It’s Here! Defying Gravity Releases Today

Howdy friends!

I’m so excited to announce the release of Defying Gravity, my newest release from Entangled Crush! For those of you who enjoyed Finding Perfect, it’s time for Zoey to find her happily ever after, too. Check out the blurb:

 

Two brothers. One girl. May the best man win.

Disclaimer: This book contains enough sexual tension to melt snow, the hottest near-kiss in the history of near-kisses, and a sexy snowboarder determined to win the heart of the girl he loves.

Zoey Miller lives for her holidays in Aspen. Her time up on the mountain with the Madison brothers, Parker and Luke, is everything. But for the first time, it’s not enough. This time, she’s determined to win one of the brothers’ hearts.

But the brother she has in mind is a renowned player, with hordes of snow-bunnies following him around Snowmass resort. And the other…well, he’s her best friend and knows she deserves better. Namely him. And he’s going to win her heart.

 

If you need a little winter break this summer, I’ve got you covered: snow, mountains, hot snowboarders, sleigh rides–you name it! You can find Defying Gravity in eBook format on all major retailers, as well paperback from Amazon. But, before we close, how about a little teaser?

 

Zoey

 

Parker climbed into the sleigh and held out his arms. Wondering what the hell she was doing, Zoey slipped onto his lap and settled herself. His arms came around her at once, and the driver whistled at the horses. The sleigh started with a lurch, pressing her against Parker’s chest.

Breathe. In and out. Just breathe.

His hand roamed up her back. “You comfortable?”

She held very still. “I’m fine. You’re keeping me nice and warm.”

Which was true. In fact, he was keeping her a little too warm.

He’s your best friend.

I know.

So, don’t let this go too far, idiot. Remember, you have the hots for Luke, so don’t confuse things.

But, but…

No, buts. It will ruin everything. Slow it down.

Tell that to her pulse, which raced ahead of her good sense.

The horses plodded through the snow, pulling the sleigh like it weighed nothing. The breeze had quieted, adding to the hush that only the horses’ bridle bells broke.

Parker’s hand slid up her back. She could feel its warmth through her coat, which made her shiver again.

“You cold?” he whispered.

She shook her head. His face was so close…his lips were so close. If the sleigh hit a bump, they’d collide in a firm kiss. Which wasn’t the worst thought she’d ever had…

God, what she was doing? He was her friend, and there were rules, boundaries. She knew all this, and understood the perils of having a guy best friend. You had to stay neutral, one of the boys, or things went topsy-turvy fast.

So what had she done? Volunteered to ride sitting in his lap. Self-control, thou art worthless.

She leaned against him while her thoughts tumbled about in her head. She was warm, cozy, and held tight by a boy she’d trust with her life. At home, she never felt like this. She always had to be on her guard, always the one people watched and looked to for cues. Here she could let all that go and enjoy a silly sleigh ride, even though most of her so-called friends at Alderwood would declare it a lame way to spend an evening.

And yet, she wasn’t sure she should be letting it happen. She wasn’t even sure why it was happening.

“Enjoying this?”

Parker’s whisper tickled her ear, sending an ache through her belly. She turned slightly to find his lips an inch from hers again. She didn’t want to hurt him, or lead him on. But, right now, he was looking at her in a way she couldn’t decipher. Something that made her want to cling to him and explore his mouth with hers.

What was wrong with her?

“I was thinking,” he whispered, “that maybe I should kiss you.”

 

 

Beating the Fear Game

Hello friends,

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, blog post ideas, and things pressing on my heart big and small: consent, Brexit, the presidential election, paying for college, saving for retirement, what to feed my family for dinner, how to coordinate driving my kids in opposite directions once band session starts..

Some of these things are the day-to-day concerns that any parents have. Some are things I can’t really control. I’ve had a morbid fascination with “reading the comments” lately. Not a healthy pastime, so I made myself stop. You never realize the true depths of human hate and fear until you dive deep into the comments on a politically related post on USA Today. Trust me. Or, better yet, simply take my word for it and move on. What is it about anonymous computer screens that make people say such awful things to each other?

Given the things that can terrorize us, paralyze us, enrage us (real, perceived, or manufactured)…it’s a tough world out there. Now, imagine being a teen. Not fully understanding what the fuss is about, but being infected by the fear anyway (see: lockdown drills). Older people will gamely say, “Ha, in my day we had atomic bomb drills!” This, as a means to tell younger people to “buck up” in the face of global turmoil…yeah, not so great. Because hardening hearts shouldn’t be the goal, at least not in my opinion.

See, to me that’s where the crux of the argument lies. To quote a great metaphysical thinker (Yoda):  “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”

Think about how many outlets are trying to make you afraid enough to do something their way. Certain fear is healthy: Fear of falling off a cliff keeps you from leaning too far over that observation rail, yes? But the more insidious fear–fear of an unknown, fanned by the flames of hate, rhetoric, and “spin?” Well, that’s what keeps us up at night–even our kids. And yeah, we suffer for it.

What’s the cure? To me, it lies in simple, but powerful things… Love. An open mind. Curiosity. Education. Meeting new people. Stepping in to help. Acknowledging prejudice and doing your part to keep it out of your own way. Understanding the roots of fear, so you know what it is when you see it, and why.

Kindness. Generosity. To have hope, and to share it. Be infectious with it.

To listen.

Look, I’m not a philosopher, a perfect person, or an expert in much, but I remember what I was taught as a child, before I looked at the world with inferred filters. Just think how things could be, regardless of our stance on any given topic, if each person choose to be kind for a single instance each day, when they otherwise wouldn’t be?

That’s the kind of world I hope my kids inherit.

 

 

The Power of Patience

So, I’m teaching my son to drive.

Yep, sound the Klaxon and get off the road–my 15-year-old is in command of a moving vehicle. As a parent, this is a very odd sensation. On one hand, you spend your entire life teaching them to be independent while secretly standing behind them in case they fall. Teaching a teen to drive is different–you’re there to help, but you are completely out of control. The kid has the wheel, the gas pedal, and over a ton of metal, glass, and rubber at his command…and I don’t. All I have is the door handle to hang onto and my voice to instruct. To quote my husband: “At best you can influence.”

To most people (save those saintly souls known as drivers’ ed instructors), this is a recipe for terror. I’ve had to learn that patience and gentle instruction is a far better tool than lectures about how brakes work. Learning to drive, although nearly everyone over sixteen can and does, isn’t as easy as a new driver thinks it is. It requires patience on the student’s part, too. I clearly remember trying to learn parallel parking with my mom. Let’s just say we both left in a huff. If we’d both had some patience with each other, it would’ve been easier. In fact, after asking my dad, who is probably the most patient man alive–no kidding–to teach me, I learned in an hour.

It’s been good for me to learn to let go. I want my kid to drive–I really do. I remember the freedom of being able to go where I wanted to go when I wanted to go there. (As an embarrassing side note, that was typically the local library–what a luxury to go get books whenever I wanted them! Oh, and McDonald’s. Because…sixteen.) That sense of freedom is part of what gives teens their first taste of adulthood, which is a theme that often carries over to YA literature. Think about how many books wouldn’t have a story if the characters didn’t have a car and the ability to go and do*?

That transition is at the heart of these books: first love, what does the future hold, life-changing decisions, learning you who are. How many people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s remember being a teen? I’d say a great many of us. Raising one can be difficult, but remembering what that time was like, with all it’s stress, can help you empathize (even if the teen in question doesn’t believe you). For YA authors who aren’t a YA (which is nearly all of us), hanging onto those memories can help you create a story that resonates.

In other news, edits on the “Zoey book” (sequel to Finding Perfect) are in the hopper with my editor, and we’re going to edit a new book later this summer (sekrit project). Finally, for my Unstrung fans, I’m starting the draft to book three, with hopes to release it late this year/early next year.

So how about you…did any funny/lightbulb moments happen when you learned to drive?

 

 

*Excludes places with regular, prolific mass transit.

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

Tomorrow, my firstborn turns 15.

15.

How is it that 15 sounds 10 years older than 14? Maybe it’s because he’ll start driver’s ed in April. Maybe it’s because he’s 6’3″ and I can’t tell his clothes apart from his dad’s in the laundry sometimes. Or how grown-up he looks in his ROTC uniform, or how he constantly talks about his “military career” after high school. His whole adult life is right in front of him, and I’m standing behind wondering where that 6 1/2 pound newborn with colic went.

But I won’t say, “It went by so fast!” It did in my perception, but honestly, I was there for every minute and I’ve watched him grow. So yes, it feels like it went by fast, but I’m changed, and that confirms that the time did pass. That old clock’s hands ticked double-time.

Every age of children is interesting, but I have to say these years, where my kids have fully-formed personalities and interests that diverge from my own, have been the most awe-inducing. Is there drama? Some, but not much. Are there still times I shake my head and ask, “Why?” Yes. Most of the time, though, I have the chance to watch them do things I never saw coming–like a self-avowed band-nerd becoming a marching-band parent or listening to them talk about Texas history (which teaches me something since I took Oklahoma history in school). It’s an intense time of life (mountains of homework, broken hearts, extracurriculars) but it’s fun, too.

So when people ask why I write YA, it’s because of the possibilities. Whether you write paranormal or contemporary, historical or dystopian–teens are always on the cusp of something, and that tension, those possibilities, make for great stories.

I’m looking forward to the stories my own kids create. It’s going to be a wild ride.Baby T

And, in honor of the kid’s birthday, here’s a picture of that tiny baby from so long ago. Can you believe a 6’3″ kid came from this bitty creature? <3

 

 

My Favorite Shows (and Movies) of 2015

Howdy all!

There are only a few hours left in 2015–and I just got used to writing the correct year on checks. Alas. In continuation of my series of my 2015 favorite things, this last post is dedicated to movies and TV. I had to combine them because I don’t do much of either, but what I like, I really like. So…here goes:

 

Marvel TV (via Netflix)

      

Okay, Netflix, you got me. You really, really got me. Daredevil and Jessica Jones were two of the smartest, darkest, best written superhero shows in 2015–even more so than Avengers: Age of Ultron (which I liked okay) and Antman (which I thoroughly enjoyed against my initial impression). These two shows, written for Netflix, are made to be binged. Netflix, wisely, released the entire seasons at once, allowing for “just one more” when you’re bleary-eyed at eleven p.m.  In Daredevil, they created a smart, likable, if brutal, hero, two great “sidekicks” (although I’d argue they transcend that label), an excellent cameo in Rosario Dawson, and one of the best Marvel villains ever written for the screen. Yes, I made that claim. Fisk was so complete: loving (yes!), scared, brusque, driven, passionate, merciless, and as broken as our hero.

Jessica Jones did something we haven’t seen from Marvel on the screen (yet): they let a woman lead. Besides Agent Carter and until Captain Marvel, we haven’t had much in the way of female characters being central to the story from Marvel, until now. And, oh, what a character Jessica is. She’s an anti-hero extraordinaire. A victim, a liar, a voyeur, an unrepentant alcoholic. She’s a terrible friend, but grows into a great one. She’s a terrible lover, but atones for her sin. And she doesn’t let the damage done to her stop her from seeking out and destroying the man who destroyed her first. Dark, twisted, raw–it’s definitely rated M for mature, but it works despite the shock and awe. And maybe because of it. Oh, and David Tennant is terrifying as the villain. His superpower is so simple, but so awful at the same time.

 

The Big Bang Theory, CBS

A lot of people think TBBT is on its last legs. Many complain that “it’s not as nerdy, therefore not as fun.” As a writer, I have to ask: if the show and the characters stayed exactly the same for nine seasons, would you still enjoy it? Probably not. I think the reason I’m still so invested (and I’ll admit, season 8 was soft) is because the characters are evolving–especially Sheldon. It’s nice to see these guys mature, while still enjoying all things Comic Con. And the women on the show add some much needed texture. I love Amy. Mayim Bialik has done a great job with the character. You can tell she’s finally in a place where she feels validated and belongs.

 

The Blacklist, NBC

 

I started watching the blacklist early in 2015–I watched a few minutes of the episode after the Superbowl and decided I should give it a try. After that, I picked up season one on Netflix, and I’ve been devouring episodes since. I talked a little about my obsession with Liz and Tom’s twisted relationship before, but I’m still ‘shipping them. He’s willing to do anything for her–and I mean anything. She’s gone from black and white FBI agent to someone in the margins, which is why they work so well. And James Spader…I’ve been a fan of his for years, from Brat Pack, to Stargate, to Boston Legal to Red Reddington. You can just tell he’s having a blast on this show. And he can basically outact just about everyone, even guest stars like Isabella Rossellini and Peter Fonda. Jury’s out on David Strathairn, though–depending on what they let his character do. Oh, and did I mention they get kickass guest stars? The FBI is writing to look a little slow, but there’s enough to make up for it to keep the show interesting.

 

Ant-Man, Marvel

The movie started slow. Let’s admit it. BUT–when it got going, it was a darn fun popcorn flick. Ultron was big and loud and (JAMES SPADER!) and amazing to look at, but Antman was just fun. Michael Douglas was part badass, part nerd, and part grumpy (funny) old man. Evangeline Lilly proved she can kick ass without Tolkein at her back. And Paul Rudd was hilarious. The scene with Thomas the Tank engine never gets old to me. I laugh every single time–it’s ingenious film making to use perspective to be awe and entertain. Oh, and Michael Pena was so funny, too.

 

And finally (you knew this was coming):

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney/Lucasfilms

There’s so much I want to say about this movie, and I just can’t. It’s too soon for spoilers (tomorrow is 2 weeks, and I think the “imaginary ban” is lifted, but I won’t post yet), but…BUT. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is an amazing, empowered, spunky, stubborn, compassionate heroine. She’s the Star Wars heroine I’ve been waiting for (nothing against Leia–but Rey literally kicks ass). Finn has a big heart–for fear, pride, and for friends. Poe is fearless, funny, and loyal. And our old favorites don’t disappoint. I know a lot of people were disappointed. I know a lot of people thought it was too much like A New Hope. While that may be, peel back the layers and you’ll see it’s different enough, and going in a different direction. This was the setup. VIII is going to be the launch. I saw it twice in the theater. It’s been years since I’ve paid for a theater ticket to see something twice. Usually I wait for the DVD and watch at home. That says a lot about how much I enjoyed it. Part of that was nostalgia, sure. But a lot of that second time was to devour all the details I missed. To immerse myself in the experience. For me, it’s the Star Wars movie I’ve been waiting for since Jedi.

 

So that’s my list. Any great movies or shows I’m missing? Let me know in the comments. And here’s to 2016!  Suicide Squad! Civil War! X-Men: Apocalypse! Should be entertaining.

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