Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's my prerogative...

                                       

Before we left to hit the road for North Carolina last Sunday, I filled a bag with CDs. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's having to listen to awful music while driving through the boondocks. One of them was The Temptations' Greatest Hits.

When I heard this song, I realized the words are perfect for my work-in-progress, which I'd previously titled, It's Cheaper to Keep Her. The lyrics to the old Johnny Taylor song are great, but the more I thought about it, that title seems a bit cynical. Money does figure into Vic and Ramona's relationship, but Vic never feels like staying with her is a way of settling. so he doesn't have to divide up his assets.I want this story to have a positive  message, and I believe the words of the song express the story better: 



Soooo... the new title is I'm Losing You





Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Seven Secrets of Writing


    I was tagged by Author Mel Bynum to share 7 secrets of writing. Right now, I am working on book #11, and with each one I learn something new. Here are my seven:

    1. Learn everything you can about the publishing industry BEFORE you put your book out there. There's a lot to know......

    2. Find your best writing time and place. Make the most of those two, because they are when and where you are most productive.

    3. If you want to be published, look at your writing as a JOB, not just a hobby.

    4. Understand that there are some do's and don'ts to writing, but some of them can be broken once you learn what you're doing.

    5. Never think your writing is golden. Everyone can improve and everyone needs an editor.

    6. Keep a notebook or a handheld recorder in your purse at all time. You never know when you'll get an idea, and if you don't capture it at that moment, it will be lost forever.

    7. Help someone else along the way. As you sow, so shall you reap.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sample Sunday - Excerpt #2 from It's Cheaper to Keep Her

Last Sunday I gave you an excerpt from It's Cheaper To Keep Her in Vic Stafford's point of view. Today I'm sharing his wife, Ramona's unedited take on their current situation.




* * * * * * 


Ramona wasn’t sleeping, but she didn’t want Vic to think she was waiting for him to come upstairs. She had never been the weepy type, but right now, even though she fought it with all her strength, tears dampened her pillow. Her emotions usually ran more toward verbal battle, but tonight she had no desire to get into a screaming match with her husband. Those ugly scenes had been happening too often in the last few months.
How could such an intelligent man be so stupid? Why couldn’t he see how things had changed between them? He used to notice how she looked every day, but over the past two years, his interest in her had gradually waned. And it wasn’t because she’d let herself go. For God’s sake, the hours she spent in the gym were more for him than herself. Her mother had drilled that into her head as soon as she found out they were engaged. Mona could practically quote her word for word. “He’s going to be a doctor one day, and a doctor’s wife can’t be frumpy or out of shape. Your hair and makeup should always be perfect. Your clothes should be the best quality you can afford until he starts buying them for you.”
No woman could love a man more than she loved Vic. They had been together for fifteen years, married for twelve, and at one time, he’d only had eyes for her. Now his new love-his hospital-had taken her place. He nurtured her, protected her, bragged about her, and spent endless hours thinking about how to make her better-the things he used to do for his wife. Nothing could be more painful than having your husband obsessed with another love.
Some women, a few of her friends and even her own mother, thought she was nitpicking. Whenever she voiced his discouragement with the situation, her mother quickly pointed out, “You have to stop being ungrateful, Mona. After all, you have everything most women would die for.”
“Mama, have you forgotten that when I married Vic he was as broke as MC Hammer. I married him because I loved him. Her mother’s canned response was, “You knew he would be somebody important one day. You don’t have to work, and he leaves the daily finances up to you. What more do you want?”
Yes, Vic made the investment decisions, because he knew more about those things and always did so with the best of the family in mind. Having money was wonderful, and he had always been extremely generous. But did these women actually believe that sharing money could take the place of sharing intimacy, whether it happened in or out of the bed. She treasured the closeness and affection they had once shared, and she realized just how unique and powerful it had been by listening to her friends talk about their relationships. Vic’s studies and then his internship and residency put him under constant pressure. Yet when they were together, his super-serious demeanor softened, and he laughed more and was able to relax.  
The two of them hadn’t been together in the same room long enough to have a conversation in two weeks. Before Maite left for the night, Mona asked her to fix him a plate, cover it and leave it in the microwave with the door open, so he wouldn’t miss it when he came in. Instead of going up to bed, Mona decided to wait up for him and try once again to make him understand how she felt about how things had deteriorated in their marriage, and it ended up being a disaster. Vic had got in after eleven, and was surprised to see her awake.
“Hey, baby.” He walked to where she sat at the kitchen table thumbing through the latest issue of Vogue and kissed her cheek. “What are you doing up?”
She glanced up at him, noticing how tired he looked.
“I know it’s late, but I need to talk to you.”
His shoulders visibly slumped. “Can’t it wait until the morning?”
“No, because your mother is bringing the boys back early. She has somewhere to go and said she’d drop them off on her way.”
Vic eased down onto one of the kitchen stools as though his whole body ached. “What’s going on?”
“I’m lonely, Vic. You’re never around, and when you are, you’re too tired or distracted to even notice that I’m in the room.”
He stared at her for a long moment with any response then groaned. “Mona, we’re not kids anymore. I know you have nothing to occupy your time, and that was your choice, but I’m overwhelmed.”
“I understand, and that’s the problem. You have no time for me or the boys. Are we just supposed to sit around and pretend you’re no longer in our lives?”
“If I wasn’t in your lives, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in a two million dollar house. How do you think everything is being paid for?”
For the next few minutes, he went into what had become his standard lecture about being under scrutiny as the first black and the youngest chief of surgery in the history of the largest medical center in Atlanta-in the South for that matter. It wasn’t as though she didn’t understand the importance of his job. In fact, she was wildly proud of his status, but most of the time she wished he could go back to being a surgeon. Surgeons were the elite of the medical community, but that hadn’t been enough for him. Vic followed in his namesake’s footsteps, and now he’d surpassed the professional status his father had reached. Sometimes his ambition actually frightened her.
“When is it going to stop? Do you have to become Surgeon General of the United States before you’re satisfied?”
Vic rubbed the back of his neck and glowered at her. “Now you’re just being ridiculous! You wanted me to take this job, remember? That was before this house and the Bentley-”
“I didn’t ask you for the car or the jewelry.” She dragged in a long, frustrated breath, and spoke through clenched teeth trying not to scream at him. “You bought those because you felt guilty.”  
“Guilty?” He rose to his full height and leaned over her. “What the hell do I have to feel guilty about?”
Mona looked up at him with blinking. “About abandoning your role as a husband and father so you can be king of your hospital.”
“You wanted me to be king. Or have you forgotten?”
“That’s not fair, Vic. I saw how much you wanted the position, and supported your decision to go for it.” She ran her fingers through her long hair. “I never dreamed our lives would change so much. Or you would change so much.”

COMING LATE SUMMER 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

New release spotlight -


Since I've ventured into indie publishing, I've been hundreds of authors in person and online. I so enjoy talking to other writers, and one of my favorite people to chat with is author Dalia Florea. This lady is not only outwardly beautiful, but she also has a beautiful spirit.




Perhaps we hit it off because, Dalia is a northeast girl just like me. She grew up in Queens, New York and now makes her home in Northern Virginia outside of Washington, D.C.  Her debut Mirrored reached the Top 100 Bestseller’s list in Women’s Detective Fiction.  She is a voracious reader who enjoys writing fiction stories with a mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance.  When she isn’t crafting suspense romance, she enjoys reading, attending live music concerts, and visiting wineries. 

Twitter @DaliaFlorea

Pinterest Dalia Florea

Her new release is entitled, Teardrops Know My Name. 



Excerpt:

She regarded him silently for a moment, gazing into his dark brown eyes and watching a smile curve his lips. “I think that it would be. You don’t know me very well. I’ve had too many heartbreaks, and I’m in a vulnerable state right now where I may be incapable of making good choices. I don’t ever want to end up where I am right now—in this same place—again. For God’s sake, my last boyfriend was married, and I had absolutely no idea. How could I not have known? Other people were able to see the red flags, but I didn’t see a thing.”

“I hear what you’re saying, and I understand, but you can’t live the rest of your life that way. You can’t shield yourself from getting to know someone and never open yourself up to love again because of your past relationships.” He sipped water from the glass in front of him. His eyes were fixed on hers.

He stood and came around to her side of the booth, sat next to her, and reached for her hand, taking it into his and intertwining their fingers. He slowly lifted her hand to his mouth and gently pressed his lips to the back of it. Feeling his warm breath against the skin of her hand made her tremble. “I promise you that if you give me a chance, you won’t need to worry about anything. You will see no red flags when it comes to me. I have no secrets and no hidden agenda,” he said softly, lips brushing against her hand again. He lifted his eyes, looking her straight in the face.

Damn. He’s making this difficult. She couldn’t think clearly. Her senses had been heightened by his sensual touch, his silky smooth dark skin, and his masculine musk mixed with the spicy cologne he wore. She had to stop herself from being drawn in by this magnetic force that threatened to take her over mentally and physically.

He tipped her head up with his finger and lowered his mouth onto hers, brushing his lips against hers, teasing her, barely touching them at first. Then he whispered against her lips, “Please give me”— soft kiss—“a chance.”

Linda had to admit that she wanted Sean. There was something about him that stirred her soul. But was she willing to throw caution to the wind as she had done in the past? When she thought about it, she had always jumped from one relationship to another without giving herself a break in between. Maybe that was the problem. Was she codependent? Did she need to be in a relationship in order to feel whole? She needed some distance from Sean to find out more about who she was and what she wanted for herself in life.
It took every bit of her self-control and willpower to pull away from his kiss. She breathed in deeply. She knew she needed to say what she didn’t want to say. She mentally prepared herself to resist what she knew would be another attempt from him to pursue the idea of them being in a relationship. She slid a few inches away from him in an effort to prevent any further temptation, and she watched his shoulders droop.


Available on Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TWQJGQC

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sample Sunday - Moving right along...

I'm still over the moon about the early success of Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, and I am so grateful to my readers for their support. But as it goes in the world of a writer, the next story is always whispering to me. Often I hear people say, "Take a break between books, and give yourself time to relax." So far I haven't been able to do that. 

As I mentioned before, the next story in the Stafford Brothers series is the oldest brother, Vic's story. He and his wife, Ramona have been married for twelve years, and they have two sons. This is how I picture them.



I don't have a cover yet, but here's an unedited excerpt from the beginning of It's Cheaper to Keep Her...


Chapter One

Vic Stafford pulled into the circular driveway of his home at ten forty-five PM. Today had been the worst day he’d ever had at the hospital, thanks to a horrific tour bus accident on Interstate 75. The fifty passengers on the bus and twelve occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash had been divided up between his hospital and Grady, since they were the only level one trauma centers in the Atlanta metropolitan area. According to the EMTs and State Patrol officers who were the first to arrive at the scene, the bus driver apparently mistook the exit lane at Northside Drive off I-75 as part of the carpool lane. He came up over Northside and continued over the side of the overpass. The bus traveled over a two-and-a-half-foot tall concrete barrier, leaving it intact, and through the middle of the overpass, crashing onto the Interstate below.
As chief of surgery, Vic had to pull in every staff member on call in order to handle the volume and even performed two of the surgeries himself, something he rarely did anymore. When he’d left for the night, six of the accident victims had expired, which in his opinion was a miracle. Five remained in critical condition, and twenty were being evaluated. Most had broken bones. The twenty were lucid and communicating.
Drained from the emotion and pace of the night, Vic needed to talk, but when he gazed up, every window in the sprawling eight-thousand-square-foot house was dark. Not even the flickering light from a TV screen or the glow of a computer screen. That was rare. Usually he had to go into the boy’s rooms and make them power down their iPads or game console when he came in at night. Where were the boys?
Before he left this morning, Mona had mentioned a meeting with one of her fundraising groups, but he hadn’t really paid much attention, and he thought she’d surely be home by now. He drove around to the side of the house. Even the guest house where Maite, their live-in housekeeper, stayed was completely dark. He hit the button for the garage door opener and entered the house through the kitchen. After he loosened his tie, he walked into the room Mona called his man cave and poured himself a scotch at the wet bar.
Ever since he’d been appointed chief, his hours had increased, even though he wasn’t performing as many surgeries as he once had. Now he dealt with a myriad of daily administrative issues. A day never went by that he didn’t consider stepping down and going back to just being a surgeon. But the position carried with it clout, some great perks he hadn’t gotten as a staff doctor and a more than a half-million-dollar-a-year salary. When he’d simply been Dr. Stafford, he and Mona owned a nice, spacious home, but once he became The Chief, he let her talk him into upgrading to this house. This one contained three thousand more square feet, had an Olympic-size pool, wine cellar, home gym and the guest house.
It wasn’t as though he didn’t like the house, because he did, but after all the pleading and cajoling Mona had done, it seemed she never bothered to stay home to enjoy it. He’d ignored her behavior long enough. Tonight he’d confront her. She rarely parked her car in the garage, but preferred to leave it in the circular driveway in front of the house. When he’d explained why it was better for the car to keep it inside, she said she parked there because the Bentley convertible looked so good next to the fountain, and she wanted everyone to see it. Things like that made her happy, and as the saying went, A happy wife means a happy life. He loved giving her nice things, but recently it seemed as if she no longer got the same pleasure from her expensive wardrobe, beautiful house, or shiny black convertible Bentley.
His anger built as he sipped his drink. For the third time this month, she claimed to be at one of her charity meetings. He knew good and damn well the group of women who planned events to raise money for their favorite causes didn’t hang out this late on a regular basis. If she wasn’t asleep when he came in, she wasn’t home at all. Vic didn’t appreciate his boys spending too much time with Maite or at his parents’ house.
Vic gazed up at the sloping double staircase that appeared to be a tall as Stone Mountain. Too tired to climb to the second floor, he trudged back to the foyer, removed his shoes and eased his weary body onto one of the bottom steps to wait for his wife to come home. After he drained his glass and set it on the shiny wood, he rested his head back against the wall and drifted off to sleep until the sound of her heels clacking loudly on the marble woke him.
“Where have you been?”
She jumped. “Oh, my God, Vic! You scared me half to death. What are you doing sitting here in the dark?”
“Where have you been?” he repeated, spacing his words.
She flicked the light switch on the wall which illuminated the chandelier hanging over the center of the twenty-foot ceiling. “I told you I had a meeting.”
“Where are the boys?”
“With Mama and Daddy,” she said, meaning his parents. "Mama said they could spend the night, since I told her I’d probably be late. I gave Maite the night off. Why are you asking me all of these questions?”
He checked out her appearance. Mona had a lot of clothes, but he’d never seen the outfit she wore tonight-a low-cut number that hit her mid-thigh. Not exactly attire for a meeting with a bunch of doctors’ wives. “Was there anybody else I know at the meeting?”
She looked toward the ceiling for a second then her voice grew louder. “Are you serious? You’re really going to question me like I’m a teenager breaking curfew?” Jerky movements punctuated her words. 
“Tell me who else was there,” he insisted, his voice still calm.
“Why does it matter to you?” she shouted.
“Because you don’t look like you’ve been to a meeting. And you don’t smell like it either. What have you been drinking?”
“I’m not a child, Vic,” she screamed. “Since when have you been interested in where I’ve been or what I’m doing?”
“You’re my wife. I have a right to know where you’ve been hanging out.”
Hanging out? Please! You’re not my father! I’m not going to stand here and be interrogated!” She flipped her long, auburn hair over one shoulder, turned on her five-inch heels and stormed up the staircase.
He watched her long, shapely legs-very much exposed beneath the short dress-cross the foyer and climb the opposite side of the double staircase as though she didn’t even want to pass too close to him. Even after twelve years of marriage, she still had the power to excite him. Ramona Cox Stafford was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. People often told him that her creamy complexion and thick, real hair reminded them of singer Chante’ Moore. Unfortunately, exhaustion outpaced his passion lately. He didn’t often think about it, except at times like this, when he wanted to grab her, take her into the bedroom and spend the rest of the night making her scream his name the way she used to. That hadn’t happened in a while. Quite a while. Just how long he couldn’t recall.

* * * * * * *

In case you're not familiar with the theme song for this book, it's an old school R&B song by the late Johnny Taylor...
 



Monday, February 23, 2015

USAToday!!!!!!

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough is reviewed in USA TODAY online today...



Read the review here:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2015/02/22/michelle-monkou-recommended-romances-cairo-brown/23860753/?hootPostID=afd6115a03920c2b4249791a0345625a

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sample Sunday - Excerpt from Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

Sales of Don't Stop Till You Get Enough have been fantastic! Thank you to everyone who already bought a copy. For those who haven't, here's another teaser...


After she shed her street clothes and changed into her soft cotton pajamas, Rhani retrieved her phone from her purse and the client notebook from her tote bag. She lay across the bed, stared at the ceiling, then at the telephone and back to the ceiling. She thought about calling Dr. Albert Spruill, a colleague she’d met at the Executive Summit, the annual conference of the American Psychotherapy Association. She and Dr. Al had hit it off right away, and Rhani had often contacted him for advice when she had a particularly difficult client. But she already knew what his recommendation would be, and it would come with a stern warning. Never mind.
The reason why her notes from Greg’s session were short and cryptic escaped her at the moment. Her typical session summaries tended to be quite thorough. For whatever reason, she hadn’t gone into detail about how he presented himself or what he had said, although it was burned into her brain. Rhani reached into her tote bag for her iPad, pulled herself into a sitting position and propped two pillows behind her back. Since she kept her session comments on the iPad, she used codes for clients just in case; God forbid, she lost or someone stole the device. She typically used the date of their first visit.
Client 517, a college-educated, African-American male in his late thirties is a colleague referral. His employer ordered a minimum of ninety days’ counseling as a result of his arrest for public indecency. Asked him questions about the woman with whom he’d been arrested, but he couldn’t answer, because he doesn’t know her personally.
Initially, he was reluctant to talk and hid behind his sunglasses until I asked him to remove them. Gradually he began to share. He wasn’t hesitant to discuss his family relationships. From the little he said, it’s apparent he loves and respects his parents and had a somewhat privileged upbringing. Need to inquire further into his relationship with his older brothers. Something of a middle child, with two older and three young brothers, he admitted to being the attention hound of the family during his childhood. He believes it’s how he developed his on-air presence. Got the feeling he’s used to charming women with his smile.

Rhani closed the file and logged into her e-mail account, but her mind still lingered on her intriguing client. Disconcerted by her attraction to him, she contemplated the reasons why she felt this way. She’d had good-looking male clients before, but never one with Greg Stafford’s presence. His self-assurance made her skin tingle, and that set off warning bells. The ethical thing to do would be to refer him to a colleague, but a desire to know more about him burned in her chest. She wanted to know what made him tick and what had driven him to the point where he had been ordered to seek therapy. On the surface, a man like him had no need to seek out sexual liaisons. Women would come to him unbidden, which is exactly what happened the day of his arrest. Surely he wasn’t used to women saying no to him, which tended to make men arrogant. She hadn’t gotten that impression from him though. Instead, she’d sensed an underlying shame behind his words.