Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Step-By-Step Process On How To Write, Publish and Promote Your Book!

The number one question I’m constantly asked is, “How on earth did you manage to write a whole book?” I could go the easy route and reply, “Writing is just in my blood. It’s my passion and what I love to do…” While that’s true, book writing isn’t that simple, not to mention my answer wouldn’t be helpful to someone who’s looking for advice on how to pen their own tome.

In this blog, I’ve teamed up with my good friend and fellow author V.J. Allison to share with you our honest, tried-and-true processes on how we write books from start to finish, then publish and promote them.

1. Hello V.J.! Thank you so much for joining me. As you know, there are many future authors out there who’ve been dreaming of writing a book. For me, the first step in the novel-writing process always begins with a good idea that’s solid enough to carry a 250+ page manuscript. What are your initial thoughts or moves when it comes to your writing process?

V.J.: Thanks for having me, it’s my pleasure to be here!

Sometimes, I’ll see something on TV that could turn into a story idea, or someone will say something that becomes a huge plot bunny (i.e. a persistent story idea), like the manuscript I’m working on now. I may even see something happening in real life, and turn it into a story.

2. D.W.: So once you’ve settled on the main idea for your book, what’s the next step? Back in the day I used to just pull up to the computer, type “Chapter 1,” and go for it. Nowadays I like to start with a synopsis then write a full outline. What’s your method?

V.J.: For me, it’s character profiling – what they look like, their personalities, their families, quirks, the foods they like and their favorite colors. I also do some secondary character profiles, but not as detailed as the two main characters. I start attacking the main plot points after that, and if there’s a scene in my head already, I will write it up.

D.W.: That’s fantastic. I agree that character profiling is imperative when preparing to write a book. It provides invaluable guidance and enables you to remain on course with your protagonists and antagonists. Plus it prevents you from writing unsuitable character traits.

3. D.W.: After your storyline is set and a clear path has been laid, how do you proceed? Do you just dive in and begin writing your book like I do?

V.J.: I dive in and start writing, but I also jot down ideas in special files as a reminder on what I want in the story – like plot twists. Having a list of possibilities is always delicious, even if you don’t use them!

D.W.: I agree! I keep a running tab of ideas in the Notes app on my phone. I should try your method considering it’s way more sophisticated and organized than mine!

4. D.W.: One of the best lessons I’ve learned when writing books is that I should just write. Not stop and edit as I go. Not incessantly mull over something I’ve already written. But just move forward and write. If not, the book will never get done. What are your thoughts on this? Do you edit as you write or write, complete your book then go back and edit?

V.J.: I used to edit as I wrote, and it was so slow that I was giving myself writer’s block. So now I just write until I run out of steam for the day, or I have to interrupt it – meeting my son at the bus stop in the afternoons is a sure-fire way to stop writing! I will let it sit until the next writing day, and give the previous day’s work a once over/quick edit before I start the day’s writing.

5. D.W.: I don’t know about you, but once I reach the middle of a book, I tend to get stuck. The beginning is so exciting to write because I’m introducing my world and plot to the readers. The ending is exhilarating because I’m wrapping everything up, revealing unexpected plot twists, and thrilled that my novel is almost complete.

But the middle is so important because I have to make sure I’m properly connecting the beginning and ending. I find that I have to pay really close attention because this is where I tend to have plot holes. And I oftentimes have plot bunnies pop into my head that could change the entire course of the book. So bottom line, writing the middle of a book can get complicated! Do you ever encounter any of these issues, and if so, how do you get through them?

V.J.: I’ve encountered the plot bunnies, being stuck, and everything else at least once per manuscript! I think it happens to all of us at some point or another, more times than we’ll admit. I find sometimes writing part of the middle first can be helpful. Write up a scene or two you want in the story, then write the gaps between the beginning and that point, then repeat until finished.

6. D.W.: Let’s talk about writer’s block. It’s a serious matter! When I get writer’s block, the first thing I do is grow patient with myself, understanding that I’m just not on a roll that day or week. If I spend a whole day on one paragraph, then so be it. I’m just glad to be making progress and moving forward. Another tactic I use during those periods of writer’s block is to just write whatever comes to mind without judging it. No matter how terrible the words may seem, I just write. And usually when I go back and edit what I’ve written, it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.

When you experience writer’s block, how do you get through it?

V.J.: I’ve had bouts that lasted over a year, because I was burned out from pushing myself to write when I wasn’t up to it. I take some time off and do other creative things, like play around with photography, have some fun playing in a graphics manipulation program, and make dream catchers. Sometimes doing a critique for another friend helps get the juices flowing again, or working on another part of the manuscript, or even a different manuscript will help unclog that particular line of thought.

D.W.: Those are all great methods. You’re still being creative so those juices are continuing to flow, and at the same time the other activities are recharging your motivation to get back to your primary manuscript. I also like to tinker with photography and graphics programs (usually to create promotional pieces for my work) or dabble in another project when I burn out. It’s therapeutic and helps get me back on track.

7. D.W.: I mentioned plot bunnies earlier in the conversation. I experienced them when I was writing my contemporary romance novel, “The Road to Bliss.” I was dead set on which male protagonist my heroine would end up with. But as the characters and plot developed, that male protagonist became the antagonist/catalyst that brought my heroine and eventual hero together. This unexpected twist made me feel as though the book was writing itself, and I just went with it and couldn’t have been happier with the end result.

Tell me about your experience with plot bunnies and how you allow (or don’t allow) them into your work, especially if you’re already set on a storyline.

V.J.: Plot bunnies have given me some amazing ideas that worked. Others, not so much. I was in the middle of drafting “Something About Alexis” when a plot bunny ran me over and would not let go of me. I wound up writing the plot bunny idea in less than three months, writing only one or two days a week. It’s dubbed “Away to Me,” and I’m not sure if that one will ever be published. It needs a lot of work.

Another plot bunny is one given to me by my “Peapod” Heather, and it comes from something that happens in my first book, “Stricken.” I’m currently writing that idea; it’s the still-unnamed manuscript I talk about from time to time on my blog and social media sites.

I say if you get a plot bunny and want to run with it, you may wind up with a better story in the end. Storylines are not set in stone, especially not my own. If it ends with a happy ever after or a happy for now, and contains a lot of romance and sensuality, plot bunnies can be a wonderful thing!

8. D.W.: Usually when I’m writing, I try and follow the outline I’ve written from beginning to end (with the exception of the aforementioned plot-bunnied “The Road to Bliss.”) This really helps me to stay focused and motivated. Then once I’ve completed the first draft, I want to celebrate. But I can’t fully, because now it’s time for the oft-dreaded editing process! I usually edit my book very thoroughly at least three times before sending it to the publisher. I don’t show my work to anyone else, but I do have a few close loved ones who I discuss the plots with as I write.

Tell us what you do once you’re done with your first draft, prior to submitting it to the publisher. Do you allow anyone to critique your work?

V.J.: I let it perk for a few weeks, gathering dust on the hard drive. I’ll open it, go over it at least once with a fine-toothed comb for edits and note any revisions that are needed. I do the revisions and it gets set aside again for another week or so, then I pull it out for another once-over. If I deem it ready, I set it aside one more time for at least another week, and go over it one last time to be sure there are no typos.

Once I’m finished, I will alert my regular beta readers I have a manuscript ready for them to read, and if need be, I will ask for volunteers. After they are finished, I look over their suggestions, and in most cases, I will make the needed changes – typos, fill in plot holes, etc. – and nervously start prepping a cover letter for the publisher. Having a background in Human Resources is a huge help when it comes to that part of the process!

9. D.W.: As creatives, we’re sensitive about our work and pour our hearts into everything we write. My mother is my primary writing critic, and she never holds her tongue when it comes to her critiques! I tend to be open and accepting of her input (even if I’m a bit incensed by her opinion lol) because it usually makes sense and improves upon the storyline.

How do you handle constructive criticism, and do you ever incorporate peer suggestions into your work prior to submitting it to the publisher?

V.J.: I take whatever they toss at me as a lesson. If someone doesn’t like my work, I want to know why, so I can improve the story, and myself as an author. I admit it’s not easy sometimes, but if people didn’t give you an honest opinion on your work, you’d never learn. I had to learn that my way wasn’t always the best way, and I had to change my style and my overall view of writing if I was ever going to make it as an author, indie or traditionally published.

That said, if they do not give me a reason why they didn’t like certain areas or the story overall, or demand I change things because they do not like an element that I use in a love scene or somewhere else, I will not use anything they suggest. It feels more like they are trying to write an idea they have instead of my own.

However, if they love my stories, I’m thrilled!

10. D.W.: So you’re book is done, it’s fully edited, and you’re ready to put it out into the world. Now it’s time to decide whether you want to pursue a traditional publisher or self-publish your work, and consider whether you’d like to sign with a literary agent and/or manager. I’ve personally done it all, and each option has their fair share of pros and cons. Publishers have amazing platforms and connections, handle the production, much of the promotional duties, etc. But you don’t have a lot of control, which is where self-publishing comes into play.

With indie publishing, you can put your work out exactly how you want without having to make changes to your prose. You make the decisions on your cover art. And you can release your book on whatever date you’d like. But you also have to handle all your own production and promotion, build your following/foundation from the ground up without the benefit of the publisher’s connections, etc.

As for literary agents and managers, I’ve worked with both, and they can definitely be beneficial. Representation has access to certain publishers and industry insiders that you as a writer cannot contact directly. But on the other hand, I’ve learned that no one is going to work as hard for you as you will. And nowadays, the game has changed in that many publishers allow authors to query them directly, cutting out the middleperson. While I’m signed to a manager who’s been extremely resourceful, having representation is no longer a necessity in order to get your work in front of a publisher.

What are your thoughts on all of this?

V.J.: I only have first hand experience with traditional publishing without an agent, and with only one book.

If you want a manager or an agent, get one. In some genres, having backing is necessary. It isn’t in the romance genre.

I didn’t want one, because a lot of the publishers I was interested in didn’t accept agented works. I wanted to achieve it all on my own, without an agent anyway. I have experience with cover letters and promotion, so I can easily whip up something myself when the time comes.

I highly respect and applaud anyone who goes with indie publishing, especially if they are publishing their first story. Everything about their book has to be perfect – a great story, perfect editing, amazing characters, and even a fantastic cover for it. If any of the above are a little off, it could spell doom for the author, even if they produce perfect books from that point forward. It’s a lot of work, and a huge risk. I know people who went indie and made a bundle, yet I also know a couple who flopped horribly – talk about a train wreck, it was so hard to watch!

Indie isn’t right for me right now. I’m not good enough for that road. I want to be established as an author and improve my writing skills to a fine edge before I go near the indie world. I admit I’d rather have help with the promotional end of things, same goes for covers, editing, and a lot of the other aspects you get from a traditional publisher. I may do an indie book sometime in the future, but not until I have a few more works under my belt. I’m happy to be with a traditional house, especially one as great as eXtasy Books.

11. D.W.: Okay, this last question will be helpful for both aspiring and current writers. What do you think are some of the most effective ways to promote your work? I’ve found that since social media has literally taken over the world, it’s the best way for any artist to promote, whether they’re new on the scene or already established. Also, connecting with other authors, starting your own blog, doing guest blog appearances, pursuing book review opportunities, etc. What are your thoughts on these methods, and is there anything additional you do to market your novels?

V.J.: Social media is one of the best ways to get your work and yourself as an author out there. You have to be vocal and promote yourself pretty much daily in order to get any kind of fanbase. I’ve been writing a blog for over five years, and it’s a great tool for getting the word out. I love talking with other authors, whether it’s about our writing, promotional items, or about everyday things. I think all of the methods you’ve mentioned are fantastic ways to get yourself out there, and make a name for yourself.

You cannot be an author and be lazy about the promotional end of things. You have to be out there, reminding people you have at least one book out there almost every day of the year. You cannot depend on others to do all of it for you, or your work is going to be a huge flop.

V.J., thank you so much for joining me in this enlightening book-writing/publishing discussion! It’s been a pleasure, and I do hope that the readers will find it informative and beneficial.

To all you current and future authors out there, best of luck to you! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And don’t forget to check out my work along with V.J.’s, and connect with us on social media.

You can shop for my books and connect with me here:

eXtasy Books      Amazon       Simon & Schuster      Instagram

Goodreads          Twitter         Facebook


You can shop for V.J.’s work and connect with her here:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Throwback Thursday: A Look Back At My Fave Contemporary Romance/Chicklit Book I've Written To Date!

Oh what fun it was to write, “I Wish I Never Met You!” This cult classic, which is filled with tales of wild and crazy dating disasters, was published by Simon & Schuster back in 2004. The novel ended up gaining quite a cult following, and I met many of my readers (via social media, etc.) through this book. I’m lucky that those readers have followed me throughout my career, and I’ll never forget how it all started with this hilariously brazen little number. I recently wrote a television pilot for the book, along with an accompanying show bible. 
Continue reading for a fun sneak peek at “I Wish I Never Met You,” and meet one of the funniest, boldest heroines I’ve ever written… 




I One Night Only: 

Doug the Heinous Dragon

Preston the Project Mishap

Ernest the Undercover Sugarbooty

II I Want It All:

Willy the Weed Smoker

Leroy the Loser-Ass Liar

Warren the So-Called Wonder

Bubba the Bogus-Ass Baller

III Unholy Matrimony: 

Forrest the Foul Fiancé

Marvin the Married Man-Boy

Dennis the Dumb-Ass Divorcé

IV The Big Payback:

Horace the Human Ape

Igor the Ignoramus

Cecil the Circus Midget 184



It may be that your whole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. —Anonymous

I’m not saying I was always right. I’m not saying I was always wrong. What I am saying is that I always did what I felt in my heart at the time. People sometimes get caught up in the moment. Act without thinking. Do harmful things. Then live to regret them. Lucky for me, I’m not one of those people. When I take revenge, there are no regrets. 
When it comes to certain situations, I have no conscience. I learn to accept and oftentimes welcome my vengeful behavior. Like the time when I set Dennis the Dumb-Ass Divorcé’s apartment on fire. Or when I drop kicked and beat Cecil the Circus Midget in the middle of a crowded party. Or when I attacked Horace the Human Ape with my stun gun and blasted pepper spray inside his mouth. I could go on, but I don’t want to reveal the entire contents of this book in the intro. My point is, I don’t want you to pass judgment on my behavior until you know the whole story. Give me a chance. Find out how the dirty deeds of these people warranted my disinfecting behavior.
The thing is, I never wanted any trouble. All I wanted was to find a man. A husband. A soul mate. But for some reason, my search never led me to the promised land. Instead, I consistently fell into a deserted field of broken dreams and glass bottles. 
Some may blame me. They may say that my chosen tactics were a little less than desirable. But I don’t give a shit. It’s over now. I’ve been had. I’m tired, sweaty, overworked, never paid, drained of all hope, and still single. That’s depressing. I’m getting off the subject. 
This book is not about singlehood. The book covers some of the ridiculous dating situations that I’ve gotten myself into and somehow got myself out of. If I hurt or humiliate anyone during the process of telling my story, too goddamn bad. My mission here is not to consider the feelings of those who have scorned me. My mission here is to offer a book that will act as a generous contribution from me to society. To provide a vital guide to what not to do when seeking a mate so that you won’t make the same mistakes that I made. Walk down the same path of destruction that I laid. Go broke from the same huge prices that I paid. It wasn’t worth it. It never is. So pay close attention. 
For further guidance and understanding, I have concluded each chapter with an affirmation. A brief yet priceless affirmation that will encourage you to stop blaming yourself, the drugs, the alcohol, and the lack of sex (or too much bad sex) for your behavior. These critical affirmations will teach you who the hell to stay away from. You’ll learn how good judgment alone can prevent you from performing senseless, damaging, life-threatening acts that you may one day live to regret. So if you do not comprehend the overall teachings within the chapters, you can always refer back to the affirmations at the end. Marvel at them. Memorize them. Live by them. Die by them. Ball them up and stuff them inside your brain. Share them with others. And you will never go wrong. Now on with the story. . .

One Night Only

There are those of us who love to go out and socialize. Toast with good alcohol. Dance to good music. Puff on good cigars. And, if appropriate, meet good potential mates. When the right encounter occurs, we unattached individuals are convinced that things will go from the exchanging of phone numbers to the first call to the first date to the first kiss to the first time to the first anniversary to the first wedding RSVP to the first baby carriage. Right? 
Wrong. Doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes we may approach someone and not get any conversation whatsoever. If we do, we may not get the digits. If we do, we may not get the returned phone call. If we do, we may not get the first date. If we do, it may be a disaster. If it is, we never make it to the kiss, the sex, the wedding, or the baby carriage. 
Then there are those of us who get tired of the random party scene. We are looking for an alternate route. So we abandon the barren bars and corny clubs. We decide to talk to family, friends, co-workers, and churchgoers to find out whether or not they know a good, compatible person to introduce us to. We listen closely to our options. We take our pick. We sit on the edge of our seats and wait for that initial phone call or e-mail. One of the two occurs. We love the conversation or message exchange. We anticipate that first date. We pray that this could be it. But what if it isn’t? 
If it isn’t, we decide to hit the party scene again. But on a different level this time. We attend only events that are being thrown by someone we know. That way we already have an idea of what types will be in attendance. Hopefully we trust, admire, and respect the host or hostess. If we do, then we eagerly assume that the majority of his or her guests will be worthy of the same adulation. If we meet someone interesting, the ability to obtain a reliable reference is there. In case things don’t work out with the person we’ve selected, we take mental notes of other options so we can ask about them later. But considering the faith that we’ve put into the host or hostess, we have already assumed that our first choice will probably work out. Probably is the operative word here. 
If things don’t work out, then we get tired of all forms of socialization. Period. All parties become superfluous. All matchmaking options have been exhausted. We decide to end our quest altogether. We stick to our regular routine and stop going out of our way to meet someone. But we still secretly hope that we’ll experience a close encounter at  the gas station, grocery store, health club, or church. That way, after telling everyone that we’d given up on relationships, we can lie and say that our furthest expectation was to find that special someone. We’d just been minding our business. Taking care of our affairs. Feeling content simply being alone. Then along came a miracle. Fate was on our side that day. Or was it?
As you will soon discover within the first three chapters of this book, nothing I just said really matters. It doesn’t matter where or how you meet a person. Nothing is guaranteed. No territory is safe. The enemy could be lurking anywhere. Segregating sinners from do-gooders is illegal. So the boldest adulterers are still allowed to go to church. The most devious deceivers are still allowed to shop at the grocery store. The biggest liars are still allowed to work out at the gym. And the most despicable individuals are still allowed to befriend our matchmakers and pull off an unsuitable hookup. 
I’ve run the gamut. I’ve been through it all. The parties, the matchmaking, the subconscious searches, and the letdowns. The situations where eager anticipation lasts so much longer than the actual event. How did I get through all of these ill-fated encounters and learn to prevent similar situations from occurring? Turn the page and find out.

Chapter 1: Doug the Heinous Dragon

It was the worst blind date of my entire life. And believe me, I’ve been on some fucked-up blind dates. But this one took the cake. It all started the night I went to dinner with a married girlfriend of mine. As I sat there all night, complaining about the ridiculous men I’d been meeting, my girlfriend suggested that she introduce me to a wonderful man named Doug. 
Doug was a great friend of hers who she’d worked with prior to meeting and marrying her husband. Prior to meeting and marrying her husband, I say. Question: If he was all that, why hadn’t she gotten with him? As I wondered about this, my girl explained that since she and Doug had developed such a lovely working relationship/friendship, they’d decided to keep it that way. Yeah, right. I smelled a rat. But rather than exterminate the situation immediately, I foolishly opted to pinch my nose and allow the hookup to unfold. 
According to my girlfriend, Doug was the bomb. He was in his mid-thirties, had a kind, generous personality, a great job, beautiful apartment, luxurious car, grand bank account, vast interests, impeccable wardrobe, active lifestyle, etc. Now, Doug wasn’t “a looker,” as my friend put it. But he was tall, husky like a football player, attractive enough, and very well put together. “Perfect” to be exact. I told my friend that he did indeed sound like a great guy. Plus, tall, husky, football player look-alikes need love too, right? And since my girlfriend was very attractive, intelligent, kind, and Godfearing, I trusted that she could rate our compatibility well and use good judgment. My now overly excited girlfriend said that she’d call Doug that night and arrange for him to contact me. 
Doug e-mailed me the following Monday. His message was articulate, and he sounded interesting and distinguished. After exchanging several messages, I was looking forward to meeting him later on that week. But he was facing a very busy schedule and put me off until later on that following week. I figured that big Doug must have it going in a big way, putting me off like that. But the diss extended my anticipation even further. 
During the middle of that next week, Doug and I made plans to meet after work at a Mexican restaurant that was close to both of our jobs. Since I took the train in, darling Doug offered to take me home after dinner. I declined at first, thinking that might be a bit much. But he insisted that it would be no trouble at all. When I remembered how my girlfriend had described him, I finally agreed. After all, if things went as I hoped they would, maybe we’d go somewhere after dinner and I’d invite him up for a drink afterward. 
At last, the day of our date arrived. I took a change of clothes to work so that I’d be so fresh and so clean for this one. I had to come correct. The workday dragged on for what seemed like sixteen hours, as opposed to the normal eight. By the time five o’ clock finally rolled around, I was anxious and nervous as hell. I charged to the bathroom to begin my transformation. I emerged laced in a dazzling sleeveless silk ice blue Armani blouse and flowing cream pants. My strappy sandals were severely heeled. My hair was simply flipped, and my makeup was freshly applied. I hate to brag, but my shit was tight. 
I felt like a movie star when I stepped from my building and into a cab. It was hot as hell, but I was confident that the extra blot powder, deodorant, and perfume that I’d applied would preserve my look and aroma. People were staring. My hair and pants were swaying in the wind. My nerves were buzzing around the pit of my stomach like bees in a hive. I was scared. What if Doug didn’t like me? What if he didn’t think I was good enough for him? What if my conversation didn’t appeal to him? 
Many more thoughts of insecurity had flown through my mind by the time the cab pulled up in front of the restaurant. I paid the driver and stepped out into the dense heat. I thought about just going home. Social outings weren’t supposed to make me feel this sick and distressed. But it was too late to turn back now. Doug was probably waiting for me. My girlfriend was probably depending on me. Plus, as panicky as I was, I really didn’t want to leave. This could be it. This one could right all of the previous wrongs. But there was only one way to find out. So I inhaled deeply, hoping that the hot summer oxygen would calm my jagged nerves, and walked into the restaurant. 
I looked around for Doug. I saw no one that should have been Doug. The only thing I saw was some hugely oversized man staring intently at a menu hanging from the wall. He looked over and smiled at me. I just stood there and stared at him. Eventually, after he wouldn’t take his eyes off me, I acknowledged him with a nod of my head and looked around again for Doug. 
Other than the hugely oversized man, the place was empty. But the hugely oversized man couldn’t be Doug. Because Doug was husky like a football player, not fat like a pregnant woman headed straight for the delivery room after passing her due date by ten months. Doug was well groomed, not shabby and ashy with a neckline that ended somewhere in the middle of his back. Doug dressed impeccably. So I knew that he wouldn’t be caught dead in a tight ass, dusty, used-to-be-white-but-now-it’s-gray, Catholic school uniform shirt, moth-eaten pants that used to be black but now are also gray because they’ve been washed too many goddamn times, thick ass, faded black sweat socks, and flat, beat-up, run-over, soleless, navy blue shoes similar to the ones worn by Dorothy’s mother on The Golden Girls. 
The Doug I’d heard about wouldn’t have been caught dead rocking bifocals as thick as his ass that tightly clutched a face reminiscent of Professor Klump’s in The Nutty Professor. And he wouldn’t dare wear a paper-thin nylon coat that wasn’t long, wasn’t short, wasn’t any sort of length you’ve ever seen. It was a coat that just fell somewhere in the middle of his ham-hocked, knock-kneed, overstuffed thighs. 
I convulsed and almost cried as this hugely oversized man came bobbling over toward me. Run, I thought to myself immediately. He doesn’t know who you are yet, so just run! But I didn’t want to do my girlfriend like that (even though the bitch had done me like this).
The hugely oversized man approached me and introduced himself. He was indeed Doug. His high-pitched voice squeaked around his lispy tongue. When I managed to ask how he was doing, he giggled, wheezed, and just shook his hugely sloped head. The rolls on the back of his neck did the jitterbug. At that very moment, I suffered a mental breakdown, but I somehow kept my composure. I’ve been bamboozled, I thought to myself as I watched the mountain of flesh hanging from Doug’s chin and neck jiggle with excitement. I just gave him a strained smile, turned toward the hostess, and reluctantly asked for a table for two. 

I walked through the restaurant and prayed that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. If I did, I would swear Doug was my uncle. I stared at my feet and wondered where I’d gone wrong. As my eyes locked with the fiery red Spanish tiles that lined the restaurant floor, I connected with the flames in hell. What had I done to deserve this, Lord? I asked myself. I was a good person, prayed every night, treated others as I wanted to be treated, all that. So why was this happening to me? Why was I suffering this diabolical damnation? 
When Doug and I sat down, I got the close up view. And it was worse than I’d thought. His teeth were unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Well, maybe they resembled something I’d witnessed on Wild Discovery. Doug’s teeth were very, very small and very, very sharp. And there were so many of them. So many that they had formed their own rows of existence. They were the teeth of a piranha. The type of teeth that would fuck you up to the bone if you dare upset or attack their owner.
And Doug was sick. Not sick in the head, but sick with a cold. It was 110 degrees in the shade and this man had somehow managed to get ill. He called it a “slight cold.” Along with his “slight cold” came a mucus-filled chest, extensive wheezing, and major coughing. Along with all of that physical exertion in the sweltering heat came sweat. And not just regular sweat. I’m talking about that sick-ass, VapoRub, heating-pad, soggy-bathrobe type of sweat. And along with all that sick-ass sweat came a pungent odor that oozed through Doug’s damp, infected pores. Bottom line, I was in a fucked up situation that I didn’t know how to get out of. If I left, I’d be rude and mean. If I stayed, I’d slit my wrist with my butter knife. I was stuck. In the end, I decided to just stay. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? When you get lemons, make lemonade, right? I know. That bullshit never worked for me either. 
Throughout dinner, Doug’s clammy, stale, musty aroma burned the hairs that lined the insides of my nostrils. (I know because the ashes fell into my plate.) In between his phlegm-filled whooping coughs, I had to hear about his cheap-ass apartment out in the suburbs, his data-entry club, the little girl from church who he didn’t want to give singing lessons to on weekends but did anyway because he’d promised her mother he would, his brother’s kids, his cousin’s reptiles, his bowling league, etc. I didn’t give a damn about anything he was talking about. Doug was a very uninteresting man. I found myself talking about sports and anything else that would keep me awake throughout this smelly, hellish experience.
Finally, dinner was over. But was it really? 
“So, do you wanna take a walk?” Doug snorted. 
I gasped in horror. A walk? Was he crazy? I sat there with my mouth hanging open, my eyes darting from side to side, not knowing how to appropriately address such an absurd question. 
“My car is parked about three blocks away from here. Wanna walk?” he wheezed. 
I breathed a sigh of relief after realizing that he didn’t mean a romantic walk, then decided to walk to the car with Doug in order to help speed up this funky situation.
When we got outside, I began walking at what I thought was a normal pace. But as Doug rambled on about his data entry club, I noticed that he was several steps behind me, hobbling along and breathing quite heavily. I caught the hint and slowed down so that Big Daddy could catch up. When he did, I turned my head in the opposite direction so that I wouldn’t have to inhale the putrefied odor coming from his bacteria-infested system. Yet as Doug’s paper-thin coat blew fiercely in the hot wind, the pungency emitted at an even more alarming rate. I swallowed continuously in order to stop the bile that kept creeping up in my throat. 
As we continued walking for what seemed like forever, Doug began talking about the data-entry club’s membership roster. I sang old Negro spirituals to myself in hopes that some of my ancestors’ strength would rub off on me. When we finally arrived at the car, my eyes began to tear up at the mere thought of having to sit so close to Doug and his stench.
Once inside, I quickly rolled my window down and stuck my head out of it, acting as if I was truly enjoying a view that I’d seen a thousand times before. Doug told me he could turn the air on, but I insisted that I preferred fresh air. There was no way in hell I was going to sit in that car with the windows rolled up and allow Doug’s funk to continuously circulate and violently suffocate me. 
As Doug rattled on about absolutely nothing, I absentmindedly threw in an “Aha” here or an “Uh-huh” there, whenever it seemed appropriate. I was just glad that the date was almost over. I thought about what I would tell my girlfriend the next day. “Thanks, but no thanks,” or “Rot in hell, bitch.” Considering how much she cared about Doug, I decided to try to be nice about the whole thing. 
Now, here’s the kicker. When we arrived at my building, I knew this man was not going to try to kiss me, come upstairs, or anything like that. But what he did do was even more asinine as far as I was concerned. Doug pulled up to the curb, put the car in park, turned to me, and smiled that spiked-tooth smile. Then he wheezed, “Now, when you talk to our friend tomorrow, tell her that I worked out for the past two days straight, shaved, and wore my Sunday best!” 
“Oh, uh, okay,” I stammered, struggling to find the damn door handle. 
“I’ll be in touch,” Doug assured me, shaking his head and jiggling the pork hanging from his chin and neck. 
“Okay,” I repeated, already out of the car. I broke ass toward my building before he could say anything else. I walked through my lobby and felt like vomiting. I’d been shocked into a hypothermic state. I was numb. Gangrene was setting in. I felt cold and desperate and vulnerable, like my world was coming to an end. I had no backup plan. No B, C, or D plan man to turn to. I had to figure out a way to shake this hopeless feeling off me. 
As I walked through my apartment door, everything looked different. My world was now tainted. I felt dejected, yet relieved. I was finally away from that man. He was behind me now. I had no one to turn to, but at least I could start over again. I immediately picked up the phone and called one of my best friends, who’d been waiting anxiously to hear about the date. As I filled her in on the gruesome details, she laughed so hard she cried. “On to the next,” I said as we attempted to run through a list of other bleak-to-nonexistent options. 
The next day, the girlfriend who’d hooked Doug and me up e-mailed me first thing in the morning and asked how my “meeting” had gone. Oh, so suddenly we had gone from a date to a meeting, huh? The fool must have realized the huge mistake she’d made. 
“The ‘meeting’ was okay, but Doug and I didn’t seem to have much in common,” I replied. That was good, wasn’t it? Not mean, but firm enough to let the girl know where Doug and I stood. Nowhere. She caught the hint quickly and never mentioned his name again.
Bottom Damn Line: Fuck a blind date.

Want more? Purchase a copy of "I Wish I Never Met You" in the format of your choice here on Amazon or here on Simon &Schuster! If you're interested in learning more about my additional novels, click here!


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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Coming Soon! New Contemporary Romance Book With A Touch of Holiday Spirit!

Even the most perfectly laid holiday plans sometimes go awry…
Interracial entertainment industry it couple Sasha Williams and Drake Lancaster are still going strong. Her impeccable publicist skills have kept him on the A-list, helping Drake land the lead role in a major Valentine’s Day movie. The minute filming wraps, the couple plan on taking a much-needed getaway to Cabo San Lucas, inviting both of their families to join them and meet for the very first time.

But plans go astray when Drake begins shooting and reverts back to his bad boy ways. He gets into a huge altercation with the director and ends up being booted from the movie. Drake tries to smooth talk his way back in, to no avail. He’s quickly replaced by Mitch Morrison, a hot young African-American actor who’s recently taken Hollywood by storm.

News of Drake’s firing is all over the media, with everyone declaring he’s killed his career. Meanwhile, Mitch is being touted as the film’s great savior, and the positive press lands him on the doorstep of Sasha’s PR firm. She jumps at the chance to represent him, which infuriates Drake, who’s certain Mitch will demand all of her attention and land roles that rightfully belong to him. But Sasha, who’s disappointed in Drake’s on-set behavior and exhausted from the immense amount of damage control it caused, insists that he’s wrong and says this is a good business opportunity for her.

What Sasha doesn’t realize is that Drake feels threatened by Mitch’s good looks and charismatic personality. He’s also worried the pair will bond over the fact that they’re both African-American, working together in a tough business that can be quite discriminatory. It doesn’t help matters when Drake’s career stalls and he can’t even get an audition, while Sasha and Mitch continue to thrive professionally.

The stress of it all puts a strain on the couple’s relationship. To further complicate matters, Mitch admits to Sasha that he’s developed feelings for her. She’s shocked and confused after realizing she just may have feelings for him, too.

With the pressures of Sasha and Drake’s rocky union continuing to mount, along with the anticipation of their polar-opposite families meeting and Sasha’s elusive affections towards Mitch, the couple can’t help but wonder whether everything they’ve worked so hard to build is about to come crashing down. In the end, they must figure out whether their love for one another is strong enough to withstand these newfound challenges and carry them through this Valentine’s Day.

Learn more about this second novella of "The Holiday Chronicles" series on the eXtasy Books Website! And click here to catch up on the series' first sexy X-mas novella, "A Naughty Jolly Christmas."

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For more of my books, please visit my Author Page on Amazon or my Simon & Schuster home page! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Book Alert! Calling All Lovers of Paranormal Romance Novels!

Shadow of a Man:

The pursuit of love can sometimes be a matter of life and death…

Veronica Level possesses the ability to read minds—but only during intense bouts of danger. It is within these perilous situations that she encounters Christopher Altman, a mysterious, centuries-old vigilante transformed into a dark, enigmatic shadow, who has always been there to protect her.

Despite the menacing circumstances surrounding their every encounter, neither Veronica nor Christopher can deny their desire for one another, especially after Veronica’s abilities show her the seductively handsome man hidden within the mystifying shadow. But just how far will they have to go in order to break the curse and be together without jeopardizing Veronica’s safety, or more importantly, her life?


Veronica rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. Cold tears fell from the corners of her eyes and slid down her temples, landing somewhere along her hairline. She was exhausted. This situation with the dark shadow had completely consumed her. As she struggled to release him from the evil curse, she’d fallen behind on her magazine deadlines, stopped taking proper care of herself, and had practically cut off all contact with her friends. Veronica knew that they were worried about her, but there was no way she could share her ordeal with them.

She closed her eyes and held her head in her hand despairingly, drifting off into a deep slumber. Every muscle in her body slowly began to relax. She was overcome with a sense of peace. Her mind entered a dreamlike state, and a tingling sensation swept over her toes and the tops of her feet. The feeling slowly made its way up Veronica’s calves, causing her to stir and moan softly. The touch of gentle fingertips caressed every inch of her. Veronica’s taut nipples vibrated while an intense desire ignited deep within her. She spread her legs, relishing what she knew was her shadow’s presence. And then, just when she felt an erect force press between her thighs, a loud thud awakened her.

Veronica sat straight up in bed, her breath short. She turned her ear toward the door. There was complete silence. She sat still for a few moments, waiting to see if there would be more noise. When there wasn’t, she assumed that her dog, Mona, had knocked something over. She lay back down and closed her eyes, hoping that her sweet dream would pick up right where it had left off.
But then Veronica heard the wooden floor in her living room let out a long, shrill creak. Mona’s tiny paws weren’t heavy enough to make that sort of sound. As her dog gave a loud bark, Veronica’s mind began to buzz with someone else’s devious thoughts...

‘Tis the season with Shadow of a Man, a steamy paranormal erotic romance, which is the first in its series. The second installment, Shadow of a Man: The Curse Runs Deep, coming soon!

My contemporary erotic romance, A Naughty Jolly Christmas, is out now! It’s the first novella in my series, The Holiday Chronicles, and the follow up, My Unconditional Valentine, will be released in February 2019! Here’s where you can find all of my novellas:

Hello everyone! My name is Denise, and I am a lover of romance, happy endings, and the art of storytelling. I used to cry as a three-year old child when my mother read to me because I so badly wanted to read the books myself! Once I learned, I constantly had my nose in a novel (especially the ones I’d sneak from my mom’s bookshelf). I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and draw inspiration from Chicago, the city where I was born and raised, as well as Los Angeles, which is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve published several books and short stories, and I’m an avid ghostwriter and editor. When I’m not sitting behind my computer, you can find me in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.

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