The winner is…
Congratulations, Emily, and I hope you enjoy it!
February 29th only comes around every 4 years, so today I’m giving away a Kindle copy of my New Adult romance, Altered, to celebrate.
Easy to enter. Facebook like this post and share on Twitter (both buttons are at the end of this post below), then enter your name and email address in the form below.
This flash giveaway is open until midnight tonight. I’ll announce the winner Tuesday morning at 7:00 am CT.
More about Altered
A New Adult romance drawing on the author’s own experience studying law, the novel follows Liv, a young woman in her a first semester of law school. When her fiancé abruptly breaks things off, Liv is heart-broken.
Enter Nicholas, a classmate who is so withdrawn that he is an enigma to everyone around him. Nicholas is unusually young and unusually quiet, and keeps his past a tightly guarded secret.
While Liv is still reeling from her break up, Nicholas begins appearing in her life and coming to her rescue. Intrigued and grateful to this quiet young man, Liv becomes determined to unravel the mystery of who Nicholas is.
At first, I saw him as everyone else did.
But then, I saw him for who he really was.
Recognized the beauty beneath the pain.
Loved the quirks disguising the insecurity.
Embraced the man who hid behind the boy.
But there was so much more…
More I didn’t know.
And once I did, I couldn’t let
Of the boy.
…even if his past is threatening
Nothing will alter what we’ve built.
Enter to win
If I look over at the counter on the left side of my website, I can see there are 11 days to go before the official release of my debut New Adult novel, Altered. I began reflecting on how I got to be in this situation exactly.
I really never had much of an interest in writing. I was a medic in the army, an administrative management systems major in college, and an MBA. I even had a brief stint in law school (as you will soon learn when you read Altered). I didn’t take literature classes beyond what was required for my diploma or degree. I did however develop a love of reading in high school.
My tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Janet Ghio, recognized there was no multicultural-influenced literature in our curriculum I could relate to. She gave me a copy of The Color Purple (ha! I’m dating myself), and once I’d finished, she took me out to lunch to discuss what I’d read. That definitely sparked something in my reading life that had been mostly non-existent before (I was more of a tomboy-type kid). The next year, I took philosophy as my elective and fell in love with Dostoevsky and Kafka (The Metamorphosis is still my all time favorite short story).
At some point a couple of years ago, I started bouncing this idea around in my head that I might want to write about. I kept it there – in the back of my head. Around the same time, I really got into the Outlander series and the author, Diana Gabaldon, was very vocal about the writing process. I still kept my idea in the back of my head.
I also follow a celebrity gossip blogger (perhaps I should be thoroughly embarrassed by that, but I’m not), @laineygossip, who introduced me to the New Adult genre. I tore through all of her recommendations plus more and found them to be easy, quick reads that were somehow satisfying. That also prompted me to think, “Wow, I can write that.”
I signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2013, but didn’t write a single word. I finally revisited this idea the following April and was finished with it by mid-May. I was completely embarrassed to be writing and only told my younger daughter who was still in high school at the time. I made her promise not to tell anyone. After the story started pouring out of me, I told another “reading” friend (who lives in another state), Anna, and started sending her what I’d written in 20K chunks. She loved it and that encouraged me to keep going and also share with others in my life that I was writing.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo again in 2014 and this time completed it, as well as another book that’s a contemporary romance (Scale Steps). Again sending it to my friend 20K words at a time.
A few months went by and I really didn’t know what to do with either of my finished manuscripts. Then one day I saw a post in an Outlander Facebook group I frequent (ahem) by one C. H. Armstrong singing the praises of the publishing process she’d been going through with her debut novel, The Edge of Nowhere. I checked out her publisher, Penner Publishing, and decided to submit both manuscripts.
I waited about two weeks. And when I say waited, I mean refreshed my email every single hour. Finally I saw the email I’d been waiting for. I nervously clicked on it to open and read through squinted eyes. “Thank you for querying Penner Publishing with ALTERED and UNEXPECTED (Scale Step before I changed the name) and for giving us the opportunity to consider your manuscripts. Unfortunately, UNEXPECTED is not a good fit for us at this time…” My heart sank, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected (pun intended) given how difficult I’d heard it was to get published. And this was my first query after all (I didn’t even realize I was querying at the time).
I went on to read, “…but we quite enjoyed reading ALTERED. If ALTERED is still available, we would love to talk further.”
Um, talk about burying the lead!
This has been quite a journey and I’ve had a LOT of support along the way. I know it’s an overused word, but I can’t describe the experience as anything other than surreal.
Liv loves her Creole food and Red Beans & Rice is a staple. Although it takes a couple of hours to cook, the prep time is minimal.
1 lb dried red beans, rinsed and soaked overnight, drained
1 medium chopped yellow onion
4 stalks chopped celery
1 chopped green bell pepper
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 pkg smoked Andouille sausage, sliced
2 smoked ham hocks
4 cloves chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock
cooked rice (Liv prefers black rice)
Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Serve over rice.
This is a favorite of LIv’s family and friends. She uses thinly sliced zucchini instead of lasagna noodles, but that’s a personal preference.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground meat in a large skillet, add sauce and simmer covered. Mix the 4 c mozzarella with the eggs, cottage cheese and parsley until well blended. Salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the lasagna by using a 13x9x2 lasagna pan and adding layers. Start with a layer of the sauce, then a layer of zucchini (or noodles), then a layer of the cheese mixture. Repeat this until near the top where the last two layers will be the zucchini then sauce on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and cover with foil. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Place back in the over for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool at least 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares.
Liv’s Spaghetti Sauce
Heat up large skillet and olive oil over medium high heat and saute mushrooms until brown. Add onion and bell pepper and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Add zucchini and carrots and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes or so, stirring constantly. Add wine to de-glaze skillet. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, then season again with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and turn down low to simmer. This can simmer as long as you’d like it to. The longer, the better, just make sure to stir it once in awhile. Add the basil and oregano.
May the best chef win…
After four years at the country’s top culinary school and several years as head chef in her mother’s restaurant, Rowan Townsend has built a notable reputation. Her farm-to-table collard greens have long been bringing everyone to the yard, but limits on the restaurant’s size have led to long waits. Looking to expand the restaurant, she enters a televised chef competition. The problem? Her infuriatingly-talented nemesis from culinary school also enters.
To the culinary world, Knox Everheart is restaurant royalty. As much as Rowan wants to deny it, he’s a gifted chef. Rowan knows her arrogant arch-nemesis is confident he’ll win—he’s certainly given her a run for her money more times than she’d like to admit. But this time, she’s ready to show him who’s boss.
Their rivalry soon sparks fireworks in the kitchen and, as the competition heats up, so does Rowan’s attraction to Knox. And somewhere between pasta and gumbo, they both need to decide what’s worth fighting for.