Excerpt from Sharnita with the Long Nails

OK, so that’s a working title. I wanted something to go with Brit with the Pink Hair (book one), which I’m not 100% sold on yet either. We shall see. Naming things is hard.

Camp NaNoWriMo last month went better than usual! I hit my goal of 25,000 words for the month of April.

Camp NaNoWriMo Stats

I’ll absolutely be participating again in July to either finish up book one or two, or start writing book three. Obviously, no decisions have been made yet. It’ll all depend on whether I make any progress between now and then. Maybe I’ll give JuNoWriMo a shot too?

My goal is to be ready to publish book one by the end of the year. If I say that here, hopefully that’ll make it official.

Anyway, to the words! This is the moment Mike and Sharnita finally meet.

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Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

So far, all of my novels have been NaNoWriMo or Camp Nano projects. The healthy competition, the camaraderie, the deadlines, and the achievable daily goals create my perfect writing environment that I haven’t been able to replicate other months of the year. I take that back, I haven’t actually “won” at Camp yet, but then again I haven’t “lost” at NaNoWriMo in November yet either. So I guess I only have my stuff together in November. But Nano, I just can’t quit you, so I keep trying to succeed at Camp in April and July.

The great thing about Camp Nano is that you set your own goals, whether it’s how much you want to write (words, pages, or lines) or for how long you want to write (minutes or hours) in the course of a month. You’d think that’d make it easier to win for me…

This April, I’m setting my goal at 25,000 words to get started on the first draft of my next Jane Austen retelling. My plan is to have three books written, in some draft form at least, before I release the first one. As I’ve mentioned before, the first book is the story of Emma. This next one will be Pride and Prejudice, and finally Persuasion with overlapping characters in each book.

Speaking of Jane Austen, if you’re in the mood for something goofy, I started an Instagram account with colorfully rendered Austen characters and quotes.

Read on for an excerpt from the first book introducing “Mr. Darcy” and “Elizabeth Bennet,” who will be (unless I change my mind) club manager Mike and Dominican-Canadian bartender Sharnita in this story.

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Fictional and Factual Fashion

I apologize for the alliteration. I couldn’t help myself.

I love fashion. If I were to get deep about it, I’d say that clothes and accessories are a way to express myself when words fail. But really, it’s a fun hobby of mine—consuming it, discussing it, reading about it, and even writing about it. In my first book, Front Row, fashion on a budget (and dirty laundry) almost became another character in the story, especially in scenes like this:

The first thing I saw upon entering my room was the concert clothes from the last week strewn across the floor. As I picked up each piece to stuff into my nearly full laundry bag, I thought back to a memory that each item represented for me. On top was the shirt I wore last night—the pink peasant top that made me remember sitting on the loveseat upstairs in that house as I developed some sort of a friendship with Jacob. Next was the skimpy tank top I borrowed from Alex that earned the attention of Gabe in Chicago and awarded me a guitar pick at the end of the show. I tossed that one in a separate pile to wash first so that I could return it to Alex right away. The next item I retrieved from the floor was the black halter top that had aided in successfully getting us an invite to Moe’s Bar after the Milwaukee show, where I got to cozy up next to Gabe while taking my first tequila shot. I couldn’t find the red halter top I had worn to Detroit, but I didn’t need a reminder of that horrible night. Good riddance. As I pushed aside work clothes and hoodies that I wore to class, I found my newest purchase from Walmart. The top that started it all, the little pink silky camisole. I would always be nostalgic when I looked at it and recalled my meet-n-greet…

One thing I especially find enjoyable is shopping with friends, whether it’s in person or via text messages from the fitting room. My friend Barbara and I have been talking about shopping together pretty much since we started working together almost two years ago. What better way to start than gifting her a free dress?

The online women’s fashion clothing company eShakti was kind enough to offer to send me one of their dresses to try out and post about. I’ve loved my experience with eShakti in the past, but the last thing I need is another dress. I don’t wear dresses to work anymore, so the stuffed dress area of my closet and bin in the basement is relegated to weekends. And weekends are only two days long.

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Excerpt from My Current Work-in-Progress

This past weekend, I finished the first draft of my yet-untitled retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma (hooray!). In this version, Emma Woodhouse (or Brit Byers) is a socialite and daughter of former rock star and current music club owner Lonnie Byers.

Here’s a sample of one of the first scenes in the book:


Brit was supposed to go on a date today, but all she could think about at the moment was what happened last night.

She had somehow gotten home and somehow gotten in bed. She didn’t know who had gotten her there, but whoever it was, they had also stripped off her jumpsuit.

Oh crap. Had she peed in the jumpsuit? Barbara had warned her that wearing a jumpsuit was a bad idea, but Brit hadn’t listened. A hot up-and-coming designer had sent it to her, and she was determined to wear it. She wasn’t exactly sample sized, but she liked how the jumpsuit hugged her hips.

The jumpsuit, which Brit was pretty sure she was supposed to return to the designer, was balled up in the corner of her bedroom, feet away from the hamper. Who couldn’t even hit the hamper? She sat up gingerly and pressed her fingers into her temples to sooth the throbbing in her head. Her ears were still ringing from the pumping bass the DJ had been spinning.

Who the heck had tried to roofie her, and who had saved her? She hoped she was saved although by her current state of undress, she couldn’t be sure. Hopefully it was Daisy who had undressed her. Or maybe Lander had called Barbara to come get Brit. That would be the ideal situation.

Brit’s ears pricked painfully as something crashed outside of her bedroom. Her body jolted, and she pulled her comforter around her shoulders, shrouding herself completely in down feathers and satin. Please don’t let it be a rapist, please don’t let it be a rapist, she chanted to herself. Her eyes darted around the room, praying that she would spot her phone, but it was nowhere to be found. She couldn’t climb out the window—her apartment was too high off the ground.
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Preview of The View from the Balcony

Here’s the first page of my (unfinished, not final) upcoming novel, The View from the Balcony, which will be the fourth book in The Fandom Collection. In this book, we meet Rachel again ten years after Front Row. She’s grown up with a husband, daughter, and career, but she hasn’t outgrown her love of music and going to concerts.


I should’ve known when my day began with wet sheets that this was not going to go as planned. I had trained for this. I was ready. I had been buying tickets for years. This was the rush. How fast could I order the best seats possible? My fingers shook as I navigated to the page for the event in question—a blast-from-the-past boyband reunion show that my friends and I couldn’t miss. I cut this too close. Usually I tried to be ready at least five minutes in advance, but my daughter, Cora, had wet her bed again, and I couldn’t just leave her in soaked clothes.

“Cora! Are you kidding me right now? Aren’t you potty trained yet?” I was pissed, no pun intended; and in retrospect, it wasn’t one of my finer parenting moments.

Her little face with her flushed squishy cheeks and giant dark brown eyes that matched her father’s begged my forgiveness. I melted into submission.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry for yelling.” I tugged a new pair of Dora the Explorer undies onto her and gave her a squeeze. “Want me to make you some pink milk instead of white milk this morning?”

She clasped her hands and danced in place, the curls of her fine, light brown hair billowing around her shoulders.

After serving the strawberry milk and glancing nervously at the clock on the oven, I leapt back onto the couch and manned my station. The staccato tapping of my fingers on the computer keys were as practiced as my favorite musicians on their instrument of choice. My fingers flew across the keyboard as I logged onto the website, back to my scheduled task of the day. I had two minutes to go before these concert tickets went on sale.

I hadn’t worked out the logistics with my husband yet, but he’d be fine with it. The tickets weren’t that expensive. Just over a hundred for the best seats.