Yes, yes, I know…

Yes, I fully admit it, I’ve been silent for way too long. This time of year is always a slam at work, and other things happen in — ahem — “real life” that take precedence. That’s not to say I have no creative projects (I always have a story or ten bouncing around in my brain). One of these days, when I manage to sit down with the right cup of tea and a few stimulating hours, I’ll get back to work.

In the meantime, I offer the following tidbits:

maor arcanaAs ever, my Tarot-card-inspired journey is published and available to read for free, anytime! Check it out on Inkitt or Wattpad.

Also, just to prove to you that I’m still writing (kind of), here is a little — and shockingly safe-for-work, which is unusual for me — excerpt of my current work in progress. It’s a historical fiction set in colonial New Orleans, featuring a young girl who is being groomed (Gigi-esque) for life as the consort of a rich man who can promise her, and her children, the security her mother and grandmother worked so hard to attain…

1712, Nouvelle Orleans

Marie Celeste winced as her mother pulled the comb through her thick, tangled hair. She sat, wearing only a shift, in the warm, humid night. The night of her presentation into society. Perhaps, the night of her awakening to womanhood.

“Don’t ever forget, ma princesse, that this is the most important evening of all. You must ensnare the right kind of man—the kind who can keep you.”

“I know, maman.” Marie Celeste attempted not to sigh. She had this lecture by heart.

“Your grandmother, she knew. A proud woman, she, straight from the shores of Africa. A Senegal woman. She may have been a slave, oui, but she didn’t stay that way. Mère Celeste knew how to walk, how to snap her eyes and catch a white man’s attention. Why do you think I named you after her? Your grandmother was born free, and she died free. So will I. And so will you.”

She twisted Marie Celeste’s hair, hard, making her yelp.

“Ouch! Maman!”

“Quiet, baby. I’m almost done.” With several more quick tugs and the strategic placement of pins, she managed to corral Marie Celeste’s unruly curls into a stylish knot. “Beautiful.”

Marie Celeste picked up their old hand mirror—another relic of grandmère’s—and peered at her reflection. The hairstyle was flattering, with a fluff of curls framing her face, tightening to a braided coil at the back. Certainly, she’d never looked better. How she felt was another matter.

As if sensing her daughter’s disquiet, Yvette quietly took the mirror away. She grasped Marie Celeste’s hands in her older, darker ones. Her eyes were dark and intense as she spoke.

“I know you have heard this story so many times, princesse, but listen. Just once more.” Yvette drew a heavy breath. Her hands tightened on her daughter’s. “Freedom cannot be given, bought, or sold. Freedom must be taken. And tonight, you will take it.”

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Pay Attention!

When certain authors come up with a new release, I pay attention. We all have those authors in our lives, the ones whose work we connect with, who impress us every time. And when someone like that writes something new, I just know I have to read it!

We’re in luck, because one of the most unique and original erotica authors I know — Mr. T.S. Tarot — has his latest work on pre-order. In case you don’t know who this is, may I suggest that you take a look at his collection of published work. His stories are unlike any erotica I’ve ever read before. M.S. Tarot is a storyteller extraordinaire. I wish I knew how he does it, because everything I’ve ever read of his takes twists and turns I’d never have seen coming. He’s not afraid of the dark and gritty stuff, but there’s a deeper emotional side to his work as well. All of this is shallow description; what you need to do is just buy his new release and check it out! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Blackberry pickin’

When I got home from vacation, it was only to dive right back into work — hence the lack of writing or any kind of online presence. But, I am back! We came home into the height of a hot, dry Seattle summer. Heat is not really my jam… I can’t wait for the rain. But there is one thing about Seattle in late summer — besides its beauty, backyard BBQ’s, forest hikes and sunsets — that is unlike anything else I’ve found anywhere: wild blackberries.

They’re actually an invasive variety, but few people care because they are so delicious. And this summer, for whatever reason, it was the perfect year for blackberries. Truly, there is nothing more delicious that a fat, fresh, ripe blackberry, just off the vine, still warm from the sun… so good. It’s more than that, though. Part of the pleasure is the hunt itself.

Now bear with me, please; I’m crafting a metaphor. It came to me while I was up to my elbows in brambles, reaching for that elusive berry (the perfect ones are always just out of reach, aren’t they?) The most rewarding thing about picking wild blackberries is that you have to fight for them. You have to dare the thorns. You have to look under low-hanging leaves, and find the secret treasures hidden deep. These are not cute, domestic farmed berries. They’re tough, thorny, unkillable thickets whose only goal is survival. (And outgrowing the poor native species.) These berries don’t care about you — their delicious fruits are a prize you have to earn.

Which makes them taste all the sweeter.

Isn’t that the way with a great romance novel? We love reading about lovers who struggle. We want a happy ending, of course — just the way I salivate over a fresh blackberry tart — but we don’t want to just give it to them! Passion comes from the fight; that’s the part we truly love. Conflict and thorns.

As I ease back into my writing routine, I plan to remember that blackberry picking afternoon. How good it felt to reach perilously deep, to snatch that sweet prize and pop it, triumphantly, into my mouth. The burst of warm juice; the earthy grittiness of a wild berry. If I can make my romances feel like that, then we’re all in for a tasty time.