Friday, February 5, 2016

What do I miss?

                              

This week I had a conversation with one of my author buddies in which she told me that she never takes a lunch break. She works in downtown Atlanta not too far from where I used to work. Her reasoning is if she works through her lunch hour, she can get off sooner.

Our chat got me thinking about what I miss (and don't miss) about working. 
These are things I miss about being downtown every day...

  • Sitting in Olympic Park and enjoying the fountain music show while I ate my lunch and read a book...

 

  • Friday lunch on Broad Street when the restaurants and cafes closed off the street and set tables up outside...

                                              
  • People watching in CNN Center...

 

  • Stores (even though there aren't a lot of stores in that area) One of my faves was the magazine/book store in the Equitable building

 

  • One of my favorite memories was standing outside on line to buy one of those "blessed brownies" from Sister Callie at the Heavenly Father's, Jesus' and Our Bake Shop formerly on Marietta Street. That woman's baked goods were so awesome, customers didn't even mind being preached to while they were being served! 

 

I realized that everything I miss about working has nothing to do with work. I couldn't wait to get out of the office, because the interesting stuff wasn't inside. It was outside. 

There were a LOT of things I despised about working, but these two top the list:
  • Living in cubicle prison...



And the commute into town from the south side of the metro...


Even though there are many things I miss about working downtown, I'd still rather be self-employed...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sample Sunday


My last sample from I Want You Back was what happened in the bridal salon at Cherilyn and Derrick's wedding. Today's unedited sample follows Nick after he left...

* * * * * * *
She was right, not since they had first met would he consider what they did as dating. The first few times, he’d taken her out to dinner and a movie or they visited one of the popular clubs in Buckhead. What they had was a relationship, one that was more like a marriage than he cared to admit.

His phone rang, and his father’s cell number appeared on the digital dash display.  It was pointless to ignore it, because Victor Stafford Sr. was like a dog with a bone. He groaned and hit the button to answer.

“Hey, Daddy. Can I call you back? I’m driving right now.”

“Don’t BS me, boy. Your car has Bluetooth. I bought it, remember?”

Nick sighed. “Right. What’s up?”

“Where are you right now?”

“On I-20 on my way home.”

“Your mother and I want you to swing by here first.”

“Is it important? I have to get up early tomorrow.”

“What do you mean, is it important?” His voice rose. “We’ll be waiting for you.” The line went dead, and Nick beat his fist on the steering wheel. He’d expected this, but not so soon. The best way to handle it was to just get it over with, so he took the next exit for I-285 and headed for Cascade Road.

And so it begins. I’m being called on the carpet.

His mother and father were sitting in the family room when he arrived at the house and let himself in. “Have a seat, son,” his father said, looking perturbed. “I guess it’s pointless to ask if it’s true, since your mother has already received two phone calls from friends who were at the wedding.

“This is my business, Daddy. It’s between Cher and me. I may be your youngest, but I’m not a damn kid. Why are you calling me on the carpet like I’m sixteen?”

“Nicholas, don’t ever speak to your father like that!” his mother interrupted before his father had a chance to explode. “You and Cherilyn haven’t been together for almost a year. Why would you break up her wedding?”

“Because he doesn’t have a bit of sense,” the elder man sputtered.

“Victor, let him answer.” She turned back to Nick and waited for a response with a shadow of disappointment in her eyes.

“I didn’t break up the wedding. I just went to speak to her before the ceremony.”

“Couldn’t you have come up with a better way? Showing up at the wedding was so crass. We raised you better than that.”  

“Nobody saw me except Cher, her mother and one of the bridesmaids. I’m sorry I’ve embarrassed you, but I never stopped loving Cher. She wouldn’t respond to any effort I made to get in touch with her. I had to get her to see what a big mistake she was making. What else could I do, Mama?”

“You could’ve told me. Cherilyn and I had such a good relationship; I could have talked to her and told her how you were feeling. Why are you so convinced it would’ve been a mistake?”

“She called off the wedding, didn’t she? If she loved him, she would’ve gone through with the wedding as soon as I left.”

They responded with raised eyebrows. “But this doesn’t make sense. You told us that you two broke up because she felt you were getting too serious.”

Nick hung his head and mumbled, “I lied.”

“What?” His father’s voice rose again. “Why?”

“Because I knew you and Mama would think I was a fool for breaking up with her. Cher wanted to get married, and with doing my residency, studying for step three of the boards and…”

“The idea scared you.”

“Yes, ma’am. It scared me to death. I tried to explain that to Cher, but she wasn’t hearing it.”

She leaned in, folded her hands and pinned him with her gaze. “I think there was more to it, Nicholas.”

He chewed on his bottom lip. “There was. She felt that I’d started to take advantage of her.”

“Did you?”

“Mama, it didn’t feel like that to me. I loved being at her apartment and having her cook for me. I’d do my laundry there, because it was just more convenient, since she has her own washer and dryer. The ones in my building work when they feel like it and…” Her questioning gaze stopped him. “Yeah, I did.”

His father was strangely silent as he listened to the discourse between mother and son.

“Now that she’s broken her engagement for you, it’s time for you to step up, as you boys always say.”

Nick snickered. “She told me our relationship has new rules now, and I have to date her like I was supposed to.”

“Good for her. I realize you’re from a different generation, and you have different ideas about things, Nicholas, but we taught you to respect women.”

His father finally spoke. “Cherilyn is a great girl, and it’s clear that she loves you. If you love her, marry her, son. Don’t make her regret what she did to Derrick today.”

“Daddy, you know I don’t have the money for a wedding now.”

“Maybe she doesn’t want a big wedding. Maybe she just wants to be married to you. You need to find out.”

“Since when has one of my brothers gotten married without you giving them a reception that rivaled Barack’s inaugural ball?”

“Greg and Rhani did,” his mother answered.

“And it took you months to get over it.”

“I don’t deny that, but we gave them a fabulous party a few weeks later, and we’d do the same for you and Cherilyn. Isn’t that right, Victor?” She sent him a piercing glance.

“That’s right,” his father answered without hesitation. He knew he’d be in the doghouse for months if he denied Lillian Stafford an opportunity to plan a celebration.

“You’d do that after I’ve caused a scandal?”

She covered his hand with hers. “Don’t be silly. You’re our son, and after Marc married and divorced a Las Vegas showgirl, Charles got himself kidnapped and Greg got arrested for indecent exposure, nothing you boys do can embarrass me anymore.”

* * * * * *

COMING SOON TO KINDLE AND NOOK!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Writing love scenes…


This is Chicki. Chicki loves reading and writing romance. Chicki hates writing love scenes…


For the past three days, I’ve been working on the first love scene in I Want You Back, Book 5 in my Stafford Brothers series. Nick and Cherilyn have been apart for nearly a year. They have recently reunited and Cherilyn has issued an ultimatum – no sex until the honeymoon. Without giving any spoilers, I’ll just say that things are tense between them, so when I finally started writing this scene, it was really difficult. In fact, I think I'm writing this right now to avoid finishing it. To use a well-worn cliche, for me it's like...

                                                    
I find it hard to write love scenes that flow to begin with, and usually I have to run them by some of my sisterscribes to see if they sound too clinical, too raunchy, too boring, too rushed, etc, etc., etc.


In the past, I've done all the things that are supposed to help, i.e., using memories, lighting candles and playing sexy music, watching porn (one of the worst ideas ever), and I don't have time for that nonsense. The book is already late...

I think part of my problem is because I’ve read to many fabulous love scenes written by my favorite authors, that I go in feeling defeated (no pun intended). Not a good look for a writer.



Well, yesterday, I finished Cher’s part of the scene in her point of view and sent the chapter to my beta reader. Thankfully, she had no negative comments! The next chapter continues the love scene in Nick’s point of view. That’s what I’m doing today. And tomorrow. And…


What do you romance writers out there do when you write love scenes. Keep it clean, folks. LOL!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Goals and plans...

One of my goals for 2016 as far as my work goes includes blogging more. In the past I've always had this feeling that I needed to have something deep or profound to say, and if I didn't I wouldn't blog.


This year I want to share more about my daily author routine and plans for the future. That being said, right now I'm stuck in the "sagging middle" of I Want You Back. In fact, since most of my books run 90-100,000 words, at 48,000 words it's exactly the middle. If you're a consistent reader of this blog, you know that I go through this kind of aggravation with each book I write. This is what I feel like at the moment...


This is the point where I normally get in touch with my author buddies to do a little brainstorming, and they always help me out of the slump. I Want You Back is a romance with a twist, and I love Nick and Cherilyn. I just need to figure out what direction the story should take from here.


The last book in the Stafford Brothers series will be Jesse's story. He is the boldest and most politically active of the brothers, and his book will be a bit different, because he's already married. From what I know so far, he and his wife will find themselves in serious trouble due to his community activism. 

Another goal for this year was to host an author event, so I was excited when author Chelle Ramsey, who is also lives in the Atlanta area, contacted me and asked if I was interested in putting together an event that will feature a couple of dozen local authors. We want it to be a relaxed event where readers can meet and chat with authors as well as purchase their books. Chelle and I are working on finding a location and choosing a date, and then we'll be announcing it everywhere!

(Okay, it won't be this big, but you get the idea.) 

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Release Spotlight


Today I am so happy to have my friend, Chelle Ramsey here to tell us about the new release in her BEJEWELED series.  Chelle and I were members of the same local writers group and have remained friends ever since.


She is an original Georgia Peach, Chelle Ramsey is a fiction author, writing stories to encourage, empower, entertain and strengthen readers. Many of her stories are based in her birthplace of Atlanta or her husband’s hometown of Cincinnati, where readers can relate to local hot spots and events. She wants her readers (women and men) to become empowered to rise above adversity, with faith in God, and belief in themselves.

Chelle holds an MBA in Human Resource Management, which she puts to use in her property management role by day, while she writes her fiction novels by night. Her most important roles are those of a wife and mother of three. During her “me time,” she loves listening to music, and becomes enraptured with the enthralling stories of Terry McMillan, and Nora Roberts. She especially relishes trying to solve the engaging mysteries of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, while eating a bowl of her favorite butter pecan ice cream. Chelle resides in a rural community of Atlanta, GA and enjoys writing, family time, and watching NBA games with her husband.


A short blurb on BEJEWELED: A BEAUTIFUL BLEND

Olivia believes she can have it all.  A successful business and a loving husband. But his ex-wife is not ready to walk away, and continues to threaten any chance he and Olivia might have at happiness. When Olivia discovers she’s being stalked, secrets her mother took to the grave come creeping out.
The baby Nikki and Carlos have been planning is finally on the way. One problem…the paternity is at question, and Carlos is in the dark. To protect her secrets, Nikki’s ready to sever ties to both men that hold the key to her heart. But one half of her heart won’t let go, and the other half is willing to fight until the end. The birth of her child may lead to the death of her marriage.
One test has the power to determine the truth. One test will change their lives forever.
Deception will bring separation, and destiny will mend two broken hearts. And in the end, everyone must work together to create a beautiful blend.

Here's an excerpt:
Nikki woke with a throbbing pain in her head and neck. Looking around she noticed she was hooked up to an IV and oxygen. Her eyes grew wide as she noticed the monitors beeping overhead. Where was she? Then it all came back. She had told Carlos the truth and he didn’t handle it too well.
She recalled pulling on him, and him pulling away. She remembered falling backwards. Nothing more. She looked around and didn’t see anyone at first. Trying to sit up, she felt a pain so intense in her head that she had to lie back down.
“Nikki, don’t try sitting up, Chula,” her mother affectionately called out. She smiled as she always did when her mother called her ‘pretty girl.’ “Here, let me help you,” her mother stated, pushing a button to lift Nikki’s bed up.
“Mami, the bebé?” she inquired. She noticed her stomach was still large, but she didn’t feel any kicking or anything and worried she may have caused damage to her unborn fetus.
“El bebé is just fine, Chula. Un momento. The doctors will be here,” she said, patting her hand.
“Yamile?” she asked about her sister. She wanted to talk to her in private to find out what had happened with Carlos. She didn’t dare bring his name up to her mother, because she never had anything positive to say about her husband.
“She—” her mother began, just as Yamile walked into the room with a tired, but encouraging smile on her face.
“Nikki!” she called out. “I’m so glad you came around, your hard headed butt had me worried. Mami, can you please go ahead and get your coffee, and get me some juice and some chips while you’re at it?” Yamile said, handing her mother a ten dollar bill.
“But—”
“Pullleeezz, Mami,” Yamile begged. “Don’t worry about Nikki. I’ll stay here with her until you get back. I promise nothing will happen to her. I’m here,” Yamile bragged, flexing her arms to show off her muscles.
“Alright. I’ll be right back!” her mother scolded in her heavily accented voice.
Yamile hesitated a moment, placed her finger to her lip to stall any questions Nikki might have, and then ran to the hospital room door. She peeked out before closing it back again.
“Look, we got a few minutes before old nosey comes back,” Yamile said, lovingly referring to her mother. “I just got off the phone with Wesley and he said he’d be here within 20 minutes.”
“What? Why’d you call him, Milli?” Nikki choked out. Her head was still throbbing and she couldn’t allow herself to get too upset.
“Look, the nurses will be back in a minute, too. He’s on the way here and ain’t nothing we can do to stop that now. He knows what’s going on,” Yamile explained.
“I don’t even know what’s going on,” Nikki whimpered. “Where’s Carlos? My husband should be here.”
“Carlos is in jail,” Yamile muttered.
“For what?” Nikki shouted.
“Because he jumped on you again. He’s where he deserves to be. He’s the reason you’re here!” Yamile hissed.
“No, he’s not!” Nikki bawled.
“What are you talking about, Nikki? Your neighbors called the cops because they said they could hear him up there jumping on you again. They saw you when he brought you over to the house and the next thing they knew things were being broken. They could hear you crying and him ranting and they called the cops. A few of them wanted to come in and jump on him for jumping on a pregnant woman. Just when the cops came knocking at the door, they could hear a loud commotion inside and they broke the door down. When they got in, they found you on the floor passed out and Carlos standing over you. They told Mama the apartment had been ransacked. You can’t keep taking up for him, Nikki. You need to get help and so does he. I don’t give a damn what he does at the end of the day, but I will not be attending your funeral before God calls you home and I damn sure won’t sit back and watch him abuse this innocent bebé!” Yamile wept.
“You’ve got it all wrong,” Nikki blubbered, grabbing a tissue on the stand next to her to wipe her nose. “It didn’t happen that way.”

You can puchase the book (and the others in the series) here:
(HOBJII) https://www.createspace.com/5546573and (HOBJ111)

And if you'd like to contact Chelle, you can find her at any of these links:






Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Gratitude


If you visit this blog regularly, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t always post on a regular schedule. I’m always so busy trying to finish my current book, post on social media, complete online interviews and other tasks that I often forget about my lonely little blog. It’s hard for me to come up with topics I think will interest readers. After all, I’m a fiction writer. One of the things I’ve tried to do in 2015 was to feature other author who had new releases, and I will continue to do so in 2016. 

Today, as we close out the year, I want to share the great news I woke up to this morning… DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH, Book Three in the Stafford Brothers series, was chosen by one of the USAToday columnists as a “must-read romance of 2015!” I am in the illustrious company of some of my favorite authors, including Dame Beverly Jenkins, and to say I’m humbled and grateful is an understatement. You can read it here: http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2015/12/31/must-read-romances-2015-michelle-monkou/

First and foremost, I have to thank all of my readers. Without your support, I couldn’t call myself an author. The thought that you put out your hard-earned money for my books still amazes me. You are incredible! Also, I want to thank the Facebook groups/bookclubs, and friends, my Twitter tweeps, my Google+ family and every book blogger who has featured or promoted my work. 

To my author buddies, you ladies (and a few gentlemen), keep me going when I’ve been discouraged. You also make me laugh and remind me of what’s important in this author life. 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and an upcoming year full of great things for all of us! 



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Getting ready for Christmas...

Getting ready for Christmas like...

Posted by Superfruit on Thursday, December 3, 2015