*lifts storm shelter door, peers out*
So, the last time I spoke with y’all, it was August 18th and I thought I was on the downhill slope for Shadow of the Swan. The book was supposed to be 80,000 words or so, and I had just crossed the 60K line so I figured (quite logically at the time) that if I spent the next five days doing 4-5,000 words a day I could be done and dusted by 8/23/20. That would give me a few days to get it cleaned up before I sent it off to my editor and betas. Since I didn’t have to have the final version uploaded to Amazon until 9/4/20, I had plenty of time.
Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha*SOB*
Yeah, no. For one thing, I felt like absolute crap on the 19th and 20th, so no wordage was achieved. By the time Friday the 21st rolled around, I knew I had lost valuable time and had to make it up with minimum 5K days. But Friday through Monday would do it, right?
Well, it would have if the book had stayed 80,000 words long. But as I got stuck in, I quickly realized two things:
One, my word count included chapter synopses that I stuck in months ago to tell myself what was supposed to happen in each chapter. As I deleted these and replaced them with actual story, I wound up losing anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words. So even though I physically wrote 5,000 words a day, I only wound up with 3,500 – 4,500 words in the end, which meant that I had to write even more to hit my 5K word quota.
Two, this book was not going to be 80K long. When I hit the 80K mark on Monday, August 24th, I still had the climax of Act II to write and all of Act III. Many, many bad words were said at that point.
So I kept on keeping on. Wrote 5K+ day after day, and watched in helpless terror as my characters got themselves into deeper and more complex trouble, and wondered how the actual fuck I was going to resolve all this. By Friday, August 28th, I still had three chapters to go and less than a week now before I had to upload the final version.
I don’t remember much of Saturday, August 29th. I do know that it was a personal best when it came to output because I wrote 8,672 words that day. (And in case anyone is wondering, yes, I got up to take regular walking breaks on the treadmill, stayed hydrated, and did everything I could to keep moving and avoid deep vein thrombosis. I was frantic, not foolish.) I wrote until 5 AM, when I finally added Louisa’s last words in the last chapter, then I checked my total word count.
106,620 words. I wrote 40,839 words over eight days. The old fashioned way, with my fingers on a keyboard. I was honestly shocked that my brain wasn’t leaking out my ears by that point.
I slept until noon, got up and frantically edited, then sent it out that evening to my editor and betas with abject apologies that they were getting, in effect, version 1.5. I immediately turned around and went back to work on a full edit. Is this recommended? No. Is this something I could handle? Yes.
In the end (and I attribute this to experience gained over twenty-five years of professional writing along with a healthy dollop of naked, abject fear) I had somehow managed to write a fairly clean, coherent draft that only needed tweaks here and there to fill the occasional plot hole. I still don’t know how I managed that. My editor, bless her angelic heart, sent me changes live as she went through the book, which helped immensely. My betas both turned it around in record time and got me their lists of grammar, spelling, and punctuation goofs. A very kind reviewer friend who got an ARC sent me a handful of missed goofs and a couple of plot points that needed a bit more work, so I was able to get those incorporated, as well.
By 9/2/20, I had a reader-ready edition. I spent Thursday formatting it, giving it one last review and polish, then uploaded it and the cover to Amazon for release on 9/8/20. So here it is, the day before release (and Labor Day as well), and my stomach is in knots because this is my first new release since November 2018 and I just want people to like it.
So, that’s where Shadow of the Swan currently stands. I now need to finish re-editing and formatting Deep Water and get that out, then go back to work on King of Blades. Because the best thing you can do when you finish a book is start writing the next one.
Although I may indulge in a rum and coke. I think I earned it.
Wicked Wednesday Reads: Bull
Whee, it’s Wednesday! Never fear, for today I’m here with Harley Wilde and her hot new MC romance Bull (Dixie Reapers MC #4), now available from Changeling Press and other online sellers. Take it away, Harley!
Have you always wanted to write?
I’m not sure that “want” is the correct word to use. It’s more like I “have” to write. If I go too long without putting words on the page, I get a little squirrely. Creative writing assignments were my favorites, even as far back as grade school, so getting to write full-time is a dream come true for me. I never set out to be a published author, but I’m glad I took a chance and submitted that first manuscript.
You write Contemporary Erotic Romance. Is that what you read, too?
Sometimes. I read a little bit of everything, as long as romance is the central theme. Contemporary, Western, Science Fiction, Paranormal…even Young Adult. When I go to the bookstore, the YA section is actually my first stop. For some reason, I prefer my YA books in paperback and my adult romances in ebook.
Do you write long-hand or only on the computer?
I actually have Lupus and osteoarthritis, so writing by hand isn’t really an option for me. Most days, I can barely hold a pen. My handwriting, which was once quite pretty, is now the absolute worst chicken scratch. Typing is easier on my hands, and I type a lot faster than I write.
About how many words a month do you average when you’re writing?
Around 50,000 to 65,000 on average. I’ve written as much as 90,000 in a month before though. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes inspiration strikes and just won’t let go. I really enjoy those months!
Dixie Reapers MC is your current series. Can readers expect more from you in 2018?
I’ll have more Dixie Reapers books out, but I’m also starting a spinoff series called Devil’s Boneyard. I’m hoping book 1 in the new series will be available in July of this year. If all goes according to plan, I’ll alternate between the two series through the end of the year.
Tell us about your current book.
Bull is book 4 in the Dixie Reapers series, but readers met him in book 1 (Venom). I had quite a few people express an interest in Bull getting his own story, and I hated that he’d never found love. Despite the fact he has a grown daughter, he’s never had a meaningful relationship, and I wanted to fix that. I hope readers will enjoy Bull and Darian’s story as much as I loved writing it.
When the guy I’d been seeing turned out to be a rapist sleezeball, I ran…and it let me straight to him. They call him Bull, and I can see why. The guy is massive, and I do mean everywhere. He’s so much older than me, but I can’t seem to care. The way he holds me, murmurs softly to me, I feel safe. No one’s ever cared what happened to me, but he does. I can tell he wants me, even though he’s fighting himself. But he doesn’t have to…because I’m his. I’ve held onto my virginity all these years, but I want him more than I ever thought I’d want someone. I want his hands on me, his body over mine. And for once, I’m going to get what I want. And I want Bull.
Darian’s younger than my damn daughter, but there’s something about the sweet girl that draws me closer. When I look in her eyes, I see that she’s a fighter, but I can also see that she’s been badly broken, and I want to be the one to put the pieces back together. I have nothing to offer her. There’s more than twenty years between us, and I know I need to walk away. I’m just a dirty old man who wants her under me. I’m hard as a damn post anytime she’s nearby, and I have to fight the urge to spread those creamy thighs of hers and drive into her, claiming her body and making her mine…until I have no fight left in me. I wanted to be a better man, to walk away, but I can’t. She begs me so sweetly, and soon I can’t resist anymore. She’s mine. And any fucker who tries to take her from me is going to die a slow and painful death.
Bull didn’t hesitate when he entered the house, but strode into the living room and eased me down onto the couch. He flicked on a lamp and as the room flooded with light, I was surprised to see that he seemed much older than my twenty-one years. There were lines at the corners of his eyes, but he was a very handsome man. As I took in the details of his face, I felt this intense pull toward him. I’d seen attractive men before. Well, mostly boys. But there was something about him, something different. The look in his eyes said he’d seen shit I couldn’t even fathom, and yet the way he watched me… it made me feel all warm and gooey inside.
He pulled off his leather jacket and tossed it onto a chair, and I felt my eyes widen as I took in his broad chest and large biceps. There was some sort of leather vest over his T-shirt, but I couldn’t read the writing. Even if the lines on his face hadn’t belied his age, there was no mistaking his body for that of a boy. He was definitely all man. The T-shirt he wore was stretched tight across him, and my fingers itched to see if his chest was as hard as it looked. I could understand now why they called him Bull. The man was huge. My gaze dipped down below his belt and my cheeks flushed when I saw his cock straining against his zipper. Yeah, he was big. Everywhere.
“What’s your name?” he asked, drawing my attention away from what was hidden in his jeans.
“Darian. Darian Crosse.”
“You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”
I shook my head. “I’m from Georgia. The guy I was seeing told me about this awesome party and brought me here.”
Bull’s eyebrows rose. “And where is he now?”
“Probably still looking for me.”
Bull rocked back on his heels, shoving his hands into his pockets. I was too busy admiring him again to say anything more. I couldn’t say he was beautiful, but I’d never met anyone like Bull before. I felt like I could look at him all day.
“Is he the one you’re running from?” Bull asked.
“Him and the others,” I murmured, still admiring him.
His eyes narrowed. “What others?”
I tipped my head back and closed my eyes a moment. Their faces flashed in my mind, with their leering smiles. Bile rose in my throat as I thought about the words I’d heard, their intentions toward me, and their complete lack of humanity. Fear and revulsion rolled through me, and I knew I was damn lucky to have gotten away.
I focused on him again, trying to shake free from the horror of what had nearly happened to me. “The party Leo took me to expected me to be the entertainment, even though I hadn’t known that at the time. I’d confessed to Leo a few days ago that I was a virgin and was waiting for the right guy and the right time. I thought he was understanding and might be the one. I didn’t realize he was excited about my virginity for another reason.”
“That doesn’t explain the others you mentioned. Who were they?”
“Leo tried to drug me earlier, but I didn’t take the pills. When we got into town, we drove to some rundown place. I think it’s a few miles from here, but I honestly don’t know how far I ran. It was a house full of guys. Some looked younger than me and some looked older. Maybe late twenties or early thirties. When we stepped into the house, I realized quickly I was the only girl there. The guys weren’t quiet about their plans. They were going to take turns with me. All twelve of them and one said he was willing to pay Leo to be the one to take my virginity. Thankfully, it looked like they’d already been partying pretty hard, and they were either drunk, stoned, or both.”
A chill entered his eyes and his hands clenched at his sides. Suddenly the protective man who had been so tender with me looked more like a Viking warrior about to go off to battle. With his long blond hair and beard, I could easily see him with a sword, or whatever Vikings had used in times of war.
“They were going to gang rape you?” His voice sounded calmer than he looked. Anger poured off him in waves.
My throat tightened and I swallowed as tears filled my eyes. I hadn’t admitted to myself yet that that’s what they’d planned. Oh, I’d run the moment I’d realized what they were going to do, but I’d pushed it to the back of my mind and not used that word, breaking it down into pieces I could stomach instead of looking at the whole picture.
Bull noticed my distress and sank down onto his haunches in front of me. Some of the anger had faded from his eyes, and the tender guy who had picked me up off the pavement was back. He reached for me slowly, brushing tears off my cheeks that I hadn’t even realized I’d shed. That was enough to make the dam break and I started crying in earnest. Bull gathered me in his arms and sat on the couch, settling me in his lap. Cradled against his broad chest, I felt like nothing could harm me. I clung to him, my hands twisted in the fabric of his shirt, as I soaked him with my tears. He didn’t seem to mind though, murmuring words of comfort to me.
Despite my distress over what had nearly happened to me, I felt completely safe in his arms. Being held by him was almost like coming home. That sense of rightness, of belonging. I’d never had that before, and it startled me that I would feel it now, with a complete stranger. I’d tried to always trust that inner voice though, and mine was saying that Bull was different, special.
“If they come here, will that guy at the gate tell them I’m here?” I asked as I got myself under control again.
“No. Johnny won’t say a word to anyone about you being here. Except maybe to Torch.”
I sniffled. “You all have weird names.”
Bull chuckled. “They’re road names. I’m part of the Dixie Reapers MC. Bull is what they call me.”
“MC. Like in Sons of Anarchy?”
He snorted. “Not exactly. Oh, our hands aren’t clean, but most of that show was strictly drama meant to entertain people.”
“So, if Bull is your road name, what’s your real name?” I asked.
I could see the hesitation in his eyes, and I wondered if it was taboo to ask him that. I didn’t know anything about the way of life in an MC. I hadn’t even been around bikers up close before, except watching them pass by on the freeway. He was the first I’d ever spoken to.
“Michael. My name is Michael, but outside of this house, I’m Bull and only Bull.”
I nodded. “I understand.”
He softly caressed my cheek. “But you can call me Michael if you want. When we’re here, by ourselves. No one’s used that name in a really long time.”
I felt the bulge in his pants pressing against my ass, and I didn’t think it was possible, but it felt like it was growing even larger. Holy hell! My breath caught in my throat at the unmistakable desire in his eyes. No one had ever looked at me like that. Oh, boys had told me I was pretty and said they wanted to fuck me. But the way Bull — Michael? — looked at me… it was like he wanted to devour me. My nipples pebbled and as his hands shifted, I felt a sudden jolt in my core.
This is wrong, Darian. What the hell is the matter with you? You were almost raped and now some stranger is turning you on? Are you just going to give it up to some random guy?
Despite my inner pep talk, my body didn’t seem to be listening. Desire curled through me, heating the blood in my veins. Even if his arms hadn’t been around me, I wouldn’t have gotten up and walked away. I’d waited so long to feel like this. Was the timing all wrong? Oh yeah. But I couldn’t ignore the way I felt, didn’t want to ignore it.
If you missed the first three books in the Dixie Reapers series, you can check them out here.
Where to Buy
Changeling Press | Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
About the Author
Short. Erotic. Sweet. Harley’s other half would probably say those words describe her, but they also describe her books. When Harley is writing, her motto is the hotter the better. Off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place.
Harley Wylde is the “wilder” side of award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith. Visit Jessica’s website at jessicacoultersmith.com or Harley’s website at harleywylde.com. Want to be notified of new releases or special discounts? Sign up for her newsletter!
For fans of Gay Romance, Harley/Jessica also writes as Dulce Dennison.
To My Muse 99¢ release SALE
Ever do something really, really dumb?
When too much tequila and an enabling BFF put Lily Nayar’s romance novel Feast of Lovers into the hands of its inspiration, sexy British actor Tom Morrison, Lily is horrified. Now she’s determined to get her book back, even if that means breaking into Tom’s hotel room to do it.
With the help of a strategic lie and an Oscar-winning knight, Lily’s screwball plan catapults her into the middle of her very own Cinderella story, Hollywood style. But will a vengeful actress ruin Lily’s shot at a real life HEA with Tom?
Marvelous Monday Reads: Rescued by Love @EvernightPub #fairytale #romance
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, pumpkins! Today I’m featuring Jules Dixon and her hot new fairy tale romance Rescued By Love. And now, here’s Jules!
Aurora Jessen lives a life that would make a princess envious, but will her prince ever find her with her overprotective father hovering? When the infuriating Drexel Mason returns to town, his ability to get her to almost spontaneously orgasm while simultaneously making her want to stab him fascinates her, but a deadly accident reiterates the lack of control over her own life.
Drexel Mason’s childhood was more a scene from a nightmare than a tale of fated love. The memories make him cover his pain with a secret elixir, but Aurora’s kiss confiscates the lingering ache. When she accidentally takes his pain-killing potion, he’s given an opportunity to slay the dragon of his cruel past and release the prince hiding inside.
Will Drexel save his princess or will she continue waiting for true love in her ivory tower?
I rested my cheek against his shoulder and my nose brushed carelessly against his neck. His body stiffened and I wondered if it was from the touch or something else. I could hear his heart beating fast in his chest and the sound was comforting. I inhaled a deep breath and smirked.
His cologne isn’t that bad. Just takes time to get used to it.
“Drexel?” I asked.
“Why did you kiss me?”
“Yeah, I didn’t kiss you, Princess. You kissed me.”
I’ll show him Princess!
As if he knew I was going to try to get away, his hand pressed on my shoulder blade to hold my body to him.
I adjusted my head so I could look up at him again. “No, you kissed me, Drexel.”
“Don’t say my name like that,” I said through gritted teeth.
His lips grazed my ear. “Ah-roar-ah.” He pulled the life from every syllable until I needed the next one like the oxygen in my blood. “We both know that was an impulsive and uncontrolled Aurora kiss. It wasn’t a Drexel kiss. When I kiss you, it’s different than that kiss. I’m sure you remember what one of my kisses feels like, right?”
I ignored the question. To remember brought back memories I didn’t want to forget, but I’d pushed them down to move on with life like he had.
“You can’t tell me you didn’t like that kiss,” I hissed back.
“Didn’t say I didn’t like it. I’m saying I didn’t start the kiss, and I was only participating in being molested by your tongue because you seemed to be enjoying it.”
“I seem to remember your third leg was molesting me and would lead me to believe you were enjoying it.”
“Whatever.” He chuckled and my rising blood pressure made my face flush.
“Did you just ‘whatever’ me?”
“Just trying to speak your language.” His hand lowered and slipped into the open slit on the back of my dress. With his hand spread across my lower back, I could feel the tip of his pinkie just resting at the top of the split of my butt cheeks, sliding under the lace of my thong. Skin on skin.
I wiggled and shout-whispered in his ear, “Drexel, your hand!”
“Uh-huh, nice thong.” He was an excellent dancer, swaying our bodies in unison to the dreamy but sultry beat. He spun us at just the right moment, compelling the breath to exhale in excitement from my lungs. “What about my hand?”
My breathing shallowed and my body betrayed me, hardening my nipples. “Please, your hand.” A moan escaped my lips.
Drexel rumbled a soothing, manly murmur of appreciation in response. “Now, why can’t you be this Aurora all the time? So peaceful and graceful, and not pissing me off?”
Where to Buy
Evernight Publishing | Amazon | Bookstrand | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
About the Author
Fuzzy sock collector, martini connoisseur, baseball fanatic, and dandelion lover, author Jules Dixon is a living testament to the genius of sugar and caffeine being able to keep a human alive. She’s addicted to everything related to the amazing emotion of love, probably instigated by her own happily ever after of 25 years with her beer-brewing hubby. Their own love story created a sassy, artistic daughter and a computer genius but ultra-sarcastic son.
Jules explores the rich psychology of sexuality, choices, and conflicts of high school, college, and young adult characters with sizzle and humor in her novels and novellas. She’s a busy writer, and she loves it!