#TeaserTuesday: Exactly Why We Should

teaser_playingforyou_01_06212016“That’s exactly why we should be together,” he insisted, his voice low, caressing her. “There’s something between us, Jett.” Lifting an eyebrow, his eyes bore into her, heat pouring out of them.

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Savannah’s Song: Chapter 1

“Arms up,” Savannah said, tickling Chloe’s belly. The four-year-old giggled as her arms shot into the air, begging for Savannah to tickle her armpits. Grinning, Savannah wriggled her fingers into Chloe’s skin. The toddler shrieked with laughter, nearly falling to the floor. Savannah caught her and, in one swift motion, peeled off her pajamas. This had been their ritual for the last two years—for almost as long as she’d known Chloe. She sighed. Chloe wouldn’t want to wear footed jammies much longer.

A door squeaked open on the other side of the apartment. “Daddy’s home,” she told Chloe. “Hurry!” She tugged an undershirt over Chloe’s head, then helped her into a romper and sweater. The floor groaned under Max’s feet as he crossed the apartment while Savannah maneuvered Chloe’s feet into socks and sneakers. The grocery store would be cold inside, their only access to air conditioning all summer.

Max entered Chloe’s bedroom, his delivery bag still slung over his shoulder. He brushed hair out of eyes punctuated by dark circles and gave Savannah a nod. “Gonna take a shower.”

“Wait.” She stood, brushing dried soap from her bare legs. She had shaved for the first time in days, specifically so she could wear shorts. Spring in Boston had seesawed between cool rain and warm rain. She was ready for summer. Crossing the room, she stood on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I figured I would drop you off at the studio, and we’d take the car to go get some groceries.” She struggled to remember the last time she had left the house that week.

Even though it would be nice to drive for a change, the Taurus wasn’t the same as her BMW. Selling it had been the only way they could afford the move from Connecticut to Boston.

Max ran a hand through his hair. “This early?” He nodded toward the yellow clock on Chloe’s wall. In complete contrast to her pink and purple bedroom in Connecticut, Chloe had asked for yellow when they moved in. “Don’t you think it’s a little early to be dragging Chloe out?” His voice was rough. He stepped away from Savannah.

Frowning, she closed the distance between them. “It’s not that early.” She lifted a hand toward the clock. It was a little after seven.

“If you need the car for later, I can just take the Red Line.” He spun away from her and into the bathroom. The door slammed shut.

Biting her lip, Savannah turned back to Chloe. The little girl watched Savannah, blue eyes wide. “Daddy’s cranky when he’s tired, huh?” Savannah scooped Chloe from the floor and carried her through the apartment. She hesitated in the living room, eyeing the fabric fraying from their couch. Shoulders slumping, she made her way to the kitchen.

“I want waffles,” Chloe told her.

Savannah put her in her booster seat. “No kidding.” She opened the freezer and withdrew the box of store-brand waffles. Pausing, she tapped her finger against her chin, staring at the bread on top of the refrigerator. She could surprise Max with something to eat at the studio. He certainly seemed like he could use it—along with a good night’s sleep.

As Chloe’s waffles popped out of the toaster, Max jogged through the hall. “See you later.” He stopped only long enough to kiss his daughter on the forehead, then swung the front door open and disappeared from view.

“Thanks for the kiss.” Savannah kept her voice low. Max needed more than some rest. Maybe, her mind whispered, he was so tired because he was spending all his free time with another girl. She shoved the thought away and grabbed sandwich meat, mayonnaise, and maple syrup from the refrigerator. She plopped a plate of waffles and the syrup in front of Chloe.

The little girl grabbed the bottle with two hands and squeezed.

“Okay, that’s enough.” Savannah plucked it from her grasp. “Good job.” She kissed Chloe’s cheek and returned to making Max’s sandwich. If she surprised him with some lunch and his daughter, he might be in a better mood later when he got home. As long as it had been since she last shaved, it had been even longer since they had sex.

Boston had been her idea. It was supposed to be an adventure, an opportunity for Max to pursue a career in music. Instead, he came home late from band practice every night and grabbed maybe two hours of sleep before he got up to deliver newspapers. Perhaps they got too hot and heavy too fast, Savannah thought. Her slim, brown fingers flew as she packed the sandwich into a small cooler. Dancing two steps from the counter, she returned to the refrigerator and pressed the button for ice. Even though their Dorchester apartment was one of the cheapest in Boston, it was still expensive. At least they had ice on demand, she mused.

When she turned around, her eyes met Chloe’s. The little girl held out her empty plate. “I want more waffles.”

Savannah snorted. “And I want my BMW back.” She kept her voice light and playful. It wasn’t as if Chloe knew what a BMW was, or why they sold the luxury car Savannah’s parents had given her and kept Max’s beater. She slid another waffle into the toaster and leaned against the counter. Things wouldn’t be so bad if Max wasn’t snapping at her all the time. She was starting to feel like a nanny rather than his girlfriend. A bitter laugh escaped her lips. Even when she had been Chloe’s nanny, Max had never treated her so badly. She was starting to worry that she had made a huge mistake.

* * *

Goosebumps rose on Savannah’s skin. Air conditioning swirled about her bare arms and legs. She clenched the handle of the shopping cart and quickened her pace through the freezer aisle.

Holding a box of cereal, Chloe seemed not to notice the subzero temperature of the grocery store. She traced the character’s face with a small finger. Savannah grinned, stepping away long enough to grab a package of mini waffles from one of the freezers.

“I swear, they make you go through the freezer section last just to torture you.” Savannah glanced down at her list. She almost had everything they needed. She was getting to be a champion at grocery shopping. She pushed Chloe out of the frozen foods section, hurrying toward the warmer bakery.

Chloe stretched her arm out, fingers smudging the glass of a freezer door as they passed. Letting out a squawk, she turned and pointed, her eyes locked.

Savannah followed her gaze to the ice cream and popsicles in the case. Her lips formed an O. She laughed. Before she could stop herself, she found herself saying the same thing her mother used to say to her in Spanish. “Ay, dios mio.” Chloe watched her, an eyebrow raised. “Lo siento, nena. Food stamps don’t cover extras.”

“What does ‘lo siento’ mean?” Chloe’s feet kicked against the cart.

Savannah pushed the cart into the bakery, practically running past the cupcakes. Her lips twisted into a frown. For all of Savannah’s efforts, Chloe wasn’t picking up much Spanish. “It means sorry.” She supposed she only had Max to blame. If he tried to learn Spanish and spoke it in front of Chloe, too, his daughter would pick it up much faster. She glanced down at Chloe. “You might as well be my daughter,” she mumbled in Spanish.

Chloe pressed her lips against the bar of the cart.

“Chin up.” Savannah turned away to examine the reduced loaves of bread.

“I’m bored.” Chloe resumed kicking her heels against the metal.

Savannah withheld a snort. Her back still to Chloe, she squeezed a loaf and turned it upside down. Squinting at it for mold, she righted it again.

“Your daughter is beautiful,” a deep voice murmured in Spanish.

Turning, Savannah nearly dropped the bread. The guy beside her stood at least a foot taller than her. Muscles bulged in his arms. A light beard covered his face. He was handsome in a rugged way, with a slightly crooked hairline. She pegged him in his thirties, judging by the occasional gray hair that she picked out in the florescent lighting. Despite the grays, he was a young thirty, she decided.

He held out a hand. “Zachary Acevedo.” Warm brown eyes met hers.

Swallowing hard, she shook his hand. “Savannah Santos.” She gestured to Chloe. “She’s beautiful, but she’s not mine.” The Spanish rolled off her tongue easily, wrapping around her heart like a long lost lover. It felt good to converse with someone in her mother tongue.

Zachary stooped until he was at Chloe’s eye level. “Hi, there.” He wiggled his fingers.

Chloe watched him with dubious eyes.

“She’s shy.” Savannah switched to English as smoothly as he had. Nodding to the basket he carried, she said, “I’m guessing you don’t have any kids.” Only a bachelor would shop at a grocery store for body wash and protein powder.

He shook his head. “Not yet.” His eyes roved over her body, and she didn’t miss them stopping at her sleeve of tattoos. Though somewhat covered by her chambray shirt, the bright dots and filigrees of her Día de los Muertos sugar skulls screamed to be noticed. Though they were benign in nature, most people mistook them for something sinister. Zachary only nodded at them. “Nice ink.”

Licking her lips, she blinked. “Thanks.” She gave his tattooed arms a quick once over, wondering what lay beneath his T-shirt and shorts. A squid’s tentacles wrapped his forearm and stretched up, coiling around his bicep.

“If you ever want more work done, I’ve got a shop not far from here.” Digging into his back pocket, he plucked out a wallet and handed her a business card. When his skin touched hers, she drew back as if she had been shocked. He seemed not to notice.

“Thanks.” She tucked the card into her own back pocket. Heart pounding, she gave Chloe a nod. “Well, I’ve got to get going. This one won’t sit still for much longer.” Nodding toward Chloe, she threw him a wink and turned away. As she hurried toward the checkout, she wondered if winking could be considering flirting. She grimaced, then shook her head. Even if she was flirting, there was no harm in it.

Urging the cart into a line, she felt the card as if it were burning a hole in her shorts. It would be amazing to get another tattoo. Chloe’s arm stretched toward the candy in the checkout line. Automatically, Savannah guided her hand away. She missed being around artists and, she thought with a pang, she missed painting. She couldn’t remember the last time she had picked up a brush.

She glanced down at Chloe and pressed a kiss to the little girl’s head. She wouldn’t trade her sort-of-daughter for anything in the world, though. Even if art was no longer her life, she served a larger purpose. Her mother once said that raising children was the best gift one could receive.

The last person she should be thinking about was her mother, she chastised herself. Her parents didn’t appreciate art or tattoos. Though they spoke Spanish, they didn’t appreciate her mother’s Mexican heritage or her father’s Puerto Rican lineage—not the way she did.

Remembering her mission to bring Max lunch, Savannah paid for her groceries and rushed Chloe out to the Taurus. She tossed the non-perishable food into the trunk and put the milk and eggs on the backseat next to Chloe’s booster. Strapping the toddler in, she wiggled her fingers into Chloe’s ribs. The little girl giggled, gazing adoringly at Savannah.

Those moments, Savannah mused as she got behind the wheel, made everything she had given up worth it. She sped away from the grocery store and headed toward the apartment. She was still learning her way around Boston and rarely left the Dorchester area. Between her and Max, they had one cell phone, and it wasn’t sophisticated enough for GPS. It didn’t even take decent pictures. Slowing, she pressed her lips together, trying to remember the way. If she felt like risking her life, she could jump onto I-93. Snorting, she glanced at Chloe in the rearview mirror. The little girl played with a stuffed animal she had left in the car—her current favorite. Aside from when she and Max first moved to Boston, she had avoided the highway completely.

But Boston was perpetually in rush hour, its streets clogged with pedestrians. Taking the highway would shave precious minutes off her commute. “Now or never, girl,” she told herself. Then, she swung the car onto the on ramp.

Traffic flowed, and she let out a sigh of relief. She made it to the apartment in record time, zipping upstairs with Chloe on one hip and the milk and eggs in her other hand. As soon as the perishable food was in the refrigerator, she tugged Chloe toward the stairs. The little girl’s shorter legs slowed her down, though. Feeling a bit guilty, Savannah scooped her up and raced toward the bottom.

“Why are we going so fast?” Chloe glanced down with wide eyes.

“Do you want to surprise Daddy?” Rounding the corner, Savannah burst out into the parking lot and sunshine.

Chloe pressed her lips together, considering.

“Seriously?” Savannah asked as she tucked her back into her booster seat. “We’re gonna bring Daddy some lunch.” She realized that she could have saved herself from packing the cooler if she had just left the sandwich in the refrigerator and grabbed it on her way back out. Sighing, she moved the cooler from the trunk to the passenger seat and jumped back into the car.

Her heart pounded as she sped toward the studio. She had been there so many times since South of Forever had moved their headquarters from Malden Street a few weeks ago that she didn’t need to think about it. Plus, most of the locals knew where to find The Den Stage & Studio. Once upon a time, it had been a premier recording facility for big-time artists. Lucky for South of Forever, the studio was struggling and had offered them a cheap rate.

Savannah pulled into a parallel spot in front of the studio, its large sign declaring the upcoming weekend’s events. It may not be a popular recording studio anymore, she mused as she lifted Chloe from her booster seat, but it was still a great place to catch a concert. Someday, when she and Max could afford a babysitter, she would have to take him to a show there.

“Can I walk now?” Chloe rolled her eyes.

“Totally.” Though Savannah was in a hurry, Chloe was four—much too heavy for hauling around long distances.

Pushing through the double doors, Savannah turned right and climbed the staircase that led to the studios. Air conditioning whispered across her skin, and she shivered.

Looping the strap of the cooler around her arm, she slowed as she reached the top of the stairs, waiting for Chloe to catch up. Savannah led Chloe to the left of the staircase. She crossed the hall to the door with South of Forever’s name on it.

Knocking on the door in case someone stood just inside, she eased it open.

No one occupied the recording booth. Instead, the guys clustered in a tight knot. The lead singer of South of Forever, Jett Costa, stood at the other side of the small room, an amused expression on her face. Dark hair tumbled over her shoulders. Despite the heat outside, she wore leggings and knee-high boots that Savannah was positive were real leather.

Following her gaze, Savannah’s eyes shot to the cluster of men. She recognized Perry instantly because of the dreads swinging from his head as he flung them over a shoulder. He laughed at something, his guffaw as deep as his skin tone. With his goatee and full lips, he was someone she would have been attracted to, had she not already been with Max.

She picked out Max just as easily. He and Perry were the only band members with dark skin, though her boyfriend was pale in comparison to his bandmate. Max nudged Perry and said something only the other man could hear.

Savannah’s eyes traveled to Jett’s boyfriend. Koty’s blue eyes sparkled, his black hair looking almost red under the studio lights. Secretly, she wondered if anyone else found it weird that the Koty Jackson of ESX was in South of Forever. Though Savannah had never gone through a boy band phase, her older sister Gabriela had been hooked on ESX.

Griff, the band’s drummer and Jett’s right-hand man, cleared his throat. He ran his fingers through sandy hair, then put his hand on the shoulder of the woman standing in the midst of the tangle of men. His eyes crinkled as she said something. All three men leaned in closer to hear her better.

Savannah’s cheeks blazed. The woman looked younger than her, by at least a couple of years. She was probably still in college, Savannah guessed, if even a day past seventeen. As the men fawned over her, she tossed curly hair over her shoulder. Ebony skin shone under the light, supple and velvety. Bright eyes sparkled as Griff touched her shoulder, and she glanced at Max.

Standing in the doorway, Savannah watched as her boyfriend winked at the other woman.

Savannah’s forever has a secret that could destroy them—and the band.

Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4

Savannah’s Song, Book 2 in the South of Forever series, is now available.

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#TeaserTuesday: The Worst One


“I thought you were one of the good ones,” she said, “but it turns out I was wrong. You’re the worst one of them all.”

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Savannah’s forever has a secret that could destroy them—and the band.

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Diving Into Him: Chapter 5

After a quick stop at home to grab her guitar, Jett arrived at the studio. She climbed the steps three at a time. When she inserted her key into the lock, the studio doorknob twisted easily. Biting down on her lower lip, she nudged the door open.

Piano music floated through the air, light and haunting. She paused in the doorway. Koty sat at the studio’s grand piano, back bent. He leaned over the keys, fingers splayed, dancing with the stroke of each note. His voice floated to her through the air, strengthened by the light accompaniment of the piano.

“And I can’t even cry, because you were never mine,” he sang.

Recognition flowed through her. She had scribbled those lyrics down on a scrap of paper, unable to do anything else with them. She hadn’t even showed him.

Koty wore headphones, a notebook balanced on his lap. He held a pen between two fingers, playing with one hand.

“And I can’t even cry,” he sang, slower, drawing out the notes. His voice was husky, resonating through the small space. He repeated the line over a four-note piano melody, singing at a higher note. His voice sent shivers down Jett’s spine.

Heart twisting in her chest, she shook her head. It was ironic that he was working on that song—two lines that came to her one night when she couldn’t sleep. It was one of the first nights they spent in Boston, in a hotel room with two beds. She had stared into the darkness across the divide between them, wishing things were different.

Koty had never been hers, though. She had used him as a rebound when Phillip died. Then she’d chosen her old band over whatever it was they’d had.

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she leaned against the doorframe as he launched into the two lines again. He dropped his voice even lower, testing out different levels and throwing in nonsense lyrics. His free hand never stopped scribbling notes.

She needed to let him go. He deserved better than the hot mess that she was. Blinking her sooty lashes against her olive skin, she decided to stop pining for him. It would be easier said than done, of course, but she had to at least try.

Crossing the space between them, she sat on the piano bench next to him. She slipped on a pair of headphones and dropped in, playing a harmony with his melody. He glanced over at her. He removed his headphones, letting them dangle around his neck. Sitting that close to him, she could smell his sweat and deodorant—or maybe it was cologne. He smelled amazing, a blend of cool and spicy. His smile sent a tingle through her body. Heat bloomed low in her belly.

She needed to focus. She nodded at the notebook in his lap. “Any luck?”

“Sorry for taking off.” His blue eyes bore into hers.

She blinked. “What?”

“I know that you don’t need a guard dog.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I guess I just got used to it being you and me against the world.” He blushed.

She couldn’t take her eyes from his. She felt herself lean toward him. Her heart swelled, warmth washing over her. He might deserve better, but she wished that she could have him.

Ducking his head, he leaned down. His lips brushed hers. Her breath caught in her throat. As her eyes fluttered closed, the door to the studio banged open. She jerked away from Koty.

Max stood in the doorway, chest heaving. “Am I late?” he asked.

Jett hoped the guilt she felt wasn’t evident on her face. “No.” She sighed.

“Chloe wouldn’t stop crying when I tried to leave, so I thought I might be late.”

She glanced at Max as he entered the studio. Pushing his hair back from his face, he looked from Jett to Koty. She had no idea whether she should try to distract him from what he had almost seen, or if she should tell him that he was perfectly on time.

Perry strode in behind Max, hands jammed into his pockets, and his bass strapped to his back in a soft case. He wore earbuds. His head bopped to the music. Brushing past Max, he strutted deeper into the room. “I’m here,” he purred. He plucked his earbuds from his ears and gave Koty a nod. The nod he gave Jett held a deeper meaning. Heat laced his eyes.

Max cleared his throat. “Are you in the band, too?” He held his hand out to Perry. “I’m Max Batista, keyboards.”

Raising an eyebrow, Perry stared at Max. “Where’s your keyboard?”

Max’s mouth dropped open.

“You didn’t bring your equipment?” Perry snickered. “This is a professional band, you know.”

Jett cleared her throat. “Thank you for coming, gentlemen.” She wanted to look at Koty, to see what he thought, but she was afraid that what she might see in his face would have nothing to do with the band. Standing from the piano bench, she jerked a thumb toward the large instrument. “Max can use that.”

“We were just working on a piano-driven song,” Koty added from beside her.

Without turning her head, she could feel the heat from his body. She took a step back.

“Still.” Perry sniffed. “What kind of musician travels without his instrument?”

“I didn’t think I’d need it tonight.” Max shrugged. “Plus, with Chloe screaming, I was mostly focusing on getting out of the house.”

Perry crossed his arms. “Have you ever even been in a band?”

Max’s eyebrows furrowed. “Who are you?”

Jett opened her mouth, then shut it, unsure whether she should play referee or let them get it out of their system.

“I’m Perry Armstrong. I just finished touring with King Riley—you’ve probably heard of them.” Perry swung his bass down from his back and knelt on the floor, unpacking the instrument.

“I’ve seen some posters,” Max said. He crossed his arms. “Do you only play their tours?”

Perry blushed, his cheeks turning bright red under his dark skin. “I recorded their first album with them.” He gritted his teeth, glaring at Max.

Lifting her hands, Jett tried to change the subject. “Let’s get started, guys.”

Both men ignored her. “Only their first album?” Max cocked his head. “Why aren’t you working on their second album?”

“Why don’t you run back to your little high school band?” Perry stood. He towered over Max.

Max held the other man’s gaze. “What are you trying to say?”

Perry jerked a thumb toward Koty. “I’m saying,” he said, pointing another finger at Max, “that neither of you belong here.”

“Whoa,” Koty said. He crossed the space between him and Perry. “How do you figure?”

Perry snorted. “You used to sing in a boy band.”

Eyes wide, Max turned toward Koty. He gaped at him. “Wait, what?”

Jett stomped her foot on the hardwood floor. Their heads all snapped in her direction. “We have three weeks to write and practice four or five songs. We don’t have time for this testosterone shit.”

“Can’t we just use some Perpetual Smile songs?” Max nodded toward the piano. “I can figure out the melody for a few more.”

Perry muttered something under his breath. He plugged his bass into the studio’s amplifier, shaking his head.

Jett ignored him. “No, Max.” She inhaled slowly through her nose. She had picked these men. She needed to remember that they weren’t her first picks, and needed some conditioning. “Simon 1056 owns the rights to Perpetual Smile’s music. I’ll probably never get those songs back.” Koty’s arm brushed hers. She flinched. Shooting him a look, she moved away. Her boots clicked against the floor as she paced. “We have a drummer, but he’s on the West Coast at the moment. He won’t be able to join us right away. We’ll have to start writing without percussion.”

“That doesn’t matter.” Perry smirked. “All of King Riley’s songs are piano driven.”

Gritting her teeth, Jett looked him in the eye. “I don’t care what King Riley does. We are South of Forever, and we’re going to do things our own way.”

“You mean your way?” Perry gave her wide, innocent eyes.

Her fingers curled. Glancing at the door, she resisted the urge to walk out. Instead, she addressed the others. “Do any of you have any songs written or started?”

“Everything I wrote belongs to King Riley.” Perry sighed, drawing it out. “And by ‘everything,’ I mean all of their songs to date.”

Jett lifted her eyes toward the ceiling. She probably should have researched Perry before seeking him out, she surmised. She would have bet her last cigarette he’d been thrown out of the band. She needed to work with what she had, though. She turned to Max. “What about you?”

His cheeks flushed. “I have something,” he stammered.

“Want to share?”

He shook his head quickly.

She sighed.

“Why don’t we keep going with what we were just working on?” Koty asked. He stood next to her again.

She pressed her feet into the floor, resisting the urge to move away from him. If the other men noticed that Koty was practically chasing her around the room, they might think that something was going on. She needed to not repeat her mistakes. There would be no dating within South of Forever. “We’re starting from scratch,” she announced, as if she hadn’t heard him. “Let’s pick a theme for our first song.” She wished that Phillip was still alive. He had been a genius at writing songs on a whim. Stuffing the ache in her heart away, she reached for Koty’s notebook.

Moving to Boston was her fresh start, not a relocated pity party.

“Let’s start strong,” Perry said, “and write a song about sexual frustration.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Jett.

“That would be easy for you, wouldn’t it?” She gave him a smirk. “Let’s make it bass-driven. Give me a strong line.” Pride thrummed through her. Poising a pen over a fresh page in the notebook, she nodded to Perry. Maybe starting with nothing wouldn’t be so hard after all.

“No way,” Max said. “It should be a piano-driven song.”

“Why don’t you shut up?” Perry strapped his bass on. “At least until you have more songwriting experience.”

Jett watched as Max’s jaw worked. He gritted his teeth, his eyes narrowed.

“Piano can be sexy,” Max said. He turned to Jett. His eyes pleaded with her. “I can work something that’s deep and slow.”

Lips parting, she started to tell him that it might work. Perry was the more experienced songwriter, though. Besides, Max looked more like a kid who wanted to impress his new friends than someone itching to play a melody. She closed her eyes. Maybe she had made a huge mistake.

Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.

Diving Into Him, Book 1 in the South of Forever series, is now available.

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#TeaserTuesday: Far Too Much Damage


She touched her lips, debating whether their relationship was even salvageable. She had done far too much damage. They both had.

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Savannah’s forever has a secret that could destroy them—and the band.

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A Day In My Life

A Day In My LifeBecause I have chronic pain and it majorly impacts my sleep, etc, I get up anywhere between 9am and 11am. 9am is my goal, especially because I try to stick to my 9-5 work day rule. But, for example, if I participate in a Kidney Walk on a Sunday, I’ll let myself sleep in on Monday to recover. (Walking even a mile really aggravates my arthritis, which in turn sucks the energy right out of me.)

I usually eat breakfast immediately, since I’m hypoglycemic and my blood sugar is often low in the morning. It’s either a light breakfast of fresh fruit and a protein-filled breakfast bar, or a delicious egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin. Or cereal. (Don’t judge me.)

While I’m munching, I get started for the day. This is usually something like checking Facebook and Twitter, or writing a blog post—something I can do without being fully awake. As soon as I finish eating, I take my morning meds, which are currently a cocktail of: sulfasalazine (my DMARD), a wallop of vitamin D (since I’m low at the moment), B complex (mostly for its energy properties), a multivitamin, and an OTC allergy medicine (usually the store brand of Claritin or Zyrtec, since I have to switch off every season). Totally exciting so far, right?

The rest of the day sort of depends. Every week, I write up a master To Do list and then break it down day to day. If I don’t have any doctor appointments, I’ll brew up some coffee and then roll up my sleeves. If I do, I’ll drink my coffee while getting ready and hurry out the door.

Confession time. I’m still trying to get better at the whole writing every day thing. I usually set a word count goal for each day, but I’m lucky if I get there. Often I feel like I need to tackle a bunch of other things before I can get to the fun part. (For example: keyword research or email.) I do really well when I rearrange my day so that I’m writing first thing, so I need to work on this pressure I feel to get everything else done first. After all, I’m a writer. Shouldn’t writing be the most important thing?

I work steadily ’til lunch, going down my checklist. Then I take a break long enough to make whatever I’ve got on hand: grilled cheese, a big salad, or a hamburger/hot dog. I work through lunch, taking bites in between tasks. After lunch, it’s noon meds (more SSZ). And I resume working.

This is usually the part of the day where I shove everything else aside and get those words down. I reread the last couple of lines I wrote the day before or during my last session, then skim through my outline. (Click here for a little peek at how I “outline” my books!) I turn on the music that’s currently inspiring my WIP, and let my fingers glide over the keys. (I write on a MacBook Pro, and its keyboard is the silkiest thing I’ve ever laid hands on.)

I can write between 1,000-2,000 words an hour. The best I ever did was close to 3K in an hour, which was insane. My favorite method for keeping the spark alive between me and my WIP is stopping when I don’t want to. So, since I usually end each chapter on a “moment,” I usually call it a day when I’ve finished a chapter. Each of my chapters are around 3,000-4,000 words, sometimes less; I tend to let the story guide me.

At this point, I’m up against the clock. There might be a couple more things I need to do for the day, or it might be getting too close to dinner time. So I race to get as much as I can done, then force myself to shut down my computer. This is my least favorite part of the day. I have a really hard time letting go, especially if I haven’t completed my list for the day.

I cook dinner—usually from scratch, because A) we’re broke and B) I love cooking. Every so often Mike will surprise me with romantic things like ordering a pizza. We catch up at dinner, talking about our days. After I finish eating, I take my evening meds (more SSZ and my Tramadol). Then we go outside and share a cigarette—I said no judging, remember?—and I go back in and clean up.

7pm or 8pm is my favorite time of day because, unless I have a takeover, I sit down on the couch. It reclines, so I put my feet up and get the pressure off my poor hip. The Tramadol washes over me and I get to stop fighting the pain for the first time in 24 hours. It takes it down to a more bearable 7/10. I read or we watch a movie. (We don’t have cable or even Netflix.)

I try to go to bed before midnight. When I get off schedule—like I did in May, attending to all the fires—everything gets out of whack. I’m naturally a night owl. I have to fight to get back into routine. In May, I was working until and going to bed around 5am. Oops.

Sometimes I still have sleep anxiety, so I always go to bed with a calming video on YouTube and then a chapter or two of a softly spoken audiobook. I’m a light sleeper, but the drone of the fan lulls me right off, and I rarely wake up until my alarm goes off the next morning.

And then it starts again.

LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge

What’s your daily routine like? Share with me in the comments below.

Next Friday: My top 5 books and why!

Note: I’ve fallen way behind on this challenge. I’m actually backdating this post and scheduling the rest; I’ve learned that I tend to forget to post for challenges, and scheduling in advance keeps me on track. So I apologize if this post confuses anyone! You can find all of my #LifeBooksWriting posts here.

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#TeaserTuesday: Onto the Floor


“Come on, sleepyhead,” she purred into his ear. As his pants slid against the fabric of the old couch, something tumbled out of his pocket onto the floor.


Update, June 3rd: The South of Forever series is back! Shop all retailers here, or use the sexy widgets below to one-click your way to steamy musical heaven.


The South of Forever series is currently out of print, but it will be back in stores starting tomorrow!

I know this sounds kind of ridiculous. How can an ebook be out of print? Isn’t that an oxymoron? When an author is accepted by a publisher, usually the publisher legally obtains the rights to the book. It’s basically permission, to avoid copyright issues in court. If it didn’t say on paper that the publisher owns the rights, technically the author could sue them. Publishing rights protects the publisher.

When rights revert—or go back to the author—the opposite happens. Until the official reversion date, the author does not have legal permission to publish. Technically, if the book is published before rights are reverted, the publisher could sue the author. There may also be repercussions with retailers (like Amazon).

Often, when a publisher closes, authors have to wait an eternity to get their rights back. I’m talking decades or never. I’m very grateful that Booktrope has been so generous with how quickly they’ve reverted rights.

I truly have no bitter feelings toward them. Publishers close. It happens all the time. This industry is crazy tumultuous. Did it rock my world and force me to rearrange my own business five years early? Totally, but shit happens.

So, like Cinderella, I’ll wait ’til the stroke of midnight. It’s killing me that over half my catalog is currently unavailable. This gig is how I feed myself and pay my bills. But I’m super excited to get these books into Kobo and other retailers that my publisher didn’t distribute to. Better times are ahead.

You know. Lemonade and all that.