When Opposites Attract and Write a Book Together

I recently saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years(!) and met her hubby for the first time. Within five minutes of our visit, I could tell they were a perfect match. Why? Because their personalities complement each other.

Yup, we’re talking about my of my favorite romance tropes, opposites attracting.

It’s no secret that my own hubby and I are opposites. If you’ve been following along this blog, you likely know that I’m the square one and he’s the fun one. I’m detailed, organized, and cheap; he’s … not. 😉 You’d think with so many differences between us, I’d have realized we were opposites when we met. Nope! It seems I’m still learning every. single. day. how differently we think, feel, and act.

Grr. 😉

Case in point. I don’t talk about this much, but for the past five years, hubby and I have been writing a book together. Yup, a book, folks. One with lots of words because hubby is so much more talkative than I am and a storyline that borders reality (because he loves sci-fi) and romance (because I love love!). And as you can imagine, it’s been quite an adventure. He’s cranked out the words during his work breaks and late at night, while I’ve been editing his words all the other hours of the day. Amazingly enough, by God’s grace, we are almost done. Well, he’s done writing, but I’m still editing (2 more chapters to go, baby!).

Now this is where our differences come into play—again. I mentioned to him, “You should start reading the story again from the beginning.” I mainly want him to see the changes I made and let me know if he likes them or not. His reply? “I already wrote it; I don’t want to read it.”

AIYA. This was me (minus the Star Trek uniform.)

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Seriously? What writer doesn’t go back and read his story after it’s finished (and even sometimes after it’s published because you like the characters so much)? It’s not just me, right? 😉

So, sigh. I think I know who holds the pen in this house (figuratively speaking because we both use laptops). And who’s more of the perfectionist when it comes to writing. Hint: It’s not him!

Yup, we are soooo different. Thankfully, it’s those differences that drew us to one another and keep us going and entertained, haha. And a very good thing I still like hubby and love him more and more every. single. day! 🙂

I’ll leave you with a song I’ve been listening to on repeat as I edit. It’s Kelly Clarkson’s new single, “Move You”. This is my aim with each book I write—to move my readers. I hope I can do justice to hubby’s story, too, and make it a worthwhile read (even if he won’t read it)!

How do you get along with someone who’s different from you? What do you learn from one another?

Cover Reveal: Love’s Choice

As an author I put a lot of my heart—not to mention, blood, sweat, and tears!—into my work. That’s why I need to feel passionate about what I write. I want my stories to not only entertain, but to bring meaning and value to those who read them.

When God opened the doors for me to join Melissa Storm‘s First Street Church Kindle world series, I jumped at the opportunity. All the books set in the fictional world of Sweet Grove, Texas are rooted in faith, hope, and love. The characters are realistic, three-dimensional, and most of all, flawed—emphasis on flawed. The authors writing in this world are actually encouraged to tackle messy issues that the church tends to shy away from, for example, depression, suicide, and addiction. As a former therapist, these kind of books speak to me. I’m very much about hope and change and growth, and what better way to address these issues than to tackle them head-on with my characters? This is the reason why I chose to write my book, Love’s Choice.

Here’s the official cover reveal!

Missy Clark left small town life and her first love when she went away to college. Five years later, she returns to Sweet Grove with a secret that’s sure to tarnish her reputation.

Nate Dawson never stopped loving Missy when she left home. Answered prayers have brought her back into his life, but the consequences she bears may destroy their future.

Can these high school sweethearts regain the innocence of the past and find hope and healing in the Lord to move forward?

I just finished Love’s Choice this week. It is a story unlike anything I’ve ever written, which makes me both nervous and excited to share it with you. The book, along with 19 other First Street Church books, will be released in November, so please stay tuned!

Thoughts on Going to Jail

The munchkins know to ask for approval before they download a game to play on the iPad. The process usually goes something like this: 1) Munchkin shows me the game; 2) I peruse the description, rating, and reviews; 3) I say yay or nay. It’s a pretty straightforward and quick process, and so far we’ve been able to keep the games age-appropriate and family-friendly. That is, until recently.

Lo and behold, I’ve discovered my mama brain doesn’t function too well during the summer. It could be that I don’t have enough me-time during the day, so I end up staying up way too late at night, and the gears in my head just don’t turn as fast when they’re tired. Or I could just be getting old. 😉 Either way, when one of the munchkins asked me to approve a game the other week, I inadvertently agreed to let them go to jail.

Yup. The game is all about trying to escape from prison.

What was I thinking?! At first, I reasoned it was a good game for problem-solving because breaking out of a locked establishment would require using your brain to come up with a plan and then to implement said plan. What I didn’t think through were the reasons why one would be in jail in the first place and how breaking out of jail would be a crime. Playing this game would in a sense make my child guilty of not just one crime, folks, but two! I had basically given a thumbs-up to illegal activity.

Sigh. Can we say, #mamafail?

All was not lost though! (There’s always gotta be a bright side to things, right?) 😉 Because life is all about trying and failing and trying again, I decided to make the best of this opportunity. We talked about what prison life is like (based off what I know from TV shows and books, not my own personal experience, mind you!), and also increased our knowledge of some key vocabulary words (e.g. warden). I also talked about my friend and former classmate who currently works as a therapist in prison. And get this, he’s not just a therapist for one jail, folks, but two! (Yes, he’s as awesome as he sounds!) And I even managed to share about how a large percentage of prisoners are from fatherless homes and the implications of that. Amazingly enough, I was able to use a game about jail to strike up some interesting and educational conversations about life. God’s grace, folks, God’s grace! 🙂

And to top it all off, I heard from my therapist friend recently that the Moodkins have become quite a hit in—you guessed it!—jail.

The therapists are using them for one-on-one counseling, as well as group therapy with the prisoners. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the cute therapy plush toys I created for kids to be helpful for adults, too. It’s been a huge blessing and affirmation for me to see them making a difference in schools, counseling centers, and now—prison. It just goes to show, you never know how God will use our small stuff for bigger purposes. 🙂

All this is to say that there’s been a lot of talk about jail in our home lately. There’s never a dull moment in parenting, is there? But thank God for His grace and providence in working everything out for good.

I hope you’ve had a good summer! We have less than one week of vacay here and then I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule. As always, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey. 🙂

What have you been doing this summer? How have you seen God at work in your life? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂

Welcome to Romance, Oregon (And My New Younger Man/Older Woman Story)!

Get Ready to Fall Into Romance!

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What happens when you mix together a group of authors, add laughter, lovable pets, and a dash of pumpkin spice? The perfect combination resulting in ten sweet novellas that’ll have you falling in love all over again!

FIR Boxed Set

Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from the USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town-its people-and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home. Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed!

Available for Pre-order Now!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunesKobo | Google

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Stories and Authors

Lost in Romance by Stacy Claflin

At Second Glance by Raine English

Blown Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Wired for Romance by Franky A. Brown

Restoring Romance by Tamie Dearen

Finding Dori by J.J. DeBenedetto

Katie’s Chance for Romance by Jessica L. Elliott

Chasing Romance by Liwen Y. Ho

Lessons in Romance by Kit Morgan

Finding Forever in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker

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Welcome to Romance Facebook Page

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Like and follow us on Facebook! You’ll stay up-to-date on release news, author interviews, future projects, and more!

~*~

Chasing Romance

By Liwen Y. Ho

I consider it an awesome privilege to be part of this boxed set with so many amazing authors! I’ve read several of the stories in the set so let me assure you, they are all such engaging and well-written stories. My story, Chasing Romance, was my first attempt at a younger man/older woman romance and I had such a fun time writing it. I can’t wait for you to meet Chase and Izzy!

Izzy Sutton shelved away her own needs when her ex-boyfriend left town eighteen years ago, leaving her to raise their daughter alone. With Gracie away at college now, she has time to invest in her Bed and Breakfast, as well as her secret songwriting job. Trouble starts though when a handsome singer comes looking for a room, forcing Izzy to decide if it’s worth opening up her heart again, especially to a much younger man.

Pop sensation Chase Lockhart owes his overnight fame to one song penned by an anonymous writer. Desperate for more chart-toppers, he travels to Oregon to collect the other songs she owes him. Finding her is the least of his troubles; getting past her defenses, including her dog who hates him, proves to be the real challenge.

Can a shared love of music lead a young singer and a single mom to fall in love? Anything’s possible in the small town of Romance.

~*~

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Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Fall Into Romance!  It’s just 99 cents!

It’s Release Day for On Waves of Wanderlust!

The family and I took a trip last week to our happy place: Kauai. We had a wonderful time, despite the fact that vacationing with kids is pretty much life in a different place. 😉 But life on a tropical island happens to be 100% more beautiful, fun, and soothing than life in the “real world”. Here are some photos to prove it …

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It was so amazing in Kauai that I actually disconnected from social media most of the time while we were there. Who wants to look down at a tiny screen when you can be looking all around at the amazing sights?! And breathing in the fresh ocean air. And smelling the sweet tropical smells. And tasting all the yummy fruit? Happy sigh! 🙂

But back to reality … and speaking of traveling … today’s release day for my newest book baby (and the last book in my Seasons of Love series), On Waves of Wanderlust!

YAY!

This story was inspired in part by a cruise we took to Mexico years ago with my in-laws when we only had one munchkin and one on the way. The one thing I’ve learned about cruises is that you’ve gotta be prepared to EAT. The food is amazing, not only in quality but in quantity as well. We’re talking a dessert buffet at midnight. Yup, craziness! The other thing about cruises is that you get to meet new people and go on new adventures … and maybe even fall in love, just like Macy and Jake did in this story. 🙂

If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, here’s your chance to take a virtual one. It’s the perfect length for when you need a pick-me-up during the day or need to escape real life for a little while. And best of all? It’s calorie-free and you won’t get seasick!

Check out the playlist for On Waves of Wanderlust here!

Where would you like to go on a cruise ship?

You’re Never Too Young or Too Old to Become an Author

I’ve mentioned before that I would not be the author I am without my (virtual) village of fellow authors. I owe a lot of my growth to one Facebook group in particular: Clean Indie Reads. Recently, I polled the members of CIR to ask them an important question: At what age did you publish your first book? Below is a snapshot of the results, which really surprised me!

As I suspected, the majority of the members published for the first time in their 30s; I did as well when I was 38. But I was blown away to discover many people were in their 50s and 60s when they first published! Whoa baby. 😀 How cool is that?

The results of this poll prove it’s never too late to pursue your dream of becoming an author.

Hubby and I were just talking about this the other day. He remarked,” Writing is one job where your age doesn’t matter.” There are plenty of other professions where youth is a desired trait and what usually accompanies it—beauty, strength and energy—are requirements of the job. Being a writer, however, only requires that you have a mind to think and imagine and some way to get your thoughts down on paper. Readers don’t mind how old an author is, as long as their stories touch them.

One is also never too young to become an author. One of my munchkins’ teachers is an awesome out-of-the-box thinker and he calls his class the 4th Grade Dreamers. He assigns “dreamwork” to the kids every week, homework that encourages them to think about their dreams and find tangible ways to pursue them. The dream of one of my munchkins (the one who has requested to never be mentioned on social media again, ahem) is to become an author. The mom part of me hopes he’ll also find a day job, but the author part of me is pleased to see him follow in my footsteps. 😉 It was really neat to see him working on his dreamwork this week, creating a story to share with his classmates. He enjoyed the process so much, he even laughed out loud as he wrote … which made me laugh. It was such a joy for me to see him take pleasure in something that took me almost four decades to embrace. I wish I had someone who encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an author when I was ten. Fortunately, I was still able to start—and continue—dreaming as an adult. Because age doesn’t matter. You’re never too young or too old to become an author.

So, whether you’ve always wanted to write a book or you have a manuscript hidden away somewhere that you want to publish, here’s my tip for you: Just do it! 🙂

If you don’t know where to start and have a million questions, feel free to ask me! Or you can join Clean Indie Reads, the most awesome authors group on Facebook and learn from the best.

Clean Indie Reads’ Facebook group

Clean Indie Reads’ Website

What dreams do you want to pursue?

4 Book Recommendations 4 You!

As an indie author who has a lot of indie author friends, I often help beta read their stories (and vice versa). As a result, I get early access to a lot of great books, four of which I want to share with you today. (Click on the book titles to go to their respective Amazon pages.)

1) A Tapestry of Tears by Gita V. Reddy

Blurb: This is a collection of a novelette and twelve short stories. The title story, A Tapestry of Tears, is set in the nineteenth century. A young couple from an affluent background fights against the time honored tradition of female infanticide. In another story, Division into Two, a family is torn apart by the brutal partition of British-ruled India into India and Pakistan. Told through the voices of an estranged aunt and nephew, it reveals the human tragedy that is often a fallout of social strife.

My review: “I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from reading this author’s work. She has a magnificent way of storytelling, as if she had lived the events herself. Each story in this collection evoked so many emotions from deep within and left lasting impressions on my heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the culture and people of India and for those who value eloquent and intentional writing.”

Recommended for readers who enjoy non-fiction, women’s fiction, as well as stories that focus on cultural issues and human relationships. There are some tough issues addressed in the title story, so if you are sensitive you may want to skip over it (but it is a really eye-opening piece).

2) Masquerading Our Love by Audrey Rich

Blurb: Junior year has been tough on Thalía Reynari.
A new high school, trying to fit in with new friends, schoolwork, family commitments. With everything going on in her life, Thalía could use a break, an adventure.
So when Thalía meets Christopher Cooper, the most gorgeous guy in town, her life should change for the better, right?
Don’t bet on it.
Thalía and Christopher find themselves caught in the middle of a simmering feud that’s kept the two families apart for a decade. And no one is sure if young love will be enough to bridge this divide.
As they hide their relationship behind masks Thalía must decide if this new love is worth losing her parents’ approval.

My review: “An opposites attract story, this is the perfect book for the awkward teen in all of us. I can’t wait for the next books in the series to read about the cast of supporting characters.”

Recommended for teens and adults who are young at heart. This story is a clean book that realistically delves into the heart and mind of teenagers and supplies just the right amount of angst to keep you reading.

3) Love Among the Lilacs by Jenna Victoria

Blurb: Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk.

Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter.

Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking.

Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is where your heart is?

My review: “This is the first book I read by the author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is polished, the characters are believable and the supporting cast is a quirky, fun bunch. I enjoyed the alternating points of views and seeing how the characters grew to accept and care for each other.”

Recommended for romance readers who enjoy stories with well-rounded characters.

4) All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao

Blurb: When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Till blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.

Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to get her out of it.

My review: “I know I’m always in for a treat when I open up one of Ines Bautista-Yao’s books, and this one did not disappoint! The author has such a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of young characters. I love friends-to-lovers stories and could not get enough of Carlos and Billie’s relationship! There was just the right balance of “the feels”, as well as character growth to keep me reading. I highly recommend this book to romance lovers everywhere!”

Recommended for young adult and romance readers and for readers who are curious about life in the Philippines.

I hope you’ll check out these books and their amazing authors! What books have you read recently that you would recommend? 🙂

Thoughts of an Introverted Entrepreneur

Hubby said to me the other day, “It’s funny that you’re the entrepreneur”. He’s referring to the fact that between the two of us, he’s the risk-taker, go-getter, nothing’s going stand in my way person. Me? I’m the play it safe, hide in my bubble, take deep breaths one. But strangely enough, I’m a small business owner: part author and part plush toy maker. 🙂

My author business has been slowly growing and I’ve been enjoying it so much. My Moodkins venture? Well, that’s another story. It’s one where I can’t allow myself to measure success by how many plush toys I’ve sold because the handful of people who’ve bought one are friends (kind, supportive friends!). But this business has been successful in so many ways that I didn’t expect. It’s been one of those opportunities where I feel like God has opened the doors for this little bitty idea of mine to go out and touch more people than I EVER imagined possible. And the best part? I didn’t have to do much to sell them. I have great, supportive friends who did it for me. This is an introverted business owner’s dream come true. 😉

Through my sister (who has a degree in school counseling) and two former Marriage and Family Therapy classmates/colleagues, these Moodkins have been making their way into the world. They’ve gone to schools in different parts of the state and even the east coast. They’ve found a home at a non-profit organization in Silicon Valley that helps children. They’re also playing a part in a private practice in the Bay Area. In the latter, they enabled a six year old client who hasn’t been able to identify their emotions yet to mimic what they saw in a painting.

This photo I received from my therapist friend touched me so much. Like this Moodkin, Miss-Sing-Me-The-Blues, I had tears in my eyes, but mine were happy. Oh so happy. 🙂

I’ve always believed each and every person can make a difference in the world, and it was a blessing to know I was doing so in a small, but meaningful way. And even though I’m the most introverted business person there probably is, God still is able to use me. 🙂

If you or anyone you know would be interested in purchasing some Moodkins, let me know! I’m also happy to give a set for free to those who work with children. You can check them out at http://moodkins.com/.

How to Keep Makeovers Going Strong

In case you couldn’t tell by my blog’s tagline, I LOVE makeovers. I’ve always been fascinated by “before” and “after” snapshots, and how something (or someone) can look totally and completely different with some needed changes in place. While major and drastic changes are great and all, no one really talks about what happens weeks, months or even years, after a makeover. I’m referring to the fabulous hairdo that grows out and loses its vibrant color. Or the conviction you had to eat healthier flies out the window when you sit down at a buffet. And the fervor you had to clean (and keep clean) every cabinet and closet in the house disappears when those cabinets and closets start getting messy again.

Makeovers are amazing, but they are also very temporary. Those “great reveal” moments when everything looks perfectly in place and new and jaw-dropping are just that—moments. A lot of hard work and dedication lead up to makeovers, but the fact of the matter is that hard work and dedication are also needed to maintain them.

Eeks, right? Why can’t things just stay beautiful and clean and organized all the time? Well, because Pinterest would go out of business. 😉

So how do we maintain a makeover? I’m still figuring this out myself, but here’s my recent experience with one. It all started with a kitchen cabinet that I had “made over” before, but was getting out of hand again. Once upon a time, I had taken everything out, then put them all back in a nice orderly fashion. I’d even bought some magazine-type racks to store the baking pans and sorted through all the tupperware so that each container had a lid, and got rid of stuff I hadn’t used in ages. It looked pretty amazing and made cooking and baking a lot easier when I could find exactly what I was looking for when I needed it. But then … gradually over time things got put back in the wrong place, and containers started missing their lids, and pulling out the dish or container or lid that I needed became a dangerous ordeal.

The scary “before” picture!

So after months of groaning and moaning every time I had to open this cabinet, I decided to do something about it. I took all the contents out, rearranged them, and organized them in a way that was a lot easier (and safer) than before. Ta-da!

A little less scary!

Now I’m sure this “after” photo could be someone else’s “before” photo (haha), but for me it was the mini makeover that I needed. It wasn’t as dramatic as the first time I’d made over this cabinet, so it was a much quicker process, but the effects were just as great. I no longer cringe when I need to get a baking pan or risk having a dish fall on my toes when I open the doors. Yay!

The real moment of truth though will be in a few months or a year down the line. What will this cabinet look like then? Well, if it’s still in this condition, that means I’ve stopped feeding my family. Just kidding (or not!). More than likely, some physics law will have taken effect so that its contents will have moved due to inertia or something like that. 😉 But you know what? That just means I’ll get to do another mini makeover again. The downside is that I’ll need to put in some time and effort to do so. But the upside is that I’ve had experience with it before and it should be as easy or easier than last time. Plus, the major upside is that I LOVE makeovers. 😉

If you need some inspiration, check out this video that shows you how to organize your pantry. I think that will be my next project. 😉

What kind of makeovers do you like or have done? How do you keep them going strong? I’d love to hear your tips!

Cover Reveal for Of Buds And Blossoms!

When I started writing a few years ago, I had no plan in mind for how many books I wanted to write each year. I basically cranked a story out as quickly (or slowly) as I could manage with two small munchkins at home. Now that the kids are older and out of the house for half the day, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to my career (yup, I’m actually calling it a career now! LOL). This is the first time I started the year out with some goals in mind, which includes publishing four books in 2017. (Insert overwhelmed face here. 😨) The good news is that I’ve finished one of them and am excited to be sharing the cover reveal with you today! So without further ado … here’s the third story in my Seasons of Love series, Of Buds And Blossoms!

Here’s the blurb:

Librarian Chloe McAlister finds solace in her books—and hats—but doesn’t know where to turn when her longtime crush gets engaged. On a whim, she signs up for a speed-dating mixer and convinces her best friend, Dill Thomas, to attend. All goes as planned until she realizes Dill means more to her than she thought … and he goes and falls for someone else.

This 10,000-word short story is perfect for your lunch break, workout, or while you wait in line at the mall. Read it today to experience a hint of spring any time of the year!

Here’s an excerpt:

“Is the beard a deal breaker? Serious question here.”

Chloe raised her brows. “Hm?”

“Do you like me rugged or clean? Be honest, I can take it.”

Dill had never cared about his appearance before, much less asked her about it. He was a no-frills kind of guy who couldn’t be bothered with designer clothes or the latest fashions. That’s why he lived in jeans and T-shirts at work and at home. For some reason, he was concerned about a beard? “You want my opinion?”

“Sure. You understand women better than I do. Would they be cool with this?”

Tilting her head to one side, then to the other, Chloe took a long, hard look at him. She pretended to give his question some thought, pursing her lips as she studied his face. His eyes still had the same self-assured, friendly sparkle in them as the freshman boy who always asked to borrow her lecture notes. A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth, revealing his playful, easygoing nature that hadn’t changed over the years. However, that’s where the déjà vu ended.

Now that she was staring at him so intently, she almost didn’t recognize the man sitting next to her. Because he was most definitely more of a man today than he had been when they met or graduated from college or … even last week. What had happened? This Dill had the angled features and square jawline, not to mention—her eyes traveled down—the broad shoulders and defined upper body of a hot guy. An attractive, rugged-looking hot guy. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly as dry as a desert. Was it hot in here or what? “Yes, the beard,” she managed to squeak out, “you should keep.”

“Seriously?” Dill threw his head back and laughed until he was wiping tears from his eyes. “I can’t believe you went full Yoda on me. The beard you should keep.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I thought you fell asleep during our Star Wars marathon. Maybe I’ll convert you into a fan after all.”

“Finish the profile, please,” Chloe urged, eager to move on from the awkward moment.

“Okay, okay,” he agreed, before joking, “the questions I will answer.”

Hot guy or not, he was still a goofball.

Because I couldn’t wait, the book is now available for pre-order (click HERE). So if you’d like it delivered right to your Kindle on February 27, 2017, you can order it today! 🙂

And of course there’s a playlist for the book, which you can listen to here: