Climbing the Ranks

This year has been bonkers for me, writing-wise, and the hits keep coming.

I released The Search for Sam in September to moderate success – top 100 for the first time ever! Then I had my very first book signing in October and sold several books! Now this has happened and it’s blowing my mind.

I was so excited about being #1 in New Releases that it barely occurred to look at the main Tudor Historical Romance list, but when I did I got a huge surprise this morning when I woke up. I was excited about top 20 last night and woke up to #4. I’ve basically been losing it all day.

On top of that, I’m still at #1 in New Releases at the time of this writing. I’ve slipped down the general list but I’m holding firmly on to New Releases. I can’t help but hope that the next book will bring me closer to #1 on the bestseller list.

if you want to read it, it’s on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. After next Tuesday it goes up to $2.99, so this is your chance!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H23KFS2

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I’m Number WHAT?

Last night I was up until midnight for completely non-writing-related reasons and decided to meander over to Amazon as soon as I got my email that A Christmas Reunion was live. I was not at all expecting what I found.

My book debuted at #1 in Tudor Historical Romance! I really thought I was going to pass out. I never dreamed that one of my books would be #1 in anything, not by a long shot!

I had to sit for a minute and think about things. When I first got the idea to write a historical romance novel, I submitted it to Harlequin because of course I did. Also I had submitted a contemporary to them a long time ago, which is another story entirely. They didn’t even send a reply, just a photocopy of their submission guidelines. I tried unsuccessfully to get an agent, then find a small publisher, which worked out twice until both of them closed and I was on my own.

When I made the decision to start self-publishing my own books, I knew there was a better than average chance I wouldn’t make more than a couple of bucks. Now I’ve had a book signing, one book reached the top 100 on Amazon, and another debuted at #1. Not to mention The Search for Sam getting shortlisted for a prize. I’m not sure how I got here but it can only go up.

As of the time I’m writing this, I am sitting at #2 in the new releases but for a brief shining moment I had the coveted orange flag and I can’t think of a better Christmas gift from the universe.

A Christmas Reunion: Christmas Wishes Book 2

img_4033-1It’s a special day for me! Not only is A Christmas Reunion releasing today, it’s also my very first holiday romance. I’m really hoping people enjoy it, though there’s not a single Christmas tree in it.

The story is set in Tudor Wales in 1522, which was so much fun to research. My Google search results will never be the same again, but I learned so much about the time period that I would feel completely comfortable writing another book set in it. It’s sort of sandwiched between Elizabethan and Medieval, both of which have more research, but digging out little pieces of history was fantastic. It’s one of the reasons I started writing historicals in the first place!

The wish is made by a creature from Welsh legend called the Afanc, whose temper managed to get it in trouble in ancient times. He wants more than anything to see the woman he loved again, and makes a wish to the moon goddess Arianrhod. She agrees to grant his wish, but there’s a catch: he has to make the woman fall in love with him before Christmas.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it, so pick up a copy today while it’s still $0.99! After two weeks, the price will go up to $2.99 like the rest of my books – still a deal, but if you’re into Christmas romance you’ll want to get it today so you can buy more of them – including the ones written by my awesome friends! There are still 4 more books releasing after mine, all in different eras, and all with preorders under a dollar!

A Christmas Reunion – Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H23KFS2

A Christmas Reunion – all other retailers: http://books2read.com/AChristmasReunion

The full Christmas Wishes series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HFFKYXZ

NaNoWriMo 2018: Week One

NaNo-2018-Writer-Twitter-Header

I fully intended to write this post on Thursday so it could be posted on Friday, telling you all about how I’d triumphed over my deadlines and gotten so many words written. unfortunately, what actually happened was me being nervous about my race on Saturday and relieved about finishing my drafts and revisions that I sort of just passed out. Then on Saturday I went straight from work to Dallas for the races, and from there I didn’t get home until about 10, at which point I promptly crashed out and slept for about twelve hours. Hey, I ran 16 miles. But we’ll talk more about that later this week.

Yesterday I picked up my computer to try and get some words in, and discovered that I didn’t like how I began the story, how I had the main character acting, and the tone in general so I trashed it. Of course, then I started to panic because I was basically back to zero.

I remedied this by writing 4,000 words yesterday, which doesn’t put me near close enough to be caught up, but it’s a good start.

The Death Nut Challenge

There are times in your life when you just have to make a bad decision. At least, what some would call a bad decision. Some (most) of those involve pepper sauce. If it’s spicy, I want it. I once ate so much straight habanero sauce that I basically pepper-sprayed myself. And that my friends, is where the Death Nut Challenge comes in.

Once again, we can thank Richard for this. He sent me a message with a picture of this box, asking if I was in. Seeing as how I always wanted to try the One Chip Challenge, I was most definitely in. What is the One Chip Challenge? I’m gonna turn this one over to Dan Ryckert.

I’m proud to say that I’m a little more Daniel Bryan than Dan Ryckert in my tolerance of spicy things, as was evidenced by the results of the challenge. Charlotte had told us from the beginning that this was a bad idea, and Richard’s sister (who wanted to be there for the debacle) questioned the decision to do it before we were trapped in a tiny plane. We cared not for such dire predictions as we cracked open the box, got out cups of Blue Bell ice cream, and prepared for battle with the hottest nuts ever.

According to the rules, you had to wait 90 seconds after each nut, with no drinks or food of any kind to dampen the spice. I knew it was going to hurt, but I am a total bro when it comes to extreme spice. My favorite wings to eat – with Richard, surprise surprise – were the Wings n’ More Super Caliente wings in College Station. And so we began.

Peanut #1 was ghost pepper with Carolina Reaper powder. Not as spicy as I expected, honestly. In fact, I could see myself snacking on these in front of the TV or while writing.

Peanut #2 was a bit spicier with Scorpion Butch-T peppers and Reaper powder. Still manageable, though I did notice a bit more of a tingle in my mouth. It was my first experience with the Scorpion, and they’re a bit sweet, it seems.

Peanut #3 was Carolina Reaper peppers, Chocolate Bhutia, and more Reaper powder. Also my first time with the Bhutia and I definitely tasted the chocolate. I was also feeling some serious burning on my tongue. Weirdly, the burning was on the sides of my tongue and not the center. It was at this time that Richard’s son started to heckle his dad. He kept up a steady stream of trash talk through the rest of the challenge, which was hilarious because it took my mind off the next nut.

Peanut #4 was when things started to get real. Carolina Reaper Peppers, 7-Pot Douglah, 7-Pot Brain Strain, and the ever-present Carolina Reaper powder. It was at this point that my eyes started to water and Kleenex was delivered. Richard had begun to sweat. It was extremely difficult at this point to resist the siren song of the ice cream before me but I held strong, knowing the end was near.

Peanut #5, AKA The Death Nut, was Pepper-X peppers, Carolina Reaper peppers, Moruga Scorpion peppers, all rolled in what looked like a quarter inch of Reaper powder. I threw it in my mouth and started to chew. Friends, that was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten apart from some homemade pepper sauce from an Ethiopian restaurant. My eyes were watering more, my nose was running, and my face was bright red. Swallowing the thing was difficult and my stomach gave me a grumble of disapproval as I waited the full 90 seconds before digging into my ice cream like it contained the secret to alchemy.

It was almost 30 minutes before my mouth stopped burning. I took an antihistamine in the hopes it would counteract my runny nose, and Richard’s sister freaked out every time my hands got close to my eyes. Before we got to the Mediterranean restaurant, though, I was already thinking of the nuts with fondness and Richard’s son proclaimed me the winner of the Death Nut Challenge.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any digestive side effects from this little adventure. I expected to be in a fair amount of pain the next day, but my stomach reacted worse to the habanero pepper-spray incident. I think I’ll do it again with Version 2.0 just so I can Snapchat it. Because that’s exactly the kind of crazy you can expect when it comes to me.

If you want to try your own Death Nut Challenge, you can buy version 1.0 here  or version 2.0 here for the princely sum of $15 and a nominal number of tastebuds.

Hela Takes a Holiday: Christmas Wishes Book 1

It’s November! It’s completely dark by 6:30 and a brisk 65 degrees out (thanks, Texas) so let’s get into the Christmas spirit!

The Christmas Wishes series launches today and the first book out is Rebekah Lewis’ Viking romance, Hela Takes a Holiday. Any book with the goddess of death as the heroine is a winner for me. Here’s a bit more about it!

It’s lonely being the queen of the dead. Hela longs for a life among the living, and a chance at love. When Loki grants her wish, she’s elated…only to discover later that even a trickster god’s daughter isn’t safe from his deceit. How can she learn to adapt to life on Midgard if her presence disrupts the balance of life and death?

Björn the Untouchable requires a wife…but isn’t in a hurry to find one. Escaping the festivities of Yule, he discovers a naked woman in the middle of the forest. Something about her isn’t quite right, and having the same name as a death goddess is a bad omen to be sure. Nevertheless, he’s completely enchanted by her. 

Hela has only twelve days of the Yule celebration to remain human, but otherworldly threats linger. Can she find true love in the arms of a Viking warrior in the land of the living, or will she be the cause of an entire village’s destruction? Only Loki knows, but he’s not one to share his schemes…

Sounds awesome, right? Pick it up today and see for yourself!

Buy it on Amazon

Also available on Nook, Kobo, Apple Books and more!

Training Journal – Hazards of Being a Cheapskate

Let’s be real here. No one actually enjoys energy gels. If I want a shot of energy that I’ll like eating, I grab Honey Stingers or Clif Blocks chews. They have the consistency of soft Dots and taste pretty good. Before a race or hard training session, I’ll eat a pack to get me going. Energy gels though…

History lesson: energy gels were created by people who hate joy for people who like punishing their bodies, because running ridiculous distances and biking a hundred miles will drain you of energy faster than cheap batteries in a game controller. They started showing up in the mid-eighties in clear packets that allowed everyone to see the terrible mistake you were making in real time. Since then, there are more packages and flavors than I can count but they all have one thing in common. The consistency is one level above glue, which means that your mouth desperately wants to chew it but when you try it feels so very wrong.

Runner’s World ranked 27 flavors of Gu, ostensibly the most popular gel brand, and I wasn’t surprised to find the unflavored one at the very bottom. Every runner friend I have always says the same thing when the unflavored Gu comes up in conversation: “who hates themselves that much?” Everyone has a flavor that they like (or tolerate the most), and mine is Jet Blackberry. I buy it by the box at my favorite running store and try and keep at least one in my running belt for emergencies. It’s pretty cheap but for a family on a tight budget, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. My other favorite is mocha Clif Shots, but there’s only one place that sells them around here and they’re expensive, and also the store employees are kind of snobby.

The last couple of long-distance races I ran had Gu at every water stop, and even though I had stuffed my belt with enough to last 15.5 miles I took one at every station because eating free gel is highly preferred to dipping into your own stash. Another race was the same way, and I took one every time again and squirreled them away for later consumption.

Then tragedy struck.

While running a half marathon, I went to a water stop and saw a box of gels. I grabbed one with my water only to discover that it was Gatorade Endurance. “No problem,” I thought. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.” It was not. The flavor was okay but the consistency was what I imagine sadness must taste like. It was more of a soup than a gel and I swallowed it as fast as possible, vowing to never make that mistake again. Unfortunately my cheapskate nature overtook my reason at the next water stop and the thought of saving money won over my distaste for the gel/soup. I not only ended up eating four of the things, I brought one home with me and promptly buried it in my bag.

The other day I went for a run and neglected to pack any Gu. There was one packet of something in the very bottom of my bag and…it was the vanilla Gatorade one. Desperate, I put it in my pack and went for a run. When it was time to refuel I tore it open and poured it into my mouth and friends, it was even worse hot. Somehow my stomach did not refuse it, but I immediately went to FWRunCo and bought a box of Jet Blackberry.

Moral of this story: always stock up on Gu.

The Chex Mix of Romance Fiction