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Pre-order Comet’s First Christmas!

Pre-order now!

I’m so excited to finally share Comet with you! This lesbian low-angst Christmas novella was exactly what I needed during this brutal year.

Will a bad Santa ruin the holiday before the reindeer go hooves-up on Christmas Eve?

Claudia
I’ve dreamed of this day for years, and now it’s reality. I’ve been called up for the Big Show. Official Pole phone and email, Naughty-or-Nice login, and upgraded I.D. with my new job title—Comet. In three weeks, I’ll be part of the team flying Santa around the world.

In an instant my life goes from peaceful, if boring, to a blizzard of last-minute flight preparations, route planning, and anxiety-triggering stress.

The moment I meet my P.A., Jillian, her beautiful smile and sparkling blue eyes are an oasis of calm. But I’ve barely got enough time to wonder if her plump lips taste as sugarplum sweet as they look. Disturbing news has popped up on Santa’s radar.

Someone is turning Santa’s most fervent believers into non-believers overnight. If we can’t find and stop this hacker, there won’t be enough reindeer cutout cookies and hot chocolate in the world to restore balance to Santa’s Naughty-or-Nice list in time for Christmas Eve.

Note to reader: What sweet Christmas romance would be complete without reindeer, The Nutcracker, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and New York pizza?

Pre-order now!

Whigmaleeries & Wives’ Tales is out NOW

Surprise! I had forgotten about this anthology because I committed to it a long time ago and I’ve written two books since then.

This is a Jayhenge Press book, which means incredible talent from around the world and stories of all lengths. Jessica has a great eye for picking stories.

My story is Season’s Change, a less explicit version of the story by the same name from Chemical [se]X 2.

Here’s an excerpt

Over the next few weeks, her life fell into a pattern. During the day she’d wander the castle. She’d spend time in the garden. She’d stand at the doorway to the kitchen, admiring the various delicacies that had been made for Hades. Every three days there was a plate of golden honey sweets. Honey sweets that tormented her, their scent as seductive as the feeling of Hades’s body pressed against her.

Cerberus followed her like a shadow, one head always swiping kisses along her wrist, the second occasionally deigning to be petted, while the third head was eager to play fetch.

Her evenings were spent with Hades. Bedtime grew later and later as she grew more and more reluctant to leave his company. His attention was like tending roses, as he could be thorny. Persephone ached to touch him the way she touched the roses in the garden.

Comet’s First Christmas

I’ve been hard at work on Comet’s First Christmas. We’re halfway through edits and I can’t wait for you to read this and see the cover. I’m planning a cover reveal for when I can’t take it anymore because I’m so excited.

Here’s a sneak peek at the opening

Pulling Santa’s sleigh is as prestigious as it gets. When I trained as a potential team member, I knew the odds of ever actually pulling the sleigh were low. But I did let myself fantasize about how one day there would be a knock at my door, and Rudolph would be there to activate me.

Never once did I picture it happening in December.

That would be insane.

I was studying in human form when the doorbell to my home rang. It was probably my mom, trying to get me to date some friend’s daughter. I went to the door, expecting a guilt trip and “the perfect woman” for me to date and eventually produce little calves with for my mother to spoil. I nabbed a handful of hay and took a big mouthful before I nudged the door open with my foot.

It wasn’t my mother.

The reindeer who’d pawed at my door was Rudolph. Rudolph! She wasn’t wearing any regalia, but I’d been a huge fan for years. She used to be Prancer, but became Rudolph when the previous Rudolph retired—job names were permanent, the people filling those positions were not.

I realized I was (a) staring and (b) had a mouth full of hay.

“Excuse me,” I mumbled through the hay, and I hastily ate it. I wished I was in my reindeer form—my human face was burning with humiliation.

“Claudia?”

I forced down the last gulp of hay, feeling the less well-chewed bits scrape my throat as the unpleasant bite made its way down my gullet.

“Y—yes? Am I in trouble?”

Had I posted something online that was in poor taste? Had I done something to disqualify myself as a potential? My brain seized up with anxiety, and I couldn’t find a clear thought.

Rudolph laughed. “No, that was my first thought when I was called up, too, though.”

Wait, what? Called up?

“Excuse me?” I was so confused.

“Claudia, you’re being called up. You’re being asked to help guide the sleigh. Comet can’t fly this year,” Rudolph said.

The world both turned to static. It made my brain pulse.

“Calling me up?” My voice sounded far away, and the world had suddenly gone from static into stark relief. Nothing made sense. Nothing.

Rudolph whuffed in irritation. “Yes, calling you up. Report to the barn in an hour. Unless you’re not interested…” Her voice trailed off, and she tossed her antlers.

“I am! I am interested!” I had to get it out before the opportunity was taken away from me. “I want to!”

Rudolph snorted with amusement. “Okay, you want to do it. Good. Report to the barn in an hour,” she repeated and left. Before she got too far from my door, she turned back. “You’re going to want to hurry up. Only twenty-three days left until the Big Show.” She leapt in the air and bounded away.

Growing Pains

Not long after publishing Lab Rats, I realized I wasn’t happy. More to the point, after I finished the far superior sequel, I realized how much my eating disorder populated and affected Lab Rats, and how the quality had suffered.

But that was that, right? It’s out in the world, no fixing it now.

Until I talked to a more experienced author who advised me to just pull it down and fix it. I’ve only sold maybe 30-50 copies total, so it’s not like 100k readers had read it.

So I did. Lab Rats is no more. When I finish my Christmas novella, I’ll jump back into what is now going to be the rewritten Lab Rats.

I’m trying to see this as a positive way to move forward with a series I can stand behind instead of one where I only like the last two books of the trilogy.

Quarantine Week 4

This isn’t how I meant to spend April tenth. It’s not how any of us expected to spend April tenth.

Some things haven’t changed since my last update. For example, homeschool is still the worst, although this was April vacation, which made me so happy.

Writing is still a challenge, but I’m getting caught up in Lioness all over again, and my excitement has allowed me to push past some of the things that make writing hard. The fact that this has been April break has not only lessened the strain of homeschooling, but it’s given me a lot of free time to write, too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m worried bout my productivity falling off again until summer. I have to get my kids through June fifth, and then we can FINALLY stop homeschool. (I don’t know what happens in August–we’re a hot spot that has had success with flattening the curve–Santa Clara County, CA–but that doesn’t mean that life will be normal in August.)

In my part of the country, toilet paper, paper towels, and baby wipes continue to be difficult to find. I was lucky enough to stumble over this package yesterday at a Walgreens, when I went to pick up prescriptions. But my family is just really lucky that we got our monthly delivery of toilet paper a week before quarantine and the run on toilet paper began.

I’ve been grocery shopping about once a week (down from my popping in every other day for just a few things here and there) and each time I go, things are different (apart from the tp etc shortage, which is consistent). I feel like in some ways things are starting to even out, but in others things are still in short supply.

I took this picture today. In the last week my grocery store has made aisles one-way to try to cut down on traffic jams. Of course, almost no one was obeying them, but I’m giving them points for trying to mitigate the spread.

They don’t allow you to take re-usable bags into the stores anymore. I had stopped using my bags, and had been feeling a bit bad about the waste of taking store bags until the stores banned re-usable bags.

Safeway has someone at the door–I think they’re limiting the number of people in the store at any given time. There are lines on the ground outside the store to wait to enter. But I was lucky today and there wasn’t a wait to get in. I read that Target, Costco, and Walmart are also limiting the number of people in the store at any given time.

Between living in Asia for seven years and still being in the slow buildup of local friends, connecting with my friends via text and call is nothing new to me. But the kids have had to learn all these new technologies (that they took to like a duck to water) and not every friend is available via every type of tech, and there are friends they just don’t have much contact with.

My eight year old and I came home from a walk to a note on our driveway from a friend of hers. So in the picture above, eight is drawing a message in reply. My eleven year old has also drawn a note on a friend’s driveway.

I have a ton of coronavirus memes and parody songs to stay entertained with, of course. This is a favorite of mine.

I sometimes (usually) write contemporary stories, and like many writers, that has raised the question of “do I include coronavirus in my romance novel?”

I have come down on the side of “not yet.” We don’t know how long this is going to last, what the impacts are going to be, and FOR ME it feels a little irresponsible writing it into my books. It’s writing from the center of the hurricane and you don’t know what the fallout will look like. It will be callous to put your long distance lovers story against high unemployment, a crashing economy, and a presidential race.

Related– because it’s an election year, there are Dem/Rep enemies to lovers stories, and that just feels gross. Sorry, your denying people’s humanity isn’t us having a difference of opinion, it fundamentally changes–lowers–my opinion of you. There’s no coming back from ‘women shouldn’t have abortions’ or gross statements about immigration or people of color or poor people. I care about people and you care about corporations–BTW so so glad the CRUISE SHIPS are going to get bailed out while college debts hangs over millions of heads, and erasing that debt would have a much bigger impact that saving floating petri dishes. So, you see, just as D/R enemies to lovers stories are just in incredibly poor taste, and I feel like coronavirus love stories are equally in poor taste.

So for now it’s just lalala, what pandemic? Which, honestly, makes writing a good escape, too.

How about you? How goes quarantine for you?

Life in quarantine

My life

Did you know that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a quarantine? Well, I do now. To which I say Shakespeare wasn’t the primary caregiver of two children who are suddenly home until May 4th (but probably the rest of the year).

Well, The Lioness and the Mouse isn’t exactly King Lear, but editing is going. I’m working on a couple of other projects, but nothing worth sharing about yet.

My writing sanctuary is now a little more full these days. I’m trying to figure out what time of day now works to get my writing done (right now my kids are having “P.E.” so I’m stealing the time at my kitchen table, which had been my favorite writing spot ). My partner and I are trying to figure out who works where so that he can do his meetings without being bothered and I can get my work done without being bothered. I was thrilled when he decided our youngest daughter’s room was the best place in terms of light, privacy, and a power strip that wasn’t already full. That leaves our bedroom and bathroom to me (I hate using the kid’s bathroom–it’s messier than ours).

The fact that I was a teacher for five years (six if you count student teaching) is completely irrelevant. I used to teach middle school math, but today when my oldest had to figure out the height of a triangle based off the base number and the area number. I’ve taught how to do this. I don’t remember it at all. My husband stepped in, and he found out that our daughter hasn’t been watching the instructional videos, so it’s not surprising that she was struggling so much.

The fact that I was a teacher doesn’t matter to my eight year old when I told her she could add more details to her story (which was like five sentences). I was on my bed, so she faceplanted, then rolled around whining “I don’t want to” and then “I don’t want to be an author.” I suggested to her teacher that he do a call a week where the kids could connect, and my daughter was rejuvenated by the contact with her friends (and has now added details).

Speaking of becoming an author, my oldest is writing a Percy Jackson fanfic with two or three of her friends in GoogleDocs, which I think is the coolest thing ever. When I was in high school, I subscribed to a Mercedes Lackey fan zine called Queen’s Own, I think. (I Googled and I couldn’t find the name, which makes me a little sad.) One of the features of the zine was finding pen pals, which I did. My penpal used the name Jaila, and I used the name Lyria. We began a joint fanfic, but one of us would write a chapter and then we had to mail it to the other person. Neither of us had access to a word processor or computer, I guess, because I know it was all handwritten. I’m so sad it’s lost to the sands of time—it was such a product of our ages and the 90’s and how much we both really wanted a talking horse.

I think for me one of the biggest struggles with confinement isn’t the confinement (I”m an introvert, and I already worked from home), it’s dealing with my eating disorders in this context. One of my coping mechanisms over the past two years has been to not eat. I’ve definitely had that, and I’ve missed some meals. But I try to remind myself how awful the experience of refeeding and attending a partial hospitalization program was and that has forced me to eat something at least even when I don’t want to. That’s my anorexia in action. My ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder) means that I have a relatively small amount of food I consider “safe” to eat, and most other foods incite anxiety and nausea. When I grocery shop, I carefully plan out what I’ll buy and cook in advance. Now I have to go to the grocery store and wing it, which is really stressful.

But you know the hardest part of doing quarantine with an eating disorder? How everyone is joking that the quarantine will make you fat. Eating Disorder patients are already on edge just like you. But when you joke about getting fat, it wakes up the part of us that we fight against every day. Please think before you post.

Okay, less heavy…

Anyone else just realizing how much they touch their faces?

How are you coping with quarantine? Are you quarantined? It blows my mind that like half the country is just out there living their lives. It’s so alien and surreal.

Lioness Excerpt

I was going to post and then the whole Covid thing came up and I got overwhelmed. I know I’m not alone in that. Welcome to the Delilah Night homeschool for cranky children (to be fair, it’s cranky child–the other one is fine). It sucks.

How am I coping? In part by editing Lioness with my awesome editor, Jess. I’m not getting much new writing done, but Lioness is doing great. In honor of that, here’s an excerpt

To set the scene, there’s been a growing romantic tension between Shan and Molly, but they haven’t owned it or done anything about it at this point in the book.

Dream casting for Shan

“Are you always so well put together, Molly? It makes me want to rumple you.”

Molly laughed. “I’m plenty rumpled on the weekends. Hard to do yardwork in my work clothes.”

Shan gave her one of those long, lingering looks. “I’ve never seen your hair down.”

Molly’s heartbeat had stuttered. She wanted Shan to see her hair down, now that she’d said something about it. Molly met and held Shan’s gaze. She reached back and pulled out a bobby pin, and dropped it on the side table next to her wine. The need was inexplicable and undeniable.

The bobby pin made a plink as it hit the wood.

Plink.

Plink.

Plink.

Ten plinks later, Molly let go of her bun and shook out her hair. Feminine pride flickered through her body when she saw the way Shan was looking at her.

“It’s just Mousy brown,” Molly had said, trying to find her way out of the sudden tension between them.

“Not from where I’m sitting. I see beautiful chestnut hair. Nothing mousy about it,” Shan said, taking a deep drink from her glass.

Molly had swallowed around the lump in her throat. When was the last time someone had complimented her looks?

Molly cursed her fair skin, knowing that she was turning as red as a tomato, all because Shangela had complimented her hair. She’d glanced down at the rug, then back at Shan’s eyes.

“I think your eyes are beautiful,” she’d said, all the bravery in her body in that one compliment.

Shan’s lips had curved into a playful smile. “We’re becoming quite the mutual admiration society, aren’t we, Molly?” Her tone was warm, and her eyes sparkled with amusement.

Molly, but sexier

Don’t forget that you can read Lab Rats free on Kindle Unlimited or purchase it for 2.99.

Reading habits

My children are eight and eleven—which in our house translates to “not really reading on her own” and “won’t stop reading on her own.” In fact, I was my eight year old’s age when I found the book series that was really responsible for turning me into a reader–The Babysitter’s Club.

I remember stumbling across one at a Waldenbooks (remember those?) in my local mall. It was like eight year old crack, and a new book came out every month to feed my addiction. It was perfect to make the shift from reader to READER.

One of my favorite places to read was sitting in a laundry basket. No, I have no idea why.

These days I’m much too big for laundry basket reading. So instead I read

  • In bed (mostly)
  • In the shower (waterproof phone)
  • Waiting for my kids to get out of X
  • Waiting in line

Using ebooks on my phone have given me the freedom to read everywhere.

My eleven year old doesn’t yet have ebooks, but she reads a lot of fanfic, so I mostly see her in her chair or on her bed, head bent over her phone (or in my car).

How about you? Where do you do most of your reading? What sparked your reading habits?

The Music of Lab Rats

I’m an obsessive music listener, and I’ve always found music to be helpful in processing or adjusting my mood. Or, in the case of my books, to be a way of connecting with the story deeper.

Here are ten songs out of the seventy-five that are on my Lab Rats playlist in no particular order.

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

Given that this is an enemies to lovers story, the lyrics really worked for me. “I knew you were trouble when you walked in/So shame on me now” because at the start both Diana and Ben know they shouldn’t lust for the other, but can’t help themselves. It is mostly a Ben thinking about Diana song.

Shoop by Salt-N-Pepa

This is very much a Diana thinking about Ben song. It’s a song about wanting to fuck. It objectifies men for the most part, so I think of Diana and not Ben.

This Love by Maroon 5

This is a Ben thinking of Diana song. I interpreted the lyrics a bit. “Her heart is breaking in front of me/And I don’t have a choice because I won’t say goodbye anymore” really resonated when thinking about how Ben reacts to learning Diana has seen her twin in captivity.

Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson

I put this in purely because of the title. But the lyrics “She looked me deep in the eyes/ She’s touchin’ me so to start/ She says there’s no turnin’ back/ She trapped me in her heart” work for the book

Teeth by Lady Gaga

Show me your teeth? C’mon, of course it’s there.

Irish by Goo Goo Dolls

This is quite literally my favorite romantic song. It opens with “I’d give up forever to touch you.” It’s on every romance playlist because I want my couples to feel that way.

One Woman Army by Porcelain Black

I picked this song because at one point, Diana thinks maybe she could be a one-woman army. (She can’t.)

Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

This is very much a Ben song. The idea of being terrified of real feelings, especially when it comes to romantic feelings is very Ben. He’s so scared that all of that is out of reach for him. “So I’m putting my defenses up/Because I don’t want to fall in love”

I’m in Love with a Monster by Little Mix

The title is why. No real explanation. I also love Little Mix.

The Kiss from Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack

So I saw Last of the Mohicans when I was a fairly impressionable youth–in 1992 I was thirteen going on fourteen, and I was very Not Woke (I’m doing better today, but I’m sure I fuck up constantly, and am working to do better) so I didn’t understand the problematic elements of the story. What I did know was that when Nathaniel meets Cora (I had to look up names) and they just start to kiss, and it grows more passionate against the beat and the fiddle of the music–mmm, just works for me, so it evokes that feeling when I’m writing and I hear it.