Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Secondhand Heart”

Happy Book Birthday, Secondhand Heart!

Aaaah!  It’s here!  There are so many steps to completing a book, and the release day always seems so far in the future. But it always sneaks up on me.

I’ve been talking a lot about this book lately, of course, and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. This is a book of firsts for me. It’s my first contemporary romance. It’s also the book that made me decide to go totally indie. It’s scary to go in a completely new direction, but it’s really exciting, too.

SHH - Teaser 3

I hope you’ll check it out. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited, and of course, to own. If you like it, please tell a friend. All of your friends, actually. And a few strangers.  I’ll leave you with another excerpt, and later this week when I’m done with this movie (we’re finishing up with overnights, even tonight), I’ll be able to crack open some champagne!

**

“I need to say this to you now, because if I’ve learned anything from this week, it’s that keeping my mouth shut is the worst kind of poison. The kind that festers and kills from within.” He walked towards me and took my hands in his. His felt clammy, he was nervous. “I love you. I love you because you’ve shown me what a real relationship is supposed to be like. I love you because you care about everyone else more than yourself. But I wish you could see in yourself what we all see in you. I love you because I knew you were scared as hell to take a chance on me, and you did it anyway. I love that you’re smart and funny, but you admit what you don’t know. I love you because you’re totally comfortable being you, and it’s sexy as hell. And I love you because I thought I was coming back home to die, basically, but I’ve never felt more alive than I have since I’ve met you.”

I didn’t think anything else could shock me this week. I had so many things I wanted to say right now, but as they crashed together in my head, they didn’t work when I tried to say them. “I love you, too.” His face brightened at my words. It was true, I loved him for some of the very same reasons he loved me. I always thought when I finally said it out loud, I’d feel like I was leaving Jordan behind, but I didn’t. He was coming along for the ride. And Cam was okay with that.

 

 

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Secondhand Heart Preview and Excerpt

Secondhand-Heart-FOR-WEBTime flies when you’re releasing books.  I started Secondhand Heart on Valentine’s Day, sitting in Barnes and Noble in Hyannis, eating cheesecake with Julie.  The words came fast, one weekend alone brought ten thousand. I never thought I’d be releasing it eight months later. This book changed a lot of things for me. It was the book that made me decide to become a true independent author. It’s my first contemporary romance. So even though it’s my fourth full-length book, I feel like this is a new beginning for me. It’s scary and exciting and totally fitting for this book.

Secondhand Heart is a book about new beginnings, ones the characters never expected and really never wanted.  Daisy had married her childhood sweetheart, but he was killed in the line of duty.  Cam had won reality competition The Spotlight, or so he thought, anyway. His wife, daughter of the show’s producer, fixed the results. Once word of the fix got out, Cam’s music career unraveled.

The great thing about life is you don’t only get one chance to do something. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. Even though Daisy doesn’t think she’s ready to move on–especially not to start a serious relationship with someone–Cam makes her feel something she hasn’t since she lost her husband. Alive. Ready to take chances again.

If you’ve read any of my Night Songs books, you’re used to vampires and rock stars. Secondhand Heart brings you a country singer, Cam Hunter. I set the Night Songs books in Las Vegas because vampires, rock stars, and Sin City had so many similarities, but Secondhand Heart takes place in my hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I originally wanted to set it in Nashville, hence the country singer. But as I figured out who the major players were in this book, I realized it was a story about coming home, and I couldn’t set it anywhere else.  Later this week, I’ll be sharing some of the places featured in the book. I loved using the town as a setting, and even more, a character.

Sex, blood, and rock n’ roll?  It’s all still there, just in a different way.  It’s a sexy book, a sweet book, but it’s not a straight line to Happily Ever After Town. I won’t give anything away, but not everyone makes it to the end.

I hope you’ll add it to your Goodreads TBR list, or maybe even pre-order it.  Keep reading for an excerpt, and check back as I’ll be blogging about the book all this week.

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Bree was my best friend, but she couldn’t keep a secret for shit. That’s how I knew that my sister Evelyn’s surprise plans for my twenty-first birthday couldn’t have been that exciting. Bree hadn’t slipped at all. And she loved gossip. Any time I had news I didn’t want to share with the world, I simply didn’t tell her.

“What did you do last night?” Ev laughed at me when I rolled down the stairs at the crack of noon. Her skin was glowing, probably from sunrise yoga or something. I still had sleep crumbs in my eyes. “Did you have a date?”

“Shh.” Perfect example. I let Bree sign me up for an online dating site a few weeks ago, and of course, she told Ev. I got way more hits than I expected, and certainly more than I wanted. Turns out older dudes are really into chubby chicks. Some of them I talked to, because I didn’t want to look like an asshole, but I always blew them off before we could actually go out. “I didn’t go anywhere. I watched baseball with Dad and drank a six pack of blueberry beer.”

I didn’t have to tell her that I spent the night missing Jordan, my husband. She knew. He’d been killed in the line of duty a year ago in Afghanistan. That roadside bomb took everything from me. His dog tags clanked against the counter as I made my coffee. I never took them off.

“Oooh. Bunker Hill?” Ev asked and I nodded. “I love that stuff. But it’s got a higher alcohol content than the swill Dad likes to drink, so it will kick your ass if you’re not careful. No wonder you look like hell. I figured you’d be out partying it up.”

“Thanks a lot.” I ran my finger under my eyes, not remembering if I washed off my makeup last night. I’m sure I’d cried it all off, anyway.  I needed grease to kill this hangover. I pulled out the frying pan and cracked some eggs.

“We have a birthday cake shake, Daisy,” my mom almost sang as she danced around me making my eggs and toast. Now that Mom worked for Lifedrinks, a weight loss shake that among other things, promised world peace, she judged everything I put in my mouth. “All you need is skim milk, chocolate pudding mix—“

I couldn’t take this shit before my coffee. “Why would I want that when I can have real birthday cake for my birthday?” Wait a minute. “In what universe is pudding better for you than eggs?”

I didn’t have to turn away from the frying pan to know that my mother was sputtering. Ev giggled. I’d asked her something that wasn’t covered in the sales brochure. “It’s about feeling satisfied. And in control.”

“Ma, stop it. It’s Daisy’s birthday weekend.” Ev shook her head. Mom’s sales pitches had been making us bristle for years. She’d run the gamut of home party products, including sex toys, which I’d discovered, much to my horror, when I moved back home. I hoped she didn’t hear Ev ask me about having a date. I didn’t need her butting her nose into that. Or making suggestions.

Shake in hand, Mom left the house in her nuclear green spandex pants without saying another word.

“What’s with the glasses?” I motioned towards Ev’s face.

“Oh! Aren’t they great?” Ev pushed the glasses up on her nose. “One of my clients made them. She uses recycled water bottles for the frames.” Ev was a publicist for independent artists. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t make much money, so Ev often swapped her time for product.

I brought my breakfast over to the table, and Ev joined me. “They’re fabulous.” I lied, not asking her if there was a prescription. I knew she could see just fine. They were way too big for her face, and after this weekend, I’d probably never see her wear them again. “Stop changing the subject and tell me what we’re doing.”

“You asked about my glasses!” She whacked me. “So mom and I went to the farmer’s market this morning on the way home from the commuter rail, and—“

“If this has to do with organic radishes, I may never talk to you again.”

“Let me finish! I made an awesome salad with all organic veggies while I was waiting for you to get your ass out of bed,” she giggled when I rolled my eyes. “You better eat some of it. And Dad wants to barbeque tonight.”

“You’re just going to eat salad? Sucks to be you.”

Evelyn only loved animals, she didn’t eat them or wear them. I loved them too, and I admired her conviction. But damn, I loved hamburgers, especially from the grill. With pepper jack cheese. And tomato. “We picked up some veggie burgers.”

“This is all good, but Dad barbeques like three times a week. What are we doing tonight?” The suspense was killing me. What could it be? I hung on to hope that it would make me feel better. Everyone tried so hard, and I couldn’t tell them their efforts just made me miss Jordan more.

“We’ll barbeque first. Bree’s going to come over with the kids so mom can watch them.” Ev continued. That was the other reason I knew Ev’s plans couldn’t have been so great. Any time Bree got out of the house without a diaper bag on her shoulder was monumental. She would’ve spoiled the surprise on account of that alone. “Do you remember Cam Hunter?”

“How could I not? Is he going to jump out of my birthday cake?” Before Ev became Evelyn, the hipster determined to save the world one recyclable at a time, she was Evey, an aspiring country singer. And she was damn good. When she was a senior in high school, she tried out for The Spotlight, a talent competition. She made it all the way to the television part, but nerves got the best of her when the show went live and she flubbed the lyrics in one of the early rounds. I still think she would have won if that didn’t happen. Cam Hunter was also on The Spotlight that season, but his nerves were just fine. He won the whole thing.

“Kind of. Did you hear about the bar he’s opening?” Ev bounced up and down in her seat with excitement. Obviously she still had a giant crush on him. I’d tease her about it later, but right now, I wanted to know what his bar had to do with my birthday.

“Oh yeah, I think I did.” Cam was from around here, too. Bridgewater, about a half an hour away. It had been really unusual that The Spotlight had two country singers from Massachusetts that season. Because he was local, and Ev had it bad for him, I’d sort of paid attention to his career, but he’d fallen off my radar lately, along with pretty much everything else.

“Guess who’s handling the press for the bar? We’re going to the grand opening!” Ev’s face fell when I didn’t share her excitement. I wasn’t into country music and I really wanted my surprise not to be one of her work things. “It’s invitation only, red carpet and everything.”

That did sound cool. Maybe a little too cool for me. “What the hell am I going to wear?”

“It’s not formal like the Oscars or anything, just wear something cute that you’d wear out.”

Ev was either in denial or oblivious about how much weight I’d gained since Jordan died. Or how much I hadn’t been out since then. “I don’t have any cute clothes.”

“Jeans and a top. You have jeans and a top,” Ev insisted. “Do you want go shopping?”

I wasn’t that concerned about it. “Hell no. This is a beach day. And all the kids have already worn out their parents. We’ll have the place to ourselves.” I prayed Ev had brought her suit. She’d know I’d want some sun time.

“It’s like you planned it this way.” Ev pulled over the strap of her tank top, revealing her bikini underneath. I didn’t correct her. Sleeping until noon and nursing a hangover was a perfectly sound life plan. Plus it gave her a chance to do all those adult things I wanted nothing to do with before I woke up, and then spend the afternoon at the beach with me.

 

Getting Inside The Story

Today’s brew: All the water. It will all make sense in a minute.

by Kristen

(Just a piece of business before I get down to business…Because the Night is now available on Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a subscriber, you can read it for free! Do this thing.)

Write what you know. It’s a great place to start.  We have enough to worry about when we start writing without bogging ourselves down with research. Pushing a plot forward with three dimensional characters is hard work, yo. Not to mention, once you get those characters all snuggled in, you have to throw a stick of dynamite into the works and make them put their lives back together. And live happily ever after, if you’re a romance writer.

I pulled from every single place I had. Las Vegas, going to eight million concerts, working in the entertainment industry…Secondhand Heart is set in my hometown of Plymouth, and I had a lot of fun making the town a character in the book. God knows we’ve got some quirks around here. In Silent Night, I laid it all out bare. That book is really about when I lost my mom, and there’s a lot more truth in that one than fiction. Even though it was therapeutic to write the story, it’s terrifying to offer something that will always be raw and painful to the world.

Eventually, we tap the well dry. I write a lot of books. Having to set stories in places I’m not familiar with, or give the characters jobs and interests I know nothing about, is more intimidating that I expected it to be. I might not be familiar with something, but my readers might know a lot about that subject. If I don’t get it right, people are going to call bullshit in a hurry.

The internet makes research easy. Kinda. Sort of. Not really. Anyone can put a website. I mean, they let me and Julie run this blog. They’ll really let anyone on the interwebs. You have to make sure you’re looking at credible information.  Wikipedia is a total crap shoot. I watched a video today, and then scrolled down to the comments where people ALL CAPPED that the technique demonstrated was extremely dangerous.  I’ve watched makeup videos where people use latex paint on people’s faces. (This can kill someone.) You still have to vet your resources, and make sure your information is spot on.

A story I completed recently was set in New Orleans. I’ve been to the city a couple times, and I have two great and beautiful resources named Angi Black and Sarah Guillory to help me with local flavor.  They made me feel a lot more comfortable writing from a remote location.  But the manuscript I’m currently working on is set in the Colorado mountains.

I’ve never been to Colorado. I’m not sure if Angi or Sarah have, either.

I love being outside, but I wouldn’t call myself an outdoorswoman. I have leopard print sneakers and do zumba, for crying out loud.

How the hell was I going to convey how it felt to be chased through a wooded mountainside?

Clearly, I had to climb a mountain.

Yesterday, I drove to the Blue Hills ski area. There’s no skiing this time of year, but plenty of hiking. Before you point and snicker at my loose interpretation of a mountain, it’s the best I could for a morning hike. I chose the red dot trail, basically because I parked near it. I didn’t bother to check if it was the most difficult trail until I got back to the parking lot (it was). But I climbed that bitch, all three quarters of a mile up to the top. It was exciting, terrifying, rocky as fuck, and exhausting.  I learned so many things about a mountain that I would have never figured out looking at a computer screen.  And, I liked it, so I might go back and climb that bitch again. Or find another bitch that needs climbing. (TWSS)

Uphill, both ways, over a rock. For real.

Uphill, both ways, over a rock. For real.

Now I’ve decided these characters rock climb. Wish me luck.

 

SECONDHAND HEART Cover Reveal and Excerpt!

Today’s Brew: Champagne!  No. I wish I had some beer. *looks sadly at water glass*

by Kristen

Everyone, I want you to meet Daisy and Cam. Daisy and Cam, this is everyone. SECONDHAND HEART is different from the rest of my books, which makes it exciting and of course, scary. (Putting out a book is never not scary, kids.) This is my first contemporary romance, featuring a young military widow and a failed reality show winner who comes back home to open a country bar. When I say home, I mean home. I set Secondhand Heart in my hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

SECONDHAND HEART is coming October 7. You can reserve your copy today, because I’m nice like that.

And speaking of beer, they drink a lot of beer in this book. A big shout out to Tim Hutchings, that’s Mr. Julie to you, for making sure I got all my locals spot on.

I need to stop talking about beer when I don’t have any and show you guys this damn cover.

Secondhand-Heart-FOR-WEBSecondhand-Heart-print-FOR-WEB

So what’s this all about?

Blurb:

Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over.

Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar.

When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family.

Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?

Excerpt:

The lights went down, and the crowd went wild and swarmed the stage. The VIP section was to the right of the stage, and elevated just enough that we could see everything perfectly. A cover band had played up until now, but Cam Hunter was headlining his grand opening celebration.

Ev and Bree cheered when Cam came onstage, so I did too, more to be polite. He was picking up my bar tab tonight, after all. I’d never met Cam in person. I’d only heard Ev rave about him and of course I’d seen him on TV. He was taller than I expected, his broad shoulders straining the fabric of his blue and orange plaid shirt. I know, the shirt sounds hideous, but it actually looked hot on him. Bree’d said it enough tonight, I was thinking like her now. He wore the top few buttons open, showing just a hint of his tan chest. I couldn’t see his eyes under the brim of his white cowboy hat, but his sandy hair curled around the collar of the shirt. He opened the show with his biggest hit, Lonely Heart Saloon, in case you were wondering where he got the name for the bar. I found myself staring at his lips as he sang the words of the song, watching them move in front of the microphone, wondering what those lips would feel like on my skin.

I shook myself back to reality, looking at Ev and Bree singing along, and I was the last thing on their mind. Looking back at the stage, I forced myself to look anywhere but Cam’s mouth. Only being able to see the lower part of his face drove me crazy. What was hiding behind those eyes? Were they laughing, twinkling? Hell, I didn’t even know what color they were, and suddenly, I needed to know.

Look away from his face. Jesus Christ. The faded denim made his thighs look amazing. Who the hell checked out thighs? Well, if you saw these thighs, they were worth checking out. On The Spotlight, Cam had been an overgrown, almost goofy kid, playing a role. Doing what he was told. Now, on this tiny stage just feet away from us in this club, it was obvious he was all man. All smoking hot man.

When Cam said good night and thanked us all for coming, I was surprised how disappointed I felt. I’d been so lost in watching him play, not only his guitar, but teasing the fans in the front row by dipping down low, those delicious thighs spread wide and staying just out of their reach, his fingers brushing their fingertips, I got so lost in my own fantasies that I forgot all about time.

After the show, my skin was all tingly and strange. Cam had awakened something inside of me I hadn’t even known was sleeping. But at the same time, it felt wrong. I shouldn’t be thinking that way about any man, yet. My husband hadn’t been dead a year.

But I wasn’t dead.

This was safe, lusting after some musician who didn’t know I even existed. No harm could come of it. Cam had built his entire career off of people wanting to be him or be with him. It was a fantasy, nothing more.

The crowd had thinned out a bit after the show, but since this was an Ev production, we were closing down the place. Bree babbled about the show, the songs I didn’t know. “Cam’s record company didn’t renew his contract. Can you believe that shit? So maybe he’ll be playing here all the time.”

If life could even be that kind. “It is his bar, so that would make sense. Cheap labor.” I giggled at my own joke. Beer made me hilarious. I thought so anyway.

“I read online that he’s thinking of taking a new direction with his music. Collaborating with some new songwriters and stuff,” Bree continued. “Maybe we’ll get to hear it first.”

Ev had disappeared again, to the mysterious backstage area. She came back out, with a huge grin on her face.

And Cam following her.

Holy shit, she was bringing him over to us. Bree started hyperventilating and squeezing my arm. “Calm down,” I hissed. “You’re going to break a bone. I can’t act cool if my arm is dangling below my elbow.”

“How can you even joke at a time like this? Oh my God, here he is.” Bree let go of my arm, and blood resumed flowing semi normally. I didn’t know what to say to him.

“Oh my God, I love you.” Bree’s teeth could never catch all the thoughts that came rambling out of her brain, even if she wasn’t at least three beers deep.

Cam took it in stride. “I love you, too.” He took her hand in his, and brought it up to his mouth and kissed it. Bree gave an Oscar worthy performance and did not faint.

“And this is my sister, Daisy.” Ev brought his attention to me.

His eyes were blue.

The kind of blue that jumped out against his tan skin, almost perfectly matched with his shirt. Somehow, my hand landed in his, I only knew because the electricity that danced along my skin.

“Evey’s told me all about you.” Nobody called my sister Evey anymore. It surprised me, and I liked it. I missed her being Evey. One side of his mouth went up higher than the other when he smiled, and the skin around his eyes crinkled at the corners. I knew too much time had passed for me to reply, but my brain kept short circuiting every time I tried.

“Not everything.” Ev bumped into him playfully. “You know, Daisy’s been looking for a job—“

“No, I haven’t.” What the hell was she doing?

Her mouth dropped, and she shot me a look as if she couldn’t believe I could be so stupid. “Do you have a job?”

“No.”

“So, as I was saying, my sister could use a job.” Ev rocked back and forth on her heels and batted her eyelashes at Cam. “You still hiring here?”

She totally caught Cam off guard. Great. “I’m sure we could make room for you, Daisy.” His smile made me melt, and almost forget I wanted to kill Ev. I liked the way my name sounded coming out of his mouth. “Why don’t you come in tomorrow for an interview?”

“Okay.” I think I squeaked. Ev, satisfied with mortifying me, moved in closer to Cam and continued chatting with him. He kept looking over at me, probably trying to figure out if I’d make a good bar back or dishwasher.

And he still held my hand.

“I’ve got to go. It was nice talking to you ladies.” He bowed his head and squeezed my hand one last time before he let go. “Daisy, let’s say, one tomorrow?”

I nodded, then watched him walk away and join another group. I know you’re wondering how his ass looked. Amazing.

The Night Songs Collection: This Is The Remix

Today’s Brew: I’m off coffee for the rest of the day. I’ll be setting my alarm for 3 AM, because my job is just that glamorous.

by Kristen

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been keeping things from you.  Not bad things, I just wasn’t ready to spill it yet.  But now I am.

I separated from my agent. My decision. Nothing bad happened, we’re still on good terms.  I will always appreciate the fact that Pam gave me my writing wings, and I know I wouldn’t be in this place if I never had her as an agent. I just wanted to take things in a different direction. The more I explored writing and publishing, the more I realized that right now, indie publishing is best for me.  I’ve known this for a while, but when I really wanted to self-publish a book more than even try to shop it around to publishers, I knew I had my answer.

Will I try the traditional route again? Maybe someday, if it’s right. Will I want another agent?  Not right now, but again, I’m leaving all my options open.  It’s exciting.  I have a lot of news to tell you about.

  • BECAUSE THE NIGHT and NIGHT MOVES are temporarily unavailable right now. BECAUSE THE NIGHT was re-edited and both books are getting new covers. Guys, they’re fucking awesome. I can’t wait to show them to you.  (Want to participate in the reveal?  Click here.)  Hang Le designed the covers and she knocked it out of the park. The books will rerelease July 12, and I’ll be doing a ton of fun promo that day.  I’ll tell you more about it that week.
  • WE OWN THE NIGHT is still releasing September 1, to correlate with the Audible release.  The cover reveal is also July 12, and you know, you should really sign up to participate.  🙂  It’s on Goodreads now.
  • Remember that book I said I wanted to self-publish?  Yeah, that’s happening.  It’s a contemporary romance, a new genre for me.  It’s called SECONDHAND HEART, and I’m looking to release it in October.  It features a 21-year-old military widow and a failed reality show star who’ve both come home (to my hometown) to start over.
  • That doesn’t mean the end of The Night Songs Collection.  In November, SILENT NIGHT, a book with new characters in the Night Songs world, will be released.  My elevator pitch for this book is Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Christmas Eve Mass.

So like I said, I had some news. It’s going to be a busy few months and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

 

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