Meet Luka Thomas

Luka Thomas is an 18 year-old-boy who moved to a new town right before his senior year of high school. He should be used to moving around. He has been doing it since he was seven years old. That was when his mom married his step-father, Matt, who is in the army. Since then, he has been uprooted every few months to a new area and new school. He just wants to get through his last year without moving again.

Luka has gone to church most of his life and believes everything in the Bible with his whole heart, so he should be somewhat excited about his move since it’s into the Bible Belt, USA. He’s not. Luka has a secret that he doesn’t want his family to find out.

He’s not gay. He’s just experimenting, that’s all. Luka knows his extra circular activities are wrong, and no he isn’t referring to football. He knows they are against God and everything he was taught to believe. He scratching an itch. After high school, and maybe even college, he fully plans to settle down with a woman and have 2.5 children and white picket fence.

More about Luka:

  • Brown Hair
  • Blue eyes
  • Freckles
  • High Cheekbones
  • About 5’8 with strong legs
  • Activities: Football, Bible Club, Baseball and Choir
  • Large family that he’s close to
  • Best Friends with Ezra

Learn more about Luka and how he starts accepting himself and questioning everything he knew to be true by pre-ordering Born in Sickness: Book One of the Take me to Church Series .

Janus

I have been writing poetry since I was in high school. I fell in love with Edgar Allen Poe, like most emo girls do. My boyfriend, at the time, encouraged my writing. He wrote a lot too and served as a great inspiration to me.

Poetry has always been a way of expressing emotions that I didn’t know how to voice outload. My poetry, much like my fiction, tends to be dark, raw and honest. It is the truest version of me. Below, is my poem entitled, Janus.

Watching but unseeing
Touching but unfeeling
Listening but not hearing
Showing but concealing

I am standing with you
But I am so distant
Nothing can reach me
This sensation consistent

Contact is numbed
Sound is muffled
Sight is blackened
I am unruffled

You so easily feel
And show your emotions
I wish I could comprehend
Instead of just go through the motions

You yell at me
You are crazed
You scream in my face
I am unfazed

You are so angry
I am unblinking
I never react
I just keep sinking

I don’t understand anger
Especially what you express
Emotions are pointless
They get in the way of success

So when you start yelling
And cursing and screaming
When you begin hitting
And the tears are streaming

I switch to my safety
An unfeeling facade
A beautiful mask
I could trick your god

Similar to Janus
My duality is true
What you see on the outside
Is completely subdue

One side is happy
Confident and smiling.
‎The other is cold,
Emotionless and dying

I don’t think I am going to provide explanation because I think it’s important to interpret it how you see fit. If you would like to talk interpretation, I would love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to message me on any of my social media platforms below. Also, if you would like to buy me coffee, that is linked below as well.

Born in Sickness- Book One of the Take me to Church Series

I am so incredibly excited to announce the release of this book and reveal the cover here on my blog! I plan to write another blog soon with how this series came about. Thank you so much for your continuous support.

Summary:

Luka Thomas has been raised in a God fearing family who never misses a church service. When they move to the Bible Belt right before his senior year of high school, he knows he’ll blend right in. Sort of. He’s just always been the “play now, beg God for forgiveness later” sort of Christian. He’s young, entitled to make mistakes. Being gay is a sin, so he’s not gay. He’s just a guy with an itch to scratch. After college, he plans to marry a woman, settle down, have children and beg God for forgiveness for the sins of his youth. It’s a solid plan. God is a merciful deity. Right? 

Then he meets Harlan Sharp and begins to question everything he knew to be true. 

Harlan stopped believing in a higher power when an event in his past left him questioning everything and angry at the world. He’s just trying to get through his final year of high school the same way he’s gotten through all of the previous years: by laying low and not making a scene. His well laid plans change when the new kid at school seems to have developed a fascination with him. 

Telling Luka he’s an atheist doesn’t seem to deter him nor does blatantly ignoring all of Luka’s attempts at conversation. Luck isn’t on Harlan’s side in this at all since they have almost every class together and always seem to bump into each other, even outside of school. Luka has even managed to somehow weasel his way into Harlan’s very exclusive friend group. It’s as if the God Harlan doesn’t believe in is laughing at him. 

The Take me to Church Series is a real depiction of falling in love in high school as a gay teen amidst the rampant homophobia of the south and the mental health issues many people face. It’s explicit in the ways that life is. It’s raw, beautiful and real. Readers will scream in anger and cry in pain but also laugh in joy and healing as they grow with these characters.

Cover Photo created by Bibi. Follow her Instagram: @moon_sun_thyme
Cover Design- Daria. Follow her Twitter: @ghostiemedicine

The book has a tentative release date of March 23, 2021. Follow me on my social medias below, so you don’t miss any updates on pre-ordering your very own copy. You can also subscribe to my newsletter on the homepage of this website!

Choreographing Smut: 10 Tips for Writing Sex Scenes

First I would like to start with a disclaimer. This blog post is going to be 18+. It will contain adult content and somewhat explicit words/imagery. If this makes you uncomfortable in any way, please do not proceed. You can check out my other blogs, they are a bit more tame, yet informative. 

Also note that I primarily write mlm romance, but a lot of these suggestions work for all romance genres. I’ve written a variety of different types of pairings including mlm, flf, heterosexual, and threesomes. I have also written many different sexual situations and scenes including BDSM. That is a topic for a different day, though. If you would like to see a blog post about BDSM smut specifically, leave a like or come visit me on any of my social media platforms!  

I think it goes without saying that the amount of detail you put into your smut scenes is up to you and your target audience. If it’s erotica, I think a lot of detail is called for. I personally like a lot of detail anyway, but some people prefer to just focus on the emotional aspect rather than the physical. If you are one of those people, then that is perfectly fine and acceptable. 

Choreography

Keep in mind that writing smut is like choreographing a dance. I am not a dancer, but to me it is a similar concept. Smut is all about movement, knowing where the bodies are, how the limbs are moving, and the feeling you get from it. It’s about movements and shapes. The beat of their hearts serves at the rhythm for their bodies. It’s a dance between two people but they aren’t always doing the same steps or even listening to the same song.

Map The Scene

I know I say something like this in every single blog post, but it’s important to have a plan. I’m not saying you should know every detail, but I find it really helps me if I have a general idea of what is going to happen and sometimes why it needs to happen. This could be something as simple as knowing which positions I want them in while writing the scene. 

Why?

This isn’t always necessary, depending on the type of the smut that you’re writing. If you are just going for erotica, then it may not actually matter why, but if you’re writing a romance novel with a plot and character development, then the why will matter. Are they hate fucking? Is it make up sex? Is it the couple’s first time? Is one of them a virgin? Does one of them need to be comforted? If so, how does that change their dynamic in the scene?

The Five Senses

This is important when writing anything really, but it is especially important while writing smut. Don’t forget to use every sense. Do their lips taste sweet like vanilla or minty like toothpaste? Does their heartbeat sound erratic? Does their skin feel sweaty? Does their hair look messy or disheveled? Does the bed smell like them or does the room just smell like sex?

Clothes

This one sounds kind of ridiculous, but you have no idea how many times I’ve been reading a smut scene and suddenly they are both naked, but I have no idea how it happened. Don’t forget that they are probably wearing clothes in the beginning of the scene, even if it’s just underwear. If they are both fully dressed, don’t forget about the little things like socks and shoes. Those things don’t just disappear. It could be just something as easy as adding a line about how they both got fully undressed.

Surroundings

Very similar to clothes, as a writer, you cannot forget about their surroundings. Are they in a bedroom? Are the lights off? Did they need to turn them on? Are they in the bathroom of a nightclub? Describe these things. If they are in the bathroom of a night club, then things may be rushed, and you’ll have to describe things like the dull thud of the music. If they are in a bedroom, they can take their time. Does one of them have a condom? Are they using a condom? If not, has it already been established why? If you’re writing mlm, where is the lube? Do they have it in the drawer or in a packet in their pocket? If the writer forgets these things, it can be jarring for the reader. A condom doesn’t just suddenly appear on a cock. All it takes is a sentence to eliminate confusion.

Feelings

This could be both physical and emotional. If one of the people in the scene is a virgin, it may be painful for them at first. This experience is new for them, so you have to try to describe it from the point of view of someone who hasn’t ever had these experiences before. As far as emotional feelings go, that depends on where you are in the story and what was happening before the scene takes place. Just keep in mind where your characters are mentally as well as physically.

Dirty Talk

I love dirty talk, but write it only if you’re comfortable doing so. I think dirty talk makes the scene so much hotter, but I also try to keep it in character. If one of your characters is a virgin, then they may not dirty talk as much because they aren’t comfortable. Writing their reaction as the other person dirty talks is always fun though.

Don’t Rush It

Ultimately, it’s your choice on how detailed, long, and graphic you want the smut scene to be, but I prefer mine not to be rushed. I don’t think you should spend 15,000 words droning on and on about how his cock is throbbing, but don’t be afraid to write good, detailed smut scenes, especially if it is meant to be an emotional one. It’s not just about the physical act, but the emotional one as well. Yes, sometimes smut is just smut, but sometimes it needs to be more. Rushing it can take away from what sex is supposed to be: a connection with another person. 

Well that’s all I have for today. I could probably come up with more, but this is the foundation. If you would like, in future blogs, I can write tips for smut in different categories like public sex, quick and dirty, BDSM, long and loving, etc. I want to write what you think is helpful as a writer yourself. If you have any suggestions, you can email me or contact me on any of my social media platforms listed below!

Excerpt from All Wrapped Up: A Holiday Novella

All Wrapped Up was created based on a prompt from a very good friend. I told her I would write it if she helped me with the gift ideas because I am absolutely horrible at picking gifts. Thankfully, she agreed, and this novella was born.

It was very challenging for me. In all honesty, it almost got scrapped halfway through because I thought the reader would find it boring due to the limited in-person interaction between the main characters. I kept writing, though, and was very pleased with the final result. It’s fluffy and fifthly, and seriously, that’s the best way to spend the holiday.

Below you will find an excerpt from All Wrapped Up. I chose these particular scenes because I thought it would give you all an idea of how very different these characters are. To give it some context, the main characters completed a survey for their university’s annual Secret Santa Gift Exchange. This excerpt takes you through their responses, then the first gift that is given. Click here to purchase All Wrapped Up. It’s only .99c!

“Did ya get your assignment?” Seamus asks, waking Nate again from yet another nap. He is going to have to change the fucking lock. They are a week away from Thanksgiving break, and Nate’s brain has already checked out, which is a fucking shame since finals are right around the corner. 

“Don’t know. Haven’t checked,” Nate mumbles, snuggling back down into his bed and closing his eyes again, hoping his annoying excuse of a roommate will get the picture. 

“Well, check. I wanna know!” Seamus exclaims, and Nate can feel it when his laptop is balanced precariously on his hip. Maybe breaking in a new roommate wouldn’t be so bad after all. Kill Seamus now, get a new roommate by next semester. Simple as that. No-fuss, no muss. Maybe his new roommate will let him fucking sleep and not make him fill out a stupid Secret Santa gift exchange. Who does Nate have to blow around here to get a decent fucking nap? Not Seamus that’s for fucking sure because that is just gross. 

“If I check, will you fuck off and let me go back to sleep?” Nate asks, not even opening his eyes. 

“Nate, it’s five in the afternoon. If you nap now, you’ll never sleep tonight.”

“What are you, my mother? We’re in college. There is no such thing as a sleep schedule,” Nate responds, finally opening his eyes just to glare at Seamus, but his roommate is unperturbed. Fucking asshole. Yes, a new roommate that hasn’t known him since they were five and is still very intimidated by Nate. That is all Nate wants for Christmas, a new fucking roommate. Maybe he should have put that on his fucking survey. Too bad Santa doesn’t exist.

“Come on. Just see who you got.” Seamus smiles, looking pointedly at Nate’s computer, still balancing on his hip. After a few minutes of a staring contest, Nate finally rolls his eyes and sighs, grabbing his laptop and sitting upon his bed. He makes quick work of logging into his school email, finding the survey results as the first item in his inbox. 

“Okay. I’m doing it,” Nate grumbles, skimming over this person’s answers. 

  1. Number Assigned: 28
  2. Sex: I thought we were past these types of questions. I am a male, and I identify as one. However, I tend to like things that are more on the ‘feminine’ side. 
  3. Major: Pre-Law
  4. Why did you choose that major: I want to help people who can’t help themselves. Many people can’t afford a lawyer, so oftentimes, social injustices exist in our system. If you are poor, you are more likely to go to prison because you couldn’t afford a lawyer. This can lead to false imprisonment simply because you are from a lower socioeconomic status. It’s not fair, and I would like to change that. I have also considered changing my major, but I’m not sure.    
  5. Favorite Food: Avocados. There is just so much you can do with them, and they are so healthy. You can put them in a smoothie, have them on toast, or even eat them in sushi. 
  6. Favorite Drink: Water. It’s good for you and allows your skin to stay hydrated. If I had to pick something other than water, I think I would go with Matcha tea. It has healing and energizing properties and is better for you than coffee. It is also rich in antioxidants, fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins. 
  7. Hobby: Playing guitar and writing music. I learned to play the guitar when I was thirteen and started writing music when I was sixteen. I am also learning to play the piano, but I’m not that good yet. I usually participate in open mic nights at bars around campus. I also love karaoke. 
  8. Favorite Movie: The Notebook. That one is easy. It is such a beautifully heartbreaking love story. I hope someday to find a love like that. One that will last throughout the ages. 
  9. Favorite Book: Harry Potter Series. It has been my favorite since my sister read me the first one when I was 8 years old. Some of my favorite memories are of her reading them to me, then finally getting old enough to read them myself. I own all of them in three different versions. I am a Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering.  
  10. Favorite Store: Gucci, but that obviously won’t work for this since they don’t have anything below around 200 dollars (yes, I realize how pretentious that sounds). I just have expensive taste, I guess. But I would be happy with literally anything from Walmart, the Dollar Store, or Target. It’s the thought that counts. 
  11. Favorite TV show to binge-watch on Netflix: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know it’s considered a ‘chick show, but I love it so much. I just think it is so well done and thought out. It is a feminist masterpiece that takes a traditionally male character and puts a blonde female cheerleader in his place. It completely flips the gender roles and does it in a believable way. She feels like the weight of the world is on her shoulders, but she keeps fighting. That is the best part of the whole thing. That she keeps fighting and winning even though she feels guilty for all of her misdeeds. It teaches young girls that they can be a badass and still have emotions. They don’t need to be like a man because they are perfect being themselves.    
  12. Favorite genre of music/band: Rock and Indy, but I will listen to anything as long as it makes me feel something. My favorite band is probably Fleetwood Mac if I had to pick only one. 
  13. Favorite Holiday Memory: One time, my mom fell and hurt her leg right before we were supposed to host our family’s holiday get together. She always cooks for everything. She couldn’t really cook when her leg was hurt. We couldn’t expect her to stand in pain for hours. That would be cruel. My brother, sister, and I stepped in to help her. She sat at the table and drank wine the entire time. She got increasingly more drunk as the day wore on, and she walked my siblings and me through the steps of each dish. It was pretty disastrous by the last dish since she was so drunk, she couldn’t remember her name, let alone a recipe. At one point, she even told us to use a cup of salt instead of flour; thankfully, we figured that one out. By the end of it, we were giggling, and we had made a mess. It was the best holiday ever because we spent all of it altogether in the kitchen, just chatting. It was lovely, even though my mom was hurt. When the family came over, it was great because the kitchen was a mess, we had food all over us, and mom was drunk. They didn’t know what to think, but we all just laughed at their reactions and eventually ate the food. 
  14. Favorite Sports Team/ Sport: Quidditch I know that doesn’t count. Maybe yoga? Does that count? I just started doing yoga for my body, but it also helps my mind. I hope you will try it out sometime. I am just, truthfully, not that into sports, but I do love running and yoga. It keeps me limber and healthy. 
  15. Shirt size: Medium or small. I have a long torso, so it’s sometimes hard to tell. 
  16. Favorite Color: Pink because it’s pretty, and everyone should feel pretty. 
  17. What is one thing about you that most people don’t know: Sometimes I get really anxious when I have to speak or perform publicly. Most people think I am charismatic and charming or whatever, but I still get stage fright sometimes. Not many others know that about me, though. 
  18. Favorite Scent: Sunshine? I know this isn’t technically a scent, but I love the smell of a warm day. It just makes me feel so happy and warm, just the smell alone. 
  19. Favorite chocolate/sweet: Ferrero Rocher probably. I love hazelnut, and because it is mixed with chocolate, it makes it that much better.  
  20. Favorite holiday song: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. I just love how upbeat and peppy it is. Like you want to get up and dance to it. It isn’t boring like other Christmas songs. My family and I always played it growing up on Christmas Eve as we wrapped some presents and sang and danced along. 
  21. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why: I will actually be going to Europe during my break, just to visit for the first time. My mom doesn’t want me to go alone, but I think I am going to. It seems fun, and I love learning about cultures and exploring different cities. I can’t think past that for the moment. I am really looking forward to it. 

“Oh great, I got a rich, gay, hipster dude who wants to change the world. Fucking winning,” Nate says sarcastically after he skims over the answers, not even bothering to read the long-winded ones because he doesn’t have time to read a fucking book. 

“You’re gay. Plus, how do you even know he’s gay? I think you’re jumping to conclusions just to be an asshole, Nate,” Seamus responds, pointing at him threateningly. Nate knows he could take him, though. He is quick and scrappy, whereas Seamus is far too nice to do any actual harm. 

“His favorite movie is The Notebook. His favorite color is pink, and when asked about his sex, he went into this whole spiel about gender conformity, for fuck’s sake. The dude is gay,” Nate defends, voice getting higher with each answer he lists off. Nate knows gay when he sees it, or in this case, reads it. He has been gay his entire life, after all, so he is no stranger to it. His gaydar is impressive, even if he does say so himself.

“Give him a chance. He could be fun. You’re just grumpy because you didn’t nap,” Seamus argues, and Nate can’t exactly tell him he’s wrong. He may be right, but Nate also would never admit that. He just bets this person talks slow, based on the rambling nature of his answers. Suddenly, he has a brilliant plan as to what he wants the first present to be. It should be easy enough, but it just may make him an asshole. 

____________

“They’re here, Z! Oh my God! I’m so nervous. Why am I nervous?” Roman exclaims, jumping when he sees a new email in his school inbox labeled ‘Secret Santa Survey Exchange.’ He hovers his mouse over it but doesn’t click. His fingers are shaking with anticipation, hoping that whoever he is paired with has a good sense of humor.

Zac just laughs at Roman’s antics, shaking his head and pulling out his phone so that he can look at the survey without actually getting on his laptop. Roman wants his computer, though, feeling like he can understand it better on a bigger screen. He knows that it is stupid, but he can’t help it. He just wants to make sure he gets every detail down. 

He takes a deep breath and opens the email, reading each answer carefully.  

  1. Number Assigned: 28
  2. Sex: Yes. The answer is always yes, and I am a male.  
  3. Major: Theatre 
  4. Why did you choose that Major: Because I like to make people laugh
  5. Favorite Food: Anything greasy and can cure a hangover
  6. Favorite Drink: Coffee or Yorkshire Tea. I need caffeine.
  7. Hobby: I play piano, occasionally. I also love soccer and video games. Video games count as a hobby, right? If you don’t think so, you’re wrong.
  8. Favorite Movie: Grease 
  9. Favorite Book: Don’t read. It’s against my religion.
  10. Favorite Store: Dick’s Sporting Goods. Adidas is my favorite athletic brand. What can I say… I love dicks. 
  11. Favorite genre of music/band: I like a little bit of everything. Mostly punk rock, but I want it to sound interesting. 
  12. Favorite TV show to binge-watch on Netflix: Friends
  13. Favorite Holiday Memory: Staying up late with my mom to help her wrap my sister’s presents the night before because, of course, she put it off. She usually let me have wine or beer with her, then we would get to wrapping, getting them all done at like 3 am only for them to be ripping it all off again 2 hours later. We had the best conversations those nights. 
  14. Favorite Sports Team/ Sport: I love soccer even though it’s not big in the US. My grandmother still lives in the UK, so I grew up with it. My favorite team is the Doncaster Rovers.
  15. Shirt Size: Small, but I sometimes like to wear my clothes baggy
  16. Favorite Color: Blue 
  17. What is one thing about you that most people don’t know: I spent my summers in England with my grandparents growing up, so when I am drunk or tired, I will sometimes slip into an English accent. Random AF, I know.
  18. Favorite Scent: Tobacco… if you think that’s weird, you can fuck right off 
  19. Favorite chocolate/sweet: Maltesers, they are hard to find in the US, but my grandparents always gave them to me as a special treat. 
  20. Favorite Holiday song: Santa Baby hahaha
  21. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why: I think I would go back to Doncaster to visit my grandma. She is getting old, and we don’t know how much longer she will be with us. It would be nice to see her again. 

“Well?” Zac asks, snapping Roman out of his read over of the person’s answers for the fifth time. 

“I think I’m in love,” Roman responds, laughing at the mystery man’s answer for favorite scent. He is sassy, and Roman likes him already. 

“Isn’t that a bit soon. You don’t even know if he’s gay,” Zac reasons, giving Roman a very confused look. 

“His favorite movie is Grease,” Roman points out, and when Zac still doesn’t look convinced, he then adds, “His favorite store is Dick’s Sporting Goods because and I quote ‘what can I say… I love dicks’.” Zac’s mouth drops open at the statement, and Roman allows a wide grin to take over his face. 

“Okay, maybe you got me there,” Zac concedes, nodding his head at Roman once he finally closes his mouth. “But I still think it is a bit too early for love.” He chuckles with the statement, but Roman isn’t so sure. When he looks back down at the guy’s answers. His chest flutters and his stomach does a weird jumping thing. 

“What’s the first gift category?” Roman asks, mind already whirring with possibilities. He has the sudden urge to spoil this person, but he knows there is a limit to how much he is allowed to spend. Maybe he can exceed that just a tiny little bit, though. 

“Umm…” Zac looks at his phone for a few minutes before looking back up. “The first category is food.” Roman bites his lip, mind whirling with ideas. He could go for something simple and easy, but he doesn’t want that. He wants his gift to be unique, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of time. The gifts are due in two weeks, so he needs to find them quickly. 

“Where are you going?” Zac asks, staring at Roman as if he has lost his mind. He may have, but that’s not the point. The point is, he has a gift to find, and it may be nearly impossible to find it. He needs to start now. 

“Going to get the first gift, and maybe the others if inspiration strikes,” Roman responds, slipping on his jacket and grabbing his keys, wallet, and cell phone from his desk. 

“You have two weeks, though,” Zac argues, the line between his brows deepening, becoming more pronounced as he draws them in confusion.

“May take me awhile. Don’t wait up,” Roman responds, then waves and is out the door. 

___________

Two Weeks Later… 

“Hi, I am here to deliver the Secret Santa Gift Exchange’s first round of presents. Is this the room of Nate and Seamus,” a cheerful girl asks when Nate opens the door after hearing a knock. She looks far too peppy, with a too-wide smile and black thick-rimmed glasses. She is wearing bright red lipstick and a Santa hat. She is even wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, and Nate kind of wants to smother her with it. 

“Yeah. I’m Nate,” he answers.

“Okay. I just need you to sign here, and I will give you and your roommate your gifts,” she replies, still fucking smiling. Don’t her cheeks hurt? Jesus. She shoves a clipboard at him, and he signs his name by his and Seamus’ room number. She then hands him two small packages. 

“Thanks.” He takes them from her, and places them in one arm then rubs his eyes tiredly. He needs to take his contacts out; his eyes are getting itchy from overwear. She waves then wheels her cart full of packages over to the next door. He kicks his own door shut with one barefoot before he even hears her knock on their neighbor’s door. 

“Ooohhh, it’s the presents!” Seamus exclaims, pushing his homework to the side and rubbing his hands together excitedly. Nate chuckles, remembering what he had bought for his Secret Santa. The gift labeled for him is in a smallish sized box, maybe big enough for a large mug. It is wrapped carefully in brown paper with pink designs. 

Nate can actually feel them under his fingers since they are embossed into the paper. Around it is a pink ribbon interlaced with a brown one, both tied into a bow. Nate shakes it, his curiosity starting to peak, but it doesn’t make a sound. He throws Seamus’ gift to him, without even looking up, too interested in his own present to pay attention. 

“Aren’t you gonna open it?” Seamus asks, and Nate can hear the confusion in his voice. 

“It’s almost too pretty to open,” Nate responds, barely above a whisper. He just can’t believe someone would waste so much time and energy on something so trivial. He has no idea what it could be, and a warmness is already spreading throughout his chest. However, his guilt over his own chosen present is threatening to strangle him. He looks at the tag, rubbing his finger gently over the messy all caps letters of his Secret Santa. 

To: Number 28

All the Love: Your Secret Santa 

“For fuck’s sake, just open it,” Seamus yells, pulling Nate out of his thoughts. He throws a pillow at Seamus because that’s what he deserves and rips into the pretty wrapping paper. Inside is a plain white box with obvious hand-drawn trees, snowflakes, snowmen, and all things Christmas-y on every side, and Nate is even more confused. On top, in the same messy scrawl, it reads, ‘Hope these bring good memories. Enjoy XX’ in big, bold letters, written in what is clearly green sharpie. 

He pulls the lid off the box carefully, his breath hitching when he registers what’s inside. He blinks back tears as he pulls the plastic-wrapped item out, memories from summers long ago flooding back to him. The smell of his grandparent’s house on warm summer days and the rainy ones, too. Playing football with his younger sisters in the back garden. The taste of his nan’s cooking, but she would always sneak him some of these before dinner even though his mom said it would ruin his appetite. All of them come flooding back like a tidal wave, and Nate wants to cry from it all. 

“Oh, my God. How did he find these? I haven’t even been able to find them anywhere. I didn’t even think they were sold in the US!” Nate exclaims, carefully pulling out the bag of Maltesers from the box, eyes lighting up like a kid on Christmas. Nate supposes it is almost Christmas, but he never expected to get such a special gift, especially from a stranger. 

Suddenly a wave of guilt hits him over the ‘presents’ he bought for his Secret Santa, making him feel sick to his stomach. Fuck. He feels like a total asshole, which is saying a lot because Nate rarely feels guilty. It’s too late to do anything about today’s present, but he may be able to exchange the one for Wednesday and Friday if he plays his cards right, but first, he needs to get new ones. 

“Wow. That’s awesome, Nate,” Seamus responds, holding a bag of coffee in his hand, but Nate barely registers it. His mind is racing with gift ideas, scenarios, and a plan. One that he is going to have to pull off in twenty-four hours. He is also going to have to sweet talk the exchange people. He has to at least try after such a thoughtful gift from the mystery man. Nate grabs his keys, coat, wallet, and cell phone off the desk, shoving some of the items into the pocket of his sweatpants. “Where the fuck are you going?” Seamus asks, breaking into his thoughts. 

Nate is startled at first. He had almost forgotten Seamus was even in the room, too wrapped up in his memories and guilt. Nate glances at the bag of Maltesers he left lying on his bed, then looks back at Seamus. “I have some presents I need to buy. You touch those, and I will kill you,” Nate warns, then he is out the door, off to go and pull every string he can.

Thank you all for reading the excerpt from All Wrapped Up. I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to chat, feel free to follow me on my social media platforms below. I would love to hear from you.

Music Speaks: The Songs that Inspired Cool for the Summer

Music has always been a huge inspiration for me even though I wouldn’t consider myself an auditory person. For me, it’s the lyrical content that I find the most inspiration in. Each of my books has a playlist associated with them. In this post, I will discuss the songs that inspired my debut book Cool for the Summer. You will be able to find these playlist on both Spotify and Youtube. I will not talk about every single song on the playlist in this blog post, but the ones that really resonated with me.

Cool for the Summer- Demi Lovato

Lyrics: Take me down into your paradise
Don’t be scared ’cause I’m your body type
Just something that we wanna try
‘Cause you and I
We’re cool for the summer

Of course this one is on the playlist! It ended up being the book title, after all. I explained how this came to be in my previous blog post The birth of my first book.

Here Comes the Weekend- P!nk

Lyrics: Drink some pink champagne
I don’t know you yet
But we’ll forget
So, fuck what they say
Let the rum flow until it rains

I’ve always been a huge fan of P!nk, so I knew I wanted one of her songs as inspiration in my first book. This song summed up how it feels to be at the end of the semester and have your whole summer break ahead of you. The freedom.

Uncomfortable- Halestorm

Lyrics: I did it all to break
every single preconceived notion that you have
I did it all to shake
every single one of your emotions and just to make you
Uncomfortable

This song is very much from Xander’s point of view, and the concept of sometimes enjoying making others feel uncomfortable. I don’t think being uncomfortable is always a bad thing. Sometimes, in order to break outside of your preconceived notions, you have to pushed from your comfort zone. That’s what this song is about. Xander’s blatant flirting with Gabriel made Gabriel feel uncomfortable in the best kind of way.

Colors- Halsey

Lyrics: Everything is gray
His hair, his smoke, his dreams
And now he so devoid of color
He don’t know what it means
And he’s blue

There was something about this song that seemed so fucking perfect for this chapter, and I’m not exactly sure what it is. I think it’s the idea that when you’re upset, you kind of start seeing the world in blues and grays. They were both struggling in this chapter.

Hungry Eyes- Eric Carmen

Lyrics: With these hungry eyes
One look at you and I can’t disguise
I’ve got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you and I

This is a very obvious nod to the most classic movie about a summer romance, Dirty Dancing. When I was writing this chapter, this is the only song that was playing through my head. I was just perfect. It really summed up that summer feeling of falling in love for the first time. The innocence. This chapter was huge in the development of their relationship, so I felt this song fit for that reason.

Talk Fast- 5 Seconds of Summer

Lyrics: Leave all of your indecisions with you at home
Don’t say you’re doing me a favor
Why so complicated, won’t you throw me a bone?
I want your love in every flavor

5 Seconds of Summer is probably my favorite band of all time, so they needed to be in this playlist somewhere. I remember being obsessed with their album, Youngblood, which featured this song. It’s the epitome of a summer fling song for me. The push and pull of being in a confusing relationship with no solid ground beneath your feet. There is a begging quality to this song. Like they are begging to be given a chance or maybe just some clarity, but they will take the night.

Let’s See What the Night Can Do- Jason Mraz

Lyrics: I wanna get lost with you
And hide out, out under the light of the moon
I wanna get lost with you
And see what it’s like to spend the whole night
With you, just you
You, just you

This is probably one of my favorite chapters of the entire book. This song is almost whimsical, for me. Like living in a dream. Getting lost with the person you may or may not be falling for and just taking that night to forget all your worries. This is the chapter where Gabriel gives into his feelings for Xander and takes the first real step in solidifying their relationship. Of course, he doesn’t say that. 

1950- King Princess

Lyrics: So tell me why my gods look like you
Tell me why it’s wrong
So I’ll wait for you, I’ll pray
I will keep on waiting for your love

I really felt this song summed up where Xander’s headspace is in this chapter. He knows that Gabriel loves him, but he also knows that Gabriel isn’t ready to admit it out loud yet. He is willing to wait, though. He is going to be patient for Gabriel. There is also another line that really stands out ‘I love it when we play 1950’ which is very clearly a nod to the years where gay romances weren’t accepted in society, so a lot of times gay people were forced to hide their love from the world. This is the first time in the book where they really hid their relationship from the people around them.

Delicate- Janet Devlin

Lyrics: The closer I get to your paper heart; And the tighter I hold on
Gently covered in paper cuts; I’m more stubborn than some
You’re like the first day of winter; Everyday day of the year
‘Cause you’re  too scared to let me in; Never close only near
I’m just delicate, just a little more delicate than you

The title of this song really summed up the entire chapter. I wanted this chapter to feel like everything was somewhat hanging in the balance, and there is a ticking clock over the reader’s head. Gabriel also decided he was going to start pulling away in this chapter, but we all know how stubborn Xander can be.

Eavesdrop- The Civil Wars

Lyrics: Oh, don’t say that it’s over
Oh, no, say it ain’t so
Let the stars watch, let them stare
Let the wind eavesdrop, I don’t care
For all that we’ve got, don’t let go
Just hold me

This is a devastatingly beautiful song. It’s giving yourself over to someone even though you know you plan to leave. It’s pretending that you’re not and allowing them to comfort you, if it’s only for the night. You know it’s your last night with them, and you just don’t care who’s watching. You’re going to spend it how you want, but it’s so very bittersweet.

It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing- Shania Twain

Lyrics: It only hurts when I’m breathing
My heart only breaks when it’s beating
My dreams only die when I’m dreaming
So I hold my breath, to forget
It only hurts when I breathe.

This song is so heartbreaking. It is the ultimate breakup song, and I decided Xander had to sing it on stage. Everyone has experienced the kind of pain where it hurts to breathe, and you just don’t want to anymore. Your entire being hurts because you’re missing someone. This song is so underrated.

Collide- Howie Day

Lyrics: Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find
You and I collide

I think this is pretty self explanatory, and in a lot of ways, from the point of view of Gabriel. He says he feels like he can’t stop thinking about Xander, that he can’t stop himself from being with him. He wants it, and they were always meant to collide.

The Promise- Sturgill Simpson

Lyrics: I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I’ll make you fall for me
I promise, I promise you I will

This was actually my wedding song, so I knew I wanted it to be the last chapter of this book. The one on the playlist is actually a cover. I don’t really like the original. I love the way Sturgill Simpson slowed it down and managed to bring so much meaning to the lyrics. A promise you make to someone. It’s beautiful, and I knew it would be perfect for the final chapter. 

There you have it! A small glimpse into my musical mind. As you can probably tell, my music taste is all over the place. I have put it on two different platforms so you can listen on Spotify or on Youtube. This playlist includes a little bit of everything. Was there a song on this playlist that you wish I talked about? If so, please feel free to message me on one of my social media sites below. I would be happy to explain why I chose a particular song. As always, thank you for reading my ramblings.

Excerpt from Cool for the Summer

As I mentioned in my previous blog, The Birth of my First Book, the first scene I had thought of for Cool for the Summer was the one where Gabriel first sees Xander dancing at a party. For the next few days, Cool for the Summer is being offered for FREE on Amazon Kindle. You don’t even need a Kindle to read it. You can just down load the free app from the app store. Below, is an excerpt from that first scene in my brain. Hope you enjoy it enough to give the book a chance.

Two hours later, Gabriel has his third drink in hand, a cup filled with some concoction labeled ‘jungle juice’ and is feeling on the good side of drunk. He is standing with Darien who is talking to a group of people about musical interests, of fucking course. He has honestly kind of checked out of the conversation, preferring to look around the room to people-watch. He is standing in the kitchen, which gives him a great view of the living room and even some of the porch. 

He lets his eyes wander slowly over his surroundings, observing people’s drunken behavior with amusement. One girl is already looking completely shit-faced and is being led outside by her friends. If it was some dude doing the leading, Gabriel would have intervened, but he figures she is in good hands with her friends. His eyes slowly track their way to the makeshift dance floor. The beginning chords of Cool for the Summer by Demi Lovato begin to play through the speakers. 

The first thing he notices are gold boots. Shiny, pointed-toe gold boots on large feet. His eyes slowly work their way up very long, very lean legs in a pair of obscenely tight skinny jeans. The person’s torso is covered, if you could call it that, in a sheer black shirt with pink flowers, only about two and a half buttons done up. The shirt allows a torso and arms full of stark black tattoos to peek through. 

Next, he sees dark, black, wavy hair brushing the shoulders of the sheer shirt. It reminds Gabriel of the ocean at night, a certain darkness about it that is both scary and beautiful. Suddenly, Gabriel wants to go swimming. His hair looks like it would be soft to the touch and makes him want to run his fingers through it. Finally, Gabriel’s eyes land on the person’s face, and fuck. He has full pink lips, a strong jawline with a cleft chin, and hazel eyes with bright gold flecks that stand out, even across the distance. They match his boots. He is smiling, his teeth straight and white.  

Goldie, as Gabriel begins referring to him in his head, is dancing with two girls. His long legs are moving to a beat of their own while his hips bump and grind with everyone else. His arms are thrown above his head, and his forehead is glistening with a light sheen of sweat. He is, quite possibly, the most beautiful person Gabriel has ever seen, from an objective standpoint. Gabriel’s alcohol-addled brain doesn’t process the fact that he has been checking out a guy for the past few minutes.  

Gabriel continues to watch the man’s body sway with the crowd around him. bump and grind with the others around him. Every now and then, Gabriel sees a pretty pink tongue peek out to wet his plump lips. Occasionally, he will throw his head back with the song to expose the long column of his neck that Gabriel wants to mark. When the song begins to come to a close, Goldie’s hazel eyes lock with his own.

__________

Xander is just drunk enough to allow two of his female friends to lead him out to the makeshift dance floor of the house party, so for the past few minutes, he has been bumping and grinding to the music. He lets his eyes scan the crowd of people dancing around him, then surveys the rest of the partygoers until they land on a very attractive man that is surrounded by a small group of people. He has a red cup resting in his hand while pretending to be interested in the conversation that is going on in the small group around him. 

The man is dressed in a simple outfit that hugs his curvy frame perfectly. His lightly tanned arms are littered with tattoos. Xander’s eyes linger on some, but there doesn’t seem to be a theme among them. It’s almost like his arms are a sketch pad that represents his life. His shirt looks old and worn, the collar stretched from repeated wearings. The dip of his shirt reveals prominent collarbones and a partial view of a scripted tattoo scrawled across the skin there that Xander very much wants to uncover. He can’t quite make out what it says, but he has the sudden urge to trace the words with his tongue. Finally, his gaze settles on the man’s face. He has a wide jaw, firm but thick lips, and the most beautiful gray eyes Xander has ever seen. They look like the ocean on a stormy day, and Xander wants to drown in them. 

Xander notices the man’s gaze is starting to move toward the dance floor when the song changes, so Xander, always the performer, decides to put on a show. He begins to move his hips and legs seductively to the beat of the music, careful to avoid the gaze of the stranger. He knows he is attractive and knows his best assets, so he plays them up. He licks and bites his full lips, flips his hair, and exposes his long neck in the hope that his gray-eyed man is actually watching. As the last lines of the song pound through the speaker, he decides to chance a glance only for his gaze to lock with those same gray eyes from across the room. 

After the song ends, Xander finds himself politely excusing himself from his friends on the dance floor. He notices the man has looked away and seems to have engrossed himself in the conversation of the group around him. Xander doesn’t want to just fling himself into the conversation, especially since he doesn’t recognize anyone in the group. He was forced to the party by his roommate, Conner, who is a music major, but is glad he came since it has been a good celebration for the end of the semester.

Get it for FREE Here *while the promotion last*

I hope you all enjoyed this small excerpt. I may add more to my blog in the future. Thank you for reading! Follow me on my social media for more!

How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 10 Tips

Every writer experiences writer’s block at some point or another in their career. Even if you write poetry, research papers, short stories, or full-length novels, you will encounter this particular problem.

Here are my 10 tips for overcoming writer’s block:

1. Figure out why

This is simple but very complicated at the same time. Why are you stuck? What is it about the scene that has you blocked? Is it the content? The subject matter? Is it something you are uncomfortable writing? Maybe it’s new for you, and deep down, you’re afraid you will mess it up. Often, when I am stuck, I find that it may be a scene that I was dreading writing. Once you figure out why, then the rest of this advice may come easier. 

2. Keep writing

I know this one sounds simple, but it’s effective. Even if you think what you’re writing is utter shit, get it on the page. Force yourself to write something, even if it’s only a couple hundred words. You can always go back and rework it. You may even like what you wrote once you take some time away from it. 

3. Talk to a friend

If I’m stuck on something, I talk to my friend(s) or significant others about it. They need to know your piece’s plot in great detail, so I typically ask my beta or editor. I’ve found that bouncing ideas off of them helps me in many ways: 

-It gets the creative juices flowing.
-It makes me excited to be writing it again. 
-Sometimes, the person I’m talking to has excellent ideas to add.

4. Go out

I know this has become increasingly difficult with current COVID-19 measures in place, but go for a walk. Sometimes fresh air and a change of scenery are all you need. 

5. Change your scenery

Just like number 4, this has become difficult due to current COVID-19 restrictions. If you write on a laptop or with a pen and a piece of paper, take it somewhere else. Go sit out on your porch, or find the corner of a local book/coffee place. Just wear a mask! 

6. Do what inspires you

This is largely dependent on the individual writer. What inspires me may not inspire you. Personally, I draw a lot of inspiration for my writing from music. I find songs that remind me of the current book I’m working on, or I listen to a playlist that I love. 

7. Write something else

If you are on a deadline, this may feel like the worst advice ever, but it does help. Even if you skip to a different scene in the same piece or change paths entirely and work on a short story. There is a slippery slope, though. You don’t want to allow yourself to get too distracted, then end up with a ridiculous amount of unfinished works. We can revisit staying on track later if you’d like.

8. Take a break

It could be something small like watching an episode of your favorite TV show, wasting an hour on TikTok, or playing a game on your phone (my current favorite is Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells). Taking a break gives your mind a chance to rest. 

9. Read something

Reading your favorite book or even something new can inspire you in your work. Reading other pieces inspires me to get better in my own books. 

10. Sleep on it

This doesn’t mean that you should stop thinking about it for 24 hours. This advice is the opposite. It’s best if you are thinking about it. Sometimes, I will contemplate it for a few days and slowly work it out in my head. 

Like I’ve said before, these may not work for everyone. This is just some of the things that I do when I’m struggling with writers block. If you have your own, feel free to message me on my social media platforms below!

Outlining 101- 10 Tips for Outlining a Book

I want to start by saying that everyone is different. What works for me will not work for everyone. Your writing style is your own, and you should be proud of it. This is just how I outline a book and in no way reflect the ‘correct way’ because there simply is no such a thing. With that being said, I hope this may help writers in the beginning stages of their careers.

So these are my 10 tips for outlining a book:

1. Have an idea for a book

I know this sounds stupid. You’re probably like, “well, duh,” but you’d be surprised how many people want to write a full-length book without having an actual idea for one. Make sure your concept is feasible and within your writing ability. I think you should challenge yourself, but if this is your first book, you don’t want to make it unattainable and out of your current capabilities.

2. Don’t start making the outline right away

I know this one is difficult because you’re so excited you have this brilliant idea. I urge you to not start writing your outline right away, but just start writing lists.

  • Make a list of themes you want to flow throughout (an example of this is in Cool for the Summer, a theme throughout the book’s entirety was Gabriel’s struggle with his sexuality). The themes need to weave throughout the entire book/series. They are something you will keep in mind as your writing, and you need all of your themes to be cohesive to the overall story arch.
  • Start thinking of various scenes you would like to be incorporated and write them down, but don’t put them in order. For example, the first scene in Cool for the Summer that I thought of was when Gabriel saw Xander dancing. The second scene I thought of was the baseball game, which came much later in the story.
  • Music- I usually have a list of songs that have given me inspiration for a chapter or an entire book. I make a Spotify playlist for each of my full-length-books. You can use any music platform like Spotify, Apple Music, or even YouTube.

3. Characterizations

Have a character profile in mind for your main characters. Some people have pages and pages of information about their characters. In contrast, others just have who they are in their head and somehow manage to remember (I’m the ladder, if you’re wondering). I do recommend writing it down, though, because the characterization is critical. You don’t want your protagonist to do something entirely out of character unless they have an excellent reason for it. To make this easier, create a list of characteristics, including physical appearance, personality, mental health, likes/dislikes, sayings, etc. You want them to be a person. I love all of my characters like they are people because they are to me.

4. Put your existing scenes in order

This is where the actual outlining begins. Now that you have some settings (or several) in mind, you can start putting them in order by chapter. The way I like to outline my books is chapter by chapter, then scene by scene.

Example:

Chapter 1- Title
-Scene 1- Description- Whos POV (Point of View) it is in
-Scene 2- Description- Who’s POV it is in
Chapter 2- Title

5. The Order

The order of the scenes and chapters is critical. This will set the whole tone of the book and the story arc. You cannot have the story climax too early, but you also don’t want to draw it out. It can be a very fine line and gets even more complicated with a series.

6. It can be unfinished

Your outline does not have to be finished at first, and it is ever-changing and evolving. You have no idea how many of my outlines say “Idk, something gross and fluffy” instead of an actual idea for a scene. It’s okay, as long as you have a general idea of what should be there.

7. Foreshadowing

The reason why having an outline is so important is because of foreshadowing. To foreshadow appropriately, you have to know where your book is going. You can always go back and add a foreshadowing moment during one of your re-reads or edits.

8. Chronological Order

I, personally, write all of my books in chronological order. I never skip a scene or move to a different one, then come back if I’m stuck. The way you read the book is the order in which I write it in. Again, I want to stress that this is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. This is just how my mind works. Jumping around while writing, for me, is confusing. I find that there are more inconsistencies and plot holes in my rough draft if I do it this way. I know a lot of successful authors that write scenes as they come. They may start off writing the book in the last chapter. This is all personal preference. 

9. Talk to someone

I really like planning my books with my betas or even talk to my husband or girlfriend about the plot or ideas for a scene. I use them as a sounding board. Sometimes they have really unique suggestions that I would have never thought about if we hadn’t been brainstorming together.

10. The Ending

The last chapter is often the scariest and most critical. You, as the writer, have a lot of choices. Do you want it to end happily? Sad? Ambiguous? Do you want it to be bittersweet? Do you want there to be a nice little bow where all the loose ends are intertwined? This is up to you, and you don’t have to know that at the very beginning. This is just something to think about, especially when it comes to foreshadowing.

I hope you found this interesting and maybe helpful. Again, I would like to say that this is how I approach book writing. If you do not approach it this way, that is perfectly fine. The way you do it is amazing for you! Do what works. Feel free to use all of these ideas or pick the ones you think may work best for your personality or writing style.

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The birth of my first book

One day, I was driving home from work, listening to music. I have a playlist that I like to listen to while I drive because all of the songs are upbeat, and I enjoy singing along to them.

So I’m singing along, then a song comes on. I immediately recognize the beginning notes of a piano. I turn up the stereo system, Demi Lovato’s voice filling the space a moment later. Tell me what you want, what you like, it’s okay. I’m a little curious, too.

As I’m singing along, it hits me like a freight train.

This would be a great concept to a romance novel. A summer fling. A book about a summer romance between two men, with one unsure of his sexuality. The other needed to be charismatic, and so secure in his sexuality, he thrived. The lyrics had an almost begging quality to them. Don’t be scared ’cause I’m your body type. Then a secrecy. I can keep a secret could you? To me, it was a clear struggle of self acceptance and a summer romance with someone of the same sex.

All I could picture was a scene. A straight guy, standing beside the dance floor, eyes scanning the bodies as they move and sway while he drinks from his cup. He catches site of a pair of shiny gold boots. In his inebriated state, his eyes travel of the contour of the body those boots are attached, too. Long legs wrapped in skinny jeans. Sheer floral blouse, mostly unbuttoned. Long dark hair, then finally, the most beautiful face he has ever seen. The only problem is, all of these things are attached to a man. A very charismatic man.

I wanted it to be a story about finding your sexuality, and the confusion that comes a long with it. Both characters have a little bit of me in them, and maybe on a different blog, I can write about that and how they came to be.

Anyways… this book in my head…

I have been reading for as long as I can remember. I started reading R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps series when I was in elementary school, the graduated to his fear street novels in middle school. That was also when I discovered the Harry Potter series, and began down the fantasy book path. As I got older, I started to dabble in romance novels, eventually landing in supernatural romance genre and staying there most of my adult life. I looked for a book similar to the one in my head and couldn’t really find one. So, instead of whining about it, I decided to write it myself.

I mulled over this for a while. I honestly didn’t think I could do it. Before this, I had only written a handful of short stories and a few poems, but I just couldn’t get this idea out of my head. It needed to be written, and I wanted to have the privilege of doing it. As time went on, scenes for the book began popping into my head. The baseball game. The outdoor theatre. The thunder storm. The lake.

One day, I sat down and began writing an outline with all of these little scene ideas that had been occupying my head for the past month. In about an hour’s time, I had managed to plan out fifteen chapters, then the scenes within each chapter. It wasn’t super detailed, just a general idea of what was to happen that chapter. I wanted each scene to be important to the story, and move it along. I was adamant that my characters would always have a very clear reason for doing the things the do.

Then I started writing. It took me about three months to complete I think? I had a friend reading as I went, getting excited every single time I wrote more. She gave me the motivation to keep going. To keep achieving. Before I knew it, my first book was complete. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

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