A multitude of lessons fell into my lap when I decided to challenge myself to try something new. But nothing says I can’t go back to the literary fiction where I began my journey twenty years ago. It’s never too late to realize the biggest limitation to my writing career had been sitting at my very own desk—me.
Thank you, Cloe Michael’s Reads for the reviews of all four of the books in the Behind the Love series.
As you get ready for the Fourth of July, it’s time to load up the Kindles with plenty of exciting and romantic beach reads. To help you achieve that very goal, you can download Behind the Altar, Book One, for free June 27 and 28. Behind the Bar, Book Two, will be on sale for $0.99 cents.
Behind the Altar, Book One I could not put this book down I am not big on religion but it worked in this book because of the lessons learned in it. I loved how Dean and Leah had a strong connectio…
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Since I started writing and editing fulltime in 2012, I’ve always had looming deadlines, either set by my clients, other authors or even by myself. While preparing to do a series of presentations on my great grandfather’s Civil War journal that I published several years ago, the most pressing deadline of the summer fell away when a group of us decided to disband a box set of paranormal romances. About the same time, I completed a large project for a client when his book was published successfully. The opening months of 2017 found me diligently working on the revisioning of the first three books in the Behind the Love series and writing the fourth book, Behind the Door. I finished all the revisions, editing, and promoting by the end of May.
I finished the presentations by mid-June. I came home with all work pressures lifted. And now I scan my desktop, book shelves, and notebooks filled with notes for partially started novels. While working with the Civil War book, I decided to re-do it and add additional material that I discovered while preparing and then meeting Civil War buffs in Michigan. I probably will do a whole new book after I finish the research.
But which of these projects shout out to me? Which one is the over-eager student in the classroom, bouncing up and down and raising her hand to be noticed?
The truth? None of them. I have glimmers of interest in one or the other, but the glimmer fades before I have time to turn on the lamp above my computer. I wrote some in my novel notebooks while traveling as ideas came to me, but nothing leaped off the page and grabbed me by the fingers and pressed my hands to the keyboard.
I’m not panicked, and it’s not writer’s block. I’ve been writing steadily since I returned home. This post marks my fourth blog piece in three days.
I’m not even marketing this summer. People don’t buy books during good weather and vacations with family and friends. I’ve wasted more marketing dollars in June, July, and August than I’m willing to admit. This year, I decided to gear up for the fall with the publication of the second book in Rivals in Love series. I released the first book, Love on Trial, in May but didn’t do any marketing for the book since I wanted to release it when the second book was nearly done in September. Two chapters and lots of notes are all I have for Love on Board.
My first paranormal romance awaits creation. I have copious notes and had begun reading paranormal romances exclusively. I’m reading a book on writing the paranormal novel. Several chapters are written. This was going to be my summer project so I could meet an early September deadline for a multi-author box set. When we canceled that project, my enthusiasm for the project deflated. I can’t say why because the research and elements of the plot were coming together for me. And I love the setting in North Florida. The working title is Suwannee River Dreams. Maybe if I go back to my notes and the opening chapters, I’ll be inspired once again.
Another novel rests in the back of my mind and in a journal notebook set aside specifically for this contemporary work of fiction. It’s a saga and will explore the lives of five people from college in the 1970s to the present day as they face empty nests, retirement, illness, and deaths. The working title is Four Women and a Man. All their lives are intertwined, but until one of them dies, they have no idea how much. Only two of them know everything, and one ends up dead, and the other is the man in the title. I’ve been taking notes on this one for a few years. I’ve developed character backgrounds and worked on how I might handle POV. It’s time to work on this one, but I find myself unable to sit down and devote the time necessary to develop what I believe will be a lengthy work covering four or five decades.
Perhaps I should start by writing a short story. I have made a commitment to other authors to write a time travel short for inclusion in a time travel anthology. This topic intrigues me. I’ve decided my heroine will travel back to the 1920s Chicago to the place where her grandmother found her first true love, but she had to leave him without explanation. A locket she inherits with her grandmother’s picture inside from that time sends her back to that place to help the man left behind find resolution.
I’m ready to explore other genres in my writing, and I believe I’ve come to the crossroads of where I want to venture next. It’s not a bad place to be, but it certainly is a departure from my usual modus operandi.
If you made it this far in my ramblings around the corners of this junction, thank you. I’m writing this post in hopes it might make things clearer for me and give me focus. Perhaps it has done just that because what I’ve accomplished in the first half of this year might indicate I need a vacation. A real vacation where I don’t feel the pressure to constantly push and push to write and sell books. If you’re an Indie Author, you know the challenges to continue to sell. When I’m away from my desk, my sales trickle down to almost nothing. It’s the nature of this path I’ve chosen, but I’m burned out with it all.
It’s time to give myself permission to stop, look around me, and feel the spark of creativity once again. If I don’t sell books, I don’t sell books. And I will survive, and those notebooks and partially written chapters will be waiting for me when it’s time.
Perhaps it’s that invisible muse telling me it’s all right to rest and recharge. If that is the case, I’ve been given a great gift. Time to sit on the porch and gaze at the mountains and hold hands with my husband who sometimes feels neglected when I push myself so hard.
What are your thoughts? Does any of this sound familiar to you? And how do you handle it? I would love to know.
Behind the Love contemporary romance series continues with the release of the newest story in the saga of Victory, Florida. Behind the Door stars Sally Jean, who played pivotal roles in the three preceding books in the series. Often misunderstood and always seeking love, Sally Jean needed to have her story told to show why she sought love, yet felt at the same time she didn’t deserve it.
When I first started writing romances in 2014, I thought it would give me a break and help recharge my writing batteries. With the completion of the first book in the Behind the Love series, I’d been revitalized, and even though, there is a formula or pattern that most romances follow, I could write the plot happenings with my own touch.
I discovered romance didn’t have to be light and fluffy. It could deal with real life issues while still bringing the hero and heroine together in the end. It happened without much thought. I’ve always said language is the most powerful tool we have, and if we can tell a story to convey an important message, all the better.
Behind the Altar, Book One brings out issues of child abuse–sexual and mental–and domestic violence. It also starts a thread about homelessness and the tragedy of our veterans coming home to face an unwelcoming society. Leah, the heroine of Behind the Altar, helps the homeless in her small town by running a soup kitchen. Throughout the series, Soup’s On becomes a focal point for each plot as it grows and expands.
Behind the Bar, Book Two shows how the past can inform our present, and not always in positive ways. Domestic violence takes a starring role in the love complications between Susie and Reggie. Before they can give their love a second chance, they must unravel the complications caused by hiding secrets from their youth.
Behind the Curtain, Book Three follows Susie’s sister as she always struggles with the fallout from having an alcoholic father who beat his wife. Lisa protected Susie until the father left, and then Lisa became the sister who needed protection. Also, Soup’s On and its residents from homeless veterans to migrant farmers hoping for a better life play an integral role in the plot.
Behind the Door, Book Four covers PTSD and its fallout, particularly with veterans returning home with no safety net. Also, Sally Jean’s childhood comes to the forefront. She was a neglected child as her parents were more interested in one another than they were Sally Jean. She was an intrusion to their love affair, which caused her to seek love in all the wrong places and from all the wrong people. She reveals she doesn’t deserve to be loved, and the plot takes her on a journey to find out she does.
All of the books give glimmers of hope even in the face of tragedy. Readers have often responded to the stories and related the situations to their own lives. Maybe that’s not what romance should do. But it’s what I do. One reader suggested I should provide help information for the issues in my books, so when I revamped the first three books this year, I added phone numbers and websites to help with each of the issues profiled within the plot.
A reader recently received an advanced review copy of Behind the Door. She thought I’d captured the tragedy of PTSD vividly. She knew because she’d been suffering from it for years.
Click on the titles below to download your copies of all four books in the series.
Hello – It’s an exciting day for me. The past few months have been spent re-vamping my contemporary romance series, Behind the Love. Each of the first three novels, Behind the Altar, Behind the Bar, and Behind the Curtain have new covers and new content. All three are now full-length novels. And while working on them, I was also writing the fourth book in the series, Behind the Door, which is set to release May 16. Make sure you scroll all the way down this post to enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card to celebrate the reveal of the new and improved Behind the Love series.
Whenever I tell the story of how my husband and I ended up together, people inevitably say, “You should write the story of that!”
I haven’t written in detail about our love story, but in all the romances and other fiction I’ve written since 2009, there are bits of us and our journey to where we are today. As an author, I freely admit that small pieces of my life and the people in it slip into my work. I have a sticker on my file cabinet, which should be tattooed on my forehead. “Be careful what you tell me or you might end up in my next novel.”
So for this Valentine’s Day, here’s the story of Robert and Patricia Zick, edited to protect those who didn’t ask to be a part of our reuniting.
To begin, we go to Michigan in 1972, when Robert was twenty-two, and I was beginning my senior year of high school. My brother Don and Robert were good friends so I began hanging around my brother’s apartment whenever I knew the handsome Robert would be there as well. Within a few months, we discovered we were falling in love. But Robert had an opportunity to move to Pittsburgh, and I needed to finish high school. He left, and we both remember a profound sadness at our parting. But there was no drama. Both of us knew there was no future for us. He married someone else in 1973, and I married my first husband and moved to Florida in 1980. We had children and lived our lives, but we never forgot one another.
Sadly, in 2008, my brother Don committed suicide. It devastated me. I had no one with whom to share my grief because the rest of my family had severed ties to Don years before. For months, I kept thinking about Robert and remembering the happy times we had spent with Don all those years ago. When I received an ad for Classmates.com for a free trial period in April 2009, I decided to try it. The first person I searched for? Yep, that’s right. The young guy I’d fallen in love with when I was seventeen. And surprisingly, there he was. He, too, had received the same ad and decided to give the site a try, which is amazing in and of itself. Robert is not that savvy on the computer, and he never joins anything. He still refuses to have anything to do with Facebook. Yet, for some reason, we both joined Classmates.com in the same month.
“Where are you these days, Bob?” my message to him read. Nothing more. I wanted to keep it simple because I wasn’t certain he’d even remember me after thirty-six years. Within twenty-four hours, I had a long response filling me in on his life. For days, we exchanged our stories and found we had many things in common.
One day in early May, he called. I knew his voice immediately. Within ten minutes, we were sharing our beliefs on spirituality, politics, and life in general. We clicked, and there was no hesitation in our sharing. During our second phone call, he ended it by saying, “I love you.” It shocked me. On the next call, the first thing I asked was why had he told me he loved me.
“I don’t know, except that it felt right, and I always regretted I never told you that all those years ago.” I turned to mush at the confession.
Daily calls for a month led to the decision that I would fly to Pittsburgh for a meeting. Nerves jangling and expectations high, I went, telling myself that if nothing else, I’d reconnect with a good friend. We would share stories about my brother, and I’d feel better about his death. And all of that happened. But there was one more thing. When we met in person, all the feelings from thirty-six years before were still there. The attraction, the connection, and the love surfaced, and we knew our lives were about to change forever.
By July, we were together, and I made arrangements to move to Pittsburgh. We married the following year. And now almost eight years later, our rekindled love still flames and burns brightly. It feels as if we’ve always been together.
We celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together in 2010, and seven years later, we celebrate once again. We celebrate finding one another, and we celebrate love. Has it always been smooth? Of course not. We were two people in their fifties fairly set in our own ways of doing things. But we adjusted–still adjust–because we know that there must be something that ties us together. I don’t have the answers as to why, but I know I’d rather travel with him than without him. Since he’s still hanging around, I assume he feels the same way.
Before I reconnected with Robert, I’d been a lonely divorcee in her fifties. I struggled with my loneliness. I tried online dating, and I hated it. I longed for love but felt at my age, it was over for me in that department.
For those of you who might feel the same, never give up. And the best way to draw love is to live a life of love. It will come back to you tenfold.
Happy Day of Love to you all and a couple of gifts.
Click here to download a free copy of Odyssey to Myself, a collection of essays about the decade between 2000-2010 and how travel helped me recover and stand again.
Click here to download a free copy of my first romance, Behind the Altar, and the first book in the Behind the Love series.
Click on the images below to check out the rest of the Behind the Love series.
The third and final book in my Behind the Love series released this morning. It’s almost bittersweet. I’m pleased to have written this series of stories about the women and men of Victory, Florida. They find love at first sight (Behind the Altar), through second chances (Behind the Bar), and in unexpected ways (Behind the Curtain).
About Behind the Curtain (contemporary new adult romance) – When Lisa Williams returns to her hometown of Victory, Florida, with a producer of reality TV shows, not everyone is happy to see her, particularly her sister, Susie. Lisa finds herself at odds with everyone in town, even her close friend Tommy who tries to understand and support her dreams of becoming a star.
When Tommy is assigned to cover the show’s filming as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, he finds himself at odds with Lisa who he’s beginning to think of as more than a friend.
Sally Jean returns to the Behind the Love series as Lisa’s best friend. But the show threatens to tear them apart as well when the producer wants to make Sally Jean the star rather than Lisa. As Lisa finds herself losing everyone in her life, Tommy struggles to remain her friend, hoping she’ll realize that her actor boyfriend Jet isn’t any good for her. If he can convince her of that, perhaps he’ll stand a chance at winning her fragile heart.
I loved writing this book. I say this about every book I write, but this time I loved it because I was so familiar with all the characters. I layered Lisa with much deeper feelings and aspirations. She’s been a peripheral character since the very first book. But in this novel, I could give her motivations and dig into personality.
Every since Sally Jean appeared in Behind the Altar, readers have been asking for her to star in her own book. I never thought she’d go beyond the paper cutout character I’d created. She’s the big-boobed blonde who’s troubled but kind. By the time I made her the best friend of Lisa in Behind the Curtain, I’d grown to love her and began writing some of her backstory. I gave her some depth, and one day, I feel ready to explore her role as the heroine of another romance series. I’ve set it up at the end of Behind the Curtain. It happened naturally and as it evolved, I realized she deserved her own story.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:
Lisa watched as Susie, her baby sister, exchanged vows with Reggie on the front porch of Susie’s house. Standing next to her smiling new husband, Susie glowed. Reggie patted his new wife’s protruding belly, and the crowd of friends roared with laughter.
Lisa smiled. At least one of them had managed to find love.
Sally Jean greeted Lisa when she stepped off the front steps to mingle with the folks gathered in the yard. Lisa had known most of the guests her entire life, and Sally Jean had been her best friend in high school.
“She’s a beautiful bride,” Sally Jean said. “I’m so happy for the two of them.”
“Not jealous?” Lisa asked. “I thought you had a thing for Reggie.”
“I liked Reggie, but Dean always had my heart. You know that.”
Lisa looked at her friend, remembering those days so long ago when Sally Jean dated Dean Davis and Lisa was set to marry Sam Rollings. Both those relationships ended on the night after graduation ten years earlier. She felt sorry for Sally Jean sometimes, but Lisa knew she was just as messed up when it came to relationships as her friend. What right did Lisa have to judge her?
“But you’re over Dean, right?” Lisa decided she’d better ask because Dean’s pregnant wife Leah wouldn’t be too happy if Sally Jean still harbored feelings for him. Leah was Susie’s best friend, and by extension, a friend of Lisa’s as well.
“Leah didn’t give me much choice. I like her, but I have to tell you if Dean asked me to be his girl again, I’d be hard pressed to say no.”
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that happening.” Lisa watched Sally Jean’s mouth turn down, and she immediately felt sorry she’d opened her mouth.
“You’re right.” Sally Jean smiled. “That ship sailed a long time ago. Let’s get some champagne and forget everything but having a great time tonight.”
“What are the two most beautiful women at this wedding doing over here in the corner without drinks in hand?” Tommy Jackson handed each of them a glass of champagne as if he’d heard Sally Jean’s suggestion.
“You better not let the bride hear you say that,” Lisa said. “Thanks for the champagne, though.”
“Of course, I meant after Susie. The bride is glowing today.”
“And growing.” Lisa giggled before taking a sip.
“Either of you need a ride into town for the reception?” Tommy asked. The reception was being held at the Victory Tavern, owned by the groom. “I’m happy to be the designated driver for the night. I fly to Miami in the morning for a story, so it’s a one beer night for me.”
Tommy worked for the Tampa Tribune as a feature reporter. His recent series on homelessness in Florida started right in their hometown of Victory with the homeless vets living on the banks of the Deer River on the outskirts of town.
“Thanks, Tommy,” Lisa said. “But you’re not going to stay late are you?”
“Susie said I could sleep on her couch. I’ll drive straight to the airport from here, so you can stay as late as you’d like—I’ll bring you home.”
“That sounds like the perfect offer,” Sally Jean said.
“I think you’ve got yourself two designated drunks then,” Lisa said. The two women high-fived and then both reached up and kissed Tommy one on each cheek, which made the redhead blush a deep crimson on his very white face.
Later, after the toasts and too many glasses of champagne, Lisa sat at the bar of the Victory Tavern. Tommy sat next to her, drinking a glass of water.
“Ever wish it was you standing up there getting hitched?” Tommy asked.
Lisa sighed and took a drink of her wine. “Sometimes, but I think I need someone to stand next to me for that to happen.”
“What about that guy back in New York? Plane or something?”
Lisa laughed. “Jet. His name is Jet. We’re on and off, mostly off now, but he asked me to go out for dinner with him when I get to New York, so who knows what will happen. What about you? Ever wish it was you?”
“Sometimes, but every single woman I like ends up liking someone who’s going to end up hurting them. I hear about it when they come crawling back to me crying and telling me they didn’t know what a great guy I really was.”
“Do you give them a second chance?”
“Never. It’s made me leery of relationships and women in general.”
Lisa picked up her glass and offered it to Tommy as a toast. “Here’s to crappy choices.”
Victory, Florida, Lisa’s hometown, reeked of mostly bad memories for her. She left the day after her high school graduation, leaving her sister Susie, only thirteen, to cope with their mother and her subsequent cancer and eventual death. Lisa only came home when absolutely necessary. Despite that, she and Susie remained close, drawn together by the bond of their childhood fraught with a drunken father who liked to use a punching bag when soused. Unfortunately, that punching bag was their mother.
Ten years ago, Lisa’s future looked bright despite the dark cloud hanging over their house. She and Sam Rollings were the darlings of Victory, both beautiful and popular. They were going to be married after college, except life intervened, and Lisa left town after the mysterious death of her father. Only when Susie started to ask questions a few months back did the whole truth come out. To Lisa’s horror, she realized she’d been the one to tell Sam she wished her father dead. She said it after he once again beat her mother. Sam, wanting to be the hero in Lisa’s life, made sure her wish came true when her father walked into the path of Sam’s car. Only when Susie tried to uncover the truth did both of them learn what happened that night. Susie and Lisa decided to keep Sam’s role in their father’s death quiet because they wanted to move forward, not relive the past. And if Lisa felt any guilt at all, it was only because she wasn’t sorry her father was dead.
“It’s difficult to be back in Victory,” Lisa told Tommy. “Everywhere I look there are ghosts.”
Lisa saw those ghosts as they wandered the streets and echoes of Sam reverberated off the walls of the Victory Tavern as their friends enjoyed celebrating Susie and Reggie’s wedding.
“It’s sad the fearsome four couldn’t be reunited for the wedding,” Tommy said. “But then again, maybe it’s better that Sam and Trevor are elsewhere.”
Reggie, Dean, Sam, and Trevor—the four football stars who brought fame to the small Florida town when they won the state football championship ten years earlier—made quite a name for Victory. Trevor Carson was awaiting trial on an illegal gambling operation, and no one knew where Sam Rollings was.
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Tommy said as Lisa stared sadly at her wine glass. “I probably shouldn’t have mentioned Sam’s name.”
“Just thinking about the night Trevor was arrested. And about Sam and all the rest. We had so much promise as we headed into our graduation from Victory High. The town held high expectations for all of us.”
“And most of you lived up to those expectations. Look at Dean—famous tat artist from Miami. Reggie is making a name for Victory all over the Tampa area now that he’s bringing in bands from around Florida. And you, Miss Lisa, are making a name for yourself as an actress in no less than New York City.”
“Some actress, advertising insurance for poor schumucks who can’t even afford a vacation. I would say I’m a resounding success as a failure.”
“Lisa, pick up your chin and stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Tommy downed his glass of water. “I need to get up pretty early. Do you want to leave now, or do you want to ride home with Leah and Dean?”
“Thanks a lot, pal. Really like the support. I don’t really want to ride home with you. Besides what happened to you not caring when you left tonight?”
“It’s getting late, and you’re getting drunk and depressed. You don’t want to ruin Susie’s big day, do you?”
Dean and his pregnant wife Leah walked up to them, and Dean pulled out a stool for Leah to sit.
“She can’t keep up with me these days,” Dean said. “Poor thing.” Dean rubbed Leah’s small belly and grinned at Lisa and Tommy. “You two look like you’re at a funeral instead of the wedding of two good friends and family.”
“Lisa needs a ride home,” Tommy said. “Got room for her?”
“Sure,” Leah said. “I’ll see these two get home safely, but I expect them to return the favor after the baby’s born.”
“What about Sally Jean?” Lisa asked. “You promised her a ride, too.”
“She wants to leave now, but this is your sister’s wedding, so stay. But I think you should attempt to put a smile on your face, if only for Susie’s sake. She deserves tonight without any drama. Maybe lay off the wine, too.”
“Yes, master.” Lisa jumped off her stool and bowed deeply to Tommy, who shook his head and walked away.
“What in the hell was that all about, Lisa?” Dean asked. “I thought you’d be ecstatic that your sister and Reggie finally got married after all these years.”
“I am. Just thinking too much about the past, that’s all. And Tommy said some mean things to me.”
“I’m going to get a beer,” Dean said. “Do you want something?”
“A glass of red wine, please. Tommy be damned.”
When he left, Leah looked at her best friend’s sister. “Want to talk about it?”
“Nothing much to say. Dean’s right though. I am happy for Susie. She deserves to be happy.”
“So do you. We all do.”
“When’s the baby due?” Lisa wanted desperately to change the subject. She knew when the depression started she’d slide down a slope with little hope of pulling herself out for a few days.
“I’ve got a little longer than Susie,” Leah said. “Early October—maybe we’ll have a pumpkin.”
“That’d be fun. Imagine the birthday parties you can have with jack-‘o-lanterns.”
“Susie will have to help me with that. I’m not much for decorating.”
Lisa looked over at her sister, standing next to Reggie. Susie glowed. Lisa picked up her glass and smiled to think of her baby sister as a mother. Lisa hoped she could live up to her role as aunt.
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I’m thrilled to announce the release of Behind the Bar, Book Two in the Behind the Love Trilogy. Behind the Bar picks up right where Behind the Altar ended–at the wedding of Dean and Leah. This time it’s Susie and Reggie who must struggle to find out if their love can endure through a separation and rivals trying to drive them further apart. Reggie’s gambling and Susie’s struggle with her past push them further apart. Join the crew at the Victory Tavern, including Sally Jean, Charlie, and of course, the cheerleaders and best friends of Reggie and Susie–Dean and Leah.
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