About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, February 28, 2016

For the lovers, the dreamers, the wanderers... #ScintillatingSunday #Romance

Dream a little dream of me...
In Between responsibilities and dreams exist moments that make us believe in possibility
Excerpt of the contemporary romance novel, In Between, book one of the Dancing Barefoot series and currently on sale for .99 

Need pumped through her blood, not only for Jacques, but also for Italy to somehow set her free. She'd read all the self-help books, heard all the stories about being in control of her own decisions and her own life; but complications entangled her and bound her like a net holding down a struggling porpoise who slowly drowned beneath the waves. 

Once at their apartment building, she practically ran up the stairs, already thinking of the many ways she wanted to make love with him. Clothes came off once the door closed behind them until they were both skin-on-skin and mouth-to-mouth on the bed. Slower than last night, the kisses lingered and the caresses discovered. Her hands roamed the hardness of his back to the roundness of his ass and back again while their tongues danced together. Eyes wide open they looked at each other in the moonlight that played across their skin and over the bed. 
"Tell me you didn't stay in Florence because of me," she whispered against his lips.

"I stayed because of you. I do what I want. I want this, here and now."

Tears blurred her vision because she'd secretly hoped he had chosen to stay for her, but hadn't dared believe. "You don't know me." 

"I know you." He silenced the rest of her words with a kiss that curled her toes. 

"I don't want to be a speed bump in your life."

"Let it be, Jess. Let us be whatever we become...or not. Let it be."

From the back cover...

In between responsibilities and dreams...

Jessica Moriarty has always played by the rules, but for once in her life, she's doing exactly as she pleases. In between graduate school and 'real life', she's in Florence, Italy, indulging her love of art and abandoning inhibitions.

Meeting Jacques Sinclair rocks her off center. Whereas rules and living up to expectations have dictated her life, he is the opposite. A rebel. A photographer. A man who lives for the moment. He sweeps her up into a riveting romance that makes her question all she's ever believed to be true.

The drum of old commitments echo through her heart as time ticks away. Will the crush of 'real life' undermine the love she's found in between...?

**This is book one of the two part Dancing Barefoot series.** 

Start the love affair with Jessica and Jacques now
currently on sale for .99

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Power...it's a heady drug #SneakPeek #RomanticSuspense


Sneak peek of the upcoming new release, One True Thing, a romantic thriller full of passion, action, and suspense...

Available at all distributors worldwide on March 22 
Follow Amber Lea Easton on Facebook to be the first to know when One True Thing is available

"I haven't slept like that in a long time," he admitted against her ear. "How about we spend the whole day in bed? I'm already playing hooky, might as well make it count."

She giggled when his fingers slipped beneath the robe and tickled her. "Nic—"

"Vanessa." He nipped her neck. 

"Shouldn't you—"

"No, whatever it is you're about to say, no." He laughed against her skin, his hair brushing against her cheek like a caress. He raised his head enough to look her in the eye. "I have no idea where my cellphone is...do you realize that I haven't gone a day without it glued to me since I can't remember when? I have no idea where it is and I honestly don't give a damn."

"But Pam...?" She arched an eyebrow and squirmed when he tickled her again. "Okay, I'll stop, I surrender."

"No more talking? No more mentioning Pam?"

"You're a tyrant." She hit his shoulder and smiled at the feel of his erection pressing against her hip. "A horny tyrant."

"I've been called worse." He shrugged and kissed her chin. 

The slamming of the door startled them both. Nic rolled away, pulling the sheet over him while she scooted up on the pillows and tried desperately not to panic. 

"Ms. Warren!" Simon stood at the foot of the bed, gun drawn.

"Oh, holy hell, now what is the problem?" she asked, trying to slow her heartbeat. 

"Securing the room. Don't move." He banged open the bathroom door. 

Dominic squinted at Simon's back. "Now what's happening? I think I'm going to fire someone today if our security sucks this bad that even the US Secret Service is jumpy."

Her eyes widened as even more security invaded the suite — complete with a bomb-sniffing dog. 

Dominic leapt from the bed and pulled on his discarded tuxedo pants. He stood tall when Special Agent Clarence entered the room with an air of caution, gaze effectively freezing him in place. 

"I'm Dominic Piazza—"

"We all know who you are," Clarence interrupted before sliding his gaze to hers. 

"Let them do their thing, Nic," she advised with a self-conscious smile. 

Resting her chin on a sheet-covered knee, she grinned at Nic's tan line — or more specifically the tan lines that began at this lower hip where the unbuttoned tuxedo pants slacked lower as he moved across the room. Black hair a mess from their frenzied lovemaking, he looked like temptation personified. 

"We arrested two men who had gained access to an empty room directly below yours," Clarence finally said after Simon gave him a signal that the suite had been judged safe. "It appears that they had some inside information as to exactly where you were staying—as in this room—and—"

"Someone is definitely getting fired today," Nic said, hands on his hips and looking like the man in charge despite his lack of clothing. 

"We have direct evidence linking them to the gallery fire. We think they are the ones who not only set the fire, staged the distraction last night, but were also the men we saw in the stairwell. They were beneath you the entire time." Sadness crossed Clarence's face when he met her gaze. "I'm sorry, Vanessa."

She ignored the reference to her destroyed sculptures and absorbed this new information. "They were in the room below me all night?" 

"No sign of any cameras or any recording devices at all," another agent said from the living area. 

"Your brother has made a statement earlier on CNN — the Spanish government is concerned —"

"Oh, God, no, just stop." She couldn't take it anymore, all the chaos, the destruction, the uncertainty. "I suppose you're going to tell me that I'm being evicted from Spain?"

"No." Clarence smiled a little at that. "But they are giving us their unconditional support."

"Which means more security watching my every move? Why didn't he tell me?"

"You spoke to your brother?" Agent Clarence asked. 

"Yeah, he called, never said anything about speaking to the Spanish government"

"He doesn't know that we apprehended the two men just now—"

"Oh, who cares who knows what at this point?"  She felt like a caged animal. "How long is this going to take? If you've caught them, aren't we a step closer to being done with all of this? Who are these people? Have they talked? Do you know who they are or who they are affiliated with? What do they want? Why burn down the gallery and destroy my sculptures?"


"Just go, Clarence. Thanks for all that you do, but just go."

"You can't pull any of your stunts so don't think about it."

Nic looked over his shoulder at that and raised an eyebrow. 

"Stunts like yesterday...my motorcycle ride in the country." She smiled when she met his gaze. "It was worth the risk, don't you think?"

He smiled without saying anything — but the warmth in his eyes told her everything. 

"There's no one here except Dominc and he's had plenty of opportunity to kill me." She gestured wide with her hands. "And yet here I am...alive and well-satisfifed if you know what I mean."

"I know what you mean." Clarence shook his head and looked directly at Nic. "I'm not sure why or how you have inserted yourself into her life, but we're going to need to put a security detail on you as well until we have control of this situation."

Oh, here it goes...the thing that will drive him away. 

"Whatever you need to do. I assume by now you have a full background check on me so I don't need to fill in any blanks," he said instead. "Let me know how I can help."

"These people are getting bolder by the minute," Clarence said to Nic, "make her understand that. You seem to be the only one who she's cooperating with these days." 

"I'm confident she understands," Nic replied. 

Annoyed at being spoken about in the third person, she moved past Clarence and eyed the bomb sniffing dog with suspicion before picking up the hotel phone to order room service. Limbs ached in all the right places and she'd worked up one helluva an appetite. Nerves always made her hungry. If it wasn't for her Pilates and forgetting to eat when immersed in work, she'd be about five hundred pounds from stress eating alone. Pastries were her downfall—and right now she was definitely stressed. 

"I'm not at liberty to share all the details, but we have reason to believe she is no longer safe here," Clarence said, moving into the room. "The house will be finished today, Vanessa."

"I'll make sure Cleo makes arrangements to move us."

"Best to keep this quiet, no big production. Keep what you have here, maintain the illusion that you are staying at the hotel until further notice."

A chill ran down her spine at the glimmer of fear she witnessed in her dear friend and protector's eyes before he glanced away. Until a few months ago, she hadn't seen him in years. There'd been no danger and she'd been a grown woman with private security when she'd needed it — definitely no need for Secret Service. But when the trouble started and a possible threat against her family intensified, Clarence had volunteered to head up her detail. Seeing him, a seasoned agent, show even a flicker of fear hammered home the severity of the crisis. 

"I think both myself and the general manager need to be looped into this situation, Special Agent. If there are security loopholes, then we need to address them on our end as well."

"We're handling it."

"I have fourteen floors of other guests. I need—"

"She will be out of here today."

"But whoever is behind this won't know that, right? That's what you just said." Nic squared off with Clarence. "This isn't just a building or a business to me. I spent years pouring my creative vision into the Casa Magnifico and—"

"I understand." Clarence cut him off with an exasperated slice of his hand through the air. "Can you be available for a briefing in your GM's office in an hour? We have Spanish government agents arriving then as well."

"I'll be there." He glanced at her, face expressionless. "Alone."

She nodded and clenched the phone as she ordered enough food to feed an army. She fought the urge to scream. Two years of her life had gone up in smoke during the night, every inch of her life was being scrutinized, her every move would be monitored like a prisoner until these bastards were caught and all she could do was nod and order room service like a fool. 

But the Secret Service and the powers that be had made up their minds. She knew the drill. Bend. Tow the line. Suck it up. 

"I'll see you soon then. Take the car that we have for you — bulletproof glass. Don't take any chances." Clarence looked between them both before motioning for the other agents to clear the room. 

Nic dropped his hands to her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "I wish we'd had time to wake up together." 

She sighed at his softly spoken words and turned to look up at him. "Why are you so great? I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. No one is this nice."

He smoothed his hands down her silk robe and caught his lower lip between his teeth. "What can I do to prove my loyalty?"

"On your knees boy..." she whispered, her mood lightening. 

"Happy to do whatever it takes." He winked, his hands pushing the robe open to touch her breasts. 

She skimmed her hands over his shoulders, well-defined from the physical labor of his job. With wicked thoughts, she decided then and there that he could easily be a playgirl model between his muscle definition and...other assets. 

 “You told me last night that you weren't a very nice guy.” She nipped his chin with her teeth.

"You bring out another side of me.” 

“Room service is on the way—can you let them in? I need a shower.” She walked away and dropped the robe as she went. 

“You have a tattoo.” 

“Just now noticing?” She patted the black outline of a howling wolf that rested low on the curve of her hip. “That surprises me after the thorough examination you gave my body last night.”  With a wink over her shoulder, she walked to the bathroom.  

Closing the door, she fisted her hands in the hair at her temple and frowned. Too much had happened in too short of a time. Her brain felt fried—as if on information overload.

“Mind if I join you?” Nic asked, sticking his head inside the door. “You okay?”

“Yes, to both questions.”  She grabbed his hand and yanked him inside the room with her.  She linked her hands behind his neck and nuzzled against his face as he lifted her and walked them toward the shower. 

Self-doubt had never been an issue for her. If anything, she'd been accused of over-confidence more than once. But, now, despite the heat of his body steaming up the shower, trepidation thumped beneath her skin and self-preservation undermined the moment. 

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and simply hugged him close with the water falling over them like a downpour. 

"This is not my normal, Dominic, not anymore," she whispered. "Not too long ago, I lived in a rented chalet in France where I sculpted and ate dinner every night in the same restaurant with locals who joked with me about needing some romance in my life."

"Then what changed?"

She tipped her head back and squinted against the water. Here, locked in his arms, naked, completely isolated, she felt safe saying the one thing she couldn't shake, "What changed? My brother decided to campaign for president."

"You think this is related?" He frowned and framed her face between the palms of his hands. 

"Every time information is leaked about me...his poll numbers rise. Even an ocean away, I'm an asset. I think someone wants to use me as leverage." She held her breath, waiting for him to dismiss her as a narcissist who thought the world revolved around her. 

But he didn't. He kissed her, slowly, and for the first time in years, she felt like she had an ally. 

From the back cover...

One little lie leads to a whole lot of trouble.

Reclusive international resort developer, Dominic Piazza, needs a date to ward off his matchmaking parents. When he persuades the notorious Vanessa Warren to play his girlfriend for the night, he has no idea he's stepped into the crosshairs of kidnappers who will do anything—destroy everything—to get to her.

Power...it's a heady drug.

Vanessa Warren is America's favorite rebel. Daughter and granddaughter of US Presidents and sister to a future one, her family connections and notoriety are seen as leverage for manipulating the White House—if she's captured.

One true thing...

Trapped in a rapidly escalating international terror plot, Dominic and Vanessa's lie becomes the only real thing in the midst of betrayals, conspiracies, and murder. As their world falls apart, they suddenly only have each other to rely on against ruthless people who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Who can they trust? Who is behind the plot—her own family, a political rival of her family's, or a terrorist organization? How far will the kidnappers go—what will they be willing to sacrifice—to control the power of the White House? Is there anywhere in the world where they can find safety?

Available at all distributors worldwide on March 22 
Follow Amber Lea Easton on Facebook to be the first to know when One True Thing is available

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Aftermath of Living with an Addict #addiction #grief

Behind the curtain of living with an addict...

In my memoir, Free Fall, I talk a lot about surviving suicide, mourning the loss of my late husband, and parenting through grief and trauma. I touch on the roller coaster ride of alcoholism and addiction that led to that fateful day my life changed forever, but I allowed my focus to be on moving forward, climbing through the battlefield of grief, and raising my kids solo. It's not that I wanted to hide from the reality of life with a struggling alcoholic, it's because my mind could only focus on so much at once.

I loved Sean, but he was a mean drunk. He'd play mind games and sometimes would get so out of control the kids and I would flee in the middle of the night. I remember one Christmas Eve when the kids and I fled in fear--we ended up at a hotel eating McDonald's Happy Meals while I tried to pretend to them that all was fine.

It wasn't fine.

They were only seven and eight years old when Sean died. They don't remember a lot of that craziness, but they do remember seeing him hanging dead in a closet, watching me cut him down and try to revive him, seeing the paramedics come to our house, having the police everywhere. They remember enough.

Before the suicide, though, is what I remember with more and more frequency. The manipulations and outright lies, the constant state of uncertainty, the fear that he was going to hurt us if he got drunk again. We'd separated for six months a year before his death. I told him to get out and stay out until he was sober. I lied about where he was to people in the PTA, swim team, and the soccer team.

I became someone I didn't know. I was constantly protecting the kids, Sean, and my reputation with a lie. I liked our facade, you see. From the outside, we looked like the perfect family. A handsome and successful husband, a house in the mountains with two cute dogs, money overflowing in the bank account, two beautiful and happy kids, and an educated wife who quit her life in corporate America to attend mommy-and-me gymnastics classes. I became someone who would do anything to protect that facade--even if I cried myself to sleep every night, even when I found liquor bottles stashed in the laundry room, even when I packed the babies up at midnight to escape a raging fit.

After our separation, he came home--sober--or so I thought. He'd moved on from drinking, you see, into some kind of drugs I'll never know the name of for sure. When I'd suggest to him that he was high, he'd smile and say, "I haven't had a drink in two years, when will you trust me?"

So I started doubting myself at every turn. No matter what my gut told me, he'd play the guilt card, "What do I need to do to earn your trust back? Will you forever hold my past against me?" On and on it went until I didn't know what to think anymore.

The confident, educated, independent woman he'd married had become a bundle of nerves and uncertainty. He preyed on the fact that I did love him and the knowledge that I wanted more than anything to keep our family in tact. And, no, he wasn't acting like the drunk Sean--there were no more outbursts, no more crazy ramblings--he was just...off.

Maybe it was all in my imagination. Maybe I had become paranoid.

And then he started disappearing for days. He was a contractor and said he was simply busy working--could he really do his job building huge commercial structures and be drunk? I needed to relax, he said.

But I couldn't relax. Everything about his behavior felt like a lie. But did I know what truth felt like anymore?

The kids and I went on living our lives with kindergarten and second grade, swim team and soccer, filling our time. We smiled. All that money that had been in the bank? It started disappearing, too. There was a month where the kids and I only ate beans and rice while my husband did whatever it was he was doing wherever he was doing it at. But we maintained the facade of happy little family to the outside world and I did my best to shield the kids from my concerns while phone calls went unanswered.

Then he returned from his job up north and took us all on a trip to Mexico. A new beginning, he said. A fresh start. A chance to reconnect. Relax, he said.

He'd pace on the beach in Mexico, staring at the ocean. A SCUBA diver, he didn't dive this time. He paced. He taught our daughter to body surf in the Caribbean. He slept. He fidgeted. He paced some more. He told me how our wedding day had been the happiest of his life. He built sand castles with our little boy. He sweated profusely in an airconditioned room and told me how sorry he was for screwing up, how much he wanted to make things right for our family.

He killed himself when we got home.

We found plastic Easter eggs--you know the kind you fill with candy and hide for the kids on Easter morning?--in his truck filled with white powder and a crack pipe.

That intuition of mine, the one he'd said was paranoid and untrusting, had been right.

Ten years later I am sitting here writing these words and realizing that the effects of living with an addict haven't quite subsided. Yes, I've raised two very successful young adults. Yes, I've written and published nineteen books. But I still second-guess myself, I have a hard time trusting others, I am still stuck in some ways with his words about me being foolish and stupid in my mind. I'm still hiding, afraid to leave and afraid to stay, trapped in a moment of who I want to be warring with all that I've been.

Should I have left him at the first sign of his alcoholism? I don't know. I loved him deeply, we had infants, we'd just moved into a house with a mortgage far from the city where I'd worked. I wanted more than anything to see him conquer his problems. We went to therapy. He went to rehab--three times. We were separated. I fought for him, for us, for our family, for the life I wanted--and it wasn't enough. Sometimes that still really screws with my mind.

It wasn't enough. I rode the lie of perfection to save face and ended up a widow of suicide. No, I don't blame myself for his death. I honestly loved the man with all of my heart and the kids worshiped the ground he walked on. When he was good...he was amazing. And, he was amazing most of the time...which is why I kept fighting.

No matter what I did, it wasn't enough. No matter how much success he achieved, how much money he made, how awesome his kids were, how much love we engulfed him in...it was not enough. That haunts me sometimes...despite all the counseling and the books I've read and the years that pass...I still wonder why it wasn't enough. 

Since his death, I've found myself susceptible to other manipulators--people who have taken advantage, who have caused me to second-guess my very nature, and I've become gun-shy with relationships of all kinds. I recognize this and am not sure I know how to change it or even if I want to...you see, I've come to enjoy being alone.

But am I really choosing that for my present and future or am I merely reacting to the past? I once vowed to not let a moment define me, to not be trapped in the shadow of Sean's suicide. But have I inadvertently broken that vow? Did I focus so much on getting the kids through it that I lost my own path? Am I sabotaging my success and forward momentum because I have some guilt that I didn't win the ultimate battle? Am I using it as an excuse to hide away from the world?

I've learned a lot about myself on this journey. I've learned that I love deeply and passionately. I've learned that I am strong enough to stand up to adversity and weather the storm. I've learned that it's okay to tell someone to fuck off when they're saying that your intuition is wrong.

Loving an addict is hard because you see their goodness, their big hearts, their loving nature beneath all the crap. I had a therapist after the suicide who explained the addiction like a mistress. She told me that Sean had a mistress--a powerful, seductive one--and, in the end, he couldn't resist her pull. She told me this not to diminish the destructive nature of addiction, but to reassure me that that good man I loved, that man who loved me back and who could take my breath away with a smile, was real. That, despite all the lies that addiction brings with it, I had known his heart, had known his good nature, and that I wasn't a fool. Beneath the facade, truth existed.

And, after being beat up in the storm of manipulations, betrayals, and death, it's good to know--to believe--that my instinct had been right, that I hadn't been crazy-paranoid, that I wasn't stupid, that I can trust myself to go forward with my head held high knowing I fought the good fight and, yes, I lost.

But I fought. On some deep level, a soul level, I'd known the truth. That matters.

Peace to you.
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing Powerful and Believable Paranormal Characters #AmWriting #MondayBlogs

 Writing Powerful Paranormal Characters 
A guest post by Paranormal Romance Author Dakota Skye 

There's something incredibly freeing about writing paranormal stories where the imagination knows no bounds. Our characters can morph into another species, shoot fire from their palms, control the wind, read minds, and so much more. Despite the fantastical elements of a paranormal story, it's still important that the reader believe the characters are possible and are still able to relate to them. Whether writing about magicians, witches, wizards, mermen/mermaids, psychics, or any other character that is magical and mystical, there are a few traits to keep in mind.

Create a personality profile, just like you would with any other character, but remember that your paranormal character is larger than life, too. Witches, wizards, and demigods, for instance, need to convey a sense of power. Below are a list of personality traits to incorporate into your paranormal character--no need to use them all, but these are some to consider:

  1. Intelligence. Supernatural powers require an above average intellect, critical thinking, critical analysis, and the ability to make difficult, fast decisions.
  2. Excellent memory--for rituals, spells, ingredient lists, and things of that nature. 
  3. Creativity. Those in the supernatural world need to adapt quickly to new situations, be open-minded to the unexpected. 
  4. Self-disciplined and focused. A supernatural being or those with magical powers need to be able to shut out distractions, even under difficult circumstances. They must also be able to resist temptations that we mere mortals wouldn't.
  5. Patience. (especially true of witches) Magic requires endless practice and repetition and the impatient drop out long before they become masters. 
  6. Highly trained. Talent is not enough--an inclination toward the mystical is just that...an inclination and nothing more. Wizards, witches, demigods who wield the power of the Universe---are all trained how to manage their supernatural gifts. 
  7. Specialized. Not all supernatural beings are created equally---all have specialties that they've honed through practice combined with passion. Perhaps one can control the weather while another can manifest great wealth. Think of it like the medical field where doctors ultimately choose an area of concentration. 
  8. Musical. Many forms of magic or supernatural practices involve drumming or chanting or another form of musical communication. Think of your character...can you apply this somehow? 
  9. Spiritual. Most forms of magic are linked to religious beliefs and most myths are also linked to a higher form of power. Even an atheist will often engage in a form of meditation. 
  10. Well-organized and methodical. Supernatural characters always have more information than most or have ingredients on hand to whip up a magical concoction at a moment's notice. In comedic situations, of course, the disorganized witch creates disaster...but there is always a wizard or more skilled witch present to save the day. 
  11. Introverted. Whether it's because of their powers or their need to practice/study the craft, most supernatural and magical beings prefer solitude. After a night or a day in noisy places or with too many people, your character needs to retreat to solitude to recharge his/her energy. Even for the most gregarious and outgoing supernatural beings, there is usually a degree of retreat needed to reconnect with their power. 
  12. Ethical, except for your evil antagonist, of course. With supernatural power, comes the weight of moral judgement as to when to unleash it for the sake of the greater good or justice. These ethics may be connected to their spiritual connection or individual conscience. Modern magical ethics of "harm none" or "don't interfere with someone's free will" often come into play. This can be a powerful source of internal conflict with your hero/heroine as they debate on using their powers and the impact that choice could have on a broader scale. 
  13. Sharp senses. Supernatural and magical beings are in tune with the world around them, far beyond the senses of a regular human being. They can detect changes in energy, have excellent hearing, and keen eyesight. Their abilities have been fine tuned through intense training and years of awareness. But don't overdo this; for instance, don't make a psychic who can hear the dead also read the minds of the living because it provides little challenge and will ultimately create a boring story. Every character must have a limit to what they can do, even those with supernatural abilities. Remember that the reader must also relate and believe your character and that perfection is boring.
  14. Day job. Most supernatural characters interact with mortals every day--not only to pay the rent, but also to appear normal and make them connect to a community. 
  15. Pets. Most supernatural or magical characters have a pet of some kind. This doesn't need to be conventional. In my novel, Impact Zone, the merman has a pet sea lion. 
Paranormal stories are made extraordinary by being unique so use as many of the fifteen characteristics in your character as YOU deem appropriate; however, always remember that the reader must relate to and believe in your hero/heroine to keep them engaged.

Keep being sensational!
Dakota Skye

Author Dakota Skye is a paranormal author fascinated with all things other-worldly and fantastic. She has seven paranormal romance novels and short story collections out in the world with four more novels slated for publication in 2016. Find details for all of her books at http://www.authordakotasky.com and follow her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDakotaSkye 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The More They Tasted of One Another, The More They Hungered #ScintillatingSunday #RomanticSuspense

Welcome to the Scintillating Sunday Romance Blog Hop where multiple romance authors share eight paragraphs of their work that they find 'scintillating.' Taking a peek inside the romantic suspense novel, Duplicity...


I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut, she thought to herself as she tentatively stepped into the outdoor shower. Between being concerned about the iguanas he'd warned her about and the rain thrashing the building, she had second-guessed this idea a dozen times between the bedroom and here. 

Tall, overgrown bushes outside the lattice surrounding the outdoor shower smashed and scratched against the thin wood, but provided a bit of a reprieve from the intense wind. They were covered in brilliant pink flowers whose fragrance wrapped around her as she lifted her face to the warm water from the showerhead that competed with the cool rain that pelted her back. 

Rubbing soap in her hair, she grinned at the combination of wind, flora, rain, soap, and warm water running over her skin. This might go down as her most invigorating shower ever. 

She froze when firm hands covered hers and took over massaging her scalp. He worked the shampoo all the way through the ends, taking time to press his thumbs against the knot that had been lodged at the base of her neck for three days. She dropped her arms to her side and tilted her head forward to give him easier access. 

Outside of her salon, no one had ever washed her hair for her before or done such a thorough job. He stroked his fingers through it to remove all the soap while turning the showerhead just so for a thorough rinse. She flattened her hands against the tile. Her senses snapped with awareness. 

He moved his hands down her sides to her hips before sliding around the front to cup her breasts. He kissed the back of her shoulder, his breath hot on her cool skin. 

"I love the way you taste," he whispered against her ear while his hands squeezed her breasts.

She twisted her head to kiss him. Maybe they had a hard time talking, but damn they had making love down to an art form. Being near him clothed or unclothed created a force field of intoxicating attraction, a burning need that couldn't be quenched no matter how satisfying the sex. Each touch created a desire for another. Every kiss stirred a deeper thirst. The more they tasted of one another, the more they hungered.

  From the back cover...

Nothing bad happens in paradise...or does it?

Lexi Dubois is in trouble. On Grand Cayman for business, she discovers the company she's been working for is funding a human trafficking ring—and the money trail leads back to her. Scared for her life, she charters a boat for a week to hide from the men on the small island who want her dead and to buy time to find enough evidence to take them down. The last thing she expects—or wants—is a torrid affair with the hot captain and dive master.

Larry Gibbon has been running a charter dive boat operation in Grand Cayman for years. He's seen it all—and done his share of creating havoc. But when a mysterious woman charters his boat for a week—alone—he has no idea what trouble she's bringing aboard.

The ocean is vast and unforgiving, but will Larry's knowledge of the Cayman Islands and Lexi's relentless determination to survive be enough to save them?

**The Wanderlust Series consists of stand-alone adventure romance novels. Occasionally, characters from previous novels may make a cameo, but each story truly does stand on its own merits. 

Start the adventure now!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Parallel Lives? Save the Comparison, Please #life #startingover

I am a widow. I didn't choose to be. I loved my husband. I heard him take his last breath. I still wear his ring. Despite this, people keep trying to put me into the divorced category. Nothing wrong with divorce, but that's not what happened to me and I don't like the constant comparison.

A few days ago this came up yet again when someone tried to arrange a meeting with someone she felt I led "parallel lives with." This other person is going through a hateful divorce and bitter custody battle. I ask you...what is parallel about that?

One of the most insulting things widows endure is the dismissal of our feelings. We're encouraged to date way before we're ready. We're judged for the tear in our eyes at a milestone moment like prom or graduation. People want us to act like their divorced friends who have already remarried or are at least dating regularly. They don't want us to talk about missing our departed husband...they'd rather we rant about our hatred of the male species. But we're different...we're walking another road paved with grief and the knowledge that our loved one is missing out on all things great and wonderful. That makes us sad...and, yes, sometimes mad, but for different reasons than our divorced counterparts.

Divorced women rarely still wear their wedding rings or wish their husbands were still in their beds. Divorced women's children still have a father who walks on the earth--even if he is a bastard. My kids have never gotten the chance to know their dad because he died when they were only 7 and 8 years old. They've never gotten a chance to decide whether he was a nice guy or a jerk. Those chances were ripped from them---and from me---without our consent.

Widows are not the same as the divorced.

I know people who have gone through divorces and I understand that they are horrible. I understand that they endure their own kind of grief and am not discounting that in any way. But they would also agree with me that our journeys are different.

I think it's presumptuous of people outside of a situation to presume they know my journey or anyone else's. I also think it's somewhat insulting to throw two people together just because they are "single" and say that they have led parallel lives when the truth couldn't be further from the truth. How dare you judge my life? How dare you judge hers?

Oh, and another thing--I'm proud of my journey. The uniqueness of it. I own my pain and my triumphs. The other woman who is going through the divorce? She is allowed to own her journey as hers, too. No two people grieve the same or experience the same pain. Allow us to wear our journey with pride and not diminish it by saying we are all alike. We're not. 

There are quite a few people in the world who think they are above tragedy. They think their lives are flawless and that they are making all the right decisions to keep them from ever experiencing this raw pain of loss. They judge. They say things like, "when I leave from visiting so-and so, I realize how fucked up her life is and how great mine is." Real sweet. Real compassionate. I heard that with my own ears during a Thanksgiving meal over a year ago and almost dropped my wine. Oh, and the person who was so-and-so is the same person I was suddenly asked to meet a few days ago because we're "living parallel lives." Am I supposed to take that as a compliment after hearing that Thanksgiving comment?

A phrase comes to mind..."there, but for the grace of god, go I."

Before you lump people you deem somehow damaged together, pause. Ask yourself what you're judging or what you're afraid of? Do you want to put all the damaged marbles together so you don't have to deal with us individually? Do we make you uncomfortable from your perfect snow globe of a life?

People may experience similar things, that's true. After writing my memoir, Free Fall, about surviving my husband's suicide, I heard from people all over the world who shared their stories with me. I cried over every email. Yes, our stories were similar but none were parallel. We each owned our own love...our own agony...our own journey. Never would I discount their strength and their burdens by saying they were like anyone else's.

I am not divorced, I am a widow. More than that, I am Amber. I have overcome a helluva lot and am a survivor on my own merits. I am an individual who stands alone at the end of the day owning my own shit--my own despair, my failures, my successes, my joy, my creativity, my neurosis, my fear, and my courage. It's all mine.

And your journey is yours and so on. We all have stories to tell, heartaches to heal, and joys to celebrate. Don't let anyone take away your own story or tell you that you are or should be like someone else. We are individual souls who came to this earth to learn our own lessons for our own reasons and, when we die, we alone will see those moments flash before our eyes. It's good that they be unique and chaotic and wild and painful and joyful and messy and weird! If those are the final images we see as we pass from this realm to the next, why not get a smile from them and think, "that was my journey, damn it, and I am proud of every tear, every smile, every single damn second because I lived...and I lived fully and loved deeply." 

You are unique. You are beautiful because of your scars. You are fucking spectacular and don't you forget it.

Peace to you.
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com