She ran away from the town that wouldn’t forget, to a city that doesn’t forgive, right into the arms of the guy who insists she set things right.
Less than a year ago, Hayley Jones made a scandalous decision that sent her packing. She left her country hometown, moved to the city and made a new life for herself. But it’s hard being someone else when the real you has some unfinished business.
Hayley knows taking care of the unresolved piece of her past could stir up more trouble and humiliation, so she dodges the truth and puts her energy into her new friends and job. That strategy works for a short while but people from her past start showing up in her present.
Life gets even more complicated when she realizes she’s falling for Nick Noel, a guy who knows she’s running from something, and continually challenges her to be herself. But Hayley is afraid of what will happen if Nick finds out who she really is and what she did back home.
As a writer, I know lots of other writers and book industry people, so I often forget that being an erotic romance writer is a bit unusual. I wouldn’t say people are shocked when they find out what I write but they are often curious. Do they ask questions? Sure, all kinds. Serious questions, How do you handle your taxes? Flirty questions, Do you need help with research? Naughty questions, Are the stories based on your life? Inspirational questions, How did you get started?
How I got started can be broken up into two parts. How I got started writing and how I got started writing erotic romance.
I started writing because I love stories. I know that isn’t a flashy answer but it’s the truth. I bought a book on how to write and wrote my first short story. I decided to start with a short story because the thought of writing an entire novel was intimidating. A 7,000 word story sounded manageable. I used what I learned in the book, wrote a story and sent it in. I received the contract about a month later. I was hooked.
The story was for True Confessions, a now old school magazine. The story was about a woman who runs away from a disappointment at home and enters a bikini contest in Florida. That’s a reasonable thing to do in a time of strife, right? Take your clothes off and dance around? Works for me. It worked for her too. The experience changed her perspective, which is what she needed, then she went back home and took care of the business of getting what she wanted from life.
After that story, I wrote several more for confession magazines, then I started writing novels. The first couple novels I wrote were sweet romances. Writing sweet romances taught me to focus on emotion and the complicated push-pull of romantic relationships. The move to erotic stories came gradually. As I found new ways to push my characters into more intense situations, the stories became sexier.
I love writing erotic romance because it gives me the opportunity to let my imagination go. The possibilities are limitless and the farther out I go with my plot ideas, the further I get to push my characters. Pushing characters doesn’t have to mean sending them off to do really outrageous things, like hook up with aliens or rob banks, it just means finding ways to push a particular character into situations that challenge them in ways they’ve never been challenged before.
While writing my novel, Unfinished Business, I worked to come up with a way to challenge my main character, Hayley. After suffering through a really public, humiliating scandal, she’s moved from her country hometown to the city of Detroit, Michigan. She’s started fresh with new friends, new clothes and an edgy attitude. Her plan, avoid anything having to do with the country and anyone who will expose her past. At the start of the story she’s totally ready to have some spur-of-the-moment random sex because she thinks that’s way to figure herself out. Readers will catch on pretty quick to the idea that while satisfying in the short term, getting naked with a guy she’s not that into isn’t really going to help her comes to terms with her past.
What guy will offer the acceptance she craves and challenge her to get over her past? A man who loves her for who she is. The catch? He’s from the country, too. So loving him will force her to find a way to love the part of herself she hates.
Excerpt From: Unfinished Business
Why didn’t someone tell me it was St. Patrick’s Day? It’s important to be ready for these things in advance. Had I known this significant holiday was approaching I would’ve prepared. If someone had been kind enough to remind me I would have…would have… Would’ve…? I glance down at the thin, green beer in my formerly frosted mug. I would’ve drunk less wine at Nick’s last night.
That way I wouldn’t have this cloud of guilt fogging my vision. Girls who are trying to get their lives together shouldn’t drink too much three nights in a row. It’s tricky enough business trying to see through one’s drunken haze without the nuisance of an emotional cloud of guilt making things worse.
Come to think of it, I’m not hearing so well either.
“Whaddya say, Riana?”
Riana arches across the tattered booth she, Nick and I have been using as our home base for the past two hours. “It says here”—she stabs at the helpfully informational, green flyer that was handed to us on the way in—“that there’s going to be a limerick contest.”
I twist my mouth thoughtfully, as if I can taste the question lurking there. “What’s the prize?”
Her eyebrows pull together as she positions the sheet closer to her face and peers at me across the top of it. “Dinner for two. The Rooney McNamara special!”
I try to ask, “Do you suppose that’s corned beef and cabbage or some other traditional Irish dish?” Unfortunately, what comes out sounds more like, “Dahya sink thats cornbeefan cabbish?”
Before Riana translates, Nick slides in next to me, bumps my shoulder with his and grumbles, “Jukebox is broken.”
A sappy grin tilts across my face as I grab his left arm. “I’m so glad you’re out with us tonight, Nicky-boy.” I hold up my hand so my forefinger and thumb are about an inch apart. “I might be a little sorry you lost the toss, seein’ as you’re the only one of us who’s actually Irish. Or part Irish. Whatever.”
Riana frowns and pats the arm I’m clinging to. “You ought to be getting drunk on this nasty beer.”
“Clear the air, girls. It’s starting to look like one of those weep fests.” He shakes his head. “I guess I should be glad Josie isn’t here.”
I shift to Riana. “Are you feeling all stupid and weepy?”
She ignores my question and stabs at the air near Nick. “The contest! Nick! You have to know a limerick!”
Looking thoughtful, he takes a long drink of his Gatorade.
“I know a limerick,” I mumble, half-hoping neither of them heard me and half-hoping they’ll think I’m wonderful.
Unfortunately, after the words are out of my mouth, their heads swivel simultaneously like puppets. Creepy, slow moving puppets. Not at all a response I was hoping for. Or one I’d even considered. Please God, don’t let them blink at the same time, because then I’ll have to scrabble over the table and bolt for the door.
Oh, relief. Nick is talking.
I stare at him for a minute because his teeth really are so nice and straight. “Huh?”
He waves his hand between Riana and him. “Tell us the limerick.”
Nice hands, too. Why haven’t I ever noticed that before? “Limerick?”
Current fiction projects--a dystopian, sci-fi sort of thing and a women's fiction novel.
Current non-fiction--upcoming The Binge Watchers Guide to Riverdale, adding Season 5.
Hard Fall is available on Radish Fiction.
Book chapter, Struggling Against the Tide: Narrative Structure and the Human Connection in Jaws, to be included in the anthology, “This Shark, Swallow You Whole”: Fifty Years of Jaws from McFarland & Co. Publisher.
Unfinished Business and the Invitations series will be released in audio this coming fall.
Association of Writing Programs in Philadelphia, March
Spring Fling in Chicago, April
Once Upon a Book in Frankenmuth, July
Booklovers in Houston, August
PO Box 253, Mason Michigan 48854 United States
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