could see the questions there, but I wasn’t saying a damn word. After a moment, he began cleaning my hands, which stung like a bitch. He even scrubbed around my nails until my hands were blood-free. He doctored my knuckles and bandaged the worst of it.

“I’m not going to ask how you got these, but if you’re in trouble, I wish you’d tell one of us.”

I trembled.

Mr. Sexy—no, Oliver—placed his hand on my shoulder. “Easy. No one here is going to hurt you. We want to help.”

“We’re going to call a tow for your car,” Jared said. “One of the firemen here has family who own a garage. They’ll give you a good deal. Then we can discuss your options for a place to stay.”

“I don’t have much money.” I hated admitting my lack of funds. “Maybe they’d let me do some work for the repairs and a place to stay?”

Oliver squeezed my shoulder. “Let’s get your car taken care of first. Anything you need out of it?”

“My purse and the bag in the backseat.”

“I’ll get them,” Jared offered. “I’ll have Kaycee call the garage and get a tow truck sent.”

“Kaycee?” I asked.

“Our admin,” Oliver said. “She’s also married to one of the guys on my team.”

“Why are you helping me?”

Kindness shone in Oliver’s eyes as he gazed into mine. “Because I think you need a friend right now. Maybe, when you feel like you can trust me, you’ll tell me about the blood on your hands and what the hell happened to you. Until then, just tell me one thing. Do we need to hide you from the police?”


Where to Buy

Amazon | Evernight Publishing


About the Author

Charity West is a young adult/new adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.

By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.

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Sometimes, you have a bad day

Hang tight, people. This is a peek into the insane mix of towering ego and impostor syndrome that is my mind.

If any of you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed my writing thread of yesterday. Essentially, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself WRT Empress of Storms, the success of that title, and the issues I’ve had with the books that followed.

To summarize, my first self-pubbed title, Empress of Storms, did amazingly well. To this day, I honestly don’t know why, nor do I know why it continues to sell at least a copy a day. It just did and does. Which filled me with gratitude because the income made me feel 1) justified in my choice of careers and 2) like I was contributing to the household expenses.

The other novels that followed … did not do amazingly well, and I couldn’t figure out why. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I must have screwed up somewhere down the line, did something wrong, or pissed off people. Because I clearly did something right with Empress, so that must mean that I did something wrong with the other books. Even though Palace of Scoundels, Degree of Resistance, and the Shifter Woods novellas are good pieces of storytelling if I say so myself, the fact that their sales are meh must mean that I wasn’t diligent enough about promo, or I missed some tricks somewhere along the line. Somehow, I screwed up, and I had to track that down and rectify it or else my career would circle the drain and I’d wind up in a nice refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere in my old age.

And then yesterday, I had an epiphany. Well, no, I had a sobbing fit (stupid hormones, I swear, menopause can get here at any time and I won’t complain) and then I had an epiphany. WRT my promo efforts, I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Let me repeat that for the folks in the cheap seats. I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I’d made all the right moves, did due diligence on my editing and covers, sent out ARCs, bought advertising, threw release parties, made appearances, gave out swag, everything I was supposed to do as an indie author. Everything I did for Empress, I did for Palace, Degree, and the Shifter Woods novellas. The truth of the matter was, Empress‘s success … was luck. Sheer dumb luck. I didn’t do anything particularly brilliant or savvy. I had a killer cover (thank you, Jay Aheer) and a story that appealed to NA readers, but the most important thing was that I was simply in the right place at the right time.

Ouch. The truth may set you free, but it will burn like a mother in the process.

And then I lost that sweet spot with the following books because the business moved on, as it does. New authors grabbed the spotlight, established authors brought out new books. It’s how things work in publishing. But losing that sweet spot didn’t mean I did something wrong. In fact, I did everything I was supposed to do. I was not a fake, a phony, a screwup that the reading public had finally cottoned onto. I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time anymore.

I know this sounds crazy, but realizing that was remarkably reassuring. Hitting big with one book and seeing a slump afterwards happens to a lot of writers. This isn’t me being a failure, it’s just the vagaries of the market. And the fact that my sales are slowly picking up again goes to show that people do like my stories (and bless each and every one of you out there who does) and maybe, just maybe, I need to keep writing them and remain stalwart in the face of occasional “long dark teatime of the soul” moments.

So, yeah, that was the backstory on yesterday’s Twitter thread. And while I’m busy cleaning the house today for my sister’s upcoming visit, I’ll be working out dialogue and plot points for Lady of Thorns and Cross Current. Because dammit, I’m a writer and that’s just how I roll in the Shire.

Wicked Wednesday Reads: Lost Faith

Welcome to another edition of Wicked Wednesday Reads, petals! Today I’m here with April Zyon and her smouldering new romance Lost Faith, available from online purveyors of fine romance. Take it away, ma’am!


Gabriella Moreno was just a job, in and out to gain the objective, the death of her father. She turned out to be far more than that to Tobias Casey, however, from the moment he laid his hands on her too hot for words body.

Gabriella had just come home from a two-year stint abroad. The first night home she snuck out, never dreaming for even a moment anyone would be stupid enough to take her. Boy, was she wrong.

Faced with brutal truths, Gabbie followed her gut, and her heart, which, it seemed, all led to one place, Tobias. The heat of her homeland was nothing compared to the touch of this man. In his arms, she found something she had craved all her life, the other half of her soul.

Yet, how can she ignore the fact that the man who owns her heart is also the man who wants to take the last of her family?


Story Excerpt

Another day, another dollar. Only these days, Tobias and his team were getting paid a hell of a lot more than they had been in the military. Now they could set their own fees for doing the jobs that no one else wanted to do, or maybe couldn’t do, since they did on rare occasion work for their government’s shadier sectors. But there was no oversight, no backseat driving, and they paid big to get shit done.

Their current operation was one they’d been working on for nearly three weeks now with no success. The first week had been recon, getting oriented, and making sure they had their exits memorized for when they achieved their strike.

The only thing was, as they’d discovered during week two, the target they were after didn’t ever leave his super secure compound. Not that Tobias could blame the guy. Their target was a dictator, an arms dealer, a drug dealer, and a mass murderer. There were people worldwide hoping that Tobias’ team finally managed to do what no one else had to date.

Now it was week three and they were still watching the compound to figure out their way in. Or as Tobias was beginning to believe would be easier, how to get the asshole to come out. They’d tried forty different ways to infiltrate the compound. None had worked. Which actually made sense, given the target, Juan Moreno, or Senor X as they referred to him over com, had hired himself an ex-Special Forces soldier to be the head of his security. Tran Quan was American born but had ties to the Yakuza. Extra weight to be brought to bear should it be requested.

Taking a small drink from his canteen, Tobias ignored the sweat trickling down his spine. His attention was locked on a small group of vehicles approaching the compound. Binoculars up, he brought the lead car into focus and easily recognized one of Moreno’s drivers.  His attention moving to the second car, he was surprised to see Quan in the front passenger seat. The man was normally glued to Moreno’s side so to see him out without Moreno… this was big.

“Ripper, we have four cars approaching the compound. I need to know who exits the second car once they stop inside. Get pictures.”

“Roger that, Rogue.”

Ripper and Cherry were up on the mountain using some seriously high-powered tools to stare down into the compound. Their position was treacherous since they were, literally, dangling off the face of that mountain. One wrong move and they’d be headed straight down toward death.

“They’re turning toward the gate now. Not stopping either, they’ve been waved right through,” Tobias reported. The gates slid shut but not before he spotted a slender leg wearing a dainty shoe at the end slipping out of the door being opened by a guard. Instantly, he felt his gut clench in need to see the body went with that limb.

A soft whistle came through the com. “Damn, she’s fucking hot. Think she’s banging senor X?” Herc asked.

“Too young for him, you oaf,” Cherry said.

“Like that would stop the old fucker. We all know he doesn’t care about age. One of the reasons why we’re here to see him shot,” Herc told her. “Personally, it’s my only reason to see his head explode under the impact of my bullet.”

“Cut the chatter. Tell me you have photos for everyone that came in those vehicles.”

“Confirmed,” Ripper said.

“Good, get your asses down from there. Scout will be here to relieve me soon, then we need to get back and review everything.” Tobias was hopeful that somewhere in those photos he might find a way to pull Moreno away from his security blanket.


Where to Buy

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU


About the Author

Having been a lover of the written word all her life April has always wanted to expand her horizons and write something that could be shared with the world. Only one thing held April back, the fact that the letters and numbers mixed and jumbled more often than not. Diagnosed with Dyslexia when she was eight years old April had to work her butt off just to be able to keep up with the other kids in reading and writing, so her love for fictional writing was tossed to the wayside for the moment.

Time marched on, as it always does, and she forgot her childhood dream of becoming an author and instead focused on what she had to – creating a career for herself. As the endless waves of time passed the shores became less rocky and more sandy, a place where she could find an even foot. That and Microsoft invented Word. Hallelujah. This is where April began her journey into the written world, the world that her imagination had been ceaselessly creating for her entire adult life.

Now she has been given a chance to let her literary wings unfold and fly, thanks to the amazing publishers with Evernight Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing. Now its time to let the dream take flight and watch it soar.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest

I’m doing all of the medical adulting

So, since I’m now 50 and my body will start breaking down at any moment, I need to get various preventative care tests done so that my doctor has a baseline of what I looked like when I was still semi-functional (I laugh. That moment passed decades ago).

To this end, in the past week I have had a physical, a Tdap shot, a breast and pelvic exam with Pap smear, a mammogram, and blood/urine workup. The physical/Pap smear came back nominal with a suggestion that I start taking a low-dosage BP med, and I’ll find out about the boob smooshing next week (although I’m not worried — the doc didn’t feel anything during the manual exam and I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family so I’m probably okay).

As for the blood pull, that was a bit of an adventure since the lab said they didn’t have paperwork for it. Went home because I was fasting and hangry as hell and called the doc’s office: “What? But we sent them the request!” Went back to the lab today: “Nope, we don’t have paperwork for this.” Finally went BACK to the doctor’s office, got them to print out the orders, then hand-carried them over to the lab to get everything kicked off. Oh, and once again I was a phlebotomist’s nightmare. Here are attempts #1 and #2, after 48 oz of water, and with the poor tech muttering, “Man, this vein just does NOT want to cooperate…” I told her the story of the time when I tried to donate blood and how they told me, “Please don’t.”

But that’s all done, which is good. Next up on the “Nic is Old” medical schedule is Baby’s First Colonoscopy (or as I like to call it, the Magical Mystery Tour). As my sister is arriving for a week next Wednesday (read: I have to clean my entire house) and my birthday will be happening soon afterwards, I’ve decided to schedule the Tour after all of that because of, well, the Cleaning Out Procedure. You know what I mean.

Luckily my friend Stretch has had a Tour at the place my doc recommended and she said it was a breeze, so hopefully it will be a matter of the COP, getting into a weird position, dozing thanks to some IV tranqs, and then walking out of there funny. I can live with that.

Happy July! Have a snippet from Lady of Thorns

So I spent the first two days of July working on the first chapter of Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3). The plan is to split my time between finishing Cross Current and LoT and have CC off to Evernight by mid-July and LoT up by early August. And if I can maybe get some work in on Shifter Woods: Snarl during then, all the better.

BTW, this all took place while Ramón was using the dining room across from me as a staging area for his desk base construction. Since he works full-time at home now and really needs a better setup in his office, he’s been buying IKEA desk parts for the last two months with a plan to create a U-shaped modular desk with hutches to hold his multiple computers/laptops/monitors/what have you.

Unfortunately for him, this required him first to disimpact his office, which … yeah. Let’s just say that he could probably build a time machine from the bits he keeps in there and leave it at that. Much vacuuming and cursing came from the office wing over the weekend, I can tell you. But the initial construction is done and looks pretty good (he had to call a temporary halt since he’s actually working today and needed his work stuff to be up and running), which means that all the IKEA boxes that have been stacking up since May will soon be broken down and put into recycling, selah.

But going back to Lady of Thorns — want to see an unedited snippet? Please note that this story will NOT be about Danaë and Matthias (their parallel adventure will be in Book 4), but it does feature Lady Amelie LeClerq, the young, prickly Terra magistra and heiress to the Lady of Lierdhe, and the eminently sneaky Counselor Alain LaPorte from Palace of Scoundrels. The best way I can explain it is, imagine Lady Mary Crowley from Season 1 Downton Abbey and Alan Shore from Boston Legal going head to head. So to speak. Ahem. And hijinks ensue!

And, yes, I jumped ahead and wrote one of the love scenes. Some background — Amelie has never fit the Lierdhan standards of beauty. Whereas the average Lierdhan maiden is short and deliciously round in all the right places with masses of curling russet or blonde hair, Amelie is tall, hippy, and small-chested with straight dark hair and eyes, to her mother’s eternal exasperation. In an attempt to shed her prickly, standoffish Lady of Thorns reputation and gain a sense of comfort with her sexuality and self-image, Amelie decides she needs a positive experience in physical intimacy. Since LaPorte is in Lierdhe working with her on a business agreement with another duchy, has a good rep in the area of bow-chicka-bow-bow, and has shown evidence that he finds her attractive, she asks him to help. Her plan is really rather logical. Too bad plans never survive first contact with the enemy.


“You don’t believe that I want to take you to bed, do you?”

Her eyes stung, and she blinked to hold the water at bay. “I believe that you’re willing to adhere to our agreement, which is kind of you.”

“No, it’s not. I’m afraid you’ll find that I’m not a kind man, not in the slightest.” His voice lowered, developing a vibration that went through her like thunder. “The thing is, my lady, a man may lie about his wealth, his occupation, even his family name. But one thing he cannot lie about is when he’s attracted to a woman.”

His hand slipped around hers and drew it down. She knew instinctively what he was doing but still gasped in shock when he pressed her hand against the heavy, warm length in his leggings. The muscles between her legs contracted in a unexpected, greedy clench at the physical proof of his desire.

He folded her fingers around him, keeping her palm pressed against his hardness. “I wanted you from the first moment you walked into the king’s study, travel-stained and exhausted as you were. If we hadn’t had other matters to attend to, I would have pressed my suit then and there.”

Other matters. Namely, the rescue of her younger sister Sibeal from an unwanted wedding ceremony. Amelie could still remember the acrid stench of the privy that had been the only avenue of escape from the mage-proof chamber where her mother had jailed her. With only enough time to crop her hair short and change its color, she had spent a sleepless night riding across country to reach Mons and plead for Matthias’s help.

“I was a fright,” she muttered. “How could you have wanted me?”

“You were stunning. A warrior goddess come to earth to claim fealty from the king.” His hand began to move hers, guiding it up and down the heated ridge. “Although I prefer your own hair color. The blonde didn’t suit you.”

“I meant it as a disguise.” Her thoughts were fragmenting, split apart by the promise of his flesh against her palm. The growing ache between her thighs throbbed, making her wonder what it would be like to feel him inside her, filling her. Would it be as delicious as the gossiping girls promised, or would it be yet another disappointment?

*smacks self on forehead* Wait, I had a release this week, didn’t I?

It probably would be useful if I told you that Shifter Woods: Roar is now widely available at online retailers, huh? I blame exhaustion from repairing and reinstalling the pool pump motor; we spent most of Monday afternoon and evening trying to get it reattached to the pump, to no avail. After getting eaten alive by bugs and retreating inside in disgrace, Ramón did more research on Google and found some tips. The next morning he went out there by himself, and in his own words, “I just slathered everything in lube, and now that I could see what I was doing it popped right in!” Words to live by, folks.

Anyway, the pool pump is now functioning (ironically, the garage door opener failed that night, but more research indicated what was wrong and Himself fixed that as well), the second novella in the Esposito County Shifters series is out and selling nicely, and I’ve gotten a pleasing amount of reviews on it as well, so a huge Cameron thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy and left a review. And if you haven’t, just click on that link up there and it’ll take you to the book page where you can select your choice of ebook retailer. I’m all about making things easy for you.

And because I don’t think I told people about this, Shifter Woods is going to be a four-part novella series. The first two novellas will be followed by Shifter Woods: Snarl, which deals with cougar shifter Andrea Lochter, whose father Jim (the Alpha of their pack and a former Marine) owns a ski lodge on the mountain. When Caleb picks up John Rockwell, one of Jim’s itinerant service buddies, for vagrancy and drops him off at the lodge at Jim’s request, Andrea makes it a point to stay as far away from the homeless wolf shifter as possible. But the pull of a heart’s mate is hard to resist, especially when Andrea and John have to team up for a search and rescue mission involving a little girl.

The fourth novella, Shifter Woods: Scream, is about Deputy Jane Carey, the golden eagle shifter introduced in Howl. When drug dealers somehow “lose” their pet tiger while stopping for food and gas in Esposito County, Jane takes to the air to spot the big cat. But when she learns that the escaped animal is actually tiger shifter and FBI agent Eric Cho, things get particularly sticky, especially when a local zookeeper with a secret of his own gets involved.

Once all the novellas are done, I’ll be combining them at the end of the year into a box set and print version, and at some point early next year I’ll be doing a full-length novel set in Esposito County (first I have to finish the novellas, Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3), Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2), Do No Harm, and The Chevalier’s Dilemma). Yeah, the rest of 2017 is gonna be kind of busy.

New week, new challenges

So last week I was working with my beta and editor to finish the last polish on Shifter Woods: Roar and get it uploaded to Amazon in time for release on Tuesday. Saturday I vacuumed up a weeks’ worth of dust and cat hair from various surfaces and treated myself to a showing of The Hero (seriously, go see this. No huge explosions or big payoffs, just a perfect portrayal of an aging actor’s quiet desperation by the marvelous Sam Elliott and how a surprise shot in the arm for his acting career has unintended consequences) Yesterday Ramón and I went Tech Wars on the pool pump (more of this below), and I worked on contacting potential reviewers for Roar. Today is all about paying bills, doing promo for Roar, working on Cross Current, and more cleaning because Jesus, these cats shed EVERYWHERE.

So, about the pool pump: gather round, kiddies! Auntie Nic has a tale for you of two techies faced with mechanical engineering problems and how they overcame them like a boss. I call it TECH WARS: REVENGE OF THE POOL PUMP.

Flash back to a few days ago, when our pool pump started making a very high-pitched whine indicating that a bearing was probably going. I turned it off and informed the engineer in the house of this issue, who agreed with my diagnosis. The motor is 4 years old and has been running every day, including during hellishly hot Texas summers, so this is to be expected.

But repair guys are expensive AF and the last time we had the motor replaced it cost $550. We have fifteen million tools and mucho repair know-how between us, so Ramón decided we would strip down the motor and fix it ourselves, because dammit, we’re just that good. Himself promptly hopped on Google, did all the necessary research, purchased the required bearings and gaskets (upgrading them to quality Japanese makes so that they would last longer), then in a long and sweaty process pulled the motor off the pump today.

After he brought it inside, we started to disassemble it on the breakfast nook table (good overhead lighting and easy access to the back door). This required the liberal use of WD40, a rubber mallet, and much cursing. I have seen nuclear vessels that were easier to crack than this bitch. it’s a good thing that I come equipped with Eastern European muscles and lift weights, that’s all I’m gonna say.

We finally got the housing open, pulled off both bearings (and it was clear to see why the motor was making a high-pitched noise — both of them were trashed. The pic at right, BTW, shows three sizes of gear pullers, which is what you use to pull bearing races off a driveshaft), hammered on new ones, and cleaned the housing/armature of schmutz. We were both soaked in sweat by this point, but by God we were getting it done. Got the armature/end cap put back together…and realized we’d left out a thrust washer. Crap. Pulled it apart again, put in the washer, pounded it back together.

I mentioned that this was all being done on the breakfast nook table. This, BTW, is also where the J Crew get their wet food. They were prowling around us, HIGHLY offended that we dared to steal their food space, and where IS dinner, anyway? Huh? HUH? I may have used language unbecoming a lady when instructing them to leave us alone.

Anyhoo, we finished putting the motor back together and got the long bolts screwed down and secure. The driveshaft spins MUCH more easily than it had, and Ramón replaced the capacitors while he had it out (he tried turning it on this morning and it wouldn’t even spin). Sweaty, dirty, and rightfully proud of himself, he stood over the rebuilt motor on the table and commented, “I know we’re technologically sophisticated people, petal, but sometimes it’s nice to just bash kit with a big hammer.”

To which I replied, “The Camerons: Fixing Shit Since 1841.”

“Because we’re too cheap to hire someone to do it,” he adds.

“True dat.”

The real proof of the pudding will come tomorrow when we put the motor back in and fire it up. But I suspect it’s gonna work.

It was *perfect.* #MWTease from Shifter Woods: Roar #PNR #MMromance

Mid Week Tease buttonWoohoo, happy Summer Solstice, y’all! It’s also Wednesday, which means I have a pyroclastic new teaser for you from the next entry in the Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Roar, now available for pre-order from Amazon and available everywhere for 99¢ on June 27th.

As always, fulsome thanks go out to the glorious Angelica Dawson for hosting MWT. Make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

On the run from armed lowlifes in New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, news photographer Gavin Leeds is rescued from certain death by local company owner Mike Ivanov. When a snowstorm strands them in Mike’s cabin, Gavin discovers to his shock that his enigmatic rescuer is also an Alpha bear shifter who believes that Gavin is his heart’s mate. Some hot and dirty sex with the gorgeous shifter who saved his life is one thing, but Gavin doesn’t believe in fated mates or happily ever afters.

Mike has enough problems with his pack as it is; they’re not thrilled that he won’t be siring the next Alpha, and now he has to answer a challenge from one of his pack members. Having his heart’s mate show up on the same night doesn’t help. Finding out that his mate is a snarky, rebellious human with a commitment problem and an ass he wants to bite?

Nobody ever said an Alpha’s life was going to be easy.


It was perfect.

Gavin’s mouth watered as he studied the cock that pulsed gently in front of his face. Thick and wrapped in veins, Mike’s shaft bulged a little in the middle before tapering to the upturned plum head, already crowned with a bead of salty honey. Gavin could smell the meaty, musky scent coming from it, and had to swallow a mouthful of sweet water before he could do anything else.

Resting his hands on Mike’s thighs, he leaned forward and licked a delicate, wet stripe up the sensitive underside, using just the tip of his tongue to paint warm saliva on that soft, soft skin. A faint tremor ran through Mike’s muscles and the thick pole bobbed again, the roadmap of veins standing out just a little more in relief.

Time to show off his mad skills. This time Gavin flattened his tongue, dragging the flat of it up that warm, hard flesh to the little triangular notch under the crest and scrubbing it, finishing off with a teasing little lick. Mike made a muffled noise that could have been pain if Gavin didn’t know better.

And the way he tasted was amazing. Salt, musk, a hint of something sharp and bitter, a warm and primal taste that was pure male, yes, but there was also something resinous as well, like rosemary rubbed over the skin. Gavin had grown up with pots of rosemary blooming in his momma’s kitchen window, and the taste reminded him of warm Texas mornings when the day would stretch out in front of him without a care in the world.

He flicked his tongue against the edge of the corona, licking up to the tiny eye hidden in the slit. Salt and more of that wonderful woody taste flowed over his tongue and he swallowed, smacking his lips.

He needed more. Opening his mouth, he sucked in the thick rounded head, closing his lips behind the ridged corona and running his tongue around it in a lazy spiral. More precome pearled onto his tongue and he swallowed it greedily, increasing his suction as his head started to bob.

Overhead, he heard Mike’s breathing pick up, short exhalations that were broken up by soft, wordless sounds of praise or pleading, he couldn’t tell which. Gavin concentrated on what was in his mouth, humming softly now as he massaged the proud flesh with his lips and tongue. He fucking loved doing this, taking a big man and making him helpless with something as soft as a kiss.


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#SexySnippets: Shifter Woods: Roar #PNR #ParanormalRomance

Sexy Snippets are seven sentences, taken from a work in progress, or published book, brought to you every Sunday. Allow me to present a teaser from my new paranormal shifter romance Shifter Woods: Roar (Esposito County Shifters 2), out on June 27th and available for pre-order.


Gavin Leeds was maybe an inch or two taller than him, and leanly muscled without being bulky from what he could tell through the jacket and jeans. Classic All American boy with his strong jawline, shock of dirty blond hair, a nose that looked like it had been broken once, and direct green eyes.

And the lips. God, what Mike wanted to do with those full, firm lips. Nibble them, suck on them, slip his tongue between them. Watch them wrap around his dick and slide up and down while Gavin’s tongue massaged the underside of his shaft. Listen to them moan, gasp, and beg as he sank into Gavin’s tight ass and rode him to ecstasy.


After getting separated from his colleague Laurie Rivera and being chased by rifle-toting rednecks through the Sandia Mountains, photojournalist and former UFC fighter Gavin Leeds is shocked to learn that the enigmatic man who rescues him is not only an Alpha bear shifter, but believes that Gavin is his heart’s mate. Gavin’s down for some hot and dirty sex with the gorgeous, dangerous shifter, but he doesn’t believe in fated mates or happily ever afters.

Mike Ivanov has enough problems with his pack as it is; they’re not thrilled that he’s gay and won’t be siring the next Alpha, and now he has to answer a challenge from one of his more homophobic pack members. Having his heart’s mate show up on the same night doesn’t help.

Finding out that his mate is a snarky, rebellious human with an attitude and an ass he wants to bite? Well, nobody ever said an Alpha’s life was going to be easy.


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