My Book Babies!

Do me a favor. Close your eyes and picture this: after nine grueling months, you’ve just given birth to a brand new baby. The labor was painstaking and arduous, but the moment the doctor lays that baby in your arms, it’s suddenly all worth it. You forget the work and the struggle and the bullshit you went through to get to this moment. All you can see right now is that beautiful little thing. A thing YOU created; that you saw in your mind from the moment it took root, dreamt about every day until the second you got to hold it in your hands.

That’s sort of what it’s like holding the paperback copy of your book for the very first time.

Of course, a book is nothing compared to human life. I’m not delusional enough to think that. But for the sake of the metaphor, just stay with me. Authors are like mothers. We toil and we tussle and put forth so much effort for months. There are moments when we doubt ourselves, but when we finally hold the fruits of our labor, shiny and new, we know the pain was worth it. They’re our book babies. And we love them so, so much.

And, like many new “mothers”, I had no idea WTF I was doing with my first new releases. It was a learning process. Writing it was the easy part. Now came the hard part – the delivery. Mistakes were made. I made choices with my heart instead of my head, and of course -- they’re my babies, after all. I did what I thought was best for them, but what I didn’t realize at the time, was that the Indie world is a tough place. If you don’t have the right look, the right packaging, the right attitude, you run the risk of being overlooked.

And that’s what happened.

The branding was all wrong. The Off Limits Duet appeared to be run of the mill, sweet contemporary romance, but hidden inside those saccharine covers was a set of deliciously hot, angst-filled stories. Bad boys and feisty ladies at their finest. If you’re familiar with my work, you already know I don’t pull punches. I hit hard, fast, and rough.  And that’s what these books are.

It’s rare that an author goes back and re-reads their own work. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with our words and would rather put old ones behind us and new ones ahead, but I recently gave this duet a much-needed upgrade, and in doing so, I got to relive the lives of Jameson, Jillian, AJ, Austin, and Casey all over again. I LOVE these books – and not just because I made them. I’m not just trying to sell books here, people. These stories are great. Period.

Yesterday, over two years after their conception, I got to hold the new and improved paperbacks in my hand. It was thrilling, just as much as the day they were “born”, if not more. The new covers capture the leading men so perfectly. Jameson with his free spirit, AJ with his dark and broody ways. They’re lean, mean, and sexy as fuck. Now the covers finally match the delicious insides the way they were always meant to.

Drop a comment and let me know what you think. If you read the series, let us all know what you thought! For those of you new to the series, give it a shot. I love it SO much that I’m offering book 1, Secret Promises, FREE on all platforms. Snatch it up, devour it, savor the hard-rockin' goodness again and again.

👉 https://books2read.com/SecretPromises
👉 https://books2read.com/JAnthonyChasingCasey

 

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Ramblings from a fatherless woman on Father's Day.

Father’s Day is a bittersweet holiday for me. Of course, I try my best to make sure my husband has an amazing day but, having lost my father at a critical age, the holiday sometimes makes me feel a little lost.

His death seemed so sudden, but when I look back on the years wasted at the bottom of a bottle, I’m not so sure about that. My father was a creature of excess. He drank hard, smoked heavy, and ate well, but what did all that excess bring him? Forty-seven years high on the hog, and nineteen buried under ground.

He never got to see me grow from a stupid kid into a responsible woman.

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He didn’t give me away when I married my high school sweet heart.

He never got to hold his first grandchild -- a kid who bears such a striking resemblance to him that it steals my breath at times.

He missed everything.   

My dad was a hard man to love. If you’ve read Pretty Reckless, Kat’s love/hate relationship with her own father runs a seamless parallel to the one I had with mine but, like Kat, I choose to remember the good stuff. The parts of him that remained human after the booze wore off. His flaws were merely a small part of what made him him.

He was a goofball.

A romantic.

A shrewd business man, and the best damn car mechanic there was.

A guy who cried at the end of Leave it to Beaver.

A lover of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and old black and white westerns on television.

A dad who worked hard, kept us fed, and made sure we never wanted for anything.

So, I dedicate this blog post to my daddy, and all the daddies out there celebrating today. S 'agapó bampáka. Eftychisméni Iméra tou Patéra.

Happy Father’s Day!

Picking up the pieces

I really don’t have too much to say, but my last blog was on March 29th and that’s just too pathetic for words. Coming off the high of Pretty Ugly (pun not intended, but totally hilarious nonetheless) I’m having trouble figuring out which road I want to take next. Book three in the Addicted Hearts series was always a possibility but, as of now, those characters aren’t speaking as loudly as they should be. To be quite honest, none of them are. No one has screamed in my ear as loud as Kat and Chase had in the past and I’m having trouble dealing with all this silence. I just don’t know what to do with myself.

I have so many things in the works. So, so many, and my editor is about two seconds from hopping a plane to NJ to force me to finish them at gunpoint if I don’t get my ass in gear. But what does an author do when the voices suddenly stop?

Lots of TV. So much that I’m embarrassed to even admit it out loud. Picture this for a moment: me on the couch, feet sprawled out in front of me crossed at the ankles. A Kindle loaded to whatever book I planned to read sits on my left, my phone queued up to Facebook on the right, my laptop on my thighs taunting me with its stark white screen. That damn blinking cursor is the devil, I swear.

This where my problem lies. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than two seconds, and that includes trying to get down something substantial for people to read. I’m trying. Whether or not I’m succeeding is another story.

I’m just not feeling it. Period.

I’m my own worst enemy and my harshest critic. I always have been. On the surface, I pat myself on the head and croon, “Jane needs a break. It’s ok, the readers will wait.” But inwardly, I’m chastising myself like a sonofabitch for not having another release in the chamber, ready to go. I’m angry that my words have eluded me. I feel like I’m failing everyone -- myself, my characters and, worst of all, the readers that are waiting for something new. It all snowballs into this grotesque display of self-deprecation and pity. Who can write under this sort of self-imposed duress, right? Of course the voices stopped. They’re running from the monster inside my head that’s threatening to burn the village.

Bah!

Ok, now that THAT’s out of the way. Let’s chat for realsies. I have close to twenty thousand words written in this filthy little ménage story I started last year, including a few random sex scenes I’d written that I need to work in. (Yeah, sometimes I write out of order. The juicy stuff is just so much more fun than the monotonous crap that moves us through.) Suffice it to say, this is a hot one. Something dirty and delicious to counteract the emotional wreckage Pretty Ugly caused. I’m hoping to finish it, at least by the fall. Man, that seems so far away, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the story will burst from my fingers, maybe it won’t. Time will tell. 

Until then, let's make a pact. You don't give up on me, and I won't give up on me either. Deal?

New releases and other woes

Yesterday, I hit "publish" on my 6th book. Yep, Pretty Ugly is officially up for pre-order and now the fun begins!

The other day while chatting up one of my book besties, I made a snide remark about not knowing what to do with myself. She laughed and we had a joke about author life. You see, writing the book is actually the EASIEST part. Letting the characters drive you is a mindless force that the writer has little control in. Hitting "the end"? That's where the work comes in.

I'm not complaining ONE SINGLE BIT. Let's get that out of the way before I start. I love what I do. I love the words, the hustle, and the craziness of it all. But that doesn't mean it's not work. I picked the worst time to release this book. Not only does it come out the day after Easter, but my pre-order schedule landed on my birthday. Unfortunately, my mile-long to-do list doesn't have cake written anywhere on it - and not because I'm supposed to be on a diet! It's crunch time! Time to get Chase and Kat into as many smutty little hands as possible!

I won't bore you with the details of how it's all done. Honestly, I've been up since dawn and I'm rambling tired, so feel free to ignore me, but I do have a point. I think. 

Wait... 

Oh yeah! Pretty Ugly is available for Amazon pre-order now! Grab yourself a copy here and don't forget to enter my fancy schmansy giveaway to win one of TWO Amazon gift cards! 

I'm tired y'all. but I'm truckin'. Chase and Kat are worth it.

 

 Alllll the feels!

Alllll the feels!

All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl

“Snow!” she seethed, shaking her fist.

That frigid white nightmare currently blankets everything as far as the eye could see. It crystalizes the tree branches and adds a midday luster to the sky at night. Cold piles of nuisance taunting me, making this wintery isolation feel endless.

It’s all my husband’s fault. The brilliant man he is, he claimed the snow-blower was taking up too much room in the garage and moved it into the shed behind our property. That was Sunday. Cut to Wednesday when a nor’easter blew in and dumped over 2 feet of frozen tundra on my town leaving us homebound and powerless for three entire days.   

That’s right. THREE DAYS. Now I know how Jack Torrance felt. All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, indeed. Never fear, I’m not at the redrum stage yet. Close. But not quite.

To say I’m a little perturbed is an understatement. I hate snow. And now we’re stuck with piles of it as high as the balusters on my porch. The kids are stir crazy, the grown-up man-child is ornery, and I’m just sitting in the corner with my nose in a book pretending I’m somewhere on a beach. Meanwhile, the view from my window looks like this:

On a positive note – spring’s right around the corner and with it comes the release of Pretty Ugly. *happy dance*. This. Book. Is. EVERYTHING. I’m not even kidding. The few early reviews that have come in so far have been magnificent and I’m so anxious to get this into your hands!

You want to read a sample chapter??

*Jane closes her eyes and imagines cheers emanating from the crowd*

You have to subscribe to my Newsletter to get it!! Follow this link and sign up NOW!

Add it on GoodReads.

Catch up with Pretty Ugly.

 

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Chase's hot bod vs Jane's big ass

A FRIDAY edition of the Anthems?? WHAT?! Jane's losing her marbles!!

Yeah, I know ... Y'all are used to getting my mindless ramblings earlier in the week, but this issue is a special one.

This one has Chase's HOT BODY in it. 

BUT...

Before we all ooooh and aahhhh over the delicious specimen that is Tanner Chase Jr., I'm going to shake things up and tell you about the hot mess I'm working with. 

You see, when I start a project, I get so hyper-focused on it that everything else sort of falls by the wayside. I drink way too much coffee, eat way too much junk, and I'm just a tad obsessed with candy.

While scrolling through Instagram, one usually finds pics of people's children, pets, etc, but not mine. No, I like to post gummy bears. They're sweet, fruity, and the best part is, you can bite their heads off and they never talk back! It's perfect! That is, until you need some lube and Hacksaw Jim Duggan to wrestle you into your jeans one morning. My ass is big, y'all. I'm not even gonna play. 

So, now that Pretty Ugly is done, it's time to become hyper-focused on Jane for a change. I started this diet (kill me!) and it's actually going pretty well. I may miss my sugary, little friends like the deserts miss the rain (queue the dramatic music) but, when this morning's scale flashed a number four pounds lower than it was before, I did a happy dance in my yoga pants! 

That skeleton is wishful thinking. I don't have a weight loss goal or anything. That would take planning, and we all know how good I am at planning stuff.

Spoiler alert - I suck at planning stuff. 

But for today, I'm not feeling pretty reckless or pretty ugly (see what I did there? I'm clever sometimes!). My jeans may still be tight, but overall, I'm feeling pretty good. 

In other news ... Chase. *le sigh* He's so f*ckin' sexy. I've been dying to show you this cover forever. The muscles, the tattoos, the sad, broken expression on my main man's gorgeous face! *drool* Oh, and Kat's pretty hot, too ;)

Dani Rene' at Raven Designs totally went above and beyond. This book is no joke emotional, and Dani captured the essence of the story with perfect precision. Could it be that she claims Chase is her husband? Maybe. But the branding for this book is amazeballs and I'm utterly in love with all of it. Especially Chase. He's so delightfully damaged, it's hard not fall head over heels. If lovin' a fictional character that I created myself is wrong, then I don't wanna be right! 

I've already given up candy, I'm not giving up my book boyfriends, too ;) 

Add to your TBR -> http://bit.ly/2nWeaFl

Stay up to date on release info -> http://bit.ly/2tsecFm

Read Pretty Reckless now -> http://amzn.to/2EP3UVw

 It's okay, you can lick it. We both know you wanna...

It's okay, you can lick it. We both know you wanna...

Love turns UGLY on April 2!

The end.

Two silly little three letter words that somehow feel magnificent when strung together. Two days ago, I had the pleasure of jotting this beautiful phrase for the sixth time.

I raced through the final chapters of this book like a woman on speed. (I’ll let the irony of that statement fall where it may). The story started off slow for me. Not because it’s not good, because it is – truly, it’s a fantastic story – but just because I wasn’t sure where it was going to go.

When I wrote “The end” on Pretty Reckless, I meant it. I hadn’t planned on continuing Kat and Chase’s story. Kat said yes, it was sweet and adorable and everyone cheered the victory that was their HEA, but it wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot. Chase had so much he still needed to say. Kat had so much growing left to do. They just weren’t done.

The idea came to me while I was washing my hair. Trite, I know. The apple shampoo I keep in my shower awakened thoughts of Kat’s crisp autumn scent and the way Chase just went crazy for it every time she came close to him. Little things, ya know? It wasn’t her ass, her hair, her face, her smile … it was her smell that drove him nuts. Her ass came second. ;)  

But lathering up one random September morning, I started wondering how Kat would react to an engagement ring on her finger. The girl who spent her life stifled by self-doubt finally had everything she ever wanted. A happy ending that makes all our warm and fuzzies dance, but I wasn’t buying it. Living in bliss isn’t Kat’s forte. She hadn’t evolved enough to accept that a man like Chase would actually love her enough to absorb her insanity for the long haul. At least, not in this author’s opinion.

So my mind started wandering. It began conjuring up all doubts and what-ifs and disaster scenarios that a person like Kat would think as their wedding approached. It wasn’t long before my heart was wailing in my chest. I felt her fear. It hit me like an anvil. She said yes, but she wasn’t ready.

I finished my shower, ran to my computer, and threw down the first chapter. (And what a chapter it is! Chase – that sexy mother fucker – forever changed the way I look at fruit salad!) To be quite honest, I meant for it to be a short story. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to hammer out a little 10k word story to gift my readers over the holidays? A little heartwarming tale of Kat and Chase’s trials and tribulations en route to wedded bliss.

Then shit went boom.

At the risk of giving away too much of the plot, I won’t say exactly what that statement means, but trust me when I tell you, gasps will be heard. It turned from sweet and romantic to gritty and intense real fuckin’ quick. Don’t worry, it definitely circles back to sweet and romantic. It is a romance novel after all, and I promise everyone will get the HEA they want. There, much to my chagrin, I said it. Through all the ugly-cry-painful-heart-hammering-bullshit that I put you through in this story – and I didn’t hold back, trust me on that one – I do gift you with a happy ending.

I had to.

Kat and Chase deserve it.

Pretty Ugly is coming April 2.

Add it to your GoodReads TBR now.

Catch up with Kat and Chase in Pretty Reckless!

Love is ugly

I cried all weekend. Not just one singular tear rolling down my cheek. A massive deluge of salt water flooding my face to the point where the words on my screen were nothing but a muddled blur in front of me. Painful, gut-wrenching sadness as seen through the eyes of the character I was writing.

Ouch.

Yeah, it seems intense, I know. You ever read a story and suddenly you find yourself all kinds of emotional? You feel the essence of the pain as the character does. That’s how you know the tale is good. It tears you apart inside as if it’s real. That’s the beauty of reading. The temporary escape into someone else’s life.  

Now imagine how it feels for the author. The person who immerses herself (or himself – dudes do it, too!) in this world she’s created.

As we write, we develop this powerful connection with our characters. We live in their heads for weeks, months, years. When they smile, we smile. When they break, we break. It’s extreme and sad and awesome and incredible at all once. We live for these fictional people, dragging them through the mud only to pick them up and dust them off. By the end, we’re mentally drained, happy and exhausted. Our new friends have their HEA and we move on to other stories, but what if it doesn’t work that way?

What if the characters can't end up happy?

That’s a struggle, especially in the industry I’m in. Romance readers want the pain. They want to cry. They want their still-beating hearts ripped from their chests, but when all is said and done they expect it all to be put back wrapped in a pretty bow. It’s an unspoken rule.

Anyone who’s read my stories will know that I’m set in reality. I don’t write a lot of unrealistic fluff or insta-love type scenarios. I thrive on the angst. I get off on the drama of real-life issues. I don’t fuck around. HEA’s aren’t realistic. Life hurts. That’s the sad truth.

Which circles me back to the weekend. I hid in my cave banging the keys with such fervor that I felt drunk on words by the time I was done. My head was spinning, my heart on fire, my face a torrent of tears. Is an HEA coming? I honestly don’t know. I can’t say. All I know is that these characters continue to tear me apart with every word and I want them to triumph.

Sharing my work before it’s finished is usually something I DO NOT do. I have a habit of running back to words already written and changing shit. I’ll tear apart full chapters and add characters that weren’t even there. It’s a curse. I joke that I can’t keep my hands off my own work, but it’s the damn truth. Remember Resurrecting Hope and The Captain? Yeah, neither does my editor… lol! Those scenes made it into the story two days before I hit publish. But I digress …

One of my alpha readers has been following the story as I write. I've been waking up to blubbering messages from her losing her mind over my recent work in progress. Her utter excitement over what's to come has been a serious source of motivation for me to get this book finished and into your hands. I can't wait. 

While I do have books that fly off the proverbial shelves (thank you, always, for reading my work! It means the world to me!), as much as it hurts, Pretty Reckless has never been one of them. *womp womp* The idea of a heroin addict and an alcoholic doesn't exactly instill that warm and fuzzy feeling most romance readers are looking for, I guess. Sometimes I feel like I'm insane committing myself to writing a sequel to a book that really didn't do that well by my own absurd standards. But that's ok. Not every story is meant for human consumption. Sometimes we just need to get the words out, and if a good cathartic cry comes with it, so be it. 

And I'm crying. Hard. 

What's new, pussycat?

For months my editor, the amazing Candice Royer-Love, has been blathering in my ear about journaling. “Jumpstart your creativity first thing in the morning. It works, I promise.” But up until now, I’ve let that advice go in one ear and out the other. I mean, what kind of creative rebel would I be if I actually listened? No no, I didn’t get this far in life by following the rules!

Then again, I’m nowhere – maybe it’s time I gave it a shot. (Insert sarcastic laughter here)

I don’t know if this will last, or if this is one random post that got stuck in my craw and wanted to be written. Much like the rest of the unfinished stories that have yet to be born sitting in my machine. I get excited about a project and blow down every detail I can until that strong wind comes blustering in with a newer, more thrilling project for me to concentrate my efforts on. It’s a ridiculous cycle, and the reason I haven’t hit publish since August. Well, it’s one of the reasons. ;)

Y’all have read Pretty Reckless. At least, I’m assuming you have. (If you haven’t you should, it’s my best work yet, I swear.) That story took a lot out of me. By the time I hit publish, I was strung out on my own words, the cracks in my heart oozing and festering for all to see. I left my soul clinging to the pages of that book. It was hard to write, and I was so happy when I finished, but the strangest thing happened. Kat and Chase wouldn’t go away. Simply writing “The End” on their story didn’t quiet their constant screaming in my head. Holy shit, it wasn’t done! I’d worked two years on a project and reveled in finishing only to find out when all was over that there was more.

Oh my God!

I’m usually a little squirrelly about saying exactly what I’m working on. Sure, I’ll share snippets in my reader’s group, (Jane’s Addicted Romance Readers – Join us! We have hot guys and booze!) but I never actually share any real details until I know a story will be finished. As mentioned above, I’m notorious for starting projects but not so great at completing them. My first drafts are written with a scorching case of ADD and an unhealthy helping of self-loathing to the point where I hate even looking at them sometimes. Ooh, the pretty colors …. but they’re actually all black. Yeah, it’s like that. But I’m determined to get Kat and Chase’s story finished.

It does have a working title but, in true Jane fashion, something else came to me like a bolt of lightning while I was driving my son to school this morning. I’m being literal. It’s raining quite hard here in NJ. Anywho, I have ideas. Lots of them. I’d like to say I’m halfway through the manuscript, but who am I kidding? This shit could take a crazy turn and end up in Terre Haute for all I know. My characters have a mind of their own. Remember Chasing Casey? Yeah, Austin was nowhere near my original outline. He just jumped out of a dark closet and screamed “PLOT TWIST!” in my face. That was fun.

I’m rambling now. I have a tendency to do that. But bear with me, as I do have a point. I think. Or maybe I don’t … I guess we’ll see!

Oh yeah! Kat and Chase. They’re coming. I don’t know when. I’m hoping early spring. Chase is about four seconds from shattering my heart into a thousand pieces and, when that happens, I might end up going back to another project until I recover. A little rock star ménage story I’ve been toying with.

Ok, that one is no secret. I’ve already been sharing a filthy little piece of it around town to wet people’s appetites as to what’s on the horizon. (You can find it here. NSFW!) I’m maybe halfway through that one as well but keep jumping back and forth. I guess there’s a little Lyric in me yet ;) (If you’ve read the story, you’ll know that joke is hilarious!) I’ve wanted to write this one for so long. Kade is probably my greatest success story to date, and spinning it off into other delicious rock star romances has been something I’ve been aching to do. I am hoping to add a third book to this series at some point, but that’s too far down the line to even discuss yet. Second thought, let’s just pretend I didn’t mention it at all. Cool, thanks, you’re a real pal!

All that being said, I leave you with this - good things are coming, I promise.  

In the meantime, catch up on some reading :)