It’s coming! The second book in my Forbidden Love series, A Little Bit Sinful releases Monday, April 1st! I’m so thrilled to share this book with y’all. I really fell in love with Clarissa and Justin and I hope you will too. An excerpt will be coming in the next day or two so watch for that, but in the meantime, here’s the cover and back cover blurb. 

She’d made all the wrong choices, but ended up in the most perfect situation. 

Justin Rodale is the wealthy bastard son of the Duke of Chanceworth. He owns the most lucrative and luxurious gaming establishment and caters to London’s elite. Educated with the rest of the aristocrats, he knows all the rules by which Society lives, but he is beholden to no one.

Clarissa Kincaid has been raised to be the perfect English lady. She knows precisely the sort of match she should make and she’s fairly certain she’s found that with a respectable gentleman. But the man won’t commit and she finds herself seeking assistance in the form of seduction lessons from Justin.

This is a challenge the charming Justin can not resist. She may think that he knows nothing about her needs, but he’s determined to show her that he knows plenty about her secret desires. He has no intention of publicly ruining the girl, but he’s determined to privately tempt her into some slightly sinful behavior.

I’m so pleased to finally be able to share this with y’all. So without further ado, I give you the cover for my upcoming June release, The Secrets of Mia Danvers



Isn’t it stunning? I’m just in love with it!

I’ve always believed that most writers have at least one element to writing or storytelling that they do naturally well. For me, it’s always been dialogue. When it comes to writing, I hear the story, from the characters’ mouths – what can I say, my head is full of British people. In any case because dialogue is a thing that comes readily for me as a writer, I have a hard time explaining how to write dialogue. But aspiring writers as me all the time so I put my thinking cap on and came up with five dialogue tips I learned from watching CSI (and really any of the three in the franchise would do).

1. Don’t over use character names - This could also be called the Peppermint Patty syndrome, “How are you doing, Chuck? Don’t you want to come to the party, Chuck?” But in CSI, in particular Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami does this all the time. He overuses character names and it’s annoying and distracting. “What do you think, Mr. Wolff?” “I don’t know, but we’ll find out, Mr. Wolff.” Who talks like that?! When you’re in a scene and you have two or more characters talking to one another you don’t need to continue to have them address one another by their names. Consider your own conversations, how often do you actually use someone’s name? Not often unless you are doing so for emphasis. It’s a rare occasion for me to call my husband by his first name. Do the same in your dialogue, keep it to a minimum and only use it for the occasional pop.

2. Don’t have characters talk about stuff they already know – “Remember Joan when Aunt Sally died and she told us about the treasure map in the garage, we should go after it.” This happens in CSI all the time, they rehash evidence and how things are done in the lab even though they would clearly know how to do those things if they actually work in a lab. It’s to convey information to the audience, but it’s not done cleverly. The dialogue isn’t working as hard as it can. You have to work harder to get the information on the page rather than have characters rehash information they already know. *as a bonus tip, this can also be used when you’re writing descriptive narrative. For instance, your heroine isn’t going to notice every piece of furniture in her living room because she sees it everyday, but she might notice the cigarette burns on the arm rest that act as a constant reminder to her abusive husband.

3. Don’t go for the cheap laugh or pun – If you’re a CSI watcher you know what I’m talking about here. It happens right before the first commercial break, right before the theme songs kick in. All three shows do it though the original is the worst. You know it’s the dead horse jockey at the opening and the dialogue goes something like this:

“I wonder who killed him.”
“I don’t know, but it’s going to be a race to finish line.”

Clearly none of you write that badly, but keep in mind that you don’t want to go for the cheap thrill. Unless of course the puniness fits one of your characters, you want to make sure you don’t go down the cheesy road.

4. Don’t have them talk about stuff that makes no difference to the story – I suppose this might serve a purpose on CSI to create red herrings, but for the most part having your character talk ad nauseam about stuff that doesn’t pertain to the action of the story is, well, unnecessary. Like other details in your book, you want your dialogue to propel the plot forward so skip the niceties and the random conversations that mean nothing and focus on the story at hand.

5. Skip the musical montage – Well obviously our books come without soundtracks, but you know those scenes I’m talking about? The ones usually in the lab where we’ve got the groovy music going and we’re seeing all the technical stuff that the CSI’s are working on. Consider those long passages of introspection a writer’s musical montage. Narrative is needed, but break things up, especially if you have more than one character in a room, you certainly don’t want two pages of introspection in the middle of a conversation. Your readers will forget what the characters were talking about. 

Okay so a little tongue in cheek, but you get the drift. Dialogue is crucial to character-driven fiction and something all writers should learn to do well. Other tips you can try is finding a good show to watch and just listen to the dialogue – anything by Aaron Sorkin (he’s a dialogue wizard), old episodes of Friends any of the Oceans movies though Oceans 11 is particular good. Listen to how the characters bounce lines back and forth and how the dialogue moves the story forward. You can also read your dialogue aloud or better yet, have someone else read it aloud to you, that way you can hear what’s stilted and you’ll also catch missing words.

**blog post originally posted at Savvy Author blog**

Okay y’all today I’m going to get real. I’m talking baring my soul kind of honesty today. Everyone always talks about how much becoming a parent will change your life. We all know that. We’ve lived it. And those changes to our lives vary as widely as our lifestyles. But there are always surprises. I’m not sure what all your surprises were, and I don’t really have time or room to hit on all of mine, but I wanted to touch on some of the more profound surprises. First a little backstory – as you’ve probably gleaned from some of my previous blogs, the Professor and I had a long road to become parents which included lots of fertility treatments, some failed adoptions and more tears than either of us were prepared for. So there’s that aspect of my life. And then there is my writing. I have had my share of successes in this business. I’ve written for two different publishers, made some money, won some prestigious awards and been praised in Publisher’s Weekly, the Chicago Tribune and Booklist. But I have had my share (more than my share, if you ask me!) of defeats as well.

I lost my contract within weeks of becoming a mother and most would see this as a blessing, in disguise, of course. That’s what everyone always says, isn’t it? “Oh, you can’t see it now, but this is actually for the best.” Um, for whom, exactly? Yes, it was nice to not have to be on deadline while I was learning the ropes of motherhood and fielding some significant issues with our new kiddos. The stress was unbelievable. The girls weren’t free and clear, the parental rights hearing was scheduled, but we had months to wait for that to happen and then many more obstacles to clear before the adoption was all finalized. in those dark early days I was faced with my greatest fears…I had prayed for so long to become a mother, but I hadn’t realized I’d have to trade my career to achieve it. I felt punished and frankly very lost. I floundered. A lot.

My friends (mostly my writer buds) fielded insane calls and emails from me where I spouted craziness and panic and people would tell me to relax, enjoy the time off, the industry wasn’t going anywhere, I had plenty of time. But I’d been a full-time writer for the bulk of my adult life. I’d only been a mother for such a small amount of time and well bonding isn’t necessarily instant when you’re dealing with kids that you may or may not get to keep. As much as I loved them instantly and wanted, with my every breath, to be able to keep them, that certainty wasn’t there and I know (thought I tried not to) I held myself back just a little. Self preservation. I’d been hurt. A lot and well, I was terrified.

But back to the writing….the worst part was that I felt not only that I had lost my actual career, but I had lost my writer’s soul. The voices had gone quiet. Part of this I know is because (and here’s one of those surprises I mentioned) I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert and I love to be alone. I love quiet. Well, y’all know kids are anything but quiet. They make noise ALL THE TIME. My silence, my quiet, my sanity was shattered. I had no refuge, no way to refill my well because I was surrounded by noise all the time. It was a huge adjustment and I won’t lie, I still miss it, but I know how to deal with it now and I get my time which helps.

Okay so no voices in my head (those of you who aren’t writers, it’s okay, I’m not crazy, they aren’t scary-I-need-medication voices, just harmless imaginary character voices :-) ) In any case, at some point I started working again, just kind of going through the motions. I had completed a rough draft at some point before the girls and was ready to start revising the whole thing. Poor Emily heard more than anyone should my incessant whining of how I’d forgotten how to write, the characters weren’t working, the writing was flat, etc. I worked and I worked and it seemed every word I added or every word I cut was painful.

Of course it didn’t help matters that I’d decided to work on the most challenging book of my career, a big historical romantic suspense full of a large cast of characters, multiple viewpoints, lots of dead bodies and a heroine with a disability. (<– this book, btw, is The Secrets of Mia Danvers coming out in June!) Okay, so sometimes I’m not that bright.

Needless to say after an enormous amount of time and energy I finally finished that damn book and I’m waiting to hear from NYC on it. It took me forever and it doubled in size during revisions. But still through all of that, the entire process was excruciating, I don’t think I had any days in there that went well, where the words flowed or the characters whispered in my ears. So still I believed that somehow along the way I’d lost the magic, lost my writers gift.

And then last week something amazing happened. I started working on a new idea, something that just sort of sprang from my mind, something not quiet as plot-heavy and the ideas just started pouring out. The best part, the characters are talking. At night while I’m trying to sleep, during the day while I’m playing with the girls or we’re watching something on PBS. And at nap time I sit down at my laptop and write. It’s not easy, writing is never easy for me, but it’s working, and I feel at peace. (and this book is A Little Bit Wicked

Maybe everyone was right, maybe this time away from deadlines has been just what I’ve needed to heal and grow and all that good stuff (though I’m still not convinced). But as my father always says, it is what it is and well the only thing to do now is move forward, keep writing and know that eventually I’ll find the right combination again and my career will start yet again.

**this blog was originally posted at the Peanut Butter on the Keyboard blog**