• Join 702 other followers

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Most Recent Posts

  • What I’m writing about

  • Archives

Cover Reveal: Lab Rats

Lab Rats is coming February 11, 2020! Pre-order here.

Everything changes the moment heartthrob Justin Carson shifts from human to Were Wolf on live television and is subsequently captured.

Dr. Benjamin Wells is tapped by the government to create a test from Justin’s blood intended to identify anyone who might be a Were. Dr. Diana Lutz is the Were Wolf sent by the Were leaders to stop him, and to find and hopefully free Justin, her twin. The only thing stronger than Diana and Ben’s mutual dislike of each other is their sudden attraction. Soon that attraction explodes, and in the same moment Ben learns the truth about his heritage—he’s part Wolf, and Diana is his mate.

As they race to be the first to discover the blood test and prevent the other organizations from endangering all Weres, Ben must decide whose side he’s on. Will he betray his people? How far is Diana willing to go to save her brother, and what is she willing to sacrifice?

CW—violence is committed against the captive Wolf by the soldiers holding him captive

Cover by Spotondesigners on Fiverr

Anorexia, or where I've been

Guys, I have to be honest with you that 2019 kicked my ass from start to finish. I had significant depressive episodes, and I was battling and losing to anorexia. It’s been a lot of therapy, and my medication is still being adjusted. There was also a lot of energy absorbed by the usual–chronic pain, parenting, etc.

I stopped posting here because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t maintain the facade that everything was okay when my life was the farthest thing from okay. Not the lowest point of my life, but it’s among them.

I’ve decided to share my story in hopes that it might help someone else. I was not educated about how fat people can still be anorexic—in fact, I joked that I could be “anorexic” until I was actually anorexic. I thought of anorexia as something that happens to teenagers, not mothers in their forties.

I have a long history with hating my body, and I have been restricting since I was young, although never like this. Primarily my restricting has been the other component of my eating disorder–what’s called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID.

The restricting that turned into full blown anorexia started by accident in the summer of 2018—what a therapist called momorexia, because I was eating small bites on the go, stopping at the first hint of fullness because I was super busy. I lost weight, and since I was losing at a “safe” pace of 8-ish pounds a month, or 2-ish a week, I shrugged off my initial concerns that maybe the weight loss wasn’t such a good thing, or, more to the point, that it wasn’t happening safely. I kept restricting further and further, taking every less bite of food as a moral victory. After all, I’ve been in a body that has weighed 200+ pounds for the past twenty years, and every doctor I’ve talked to from my back surgeon to my pcps have urged me to lose weight. I’ve done dieting. I’ve done exercising until I hurt myself. But I never was able to move the needle much at all (because, as science tells us, our bodies tend to have a set point weight, and it’s really hard to move that needle when it’s possible at all) until restricting.

When I told my doctor that maybe I wasn’t being safe in late November (by which point I was eating less than I ever had, and my weight has never been about overeating). She told me to eat at least 1200 calories a day and it would be fine. AT LEAST. My fucked up brain said if 1200 is good, under 1200 is better. After all, it’s not like I’m losing weight too fast.

Then I began counting calories explicitly. Weighing food. Measuring food. Then my weight plateaued in February 2019. Then came the spreadsheet, and the game I played with myself, which was effectively “how few calories can Delilah eat without having dizzy spells?” In April I blew up at my therapist over eating—the first time she’d seen me fully lose my composure in nearly four years of weekly or bi-weekly therapy. I ended up confessing everything. She talked to a colleague who specializes in eating disorders. The colleague strongly urged me to seek evaluation and treatment. I made an appointment with Stanford’s eating disorder clinic for evaluation, but I also made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I knew how many pounds I was away from “overweight” as opposed to “obese.” I was constantly getting positive feedback.

I shopped in straight sizes for the first time ever as an adult. Clothes became a way I compensated myself for all the awful shit I was putting myself through. But I was a pretty absent mom because I was so exhausted all the time because I wasn’t eating.

Then came the first week of June. I ended up in the ER for pain we thought was a kidney infection, but was actually a cyst on an ovary. But as they ran tests, they found that my potassium was extremely low–even dangerously so. I was given a mega dose, and told to follow up with my doctor. Then came the multi-day nausea (which I now suspect was a series of worsening panic attacks as there is a clear pattern between nausea and anxiety attacks for me) and dry heaving, during which I ate virtually nothing and threw up what I did eat and drink.

I got evaluated by the eating disorder team, and it didn’t go well.

But the real bottom of the barrel, and the reason I ended up getting help was that I collapsed at my older daughter’s fifth grade graduation. I felt like shit—I could barely pay attention because it felt like there was something on my chest and that I was struggling to breathe normally. I survived through it, although I remember nothing beyond what I was physically experiencing, which took over everything. When the room started telescoping, I told my husband that I needed to leave and go to the hospital. He agreed, and I went to the car while he went find our daughter and tell her what was happening and why we were leaving. At the car I started feeling really faint, and staggered to the front office where I asked them to call 911. I got taken away, dehydrated, mid massive panic attack (the source of the chest pains, most likely, based on tests), and on the verge of fainting in an ambulance. Instead of celebrating graduation with my daughter.

For what it’s worth, my daughter is so understanding of all of it–which almost makes it worse. She’s forgiven me. I have yet to forgive myself.

Inpatient treatment was recommended, but I was able to find what’s called a partial hospitalization program near me. Partial hospitalization was a six and a half hour a day commitment, but I could live at home. I’d go there, eat lunch (supervised), do two hours of therapy, eat a snack (supervised), two hours of therapy, dinner (supervised), then home. I was at that level of treatment for pretty much the entire summer, initially six days a week, although I moved to five pretty quickly.

I have mixed feelings about my treatment program, but I can’t deny that they saved me from a far worse fate–despite being 180 pounds, despite losing at a safe rate—I was courting heart damage and death with my actions. I developed and still have a problem with being orthostatic (blood pressure changes dramatically when moving from laying to standing, which can cause fainting among other things) because of it.

I went several months without treatment and began to backslide.

In late 2019 I was able to connect with an eating disorder specialist and dietician, and I am currently working with them to pursue recovery.

Were there any bright points? Lab Rats was 90% edited during 2019. I started leading my younger daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I had a short story in an anthology. I wrote the forward for an anthology put out by Jayhenge (again, I’ll highlight that in another post). But that’s about it.

So how to move forward when I’m not quite out of the woods yet either eating disorder or mental health meds-wise? Well, I started 2020 by putting Lab Rats up for pre-order (I’ll do a promotional post with an excerpt another day), so that feels significant.

Writing feels foreign to me as I’m really out of practice. I didn’t write much of anything new for 2019–editing Lab Rats was all I could manage. But I’m starting again, and even if it feels hard and stilted and sucky at least it’s happening.

Playlist for Lab Rats

For me, music is essential to the creation of my story. Once I have an idea of who my characters are and the tentpoles of a new story, I’ll create a playlist for the book. Over the course of the writing, the list gets pared down to songs that are meaningful to me.

Here’s a list of five random songs from the Lab Rats playlist. I’ll try to give a spoiler free reason for them.

1-Lonely by Demi Lovato–There are many points where this song fits either of my leads. Ben grew up in an emotionally stunted borderline abusive family, and he keeps everyone at arm’s length and avoids personal connections. Diana is in the doghouse because her twin is the one who exposed the community, and as a result, she has to den by herself when she’s never lived apart from a pack.

2-It was Always You by Maroon Five–They’re fated mates. That’s pretty much it.

3-S&M by Rihanna–They don’t like each other very much and there’s definitely some semi-hate fucking as they first come together. While there’s not actually any BDSM, the song still spoke to me.

4-The Kiss from the soundtrack to The Last of the Mohicans movies–I was relatively young when I saw this movie, and the scene this music is from hit me hard. Since then, when I have an hungry, urgent kiss in a book, this song usually ends up in that list.

5-I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett–again, they don’t like each other, but are attracted to each other from the very first day.

Is writing for fun, profit, or other?

Welcome to week 1 of 52 prompts from Marketing for Romance Writers.

This week’s question is Writing–Doing it for fun, profit, or other?

I’ve been telling stories as long as I can remember, so I’ve never been motivated by money. The problem with the word “fun” implies frivolity, and writing isn’t a frivolous act for me. I suppose that means I fall into the “other” category. Or at least I used to.

Turning professional has really exposed how much of writing is marketing, and how hard it can be to find an audience and to profit from your writing. Unless you’re Nora Roberts or Beverly Jenkins you can’t expect the money to come pouring in. So, sure, you can say you’re writing for the money, but I don’t know how long you’ll last if that is your motivating factor.

Is writing fun? Yes, although I hate editing. But when I get sucked into the worlds I’m creating and am in the story with my characters, I’m having a ton of fun (well, except when they make me cry, but even that is fun in its own way). I would argue that I wrote primarily for fun when I used to write drafts of stories, not really bother with editing, and then threw them up on websites like literotica. The comments stroked my ego, as did the numbers that told me how many people had read it.

The thing is that while writing is fun, there’s so much more involved with professionally doing it. You hold yourself to a much higher standard, you have beta readers, you go through drafts (don’t even get me started on how many drafts fucking Plunder has been through), and then you either submit to a company (who will expect you to market your own books) or you self-publish (which carries a lot of issues like formatting, making a cover, etc). It is time consuming and often draining. Marketing is where I struggle and, if anything, makes writing less fun for me.

So why bother? If editing is a hassle and marketing can be soul-sucking why do it for anything other than fun? I want to share my stories with the world, and I hope that I will eventually find my audience. I’m still a newborn when it comes to everything that isn’t writing.

I also don’t know how not to write. The stories grow inside me until I have no choice but to write them down. For me, writing is like reading–a compulsion, something as vital as breathing for me. I don’t know how not to do it. While I have taken breaks in writing, I’m still telling stories–to myself, to my kids, to the cats, whatever.

Why do you write?

Nano progress and a snippet

With only eight days left, most of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is behind me. I’ve “won” in that I’ve written more than 50,000 words this month–an unprecedented level of success and productivity. I guess this is what I can do with basically no distractions like television (I genuinely forgot Outlander was back, and I’m a huge fan), keeping my book playlists on repeat so that the characters are constantly in my head, and dragging my laptop literally everywhere. It’s also what I can do when I dance on the edge and sometimes slightly into the manic side of my bipolar disorder, which is kind of exhausting, honestly.

I think it’s healthy to have a daily writing goal and it’s helping me quite a bit right now. But I’m also going to have to go into an editing phase and I’ll need to figure out how I can write and edit at the same time. Historically I’ve only focused on one and that means huge lags between my projects. It’s been two years since Capturing the Moment was published (three since it was accepted for publication) and while there have been huge changes in that time, like an international move, I have not always used my time well. I have some ideas for New Years Resolutions, but we shall see how things progress from here.

Thus far in Nano I have completed the book about love and espionage at a video game company  (which is either a long novella or a short novel), and am about 90% done with the second big project of November which is a long novella about what comes after the Were community is exposed on national television, and what will be the first in my first series of stories.

In the meantime, he’s the opening from that Shapeshifter book, which I’m currently calling Lab Rats

Everything went to hell in less time than it took to conduct a five minute interview on Wake Up LA!

Liz Green, the perky blonde co-host batted her eyelashes at Justin Carson. He was a deliciously hot up and coming actor. She wondered if he had a girlfriend, and if he might be amenable to a little extracurricular activity in her dressing room. She leaned forward, just enough to give Justin a glimpse down the front of her top.

“So what do you think of the new trend? Zombies are in, werewolves and vampires are out.”

“Zombies suck,” Justin said flatly.  “Werewolves are where it’s at.  You think dead humans are scary when they want to suck you blood or eat your face?  That’s not scary. You know what’s scary, Liz?  When you can’t tell the monsters from the humans. How can you?  Anyone here could be a werewolf. I could a werewolf.”

Liz, laughed nervously. “I had no idea you were so passionate about scary movies!”

She had never lost control of an interview before, and Justin wasn’t about to faze her. He was probably teasing a new project. She could picture him in a horror flick, and even more clearly, she could picture herself clinging to his arm, pressing her face against his broad shoulder, his arm coming around her to hold her close. Later that night, he’d tease her for being so scared of make believe creatures, and then he’d rock her world six ways from Sunday.

“But you know what, Liz?  No one thinks they’re real, so humans get cast to play werewolves.”

Liz laughed and played along. “Sounds like you’ve got a very meta project coming up. Actors playing werewolves who are actually werewolves. Give us another hint.”

Justin growled. Actually growled.

Nervously, Liz looked at her notecards. “So how did you connect with the character of Grant for After Dark?”

Justin stared at her, unblinking.

Liz glanced at the camera. The interview was D.O.A. and she still had three minutes to fill. Her foot jiggled, the heel bouncing against the floor. The idea of hot sex in her dressing room was starting to fade in the harsh light of a bad interview. She knew she’d be blamed for it—bad delivery of questions, not enough effort at chemistry, making him upset. She took a deep breath, then flashed a dazzling smile at Justin.

“I heard the producers are hoping to start a whole After Dark franchise.”

Maybe that would get this interview back on track. Most actors couldn’t wait to talk about how their franchise was going to be the biggest thing since the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of movies. Please let this get him out of whatever snit he was in. Please, please, please.

“Weres are scared of being outed, and this is the consequence.  Screw that.”

Justin’s hands clenched the armrests of his chair, and his knuckles turned white from the pressure. His nails scraped over the buttery leather, leaving marks in their wake.

“Um…” God help her, she was going to have to dump to commercial. Liz sat back, and squirmed, no longer thinking of sweaty trysts on the soft blue coverlet of the daybed she’d picked over having a couch in her dressing room. At this point, she’d be grateful just to climb into the daybed and pull that coverlet over her head until she could face the world again after this horrific goose egg of an interview.

Justin stood up. He kicked off his shoes, but his paws ripped through the socks. His jeans shredded as his legs contorted, becoming shorter and thicker. His face elongated, and suddenly long canines snapped at his shirt until it, too, ripped and fell away from his body. Within a minute, a large wolf had replaced the handsome man.

Liz screamed, and fell off her chair, out of view of the camera. She skittered backwards, away from the monster she’d actually fantasized about fucking. She could feel a wetness spreading under her as she peed herself in fear. She scrambled to her feet, kicked off her heels and ran as fast as she could toward the safety of her dressing room, which had a solid lock. She’d be safe there, or so she hoped.

As Liz was escaping, the audience had fallen into chaos. People were shoving each other, willing to trample the less vulnerable in an effort to get away as fast as possible. Screams mingled with sobbing as the reality that this wasn’t some strange special effect—this was a real honest-to-God werewolf. And if you believed him, he wasn’t the only one. They fled as if he were on their heels, about to take a big bite out of them.

A woman wearing a smart blue pantsuit with tasteful gold jewelry dashed into the frame.

“Justin, we need to go. Now!”

The large wolf snarled at her.

“I said now,” she snarled back.

The wolf turned its head to the camera, tilted its head back, and howled.

The video cut out.

Romance Writer’s Blog Challenge–If I weren’t writing

Today’s question is what would I do if I couldn’t write. The answer is simple–I’d be a teacher. In fact, I used to be a teacher until Athena was born almost ten years ago.

I used to teach middle school Math and History, and I was damned good at it. I had only intended to take a year long break from teaching when I had her, but she had serious health issues and needed me. So I stayed home. Then we moved to Singapore. So I stayed home. Then we had my younger daughter who is nicknamed Bunny (because she was born in the year of the rabbit and her class was always the bunnies). Then I started writing professionally. I did some freelancing.

I’ve thought about going back. I’m getting my paperwork together to transfer my teaching license to California, but it’s more of a “break glass in case of emergency,” sort of thing. Besides writing and doing the mom thing, I also have fibromyalgia, which is an illness with chronic pain. It’s questionable if I *could* go back as several medications I take make it hard for me to wake up from. I have trouble getting out of bed before 11 most days. I’ve started doing my girls’ hair at night in tight braids that will survive the night and the next day of school because it’s questionable if I can be waken up enough in the morning to do their hair.

So I guess the real answer is that if I couldn’t write, I’d watch a lot of tv and read, I likely wouldn’t be able to go back to teaching.

Sorry, I didn’t realize how depressing this entry would be.

Romance Writer’s Blog Challenge–How much of you is in your writing?

***First a little business. After this post I’m on vacation until 10/17, after which I’ll tell you all about my adventures in New Orleans, and maybe share a tidbit of a story I started that is set in New Orleans, but have mostly abandoned at this point***

Today’s question is how much of myself is in my writing.

This is a tough one. I think something personal has inspired all of my stories and that there’s a little of me in every heroine.

When I wrote Renewal, I was reconnecting with my own spouse after giving birth to my second child. It was an intensely personal story. While my marriage’s response to kid #2 was different from that of my characters, at heart there was a deep connection.

Capturing the Moment lifts huge chunks of my trip to Cambodia. Every picture Meg takes is a picture I took. Every place she goes, I went. The encounter with the baby monkey? I stole it from myself.

In my new book, my heroine is a giant nerd, just like me. So is Blitzen, for all that he’s male, he is a giant nerd, too.

If I don’t relate to the characters, I can’t write them well. So every character has a little piece of me–a snarky sense of humor, they like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they’re independent, they think banter is foreplay. But obviously each character has their own personalities. I didn’t know that there would be a surprise wedding in a story. In another Persephone is far more timid and in her head than I originally conceived.

Ultimately I try to let the character have their own voice. If they don’t then every character will be just like every other one I’ve written.