Esther Figueroa is Olivia’s roommate in A Disturbing Prospect. Her introverted habits make her seem innocent, but there’s more to Esther than meets the eye. Here are five things you should know about her!
Like Olivia, Esther is majoring in social work.
Esther’s grandparents have custody of her younger siblings while she finishes schools.
Esther is one of the few characters who has a car.
If there’s ever a movie for A Disturbing Prospect, my top pick for Esther would be Paula Patton.
A long time ago, before I was born, two people I love very much were hurt by people who were supposed to take care of them. When I first found out about it, and every time I thought about it after, I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw up. I also wanted to make those responsible pay.
Life doesn’t work that way, though. Justice is just a façade. Children, women, and men are sexually assaulted all the time, and nothing happens to the people who hurt them. We’re not supposed to talk about it happening to others, and we’re definitely not supposed to talk about it happening to us.
So, in an effort to right some wrongs in the world, I did what I always do: I started writing.
I created Olivia and Cliff, two broken people who take things into their own hands. With a motorcycle club backing them, they set out on a journey to protect the innocent. Not on purpose, though—first they need to get a taste for vengeance.
Thus my vigilante bikers romance, A Disturbing Prospect, was born.
Donny Jackson is the Enforcer and handles business for the River Reapers. Tall and muscular, Donny might seem dangerous at first glance, but he’s really a teddy bear. Here are five things you should know about Donny!
In my dream movie adaptation, Donny would be played by Morris Chestnut.
Donny is one of the few characters who doesn’t have any tattoos.
He doesn’t get close to many people, but he’s very protective of the ones he cares about.
Donny is 47 years old.
His idea of a perfect vacation is exploring the nooks and crannies of Europe.
Two years ago today, I released my third novel, The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos. In the two years since, this little book and I have had a wild journey together. It was the first romance I published, which was nerve-wracking enough, but I’d decided to push the boundaries with the social issues I tackle in my writing.
A single dad, dealing with his daughter’s irresponsible mother while trying to put himself through college.
A tattooed Latina artist, determined to do more than just get by, and have a real career.
A little girl who brings them together through a Craigslist ad.
I wanted to crush stereotypes, to show the world that young single parents and tattooed women aren’t the “losers” they’ve all branded us as. It was my friends’ decisions to raise their children alone, but they never asked for strangers’ opinions on whether or not they’re good parents. It was my decision to get tattoos, but I never asked for customers at the jewelry store I worked at to rudely interrogate me about my body.
I wanted to tackle heritage, how colonization forces immigrants to assimilate into American culture, to give up the things that makes them unique, the things they eventually lose. Like the Italian my family no longer speaks, the Spanish my niece and nephew rarely use.
I also wanted to challenge gender roles and equality rules. Who says a man can’t raise his daughter alone? Who says that a woman can’t choose to be a nanny while she builds her career?
These things had been burning inside of me for years, and they all sort of bubbled out of me while writing The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos. I knew that a “traditional” romance was never told from the guy’s point of view unless it alternated with the woman’s, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to break the mold.
Go big or go home, right?
I’ll probably never win any awards for this book, but I’m damned proud of it. It’s a great big middle finger to society and conforming, and that’s reward enough for me.
Single dad Max isn’t looking for love—or so he thinks.
The first week of NaNoWriMo is officially behind us now! I have a lot going on in my personal life (nasty flareup, financial stress, very sick relative I’m worried about), so I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to. Still, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.
Title:Twisted Broken Strings Series:South of Forever, Book 4 Word Count Goal: 75,000 Current Word Count:9,078 10,021
Admittedly, I’d written about 4K before NaNo started. Listen. Every month is National Novel Writing Month for me, okay? My production schedule waits for no NaNo, and all that. I’m just grateful that things fell this way so I can actually participate this year.
😂 I’M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR I DO WHAT I WANT DON’T JUDGE ME 😂
That said, my word count goal for this book is high. 75K?! I tried to whittle it down, I really did. The other SOF books are about 60K each, give or take. But Krista and Perry’s story, well, it needed a little more than that. There’s no way I’ll write 75K by the end of this month, though. Not with the condition my wrists—and the rest of my joints—are in. I do think I’ll hit the NaNo goal of 50K, though. Slow and steady wins this race, my friends. Hell, I’ll even write 54K, just to make up for that 4K I wrote before the official start. 😉
With every novel I write, I try to learn a new technique. Here’s what I’m doing with Twisted Broken Strings! (Possible spoiler alerts, so reader beware.)
Giving an antagonist a “save the cat” redeeming quality or two. So far, we’ve come to hate Saul (lead singer of King Riley), and we have a lot of reason to. But we’ve barely gotten to really know him—the real Saul. Krista gives us that perspective. Saul is her brother, and he’s made a lot of mistakes, but she knows he isn’t all bad. She’s just as concerned for him as she is for Jett and Max. I’m hoping that softens him a bit in my readers’ eyes. Krista reflects on good deeds he’s done and her worry for his sobriety (and safety).
“We’ll never speak of this again.” I can’t remember the name of this writing technique—brain fog, the horrors!—but basically something happens that the reader and/or other characters aren’t aware of that no one wants to talk about. Between SOF3 and SOF4, South of Forever goes on a regional headliner to promote their EP (and to shake off the disastrous tour with King Riley). This happens off-screen, and during that time, a thing happens that affects the plot of SOF4—a lot. It’s hinted at a couple times, and eventually revealed to the reader so that the reader can commiserate with Krista. This wasn’t part of my original outline, so I’m pantsing the big reveal. After talking with my CP, I determined that I definitely don’t want to reveal it too early… but also don’t want to wait until the very end, either.
#OwnVoices.Twisted Broken Strings is my very first #OwnVoices novel—my MC Krista is disabled, like me, dealing with similar struggles I had in college and have now. There’s no magic cure for her at the end; where I’m still undiagnosed, I’ve diagnosed her with Lupus (since that’s a possibility for me), which is an autoimmune disease with no cure. Krista’s Lupus isn’t the main plot, but it impacts the story a lot. It’s simultaneously cathartic and really freakin’ hard to write about this. I really want to show people that just because you don’t “look” sick, it doesn’t mean you’re not struggling—and you can also lead a fulfilling life. I’ve had #OwnVoices supporting characters before, and included bits from different areas of my own life in several novels, but never like this.
So despite gimping along, I’m pretty satisfied with this week’s progress.
How many words have you written so far this week? Tell me where you’re at in the comments below!
ED: I ended up doing some writing today, so I’ve updated this post to reflect my new word count for the week!
In case you missed it, Diving Into Him went FREE on the same day that What Happens On Tour came out. As of today, the book has eight reviews on Amazon (special thanks to everyone from Rockstars Among Us who reviewed)! This is fantastic and I’m so thankful to everyone who’s taken the time to post your thoughts. However, now that Diving Into Him is FREE everywhere, I really want to make a splash with it!
In order to do that, I need to do two things:
advertise with Bookbub (the holy grail of indie publishing)
trigger Amazon’s built-in support
Bookbub requires books to have at least 10 reviews to be accepted, and rumor has it that Amazon starts emailing customers about your book when you reach 50-60 reviews. This is where you come in. I really need your help!
If you’ve already posted your review on Amazon, thank you so much. (When you have a second, if you could copy/paste your review to Goodreads, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc, I would really appreciate it.)
55 reviews: post-epilogue short—Jett and Koty discuss their future
60+ reviews: giveaway—ebook copies of entire series
Now here’s where things get crazy. 😜 We only have one month to reach our goal! If we don’t make it, the blitz machine turns into a pumpkin. I know we don’t have to worry about that, though, because you rock!
First, a bit of news: What Happens On Tour is officially done! It weighs in at 58,124 words. Not my biggest baby, but still a nice healthy weight—especially considering how much I struggled with this damn book.
I slogged through writing it during a really hard time when all I wanted to do was quit. I didn’t believe in myself or the story. My own characters felt like strangers to me. I couldn’t get a handle on Poppy. She was so indecisive in that first draft. Even worse, Poppy and Griff seemed to have zero chemistry. No lie, I hated almost every second of writing this book. When I typed “The End,” a relief washed over me. I put its binder on my shelf, convinced that I’d have to scrap the entire thing and rewrite it.
Months later, when I read through it for my first round of edits, I was actually surprised. It didn’t suck as much as I’d thought! And I knew how to fix it. By the time I got it to my critique partner and editor, I liked it. Both Molli and Christina gave me excellent notes on making it even better. I can’t brag enough about how fantastic my CP and editor are. Still, something about this book was bugging me.
My first rule as an artist is do no harm. Maybe not all authors feel this way, but I see art as a sort of social highway. I write as a way of processing the world around me, and since that world is very diverse, it’s up to me to portray it fairly. Though I’ll never experience racism, I have experienced sexism, homophobia, and ableism. And I’ve been relatively lucky! At first glance, I almost fit into the cookie cutter. On a day when I don’t need my cane or braces, I can nearly pass. Still, I know what it feels like to have people make assumptions about you, so it’s extremely important to me that I don’t perpetuate any stereotypes in my writing—especially since I write about characters who have mental illnesses and disabilities, are LGBT+, and are people of color.
When I wrote the first draft of What Happens On Tour, I left out any information about Poppy’s dad. There were two short scenes with her mother and grandmother, and her relationship with these two women influenced many of her choices, but the central conflict was still about Poppy struggling to balance her dreams with her reality. I didn’t want to bring her dad into it because I also had a subplot (South of Forever going on tour with their nemesis King Riley). Since I write New Adult, I try to keep parents out of the equation as much as possible. It’s all up to my fledgling twenty-somethings.
I truly didn’t think much of Poppy’s dad not being in the picture, because plenty of dads have a “Whereabouts: Unknown” status. I’m one of the few people I know whose parents aren’t separated or divorced. I decided not to get too into detail because I didn’t want to curse poor Poppy with resentment or abandonment issues. In my author-head canon, Poppy’s dad was somewhere out there, no hard feelings, and her family was a matriarchy. Girl power! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d inadvertently contributed to a long-running stereotype: the absentee black dad.
It’s a bullshit stigma. It’s unfair and untrue. And the last thing I want to do is misuse my words and hurt anyone.
It’s a difficult balancing act. I know I can’t please everyone ever, and there will always be people who misunderstand me. Being a writer is overwhelming sometimes. But even though there’s always a possibility that someone out there won’t like my work for whatever reason, it’s still extremely important that I carry the intention to do no harm. Throughout the entire writing process, I ask myself if I’m representing my readers fairly, if I’m portraying my characters justly.
In the final draft of What Happens On Tour, Poppy’s dad still isn’t physically present in her life, but he’s a positive part of it. There still may be things I screwed up in this book. Those are all on me; my CP and editor are goddesses and helped me work out so very many knots.
But to the best of my ability, my Poppy is a boss woman—the kind of character I want to see in more books. She’s not perfect and she has some tough lessons to learn, but she works hard to be a better person and kick ass at her career. I think she’s pretty damn cool.
What Happens On Tour is coming soon! I just need a wee bit of help getting the cover designed. If you could spare any extra change, I would really appreciate it. Click or tap here to donate.