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Okay, that's actually a Chicago song, and this post is about Alabama. So the answer is Alabama....Alabama is the inspiration for part of the Falcon Football and Cottonbloom series. We headed to my family's homeplace over our fall break for my cousin's wedding. Tons of fun to catch up with family! For some background, my mom has five (5!) younger brothers, all with kids, so our get-togethers growing up were pretty epic. They involved swimming in the river, riding 3-wheelers all over the place, and food...lots of food.
Falcon, Alabama: Ada's and Robbie's houses are fictional, but the land I plopped them down in isn't. And that river in Cottonbloom? Inspired by the Sipsey River in Alabama.
We're only weeks away from the release of CANDY CANE CHRISTMAS, my Cottonbloom novella out Oct 25th. I'm super excited about this one because it's been brewing since I wrote Slow and Steady Rush. And now, six books later, Jeremy Whitehurst has earned his HEA. It was a long, tough road for my reformed bad boy.
In celebration, I'm giving away a book-pack of recently released Christmas themed small town books to one lucky newsletter subscriber!!
Christmas in Eternity Springs by Emily March
The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Snowfall on Haven Point by Raeanne Thayne
Plus, an ebook copy of CANDY CANE CHRISTMAS!
Sign up here --> http://eepurl.com/bwbOkD
Confirm your subscription in the email you receive, and that's it!
The winner will be announced in my late October newsletter!! **LOTS** of exciting stuff coming for my newsletter subscribers so stay tuned!! (I'm busting with news that I'll share very soon!!!)
Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads
Series: Fatal Dreams #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
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Cursed with a terrible gift…
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
A gift that threatens to engulf them...
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.
They weren’t going to make it.
Not unless he suddenly sprouted blue tights and a red cape. The hope of escape morphed into despair and resignation and finally reckless pissed-off-ness. No fucking way was he going to die running. He stopped, turned, and faced the truck barreling toward them. The tires ate up the ground at an indecent rate. He clutched Isleen tighter to his chest. For her sake, he wanted it to be a quick death. No more lingering. No more pain.
That thought infuriated him. None of this was right. They shouldn’t be on the verge of death. Again.
The truck kept coming—now twenty-five feet away.
Everything slowed, happening as if through the quicksand of time. A white dandelion floaty meandered on the breeze directly between them and the truck. His heart no longer ran a staccato rhythm. Duh…dum. Pause. Duh…dum. Pause.
His life didn’t flash before his eyes. The future did. Isleen’s future. In an ethereal dream beyond time, her skin was gilded by firelight, her eyes devoid of sadness and fear, her body whole and healthy. She smiled, an expression so full of warmth and tenderness and undiluted joy that it plunked itself down inside his heart and wouldn’t leave.
He ached to create that kind of smile on her face, but their lives were over. It all could’ve gone so differently if he’d only listened to her, believed in her, found her years before now.
The air changed, displaced by the truck only a few feet from them. Heat from the engine blasted his face, smelling of burning oil, gasoline, and a scent reminiscent of popped corn. He locked eyes with the bitch behind the wheel. Her pudgy lips ripped back over her teeth in a snarling scream.
Xander knew anger—his best friends were fury and rage—but the look on the bitch’s face went beyond mere anger all the way to unholy.
The truck imploded.
The sound was supersonic, a resonation that rippled through his skin and muscle to rattle his bones and shake the earth underneath his feet. Metal and glass and fire shot outward, skyward, backward, in a near-perfect arc of destruction. Flaming debris rained around them.
He stood there holding Isleen, watching it happen, not believing the message his eyes sent to his brain.
“What the…?” The last of the truck parts hit the ground. The pieces burned. That’s all that was left—pieces. Nothing touched them, like they resided under an invisible dome of protection.
He glanced down at Isleen for an answer, but she was unconscious, her head lolling so limply on her neck that it looked as if he was carrying a corpse.
MEET THE AUTHOR
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Seven Things about Abbie Roads:
1. She loves Snicker Parfaits. Gotta start with what’s most important, right?
2. She writes dark emotional books featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages.
3. By day she’s a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. At night she burns up the keyboard. Well… Burn might be too strong a word. She at least sits with her hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. And when it does—the keyboard might get a little warm.
4. She can’t stand it when people drive slowly in the passing lane. Just saying. That’s major annoying. Right?
5. She loves taking pictures of things she thinks are pretty.
Do you love YA books? Check out this new release novella from my buddy Vanessa Barneveld! She finaled in the Golden Heart with me back on 2014. Read on for the blurb, excerpt, and buy links!
Release day for Vanessa Barneveld's YA novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, is here! This quick read is full of heartbreak and hope. Vanessa will donate half of the profits from the sale of her novella to a charity that supports young people dealing with cancer. So make sure you pick up LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG. It's only 99 cents at these e-tailers:
Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo
Add LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG to your Goodreads shelf.
He has six months to live. She has six months to save him...
Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.
Alex has a secret.
Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.
Edgy, and yet wonderfully tender, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG sent me to reader heaven!
~ Tina Ferraro, author of THE ABCs OF KISSING BOYS
LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG Excerpt
Around six the next morning, I find Mom sitting at the island bench in the kitchen. She looks pretty chill for someone who just laid on a breakfast of fruit salad, yogurt, sautèed mushrooms and kale, unbuttered whole-wheat sourdough and two eggs, sunny-side up. A thick, football-field-green smoothie sits in a tall glass by the blender. Great. More kale.
“Hey, Alex!” She smiles over her coffee mug and pats the stool next to her. “Sleep well?”
I shuffle onto the seat and stare at the food. “Have I died and gone to buffet heaven?”
My mother winces at my choice of words, then makes a big effort to put on a happy face like she always does. “I want you to keep your strength up. You don’t have to eat all of it. Just most of it.”
“And you don’t have to go out of your way to make this for me. I mean, thanks. A lot. But I don’t have much of an appetite.”
“Oh, I’m having some, too,” she says in an overly bright voice. With her fork, she scoops up a tiny portion of kale, hardly enough to fill a mouse’s belly.
Since my diagnosis a few months ago, Mom hasn’t been eating much either. This doesn’t stop her from testing all the “cancer-fighting” recipes she finds on Pinterest. Baking is therapy, she says. I call it a waste of food. Fortunately, the family next door is more than happy to take excess lentil loaf off our hands.
Every hour of every day, I wonder what will happen to Mom after I go. She’ll be all alone. Dad moved back to Australia after the divorce. He’s making custom surfboards, connecting with old friends, so I know he’ll be okay. Mom’s literally got no one. Except the perpetually hungry neighbors and her five employees. Yet another reason why I shouldn’t die so young.
It’s crazy. Why does it have to be like this? Maybe the doctors got it wrong. They’re not infallible. They’re not gods. They can’t predict the exact number of months, days, hours, and seconds a person has left on Earth.
Then again, I’ve peeked at my medical records. I know it doesn’t look good for me. With the help of a counselor I’ve gotten to the stage of mostly accepting that I’m headed for a dead end. I’ve even started giving some of my stuff away. The iPad Dad gave me is now Molly’s. Mom won’t have to go through boxes of my middle-school clothes after I’m gone because I’ve already dropped them off at Goodwill. The cobalt-blue board I learned to surf on? I’m giving that to a kid down the street whether he likes it or not.
Noticing I haven’t touched a single morsel, Mom says, “Will you at least have the kale, broccoli and goji berry smoothie? You don’t even have to chew. Close your eyes and drink it.”
Speaking of acceptance... Yeah, Mom’s adamant that five doctors on two continents are wrong and that I’ll make a miraculous recovery. All we need is faith and love and kale.
I would rather eat broken glass mixed with cyanide, but for Mom, I guess I can manage this. Forcing a smile, I sip chunks of raw broccoli that slipped by the blender’s blades. I’ll check over the blender later, make sure it’s working okay.
“After breakfast, I’m taking you to that appointment you missed yesterday,” she says quickly.
Feeling guilty, I look away. She didn’t hammer me for skipping out on seeing this “amazing herbalist-slash-psychic-healer.” Still, I know she was disappointed in me. “What about work? You’ve missed a lot of days because of me.”
“It’s fine. Things are slow anyway.” Her voice is two octaves higher than usual.
She’s lying. The real estate biz in this corner of SoCal is booming. Foreclosures have brought in the flippers—the people who swoop in on bank-owned properties and fix them up for a profit.
“But you need those commissions.” Silently I add, To pay my medical bills.
Another reason to feel guilty. I’m aware of how much my cancer is costing my parents. Flights to a melanoma specialist in Sydney and more hospital follow-ups here don’t come cheap. My folks tell me not to worry about that, but ironically I’m old enough to figure out that dying young is expensive.
And now Molly’s pushing me to apply to Yale.
I can’t blame her. She knows it’s been my dream since forever to go to Yale, get a medical degree, become a pediatrician. But it’d be a waste of time and money for me to even try to follow that dream.
I grimace at the olive oil oozing from the barely touched kale and mushroom thing.
Waste. Sure is the theme of the day. Of my life, even.
Vanessa lives in Australia with her musician husband, a photogenic cat, and a ghost. In addition to writing, she works as a TV closed captioner for the deaf and audio describer for the blind. Her pastimes include baking, iPhonography, and traveling the world on a quest to find the world’s greatest fries.
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I really hate seeing stores stock Christmas decorations before I've even shopped for the kids' Halloween costumes or I've planned what to make for Thanksgiving. But publishers and readers love their Christmas stories right? And, now I've turned into part of the problem...*shakes my head* My Cottonbloom Christmas novella is releasing in a month's time! October 25th to be exact.
Can I be honest...I don't find Christmas to be a very romantic holiday. Barring the obvious religious implications, to me, it's all about the kids. It's attempting to get them not to cry for a picture with Santa. It's staying up until midnight or after putting that doll house together using instructions written in Japanese. It's about Chex Mix and decorating cookies and putting handmade ornaments on the tree. And, if it's not centered around your kids, then it's your nieces, nephews, or pretty much any other random kid. The only "romantic" symbol I can think of is mistletoe. So romance writers have that going for us, I guess. Lol.
I also really wanted to call this book something different...CHRISTMAS IN THE COP CAR. Doesn't that sound intriguing? Do I sound like the Grinch? I actually loved writing this novella, mainly because I wanted to give it a little bit of a spin...hence the cop car. But you'll just have to read it to find out what happens:)
In the mean time, let me add to the over-saturating Christmas problem by sharing a snippet, although it has nothing to do with Christmas...Also, if the hero sound vaguely familiar, Jeremy Whitehurst (aka Whitey) was a secondary character in all three of my Falcon Football books and all three Cottonbloom books. (More info here) So maybe it's fitting that he only gets an HEA through a Christmas miracle...
Kayla's gaze trailed down his body, then went to the sky. “Looks like the storm has settled in for the duration. How about I give you a lift home? And maybe buy you a late lunch for your help?”
Jeremy had spent his formative years reeling from one crisis to the next, his bad decisions piling up like animal bones. He didn’t know if she qualified as a bad decision or a crisis, but being around her made his footing feel suddenly precarious as if he were one step from quicksand. He should say no. He would say no.
Yet confronted with her half-smile and hopeful eyes, he said, “Sure. That’d be great.”
“Let’s make a run for it.” She grabbed his hand on her way by him, laughing like mad. They loaded into the car, and still giggling, she turned to him. Her smile was sweet and uncomplicated and turned her from pretty to something magical. If he believed in such things. Which he didn’t.
Except, he couldn’t tear his gaze away from her. The rain muffled the outside world, turned off the voices sounding alarms in his mind. Without thinking about tomorrow or even the next minute, he leaned in and kissed her.
Her quick intake of breath stole his. Thunder clapped. Her upper body tipped toward him, and she wrapped one hand around his nape, the other delving into his damp hair.
Her surrender was the signal his body was waiting for, and he deepened the kiss, pulling her lower lip in his mouth and running his tongue along the soft flesh. Her gasping moan was loud in his ear and gasoline to the ember of desire he’d been desperately trying to stamp out.
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I got a question this week about how I deal with writer's block and advice on moving past it... I'm not expert, but I would posit that there are two types of writer's block. One that is paralyzing to the point you can't write at all and one where you get stuck in your story and don't know what to write next. (I'm not going to tackle writing through life's adversities like sickness or divorce or having a kid here. That's another post entirely...)
The only time I've had paralyzing writer's block was after my first book release. I couldn't write for a good week and a half. Some of you might scoff, but that's a *long* time for me. I got totally stressed out over my first release. I read every review. I would be flying high one minute and then plummet the next. All of that instilled DOUBTS. When we're talking the kind of writer's block that goes on and on and keeps you from putting *any* words to the page...I think it all comes back to the fact something has made you doubt yourself. Maybe it is poor sales or another rejection or bad contest results.
(And by the way, I think this can be extrapolated to life in general...what keeps you from asking for a raise, for putting your name out there for a volunteer position, for feeling stymied in your life in general. It's those pesky doubts that hammer away at your confidence.)
So how do you move past this?
1. Time. The further away from the "traumatizing" event, hopefully your emotions will normalize.
2. Chance. A great review comes in or you final in a contest or your book sales explode. Life is about timing. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it rocks. But, you can't count on this happening which means...
3. Write something, anything. Tell yourself it's just for you. No one else will see it. But, just do it!
4. Read something you wrote in the past. This can have two outcomes. Either, you read it, and go, Wow, that's some damn fine writing! Or, you read it and go, Wow, I've really improved and my writing is so much stronger now. Hopefully, either reaction will jump start your confidence.
5. Build a fortress around your muse AKA Learn to TRUST yourself. This is by far the hardest, but will get you the biggest return. I subscribe to Nora Robert's practical writing advice which is there is no "muse" that sprinkles fairy dust on your writing. But, I do think you must learn to trust in your voice and your process and you must protect it from doubts that come externally and internally. Pin up some of your favorite reviews next to your computer. Frame your contest finals and hang them up where your write. Practice your power stance in the mirror. Do some Stuart Smiley exercises (I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!) Hopefully, eventually, you'll believe that you and your writing kick ass.
The second type of writer's block is the kind I usually deal with; being stymied in a particular story. It's less devastating, but no less frustrating. This probably stems from being a panster. It's all fun and games until it isn't:) Here's what helps me when I'm stuck in a particular manuscript.
1. Jump to a different scene. I prefer to write in order because it makes the editing process easier later. Plus, because I'm a panster, moving logically from one scene to the next is important and if you jump ahead, manipulating your story to get there might involve some logical gymnastics. But, as a fix to get writing again, it works! In fact, I did it this week when I jumped way ahead and wrote the epilogue.
2. Do something else. This could be take a walk, clean the bathroom, take a shower... I'll admit the shower thing usually gets my brain unclogged. I don't know what it is about standing there under hot water and letting your mind have free reign. Quoting another famous writer it's like Stephen King's "Boys in the Basement" (or as I call them the Ladies in the Lounge:) Our subconscious is an amazing, powerful tool. Use it.
3. Listen to music/Look at pictures. I don't use inspiration pictures, but I do have a playlist for every book. The songs put me in the characters' heads and scenes. I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car hauling my kids to/from school and activities. I often untangle issues or figure out how to tie up loose ends in a way that makes me fist pump in the car. In fact, I heard Viva La Vida by Coldplay this week and shot straight back into a particular scene of a book that's been out for months, A Brazen Bargain. The song will forever be associated with my hero's redemption in that book.
4. Work on a different project. This works for some people and doesn't for others. However, I love jumping over to something different when I'm stuck. Right now, I have three other projects cooking in my head:) Obviously, if you're frantically trying to finish a project before a deadline, then this might be a bad idea.
Speaking of deadlines...Some people thrive on them, some people die. If you know that the threat of an impending deadline creates writer's block, then for the love of pete, DON'T PROCRASTINATE!
I used to be an avid hiker. I went to college close to the Smoky Mountains, and I spent two weeks hiking the Swiss Alps. My lesson from hiking was this: Pick a pace that you can maintain forever. You don't want to be gassed before you even reach the summit. It applies to writing as well. I can comfortably manage 2-3k words a day**. At that pace, I can keep up with the rest of my life, and not walk around like a character from the Walking Dead. I am not one of those writers that can let things slide until deadline approach-ith, then whip out multiple 10k days. I would burn out real quick. But, 2-3k a day? I can do that forever! And, guess what?! Slow and steady wins the race:)
**I realize 2-3k is a lot for many writers, especially if you're juggling a family and/or a full time job. But, even getting 500-1000 words a day, every day will get you a book in 3-6 months!
I'm sure I missed something obvious, so share your tricks and tips in the comments...
Actually, I'm not psychic, so I don't. But, I'll tell you what I did this summer. Not enough writing, that's for dang sure! And, I'm paying for it now as I push to finish LEAVE THE NIGHT ON. Between taking the kids to the pool and binge watching STRANGER THINGS and GAME OF THRONES, I also binge read.
The series that grabbed me was Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey Mysteries. I got the first book SILENT IN THE GRAVE on sale from a Bookbub special. She hooked me and I finished the entire series this summer. There are five full-length books and a handful of novellas. The last full-length book hinted at the next adventure, so now that I'm caught up, I'm drumming my fingers impatiently.
I'm a big fan of historicals, and these are Victorian set, taking place mostly in England. (One takes place on a tea plantation in India, which was fascinating.) They are told in first person from Lady Julia's point of view. There is a slow burn romance that I enjoyed throughout the series. These are high in sexual tension with close to zero sex on the page. The mysteries are fun and Lady Julia is a great character. Not perfect, but she has a good heart. Her eccentric family adds another level of high-jinks. And the author's descriptions put the reader in the moment.
If you're looking for a series of historical mysteries, then I highly recommend them! Book 1, SILENT IN THE GRAVE, is still a very reasonable $4.99 in ebook.
What did you binge read this summer? (besides my Cottonbloom series, of course;)
Okay, I'm going to try something new for me and that's blogging on a semi-regular basis. I get overwhelmed trying to think of thought-provoking, cutesy ideas, but then I decided, you're here for the books...mine and other writers. So, I'm going to try to post once a week on either what I'm working on...a teaser, pic, etc or if I'm reading something outstanding, I'll post about it. Because all writers are readers first, right? Right!
This installment is about my current project, LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, which I'm super excited about! How could I not be since it involves awesome cars and hot men?? I'm using my husband quite a bit for research purposes. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*
For the cars, people! Get your mind out of the gutter! He's a car buff and we have two project cars in our garage at the moment. Twice in the last few years, he's commandeered our kitchen table to rebuild an engine.
Note: Not my hubby, but he's pretty cute too:) Wyatt Abbott is the hero of LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, and Sutton is his heroine. Here he and his fraternal twin brother Jackson are discussing the state of their "relationship."
Jackson grabbed his arm and forced him around. “You like her.”
“Everyone likes her. She’s nice,” Wyatt said.
“I mean, you like like her.”
Twin powers were very annoying. “I maybe, sort of like her. What’s wrong with that? She’s single; I’m single.”
“She’s been single for less than a week. She’s using you.”
“Maybe I’m using her. You ever think about that? It’s been awhile since I hooked up.” Wyatt had to look away from his brother’s gaze once more which prompted a muttered curse from Jackson.
“Do not fall for this woman, Wyatt. Whether she means to or not, she’s going to rip your heart into little pieces and feed it to the gators before she goes back to her old life.”
“We’re not getting serious. She wants to have some fun, get a little crazy, and I’m more than qualified for the job.”
“As long as you don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s anything more than that. She’ll be back with Tarwater or someone like him by Christmas.”
Because the worry had already burrowed into his chest, Wyatt’s reaction was knee-jerk and defensive. “Someone like him?”
“You know, sophisticated. Worldly. Rich. Well-connected. Well-groomed.”
“Fuck you,” Wyatt shot back, but there was little heat to it. Jackson was right. “I’ve been told I clean up real nice.”
A rare smile bloomed over Jackson’s face changing his entire vibe. “Doesn’t count if it’s from a female relative over the age of sixty.”
“Sutton and I are hanging out and having fun. That’s it. No need to worry yourself over me.” They finished tidying the pit and took up posts on opposite sides of the open bay door. The sun trekked toward the horizon and threw orange and purple across the sky like a three-year-old finger painting.
“I don’t suppose you have a tuxedo I could borrow?” Wyatt finally asked.
Add LEAVE THE NIGHT ON to your GOODREADS shelf!
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Super-duper, beyond excited that THEN HE KISSED ME was named a Best Romance of July not only by Barnes and Noble but Amazon as well!You can check out the links here:
BARNES AND NOBLE Best Romance for July
AMAZON Best Romance for July
I'm in the company of writers I've read and admired for years like Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallery, Joanna Lindsey and so many others!
The reviews for all the Cottonbloom Novels have blown me away. Thrilled that my quirky, divided little town on the Mississippi/Louisiana border has resonated with so many people! Check out an excerpt here.
Buy Then He Kissed Me Now
Join my newsletter for a chance to win a Tote 'O Books!
Included are books by Lisa Kleypas, Julia London, Elizabeth Hoyt, Ilona Andrews, BJ Daniels, Jill Shalvis, Caitlin Crews, and ARCs of Then He Kissed Me and Till I Kissed You by ME! (You'll get them before they release:)
I'll announce the winner in my June 1st newsletter. Follow the link and make sure you check your inbox for the confirmation email...
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Author of Historical and Contemporary Romance