Category Archives: To My Muse

Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from To My Muse. I’ve backed things up a bit to Tom’s first scene, where we get to see his viewpoint upon finding a gorgeous romance writer in his hotel room about to throw down with his costar. There’s no real sexytimes in this teaser, but you do see the beginning of Tom’s attraction to Lily.

Oh, and to explain the pics, that’s hilarious actress/Youtuber Liza Koshy and Lucifer‘s Tom Ellis, who are playing Lily and Tom in my head. You’re welcome!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

“Jeez, Tom, will you relax?” Jolene chided me. “You snort up half of Peru or what?”

“Sorry.” I tried to stay still while the GearShifter makeup goddess dabbed some dark powder along my cheekbone, referring to pictures that the continuity girl had taken earlier that day to match up the distribution pattern. We’d already shot a full day and I’d been looking forward to a relaxing evening of memorization over room service followed up with a glass of wine and five fitful hours of sleep as I wondered how the hell I was going to pull At the Right Hand together.

Instead, God (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, take your pick) had smiled down upon me and sent me Lily Nayar, screenwriter of my dreams. And then I had to leave her at the hotel and come back to this thrice-buggered set just as we were ready to discuss what I needed for the script, hence my jittering. She wouldn’t change her mind, would she? I mean, she’s getting gross points, for God’s sake.

I’m not sure what had shocked me more when I’d walked into my hotel room earlier that afternoon—seeing Claudine standing there in nothing but a towel and a scowl, or seeing this tiny, gorgeous woman glaring up at Claud as if she was going to shred her like a honey badger. It took me a beat before I recognized the shorter woman as the romance writer who had tweeted at me last week to tell me that I’d inspired her latest novel. I have an actor’s ego, just about able to fit through your average supernova, so of course I was chuffed that my performance on GearShifter had prompted someone to write a swoony kissing book. I’d asked her to send a copy to my agent’s office, figuring that I’d stick it in a bookcase and look at it fondly when I wanted to be reminded of the days when I was lusted after by American women.

What I hadn’t expected was it to be messengered to my house along with the contracts for the luxury car commercials I was going to be doing voiceovers for (a British accent makes everything sound more luxe to the Americans, bless their colonial hearts). Normally non-business items sit in my agent’s mail room until the pile reaches a certain size limit and then they get shipped to me en masse, but Eric’s minions had apparently decided to be industrious for once. I’d been leaving for the airport when the messenger showed up so I stuck the large envelope in my carryon, figuring I’d read the contracts on the flight to Las Vegas. When I reached in to get them, however, I pulled out Lily’s book instead.

Right off the bat the cover surprised me. It had a Dutch Master feel to the colors and composition, and not a himbo in sight. Instead, a rather intent couple posed back to back in front of a menacing medieval structure. I flipped to the first page, figuring I’d scan it to see what I’d wrought in the mind of a fantasy romance writer.

When we landed in Vegas forty minutes later, I was deep in the middle of Chapter Three. To my surprise Ms. Nayar had woven together a terrific combination of politics, sex, and comic revenge. It was as if someone had taken Game of Thrones, gotten rid of the gore and rapey bits, bumped up the sexytimes and made them consensual, and added a laugh track. I even rather liked “my” character, a rather cold but fundamentally decent baron named Montmorency who had to work with a noblewoman to stop her sister from being married off to an oaf. I was disappointed when I had to put the book away and deplane.

I picked it up again that night after memorizing my lines for the next day and kept reading far later than I should have. I did take a break at one point and went to Lily’s author website to see what else she had on offer. Apparently Feast of Lovers was fifth in a series so I had more reading material to look forward to. Curious, I clicked on her About page. “Lilian DeVries” turned out to be a gorgeous woman with sparkling brown eyes and a mass of lovely dark curls that, if they were anything like my sisters’, probably drove her spare every morning. She looked like she’d been giggling mid-pic, and I wondered what her laugh sounded like.

So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into my hotel room and saw her facing off with a terrycloth-clad Claudine. Actually, Claud’s presence tipped it out of the “surprise” box and into the “what the actual FUCK” box. You see, my costar had made it very clear early last season that I was expected to grace her bed at some point. I, in return, had made it very clear that I wasn’t interested. Or at least I thought I had. Claud was absolutely gorgeous, yes. She was also catty, manipulative, and more than a bit egotistic, and I didn’t feel like putting up with her “all shall love me and despair” attitude just for a shag.

Apparently she’d taken that as a challenge, hence her appearance in my room wearing nothing but a towel. I suspect things would have gotten TMZ-level difficult if Lily hadn’t picked up on my silent pleading and pretended to be my girlfriend. When she delivered her quintessentially American ultimatum, I was torn between sympathetically cringing and wanting to cheer.

Chasing off Claud was enough to make me worship the fierce Ms. Nayar in and of itself. But mirable dictu, she turned out to be a screenwriter as well as a novelist, and she was familiar with Piux XII and Mother Pascalina, and she was willing to write a spec script for me. I can only assume that the room key botch-up was divinely inspired because there was no other explanation for how she wound up in my hotel room at just the right time. Now that I had the script lined up, I could work on wheedling Nathan to commit to the film, at which point the rest of the production would hopefully fall into place.

While the business part of my brain plotted and planned, the part concerned with everything below the belt was reminding me that 1) Lily was even lovelier in person, 2) smelled amazing, and 3) she thought I was at least moderately attractive, if her book was anything to judge by, so 4) I could very possibly be in there. The business part overheard that and icily told the fun part that I needed her for her writing talent, not for her curvy little body and expressive face. I caved to the business side; my unruly penis would just have to stay safely in my trousers until we started production, bugger it all.

But now instead of discussing the plot of my movie with my talented (and gorgeous) screenwriter, I was back at the GearShifter set in my increasingly ripe costume while fake dirt was being applied to my face. So much for the glamour of acting.

“Did you ever find out why we got called back?” the man in the chair next to me asked. Liam Hennessy was an American character actor known for his work in police procedurals and paranormal shows. On our show he played a morally ambiguous fixer with a penchant for sadism, which was hilarious because in real life he was a perfect gentleman with a penchant for landscape photography. If he was grumbling a bit about being called back to set, I felt justified about being pissed off.

I shrugged and Jolene made an annoyed noise at my movement. “Sorry,” I apologized to her, before adding to Liam, “Something about the camera placement being off for the CGI.”

Liam glanced at the neon green sleeve that covered his right arm and hand and sighed. In post it would be replaced by the grungy biomechanical limb that his character used to terrorize my costars. “Why do I have a feeling that’s gonna involve me?”

I grimaced in sympathy. I didn’t understand all of the fancy special effects tech, but I did know that anyone who wore green neoprene or movement capture suits wound up doing more work than the rest of us. “Maybe it won’t take that long,” I offered. “Are you working the weekend?”

“Nope. As soon as they clear me tomorrow I’m heading back to LA.” He smiled. “Got a camping date with my kid. If they need anything else, they can wait until next week.”

“Good on you, mate.” One of my more treasured daydreams was to find someone who could put up with my mad career, settle down, and have a couple of squalling brats that we’d love to distraction. I couldn’t see that happening in LA, though, and I hadn’t met anyone in London that I’d fancied enough. “Have a s’more for me.”

Jolene declared Liam done and shooed him out of the makeup trailer. “You staying clear of the Queen of Whore Island?” she asked once we were alone.

“Oh, Christ, Jo. You won’t believe what she did.” Makeup people were a combination of artist, technician, miracle worker, and psychologist and always had their fingers on the pulse of a set, so I poured out what had happened in my hotel room. “You should have seen her face when Lily threatened to cunt punt her into Arizona.”

Jolene giggled in conspiratorial delight. “That one sounds like a keeper, babe. You better treat her right.”

Part of me wanted to do just that, ideally in my bed over a long weekend, or even longer if I could manage it. Down, lad. Movie first, seduction later.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m going back to To My Muse, where Lily keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop with Tom, but it never does.

Yet, anyway. Hur, hur, hur.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

That morning slowly turned into an afternoon, and both of them ranked as the most amazing in my life. We strolled through the best shopping Palm Springs had to offer and I couldn’t even be bothered to drool over any of the dresses, shoes, or jewelry. I was having too much fun being with Tom.

There’s one huge difference between fantasy and reality, and it’s not just because one takes place in your head and the other takes place in front of you. When you have a crush on someone and fantasize about being with them, your imagination is supplying everything that’s going on so it’s going to be perfect (at least, unless you’re into self-flagellation. I have a friend who always imagines her crushes cheating on her so that she doesn’t get too sucked into the dream. I ask you). So your fantasy partner is always funny, charming, great in bed, and interested in all the same things you are. And then you wind up hooking up in reality, and you realize he’s an anime fan and you barely know who Sailor Moon is, or he looks at you blankly when you rhapsodize about the MCU, or he turns out to be a Republican and you voted for Hillary.

The point I’m making is, fantasy is always better than reality because it’s exactly what you want it to be. So I kept waiting for the point where I discovered that Tom chewed with his mouth open, or smoked, or thought that Kim Kardashian was the height of sexiness.

And it never came. He wound up being better than my fantasies, the gorgeous English bastard. We kept trading embarrassing childhood stories, favorite movie quotes, and opinions on everything from politics to whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch had green or grey eyes (“Look, I met him, and I tell you they’re green. When he’s not playing Sherlock or Doctor Strange he’s a ginger, right? All those soulless bastards have green eyes”). At one point he made me laugh so hard I had to hang onto a lamp post in order to stop myself from peeing. I returned the favor a block down, causing a couple of perfectly tanned and coiffed matrons to sniff in disapproval as he howled in glee. A few younger women pulled out their phones and took pictures. I was tempted to do my best Xena pose in front of him, but he just giggled and pulled me away, wiping tears from his own beautiful brown eyes.

“Don’t worry,” he chortled. “If the worst they can post to Twitter is a picture of me laughing my arse off, I’m well away.”

I winced. “I didn’t think about that, sorry. Most people don’t bother to take pictures of me unless I’m playing grabass with home goods at Target.”

“Oh, God, we need to do that,” he said, instantly enthusiastic. “Do you go into the Christmas department in December and spell out rude words with the initialed stockings?”

I stared at him. “I have never been so turned on as I am right now. Will you marry me?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Christ yes. Can I add your last name to mine? I always wanted a hyphenated name like the aristos.”

“Morrison-Nayar. I like it,” I decided. “Or do you want to go with Morrison-DeVries?”

“I suppose all three would be a bit much?”

“Lazy-ass Westerners,” I chided. “Morrison-Nayar-DeVries is nothing next to Balasubramaniam.”

“Morrison-Nayar-DeVries it is, then.” He threw an arm around my shoulders and hugged me as we went into yet another elegant men’s clothing store. “Come along, Mrs. Morrison-Nayar-DeVries-to be. I believe I was promised kisses in return for trying on more blasted suits.”

“As it is written, so shall it be done.”


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When Writers Burn Out

Not flame out — that’s a different blog post. But burnout is a real thing, especially for writers who have to hit deadline after deadline in quick succession and then wind up wanting to set their writing device on fire.

Or is that just me? Maybe it’s just me. See, I spent the last four months of 2017 pretty much glued to my computer cranking out Lady of Thorns and Red Robin and the Huntsman, plus getting work done on Cross Current. After I uploaded Red Robin to Amazon on December 15, my brain said, “Okay, you’re done for the year. No writing until January 1. I mean it.”

And Lord, the idea appealed. So I actually enjoyed my Christmas/New Year break because I wasn’t getting up and immediately chaining myself to my writing desk. I cleaned, made cookies and fruitcake, and even dug out an old afghan project that I’d started in 2013 and worked on it while watching movies and TV shows. Bliss.

But then January rolled around and I started work on my first conteporary romcom, To My Muse … and ran into a problem. I couldn’t make myself stick to working the way I had with my other still. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was writing a romcom instead of a SF/fantasy/paranormal romance. I didn’t think so because I was enjoying what I was doing, but man, I just did not want to nail my butt to a chair anymore.

At that point I remembered that I had promised my BFF’s husband that I would make him a sterling silver and turquoise bracelet in memory of his grandmother. I headed out to the garage on a relatively warm day in February and set out the things I would need to make this piece, and promptly realized that 1) I’d never bezel set a stone before, 2) I needed some twisted wire and black guilder’s wax, and 3) I also didn’t know how to rivet leather for the wristband part.

Research time. So I went off and watched videos on bezel creation and setting (Thank you, Online Jewelry Academy and Professor John Ahr!), and wound up making these for practice:

To my surprise, a friend saw the first one and insisted on buying it. I didn’t like how I’d folded over the bezel wall or set the loops on the second one, so I reset it. A friend then bought THAT one. Wow.

Confident that I now had the hang of bezel making down, I got to work on the turquoise bracelet piece. If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty well.

But THEN I thought, “Well, hey, I have this nifty piece of Picasso marble that would make a great pendant, and I should try and set that. Ooh, and I can cut out the Stark sigil in back and call it Winterfell.” So I did.

A third friend saw it and bought it. Whoa.

At this point I realized that I was looking at a ginormous Amex bill at the beginning of March because I had paid for two website renewals and a membership to a local romance con. Since I’d already sold three pendants, I thought I would keep making more and hopefully sell them so that I could pay off said Amex bill (BTW, the blue aventurine and tiger’s eye pendants are still available at my Etsy store. The etched brass pendant was my first attempt at salt water etching, and will be going to a friend’s daughter as a “magic” amulet).

Suddenly it was March and I realized I hadn’t done any serious writing since late January. And my writing brain was starting to get itchy. So I got back to work on To My Muse and started the third novella in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl this week, and man, that felt good.

So, yeah, sometimes I need to take a little break from the writing, especially if I’ve been pushing myself for months at a time. But I promise you, I’ll always come back to it. And I may have some pretty sparklies to offer as well.

Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from To My Muse. Lily and Tom are busy looking for party clothes when the right dress changes everything for both of them.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

The interior of Huffington’s was just as luxe as the exterior, but instead of a tall, thin, snooty saleslady we were approached by a curvy woman only a little taller than me with huge doe eyes and a bright smile. “Mr. Morrison? Mrs. Chapman called ahead and told us to expect you,” she confided in a warm alto. “I’m Taffy Carlyle Huffington.”

“Um, Huffington?” I said faintly. “As in…” I waved an index finger around the store.

She beamed at me. “Yes, I’m the owner. I hope you don’t mind, but Ana sent over your estimated measurements and I took the liberty of picking out some dresses for you to try on.” She headed towards the back of the store, waving for us to follow. “We have a number of things to go through, so we’d best get started. Mr. Morrison, take a seat and I’ll have someone bring you a drink.”

Have you ever met someone who radiated calm and absolute confidence, and simultaneously made you feel like you had been admitted to some utterly cool inner circle? That was Taffy. I suspected she could organize a tea party for the Queen on the fly and wind up with a damehood at the end of it. While Tom took a seat in an area that screamed “upscale man cave,” she showed me to a large changing room with an actual chair, a table, one of those old-fashioned standing screens that had probably been in some Western bordello, and a large three-way mirror. Along the wall opposite the mirror was a small clothing rack that held dresses in an array of luscious colors that were perfect for my skin tone. Clearly Ana had clued Taffy in on my complexion as well as my measurements.

“Let’s start with the Christian Serrano,” she said, plucking a magenta number off the rack and handing it to me. “And we’ll take it from there.”

What followed was the absolute best hour of dress-up I’ve ever experienced. I got to try on dress after dress, preening in front of the three-way mirror while Taffy studied my silhouette and offered tasteful suggestions. We finally settled on a gorgeous sapphire blue number with a strappy halter neckline that showed off my boobs and made me look like a pin-up model. “That one, yes,” Taffy said with a firm nod. “Why don’t you go show Mr. Morrison?”

Grinning, I skipped out of the changing room and over to where Tom was perusing a copy of Variety. “What do you think?” I said, twirling.

A huge grin bloomed on his face as he studied me. “Oh, yes,” he purred. “That one, definitely.”

I remembered that I hadn’t checked the price tag. “I didn’t ask how much it was. If it’s too much, we can go with another dress–”

“No.” He was out of his chair with that, pacing around me and taking in every inch of the stubbed sapphire silk. At least, I assumed that’s what he was doing. “No, you’re wearing this one. I don’t care how much it costs. It was made for you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Very.” He mimicked Taffy’s definite nod, taking my hands and holding them away from my body. “You look absolutely spectacular, Lily. You have to have this dress.”

His hands were warm and felt marvelous around my own. For one moment I wished with all my heart that this was real, that we really were dating and I was showing off a gorgeous dress for him. And later we could go somewhere private where he would help me take it off, and then…

Something must have shown on my face because his grin changed, growing softer. “Would it be absolutely horrible of me to say that I really want to kiss you right now?”

My lips parted on their own recognizance, damn them. And then I remembered. We’d agreed on a handful of public kisses. “Oh, right,” I mumbled, trying to hide my disappointment. “Okay.”

He hesitated. “If you don’t want me to, I won’t.”

Dammit, I could feel tears rising. I blinked hard. “No, that’s not it. I just wish…” I had to be honest with him about this, if nothing else. “I wish you really wanted to kiss me. That it wasn’t an act.” I tried to smile and felt my lips tremble. “Sorry. I’m being stupid, I know. Guess I’m not a very good actress.”

Those beautiful chocolate eyes darkened as he moved closer, enough for me to feel the warmth from his body. “This isn’t an act, Lily. I really do want to kiss you. May I?”

After a moment of not breathing from pure shock, I sucked in a gulp of air. Thanks be to every god and goddess out there, it kicked my brain into gear. “Yes.”

“Good.” He leaned down and our mouths met. Remember how I’d said that our kiss yesterday was good, definitely in my top five? This one blew all of them out of the water. It’s next to impossible to describe without going into the purplest of prose, so just imagine finding your soul mate, the people who’s destined to be your other half, and then imagine them kissing you for the first time. Chemistry, desire, delicacy, awareness of the other, a willingness to please, and a simple, perfect happiness–it was all there. I forgot about Nathan, the script, my fibs, everything. All I wanted to do was melt into Tom’s arms and stay there forever.

At some point I noticed that someone was clearing their throat repeatedly. When I finally, reluctantly pulled away from Tom’s delicious mouth, I saw Taffy shaking her head in amusement. “Much as I hate to interrupt your moment, this might not be the best place for it,” she murmured. “Also, you haven’t paid for the dress yet, Mr. Morrison, so let me get her out of it before you start tearing at the seams.”

Oops. His hands were on my waist, fingertips gently digging into the fabric. And somehow my arms had gotten around his neck, as well. I may have been clinging to him, I’m not sure. And I’m pretty sure that hadn’t been his wallet pressing into my stomach. Hoo boy.

Color spread over his cheekbones as he stepped back, casually tugging his shirt lower. “Er, yes, of course,” he said through an unrepentant grin. Then he winked at me.

I knew exactly how he felt.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! Here’s another snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. Lily and Tom are still in bed after their host mistakenly gives them one room, and some truth is about to surface. Heh, heh, heh…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Tom sighed. “I’m hoping this doesn’t happen, but I feel I should warn you in case it does. Nathan might collar you at some point and give you a speech about not breaking my heart. If he does, just smile and agree with him.”

Ooookay. “Should I know the background for this?”

“Oh, hell. I suppose so.” He shifted onto his back, lacing his hands over his chest. “I told you we met during a run of Titus Andronicus, yes? At the time I was dating a woman named Cate. We’d been together for a year and were very serious about each other, or at least I thought so. She was everything I wanted in a partner—bright, funny, talented, incredibly empathetic. She worked with disabled children in North London and painted beautiful watercolors as a hobby. I was madly in love with her, and she said she loved me just as much.”

The romance writer part of my brain poked its nosy head over the parapet. “But something went wrong.”

There was a long pause. “You could say that,” he finally said. “I was planning on asking her to marry me after the run finished. The second-to-last weekend, there was a flood at the theater and we had to cancel the performance. I got back to our flat in time to catch her in bed with on of her colleagues.” He huffed out a soft, humorless laugh. “After he left she burst into tears and explained that he’d been going through a rough patch at work and she had only meant to comfort him, and somehow they’d fallen into bed together. And because I knew how kind and gentle she was, I believed her and wanted to beat the shit out of him.

“Until the next day, when he texted me. I still don’t know how he got my mobile number. He told me that they’d been having an affair for the last two months, and that he wanted to marry her. When I confronted Cate, she insisted he was lying, that he was obsessed with her and was clearly trying to break us up. And then he texted again and said they’d gone to Paris together not a month before, and sent pictures of them kissing in front of the bloody Eiffel Tower. She’d told me she was going to a teaching conference in Brighton that weekend.”

I winced. “Jeez. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. As I soon found out, her colleague wasn’t the only man she’d been fucking that year, only the most recent.” He cleared his throat. “I’m not proud of this, but I got into her Facebook page. She used to use my laptop to check it sometimes, and she’d added the password to my browser. Sometimes I think she did that on purpose so that I’d find out.” I heard an audible swallow. “She’d been with at least five other men that year. There were pictures, love notes, everything. When I confronted her, she burst into tears and claimed that it was my fault, that I left her alone too much when I was in a play or doing telly work.”

“Oh, that’s bullshit,” I snapped. “If she wasn’t happy, she should have said something. Or pulled on her big girl panties and left. But fucking around behind your back is not cool.”

“I did point that out. She said that she couldn’t bear to leave me because it would be like abandoning a kitten on the high street.”

Ouch. Bitch certainly knew how to hit a guy where it hurt.

“After that, I was packed up and out of there within the hour,” Tom continued. “Luckily I ran into Nathan as I stormed down the street to the theater. He and Ana insisted that I stay with them until I could find another flat. They let me stay with them for months until I’d worked my way through everything.” Another soft breath. “We’ve been friends ever since. It’s why I want to give him this role. He’s done so much for me, and I want to do something for him, now that I have the chance.”

The pain in his voice pulled at me, and I wanted to hug him so badly. “Well, if it helps at all, I think you’re a good person,” I said instead. “Hollywood is so full of people all out for themselves. It’s nice to see someone who wants to do something nice for someone else for a change.”

“Yeah, it isn’t the easiest of cities. Or industries, for that matter. That’s one thing I don’t like about acting — the falseness of it all. Lying through perfect smiles, and complimenting people you hate, and shoveling so much horseshit just to get some work. If nothing else, Cate did me one favor by breaking up with me the way she did. She crystallized my hatred for dishonesty.”

I went very still at that. I was lying next to him thanks to a big fat lie. “Oh. Um, well, I can’t blame you,” I said in a small voice.

He snorted. “I must sound like the biggest hypocrite in the world right now, considering how you’ve wound up here. I’m sorry about that, Lily. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to leave in the morning.”

Great, more guilt. “I’m here because I want to be,” I said as firmly as I could. “You have an amazing property and I want to write the screenplay. And Cate was an idiot. You deserve better than that.”

A quiet sound, not quite a laugh. “That’s what Nathan and Ana said. I don’t suppose you’re single?”

That stopped me breathing for a moment.


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I’m baaaaack

And in case you were wondering, yes, the flu strain that’s going around this year is indeed a stone bitch. Next year I’ll get the shot, I promise.

But I’m back, and upright, and I’m even banging out words on the keyboard. That being said, I was supposed to have To My Muse finished by the 26th. Ho ho ho. So now I’m looking at 2/15 as a finishing date with a release sometime in March. Sorry about that, but it’s hard to write when you just want to stare at your bedroom ceiling and die quietly. Once Muse is done, I’ll get to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). In fact, here’s the schedule for the year:

  • To My Muse (contemporary romcom novel – standalone)
  • King of Blades (fantasy romance novel – Two Thrones)
  • Cross Current (fantasy romance novel – Olympic Cove)
  • Uncertainty Principle (SF romance novel – Pacifica Rising)
  • Shifter Woods: Snarl (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
  • Shifter Woods: Scream (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
  • Untitled holiday story (fantasy romance novella – Two Thrones)

So that’s four full-length novels and three novellas, which is pretty good output if I do say so myself. And of course there’s one half-finished novel and two that I have covers for and still have to plot out. Sleep? What means this word, sleep?

Did I mention I’m also making more jewelry? We’re talking stuff that needs to be soldered and polished — two amethyst cabs and one green turquoise one that will be made into a bracelet for my BIL. So many sparklies!

And in case anyone is wondering, making stuff is part of my writing process. I’ve learned that if I do nothing but write, I jam up and can’t get anything done. Thus, crafts. Also another income stream, which is always good.

Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. In this scene, Lily and Tom are staying overnight at Sir Nathan Chapman’s luxurious Palm Springs home for a party the next day. The problem is, Sir Nathan thinks they’re a couple and has put them in the same guest room. Now they’re trying to come to an agreement on how to share a room platonically. Needless to say, there are going to be complications. Muwahahaha…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Tom let me have first crack at the bathroom (more aquamarine and blue Moorish tile, a bathtub I could do laps in, and a separate glass-enclosed shower that looked sinfully luxurious. Also, a bidet, because Europeans). After I finished getting washed up, brushing my teeth, and sticking my impossible hair into a ponytail for the night, there was nothing left but to head back out there.

He was sitting at the little table reading a paperback copy of La Popessa when I came out. Looking up at my entrance, he gave me a quick, unconscious once-over, smiling when he saw the motto “This IS my lingerie” on my nightgown. “Did you leave any hot water for me?”

“Gallons,” I promised, padding to the bed. Grabbing a handful of pillows, I nodded at the rug. “Okay if I put these down here?”

“Please.” He headed into the bathroom to get ready for bed while I set up a mini-pallet for him using the pillows, coverlet, and an extra blanket I found in the armoire. Fluffy rug or not, the whole thing was still on tile, and I worried about how comfortable that was going to be for him.

When the bathroom door opened I turned around. “I think—”

And nearly swallowed my tongue. Tom was wearing dark blue boxer shorts and nothing else. And yes, I’d seen him practically naked before but this was live. Lean and muscular without being ridiculously ripped, he had the nicest scattering of curly dark chest hair that led downward in a treasure trail across clearly defined abs. Not only that, but he had that lovely arrow-shaped band of muscle that some guys get on their hips.

And I had to share a bedroom with him and couldn’t touch. Vishnu, what did I do to piss you off this time?

“I hope this is okay,” he said hesitantly, glancing down at himself. “I tend to run warm when I sleep, especially out here, so I usually don’t wear anything. Clearly that’s not on tonight, but I’m happy to put on a shirt if you want.”

Have you ever tried to sound cool and collected through a mouthful of drool? It’s not easy. “No, that’s okay,” I mumbled. “Um, is the set-up on the rug good enough?”

“It’ll be fine.” Tom padded over to the folded coverlet, stretching out on top of it. With nothing else to do, I climbed into bed. “Thank you, Lily. For everything.”

A pang of guilt prodded me. He had no reason to thank me for anything. I was here on, if not false pretenses, then extremely dubious ones. “You’re welcome. Can I turn off the light?”

“Go ahead.”

I did and the room went dark. Unfortunately the filmy saffron curtains didn’t do crap about the outside light, dim as it was. After a few minutes I opened my eyes and could pretty much make out everything in the room.

A sigh wafted up from the floor. “I think I might have been wrong about this rug.”

Another thing to feel bad about—I’d put him out of the bed that should have been his. I rolled over to the edge of the mattress, peering down. Tom was a collection of grey shapes, his arms and chest pale against the dark coverlet.

Okay, Nayar, my subconscious said, time to cowgirl up and do the right thing.

Which is what, exactly?

The bed is built for two. You do the math.

Are you out of your damned mind? I cannot ask Tom Morrison to sleep with me!

Yes, you can. You’ve slept on the floor before–you know how you felt the next morning. You want Tom hobbling around tomorrow?

Well, no–

All right. Tell him to grab the other side of the bed. If he doesn’t want to, he’ll say no.

He’ll think I’m hitting on him! And I’m not! Although yes, I wanted to, but this was just too tropey even for me.

So make it clear that you’re not. And if he tries something you don’t like, use that move Theresa taught you. I could feel the smirk radiating from my subconscious. But he won’t. He’s not into someone like you. Beautiful people breed with their own kind.

That was true. “Look, this is ridiculous,” I said. “We’re both adults, I know you’re a decent guy, and I assure you that your virtue is safe with me. Take the other side of the bed.”

I couldn’t make out his face clearly but I saw his head turn towards me. “Are you sure?”

I swallowed. “If you don’t, I’m going to spend the rest of the night feeling bad about you being in pain on the floor. It’s okay, really.”

“God, thank you.” He got up, grabbing the pillows and blanket and heading to the other side of the bed. “I was picturing myself limping around tomorrow night and trying to pass it off as a skiing injury or something.”

I tried to ignore the mattress dipping as he got in beside me. “Or you could just tell people I write romance,” I said quickly. “That way, you can say you pulled a groin muscle while we were working out a sex scene for my new book.”

Aaaand an awkward silence fell. Just as I was working out how best to crawl out of bed and sleep in the bathtub, he laughed. “Do you actually do that?”

The one time I had asked Kirk to help me plot out a sex scene, he’d acted as if I had just asked to peg him with a Colby Keller replica. “No. My characters are usually pretty tame about sex positions,” I admitted. “The one time I wrote a menage story, I used Barbie dolls to get the positioning right. I usually focus more on emotion and sensuality than athletics.”

“Yes, I noticed.”

Awkward silence, part deux. “You know, we’re actually doing a romance trope right now,” I blurted.

“It is?”

“Yeah. Hero and heroine have to share a bed for some reason. Unresolved sexual tension sets in, and either they finally give in and jump each other or spend the night acutely aware of each other but unwilling to cross boundaries because it’s too soon in the book for them to have sex. Or the writer doesn’t do that kind of story.”

“Ah. I see. What kind of story are we in?”

Not the kind I wanted, clearly. “Well, if I was writing this, we’d go to sleep because we’d just met that morning and there isn’t enough buildup to account for a believable love scene yet,” I said.

“So no leaping on each other in a crazed frenzy. I can see that. But we’d be acutely aware of each other.”

Why was it suddenly hard to breathe? “Well, yeah. If this was a romance novel. Which it isn’t, obviously.”

“Mm. Maybe it’s a romantic comedy? Beautiful but quirky writer accidentally winds up in dashing hero’s hotel room, saves him from sex-mad actress after his body, and hijinks ensue. The script practically writes itself.”

Now my stomach was doing Olympic-caliber flip-flops. He thought I was beautiful? He’s being nice, you idiot. Besides, he’s talking about a romcom, not reality.

Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and in retrospect my panicked anxiety-induced plan was actually kinda funny. Yeah, that was a pretty good description of what was going on with us. Of course, the problem with romcoms is that there’s always some sort of disaster that splits up the couple around the end of act two.

I cleared my throat. “Quirky?”

He chuckled softly. “I thought you’d say that. Do I get any points for using ‘beautiful’ first?”

“Meh. This is a romcom. The female lead is always beautiful, and the male lead is always handsome.”

“Are you saying I’m handsome?”

Actors and their egos. “You know perfectly well you’re handsome.”

“Still, it’s nice to hear, especially from my beautiful leading lady.”

“Beautiful quirky leading lady.”

He shifted, turning on his side to face me. “That’s not an insult, you know. This morning you wound up in my hotel room through a key mixup. You picked up on my silent pleading without missing a beat and gave Claudine the verbal smackdown she’s richly deserved for quite some time. Then you turn out to be this smart, funny screenwriter who actually knows the subject material of my dream project, and you once again indulge my panicked begging and agreed to come to Palm Springs, stay at a complete stranger’s house, and pose as my girlfriend. Most women would have run screaming long before we got on the plane.”

The way he put it, I did sound kind of quirky. Also more than a bit badass. “Well, helping you out with the Wicked Ho of the West was the least I could do,” I said modestly. “As for everything else, it’s just what I do.”

“And I’m grateful for it. Speaking as the hero in this romance, of course.”

“Of course.” I was liking this man more and more with every passing moment. And I couldn’t make a move because he wasn’t into me, goddamnit.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. LA tech writer by day and romance novelist by night, Lily Nayar is still recovering from being dumped by her screenwriter boyfriend. When she gets loaded one night with her BFF and tweets to hot British actor Tom Morrison about the romance novel he inspired, hijinks ensue! In this scene, Lily is posing as Tom’s girlfriend (it’s complicated), and they need to get some details straight before they head off to Palm Springs for an important party.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

I made it back to the hotel a few minutes before Tom showed up in the lobby. I’d been entertaining myself with spotting various actors and trying to remember the first time I’d ever seen them when he strode in, a classy black wheelie case rolling behind him.

“Good, you’re here,” he said, sounding relieved as he dropped into the chair next to me. “I thought we should take the opportunity to get our notes straight, make it look like we’ve known each other for longer than six hours.”

“Works for me,” I agreed. “Who starts?”

He gestured towards me. “Ladies first.”

“Okay.” What had Kirk known about me (apart from the fact that I was a damn better writer than him)? “Um, I’m Lily Nayar, I’m twenty-seven, I graduated from USC, I live in an apartment in Highland Park, I don’t have any pets, and I write fantasy romance novels as Lilian DeVries, as you know.”

“As I know,” he said, smiling. “Rather naughty ones.”

He had noticed the sex scenes. Damn. “Anyway,” I said after clearing my throat, “I have a younger brother named Derek, and my mom and dad are still together. What else would my boyfriend know?”

He considered. “Ethnic background?”

Good point, and a graceful way of asking. “Mom’s white, Dad’s first-generation American. His parents are from Mumbai, hers are from Pasadena. You can imagine the holiday dinners. What about you?”

He sat back in his chair, scratching his chin. “Well, you know my name. Which is my real one, by the way. Born in Swansea, raised in London. Dad died when I was twelve, after which Mum raised me with Aunt Margery and my sisters.”

I felt a twinge of sympathy at that. I might fight with Dad sometimes, but I’m damned glad he’s here. “When you say Aunt Margery, are we talking an actual blood relation, or your mom’s girlfriend that they gave a familial title to in order to ward off a homophobic society that wouldn’t accept their love?”

His smile turned into a grin. “I like you. No, actual relation, although I suspect Aunt Margery wasn’t adverse to a bit of flannel. Went to a comprehensive secondary school—I think you’d call that junior and senior high over here—before heading off to the University of Manchester, where I studied history with a view towards teaching it until I was seduced by the drama department.”

“So you didn’t go to RADA?”

Ooh, he raised an eyebrow at me. I love men who can do that. “No, I didn’t go to RADA, mainly because I didn’t have the money. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with the University of Manchester’s drama department. Cumberbatch went there, you know.”

Well, if it was good enough for Sherlock, it was good enough for me. “And after you graduated?”

“Went back to London, split my time between being a substitute teacher and acting in anything that would hire me, and finally got my break in a tea commercial, if you’d believe it. Through that and a very clever agent, I sit before you now as one of a number of interchangeable British actors currently occupying Hollywood.” He spread his hands in a “ta-da” gesture.

I pretended to study him. “Got news for you, dude. You’re not interchangeable.”

“Ha. I regularly get mistaken for Ben Barnes, Tom Ellis, and Sam Claflin, and I don’t even have the same color eyes as Sam. English actors of my age and facial type are about as interchangeable as Lego, especially in Hollywood. It’s one of the reasons why I want to do this movie and get some experience in producing.”

I could see that. “Do you want to get out of acting?”

“God, no. I love acting. I want to keep doing it as long as I can. But unless the heavens bless you with a lucky break, the real money and power are in producing.” His expression softened, turning reflective. “That makes me sound like an arsehole, doesn’t it? I’m not in it for the money per se. I just want to make sure Mum and Auntie Margery are taken care of, as well as my sisters. I promised Dad I’d look after them.”

Oh, I heard that. My paternal grandparents came from India with nothing but a cousin willing to sponsor them. Taking care of family was woven into my DNA. “Okay, we’re both driven overachievers who love our families and are determined to support ourselves in a crazy business. No wonder we make such a good couple,” I said. “So that’s personal info done—how long have we been dating?”

“Let’s say two months? Makes it sound like we’re a bit more established that way.”

“Works for me.” And that way I could mentally blank out that last month with the dickhead. “How did we meet?”

“You’re the writer,” he pointed out. “What’s a good meet cute for us?”

Okay, Romance Writer Brain, go to work. “How about … my car overheated on the 110 and you stopped to help me,” I offered.

“Suicidal but very noble of me,” he agreed. “I like it. Go on.”

“And I almost called the cops on you, thinking you were trying to assault me.”

He snorted in appreciation. “But then you recognized me from TV and let me take you out for coffee while the tow truck hauled your car off to a nearby garage.” He pronounced it GAR-aj. “You do drink coffee, yes?”

“I’m a writer. Caffeine makes up seventy-five percent of my blood volume,” I said. “I think that’s a plausible meet cute for LA.”

“Sounds good to me.” Now he looked hesitant. “Er, we’d probably be publicly affectionate by this time. How much physical contact are you willing to engage in?”

A little thrill went through me, until I remembered that he was an actor and had to negotiate this with actresses all the time. “Holding hands, totally fine,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Arm around my shoulders and occasional hugging is cool. Kissing…” Aaaand there went my brain into vapor lock. “Um, I’ve never kissed someone I wasn’t actually dating. What do you think would be acceptable?”

He looked at my mouth, and his own curved slightly. “Let’s make this warm but discreet. The occasional peck on the cheek or temple, and one affectionate kiss with no tongues in front of Nathan. Sound reasonable?”

Kissing Tom Morrison would never sound reasonable to me. Unbelievable, amazing, addicting, yes, but not reasonable. “Yes.”

“Good.” Those cappuccino eyes twinkled now. “Do you want to do it once here, just so that we get the hang of it? Plus if anyone spots us, it’ll help deflect any more sneak attacks from Claudine.”

Crap. I could feel my cheeks heating up. “Um, how…”

“Just lean forward.”

Stamping down on my inner gibbering fangirl, I did as he asked. He mirrored me, cupping my cheek. “Relax,” he murmured, then touched his lips to mine.

It … was not what I expected. I thought it would feel fake, somehow, that I’d be able to tell he was acting. But it felt like I was kissing someone who was genuinely interested in me. Plus he smelled amazing, and his mouth was just the right amount of soft, warm, and mostly dry, definitely not Kirk’s sex beast technique. And there was the strangest little tingle that spread through my lips, like Tom was touching a live wire as our mouths met. Yet another romance trope that turned out to be true.

He held it for maybe two seconds, then pulled back. It was hard to tell with brown irises but I was pretty sure his pupils had dilated, turning his eyes even darker. Maybe he’d felt a tingle as well.

Without a word, we started to lean towards each other again—

“Sorry to interrupt your tête-à-tête, children, but our winged conveyance awaits,” a cultured British voice said cheerfully.

I have never wanted to kill an Oscar-winning actor so much in my life.


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So I have the flu

Or at least I assume I have the flu, judging from the symptoms — stuffy nose, muscle aches, lack of energy, low fever, and every bad thing or decision in my life coming back to haunt me in 4K HD. Whee. So Ramón will be heading off to the shops in a bit to pick up basics so that we can eat today, and I’m drinking lots of water, eating healthy stuff when I can muster an appetite, and trying to add at least a K a day to To My Muse because I’m insane like that. Don’t worry — I’m taking breaks as and when appropriate. Also, ignore the number on the graphic at left — I’m currently up to 23,289 words and I’m hoping to crack 25K by tonight.

The cats are also making it their mission to drive me completely nuts. You know how you get those heartwarming stories of moggies who can tell when their owners are ill and will curl up next to them, providing body warmth and quiet support? Yeah, I have one like that (Jessie, my silver girl). The rest are either yelling at me for food (JJ), running through the house like their tail is on fire and acting like a complete idiot (Jeremy), crawling in between me and my food for pettins’ (Jasmine), or climbing on me because I’m their favorite perch (Jemma). I keep having to go upstairs and hide in my room because Jasmine won’t go up there, Jeremy and JJ will go straight for the space heater and sprawl there, and Jemma prefers to snooze under the bed, don’t ask me why. Only Jessie will come in, check on me, then settle down next to me within petting range (if I’m in the mood, but only then) and take a catnap.

It doesn’t help that the temperature is dropping quickly and we’ll be below freezing by tonight. We just had a plumber come out yesterday to fix one of the outside faucets that had developed a fatal failure during our recent freeze (when you turned it on water started coming out from BEHIND the brick fascia of the house). Luckily it wasn’t too horribly expensive, but I did throw on enough clothes so that I could stagger out and make sure that, yeah, he’d disconnected the hose (which apparently caused the problem). I may go back out in a bit and wrap the damn thing with a towel for insulation. And we still don’t know if the pool pump took any damage from the freeze. I know, first world problems, but that’s still a $600+ expense I’d like to avoid if at all possible.

In other news, I got my hair cut. And since it’s wavy it means that once I’d washed the salon product out of it (shown at right — my hair is never that straight unless a stylist has blown-dry it using one of those big round brushes) and let it dry naturally it bounced above my shoulders. Since it was down to the middle of my back before this is something of a change. Ramón keeps saying I look like I did when we lived in Montreal back in 1994, and it’s nice not to have to keep it in a pony tail all the time.

To My Muse: Day Three

I probably should have started this on Monday but what the heck — I’ve made word quota every day and that’s what counts. So far I’m a skosh over 10% finished, have three chapters, Lily has just gone from “Oh, my God, I’m about to get arrested and thrown into jail for breaking and entering” to “Oh, my God, Tom the cute actor who inspired my fantasy romance wants me to do a spec script for him AND it’s a story squarely in my wheelhouse AND my barracuda of a BFF just negotiated a hella decent contract for me,” and I’m about to throw a wrench into the proceedings with the high-powered actor Tom desperately wants to sign for his film. I’m so happy I got over my reluctance to put my characters through the wringer. I am a dark goddess, and all shall love me and despair.

Also, out of sheer amusement, I would up transferring the text message section I blogged about yesterday into an app that creates fake iPhone 7 text messages. That was fun!