SAMPLE SUNDAY: ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’

Eduardo promo

FROM ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’:

“So, are you going to help me or not?”

“Help you with what, Eduardo?”

“The social media nonsense.”

Miri smiled in spite of her earlier resolution to freeze him out. It was a good thing he couldn’t actually see her smile. It would betray how much of a pushover she was.

After managing to get through the entire Sunday dinner a few days ago without saying more than two dozen words to Duardo, her sense of triumph was almost immediately thereafter supplanted by a very hollow feeling when she recalled that the team was moving to a couple games out West, and she would likely not see him again for several more weeks. Talk about biting off her nose to spite her face.

Each morning since, she woke up pretending she wasn’t hoping he’d texted her, and each lunch hour felt barren and uninteresting. Miri had just about given up hope for their friendship when her phone rang. It was far too late for anyone to be calling unless it was an emergency—well after eleven p.m.—but she hadn’t the willpower to simply ignore him. Back when they’d been actually communicating, when he was away they seldom spoke on the phone, most often connecting by text. The chance to hear his voice, particularly when she wouldn’t see him for so long was too much to pass up, so Miri answered, trying to sound casual, and a little sleepy when neither of those things could be further from the truth.

The truth was, she’d been in bed for well over an hour, with all the lights off save one, and the television on, waiting for the Sandman to show up and lead her to slumber. She’d just about given up on him and was planning to try reading a novel when her phone chimed.

“If you don’t help me, I’ll have to pay a consultant. My agent tells me that’ll run me somewhere around ten thousand.”

“Ten thousand?” Miri sat up in bed, outraged. “That’s ridiculous. No not ridiculous, it’s insane.”

“Well what do I know? I guess I’ll have to pay it. Unless you want to help me out.”

“You don’t need anyone to help you out, Eduardo. A ten-year old can do this stuff. And you must have Facebook, right? And Tumblr? You …”


“No? Not even just for you and your friends back home to keep in touch?”

“Everyone I want to keep in touch with, I keep in touch with. Facebook never made much sense to me. It basically keeps you in touch with people you never made a real effort to see in the real world. And probably for good reasons.”

Miri rolled her eyes. “I love Facebook. And Tumblr, and Instagram, and Snapchat. You get to make your own little virtual village. You admit the people you want in your village and you ignore the ones you don’t want in your village. Social media is one of the most important things to happen in the digital age.”

“You sound like an expert.” There was a smile in his voice. “So you’re the perfect person to help me.”

Miri sighed and leaned back against her pillows once again, resting the phone against her ear. Next to her bed, there was a half empty mug of chamomile tea. Tepid by now, it was supposed to be helping her get to sleep. Now she was grateful it hadn’t worked. But strangely, just hearing Duardo’s voice had settled something for her; she was relaxing and suspected that once their conversation was done, a sound sleep would follow.

“Hey. You still with me?”

Aside from being relaxing, his voice, in her ear while she lay in bed, also made her feel a little naughty, like she was doing something wrong. Miri was suddenly hyperaware of her nipples, and how they felt brushing against the fabric of her tank top. And she had the urge to slide a hand down her stomach, and between her thighs. What if she did? What would it matter? It wasn’t as though he would know what she was doing.

“I’m here,” she said.

“You’re being quiet again,” Duardo said, sounding suspicious. “Like you were last Sunday at your brother’s house. Did I … is something wrong?”

“Something like what?” Miri played with the lacy edges of her underwear. Did she dare?

“Did your brother tell you I talked to him?”

“He did.” Miri slid her hand beneath the waistband of her panties, tentative at first and still hesitant to let the genie out of the bottle with Duardo’s voice in her ear.

“And is that why you …”

“Why I what?”

For the first time in her life, she wondered whether she should wax. Like, wax … completely. Nessa said she did, and that it made sex more pleasurable. Made everything more pleasurable. Of course, Miri had never actually had sex, and had only her imagination to tell her what the “everything” referred to.

“Miri. You sound strange. What’s the matter?”


What was strange was that they had been on the phone for only about five minutes, and yet she was moved just by the sound of his voice to do something that she seldom did otherwise. Now, parting her legs and touching herself, Miri was stunned at how wet she was, how sensitive. She couldn’t do this with him on the phone, because after the lightest touch, she was already having a difficult time remaining completely silent, and not giving in to the urge to moan.

“So?” Duardo prompted.

“So … what, Eduardo?”

“Stop calling me that,” he said, sounding somewhat testy.

“Calling you what?” she laughed lightly. “Your name?”

“You stopped calling me ‘Eduardo’ since the second time I laid eyes on you. Now all of a sudden you address me the way my parish priest would?”

If Miri didn’t know better, she would think he was upset with her. But why? Moments before, he seemed fine. And besides he was the one who was out carousing with blondes in short skirts. But she wouldn’t think about that right now, it would upset her groove and the slick, slow rhythm she was beginning to establish with her right hand. Slowly, her eyes fell shut as she moved her fingers in circles, stroking herself. A slight moan escaped her lips and she held still for a moment, waiting to see whether he had heard it, and would react.

“Okay, it’s late,” he finally conceded. “I just want to know whether you’ll do the social media set-up for me. Just tell me that much and I’ll let you get off.”

Miri couldn’t help it. She erupted in surprised laughter, halting her motions for a moment because if she kept it up, she really would get off.

“What the hell is so funny?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. Yes, I’ll do the social media set-up for you. Although it’s really idiot-proof and if you just took a couple hours, you could do all of it yourself. The hardest part will be gathering all the images you have on your various devices, and …”

“I don’t have time for that.”

“You literally could have done some of it in the time it took us to have this conversation.”

“And what if I just wanted to have the conversation?” he asked. “What if the social media stuff is only part of the reason I called?”

Miri opened her eyes and froze for a moment. “So I didn’t scare you off by being so mean on Sunday?” she asked, before she could consider the wisdom of the question.

This time it was Duardo’s turn to laugh. “Last Sunday, that was you ‘being mean’?”

Well, as mean as she could manage, anyway.



“Why?” Shit. Now what was she going to say? That she saw a picture of him with the blonde and was jealous?

Jealous. Yes. That was what she was. She’d seen a picture of Duardo with a woman he was more than likely involved with, and it made her positively green. The woman-in-the-little-white-dress probably didn’t need to surreptitiously touch herself while listening to Duardo’s voice from across the country. The woman-in-the-little-white-dress had probably experienced Duardo’s fingers doing to her what Miri now had to do for herself.

There it was. Thinking of him with someone else made her … jealous. Now what the hell was she going to do about it?

“You’re right,” she said quickly. “It is late. And I have work tomorrow, so how about we talk later this week about getting you plugged in?”

“Hey, wait a minute. I want to know why you were …”

“We’ll talk again soon, okay?”

He said nothing in response, but in the silence, she could feel his displeasure.

“One thing I need you to do though?” she said.

“Yeah. What?”

“While you’re away, take pictures. Places you go, things you see, even meals you eat. Take pictures with your phone and then save them for when I see you next, okay?”

“Sure. But wh…”

“Duardo. I really do have to get some rest.”

Miri ended the call before he could get another word in, and quickly shut off her bedside light, sliding even deeper under the covers as though hiding. And then for good measure, she turned off her phone. It took her a few minutes, lying there in the dark, to admit that there was no way she would fall off to sleep unassisted.

Sighing, Miri reached down once again, closed her eyes and summoned the image of Duardo’s tanned arms, the outline of his muscles under a grey t-shirt—for some reason he favored grey—and the look he sometimes gave her that almost fooled her into thinking that he wanted her too.

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What Had Happened Was …

The Education of Miri Acosta coverSo you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Not literally, but figuratively. I haven’t blogged, haven’t done as much online promotion of my work, and definitely haven’t been writing with the same regularity. Instead I’ve been reading, working, falling in love with my partner and out again, and in love again … and so on, playing, traveling, hanging with friends, making some enemies (yeah, for real) and living, basically. And so there it is–not sexy, but that’s my excuse for not getting ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ out this month. More about that later, but for now, let me just say … I’m back in the saddle and rearing to go.

I guess I could leave it at that, but I’m not going to. I want to tell you what I’m going to be up to next, because as solitary as the writing part of writing is, the rest is a group exercise. You read what I write (thank God) and you sometimes like it, and sometimes you write me notes, leave me comments and give me the fuel that gets me through the rough spots, or the encouragement to up my game next time. And a lot of readers give me ideas–for characters and plot points I might consider, or even entire books I might write. I can feel a lot of you out there rooting for me, waiting for me, and believing in me, or I’ve seen you, posting the gentle social media nudge to ‘get back to work already’.

All of it is appreciated.

There’s something writers don’t always tell you but I’m going to let you in on the secret. You ready? Here it is: there was a time when we wrote furtively, secretly, quietly and alone (some of us still do). We wondered whether there would ever be another soul, besides a lover, a friend, or a family member who read what we wrote and cared about it. We silently suffered with the knowledge that though the writing itself was fulfilling, it wasn’t always enough–we wanted someone else to hear our voice on the page and tell us it was good. That’s the secret. The ‘pressure’ we moan about, the pushes and nudges to ‘get back to work already’ are part of the dream, almost as much as the writing itself. To know that you contribute to the richness of the human experience with your words alone? Man, for me there is no high higher than that.

So now that I’ve admitted that I am not so cool that I can pretend not to give a shit what readers think, back to my plans. ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ is next up. August was the plan, but it’s now mid September. I won’t give a precise date because you know I never meet those deadlines anyway and it causes me heartburn when I know people are waiting and I’m not delivering. But about the book: I like this one. It’s more ‘pure romance’ than anything I’ve written in a while, about young love, crazy passion; learning that who you are is not who you may have planned to be, and figuring out that book smarts don’t equal emotional intelligence. It that strikes your fancy, read the blurb on Goodreads, here.

Following Miri’s story will be the one I’ve been dying to complete, Lorna Terry’s comeuppance, which is working titled ‘Art and Soul’. In that one, the mother of Riley, (who you may remember from ‘Commitment’, etc.) meets her match in a somewhat younger lover who is not intimidated by her radical feminism, and who forces her to face some of the consequences from her choices in the past; and to confront the possibility of a very different future than the one she envisioned. Meet Lorna and her intrepid younger man by reading these shorts: ‘Forty-Six’ and ‘Stalemate’.

And finally, on the encouragement of a writer-friend, and because I’m a sucker for people’s requests for “more” of a couple, I am working on Jamal and Makayla’s follow-up to ‘The Come Up’, this one titled ‘The Takedown’, will follow the very real challenges to the unlikely (and some say mismatched) couple’s relationship. It’ll also follow Jamal’s ascension to the pinnacle of his career, and Makayla being thrust even deeper into a life she’s ambivalent about at best, and outright distrustful of at worst. For me, the cool stories happen when a couple is together but external and internal conflicts work against them–the stuff that comes after the ‘I-love-yous’ are said and believed. This book will hopefully be one of those ‘cool stories’.

So that’s where I am. Until I get something out there, visit me on Facebook, or Pinterest. Send me email, post something on this blog. I know you’re out there, and I am most definitely listening.

Happy Reading.


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BLOG STOP: Tia Kelly, author of new release ‘Baby Love’!

Baby LoveAbout Baby Love:

The son of an NBA legend, Trent Scott was born a catch and groomed since birth to know it. Little fazes him, including the mystery woman that appears on his doorstep with a baby in tow… even when she claims Trent is the father before disappearing. Until he can prove otherwise and find the delusional woman, he’s stuck caring for a kid he knows can’t be his… or is it?

Brandi Avery is ready to start the next chapter of her life. After coming to the rescue of a frazzled (and extremely attractive) stranger with an adorable (yet obviously upset) baby, she can’t help but fall for Trent Scott… which wouldn’t be so bad if she could convince him to feel the same way about her.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Baby Love is on sale for $1.99 until July 13th.

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

Connect with Tia Kelly on her blog:


Pulling the door open, he saw a gorgeous woman and immediately thought of Lupita Nyong’o.

“About damn time!” She sounded nothing like the graceful actress.

Trent’s brow raised a fraction, but he didn’t say a word.

“Do you mind?” she asked, setting a foot inside his house.

She cut her eyes at him before glancing at her watch. That was when Trent saw the stroller behind her. Ms. Uninvited set an infant carrier on the ground between them after stepping across the threshold.

“How did you get past the gate?”

“It was open when I got here.”

Trent peered around her because he knew he closed it.

“Earlier when the ambulance was here.”


The woman just shrugged.

“Do I know you?”

“You don’t remember me?” Her angry scowl became masked from hurt.

“Why should I?”

“It’s been just over a year, but not that much has changed other than the child we share together.”

“Come again?” That’s when he saw an infant stirring beneath a blanket in the carrier. The plush pink and white covering did nothing to soften his discomfort.

What the hell?

“We met in Vegas the spring before last.”


“And it’s about time you met the daughter we share as a result.”

“Look Miss… I don’t even know your name, so how do I have a daughter?”

Dark piercing eyes were now damp. “Trina.”

“Excuse me?”

She cleared her throat, jutted out her chin. “My name is Trina.”

Trent ran a hand over his head, refusing to glance at the child. As far as he knew, he wasn’t anyone’s father. What he needed to do was call the authorities to come escort this crazy lady from his property. “Trina, if this child is mine, why am I just hearing about it now? If this happened more than a year ago, that means your kid is what…two or three months?”

Trina rolled her eyes pointing to the carrier between them. “She turned six months yesterday and… I… I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?”

“I thought she was my husband’s. That was until the taping yesterday.”

If it didn’t prove him to be a complete ass, Trent would have laughed out loud. “Did you say your husband?”

Trina nodded. “It was the night of my bachelorette party in Vegas. We met and well, you… you gave me a night to remember.”

More like eighteen years, if what she was saying was true. But it’s not.

“Somehow word got back to my husband about that night and he got suspicious and suggested we go on the show to get the baby tested. Up until the wedding, we used condoms.”



What the hell? Trent shook his head in disbelief and rolled his eyes. This woman was something else. And I always use condoms.

“It broke.”

Shit, Trent thought to himself, waiting for her to read his mind again. But if a condom did break, he would’ve remembered that major detail. Right? Unless it was thattrip to Vegas, the one he wanted to forget.

“He insisted we get London tested and that’s when Maury confirmed it this morning, you’re her…” Trina said. She stopped only to make sure she had Trent’s attention. She had it all right, but it was her quivering lip and shaky voice that puzzled him. “You’re London’s father.”

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BLOG STOP: MJ Kane, author of ‘Nobody’s Business’

Author Pic 5.2012From Player to Baby Daddy: What Makes a Man become a Father?

I tried to figure out the best way to be politically correct with the statement I’m about to make, but decided to just say it instead:

When it comes to an unmarried man accepting the responsibility of fathering a child, most women expect him to run. Race, economic background, and age don’t matter. A woman in a relationship that has no set expectations or commitment dreads saying the words, ‘I’m pregnant’.

Now this isn’t to say that most men run from responsibility. Some embrace it. Others have to wrap their heads around it as they come to grip with the sudden change in their lives. And yes, there are those that run for the hills.

But what happens when a man who’s used to being single and free to be with any woman he wants discovers his ex-girlfriend has had his baby? Not a month ago, but two years ago? And to make matters worse, the child is ill and about to have surgery that could end his life?

Meet Trevon Campbell.

If you’ve read the first novel in The Butterfly Memoirs, A Heart Not Easily Broken, then you’ve meet the twin brother of the stories heroine, Ebony Campbell. While Ebony left home in North Carolina to follow her dream of becoming a veterinarian in Los Angles, Trevon’s path took him to Atlanta, Georgia. There he planned to earn a spot in the NBA. After several years of making a name for himself at Georgia Tech, his dream was extinguished when, during one of the last games of his college career, he suffered a knee injury. With nothing left but his education, Trevon made the best of his situation and got a job in an industry he least expected: management trainee for Applebee’s.

Seven years later, the Business Management Degree he earned has kept food on the table, an expensive condo near downtown Atlanta, and the right to bed any woman he chooses…until his ex-girlfriend drops the news…now Trevon has a decision to make.

Does he man up for the sake of his son or let his attraction to a woman he just met take the lead? What path will he choose?

And before I go, one more thing …


To celebrate the release of the fourth novel in the series, I am giving away a gift basket full of butterfly swag AND autographed paperback copies off all four novels! This is a month long contest, so enter as many times as you’d like to increase your chances to win!

Click here to enter!

Nobody's Business

Trevon Campbell’s world changed the moment his ex-girlfriend announced he was a father. Determined to make up for his past mistakes, he gives Trina what she wanted before their breakup, what feels like his soul, which means forgetting the woman he had a one-night stand with, the woman who stole his heart.

Kai Malone doesn’t want to play by her family’s rules. Instead of working for the family business, she became a firefighter. Being a female of multicultural descent, working in a field dominated by men, Kai focuses on her job to ignore the infidelity of her fiancé. Tired of his deceit, she gave in to a one-night stand with a complete stranger, someone she’d never have to see again…or so she thought.

When tragedy strikes, their worlds collide, leaving them no choice but to deal with each other again. It doesn’t take long for them to realize the attraction that brought them together the first time is stronger than ever, forcing Trevon to make the biggest decision of his life.

Amazon    B&N    iTunes


Justin was a perfect mix of both of us. While he was a spitting image of me when I was his age, he still had features like his mother, caramel colored skin and eyes a shade lighter than my dark brown ones.

My attention went back to her. Trina and I met when we both attended Georgia Tech. We were both Business Majors, though I was there on a basketball scholarship. My dream had been to play pro-basketball; hers had been to get a good job working in corporate America.

A basketball injury forced me to make use of my degree.

She, on the other hand, was sidetracked and postponed her career after graduation due to motherhood.

That was after we parted ways and she moved out of the apartment we shared.

If I had known that she was pregnant before I facilitated our breakup, life would have been different for both of us. The house I bought would have been done a long time ago.

I would have been around to watch my son grow in her belly.

We would have been married and living a good life.

“You never answered the question. What did you mean by moving on?” Finished washing dishes, Trina dried her hands on a towel, then settled in a chair across from me, curiosity on her face.

I glanced at my son for a moment, then faced her. “Moving on to us.”

Her eyebrows shot up as she sat back. “Us?”

I placed my elbows on the table, giving her my full attention. “Yes, us. I want you and Justin to move in with me.” Trina’s head dropped an inch; she stared at me as if I had sprouted some abnormality on my forehead. “I don’t want it to be a live-in situation. I think we should get back together.”

The laughter that exploded from her side of the table was a slap in the face. Her hand went to her mouth, but it was too late for her to hide the fact she thought my suggestion was absurd.

“Trevon,” She used my full name, something done only when she was serious. “You and me,” she waived a finger between us. “That ship sailed years ago. The only reason you and I are dealing with each other now is because of this little man right here.” She reached over to wipe a spot of fallen jelly from his crisp blue shirt.

“If you had told me from the get go you were pregnant instead of hiding it from me, things would be different.”

Exactly how different, I had no idea. But at least I would have known about my son’s existence and been there. Instead, she kept him a secret, not bothering to tell me she was pregnant when we broke up.

Then one day she showed up to the restaurant I managed.

It had been my off day, but a phone call from the manager on duty stating a customer demanded to speak to me by name, forced me drop what I was doing and come in to handle what I thought was a volatile situation. Thinking it was a customer about to complain about bad service, I prepared to use my good looks and charm to win them over.

Instead, I got a bomb dropped in my lap.

My ex-girlfriend, whom I hadn’t seen, nor spoken two in two years, flashed a picture of a little boy and said he was mine.

The revelation came because Justin was diagnosed with Sickle cell anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Neither of us was eligible to be donors because we both carried the trait. There was risk involved in the procedure. Knowing this, Trina decided I needed the chance to know my son…just in case.

After recovering from the shock of having a child and the severity of his illness, getting to know him took precedence in my life. Thankfully, he pulled through the procedure. That was eight months ago and he was nearing his third birthday.

Nothing could get back the two years Trina took from me. I didn’t doubt for a moment that if he hadn’t gotten ill, she would have continued on with the secret. But I owed it to her, and especially my son, to correct the situation and give them what they both deserved; a chance to put our family back together again.


 About the Author:

M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this once stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free. Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.

No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and four pit bulls. During the day, MJ is a librarian, in her spare time she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.

Website     FB     Twitter     Email

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: ‘In the Nothing’ — COMING JULY 1st!

In the Nothing cover final2“So how good a friend is Skylar?”

Trinity and Parker were on the subway, headed to a place in Midtown where they were going to meet up with two of Parker’s girlfriends. The train, like the bridge leading her and Ethan into the city, was fascinatingly grimy, loud and pretty uncomfortable. In comparison, the trains in the DC Metro system were opulent. Boarding the actual train when they made it down to the platform had itself been an adventure. By habit, Trinity stood aside to let people off and was shocked that no one else—Parker included—seemed to be preoccupied with such pleasantries. Instead, they shouldered their way past the exiting passengers, jockeying for position without regard for whomever they might displace.

Now, standing on the jostling train, wearing borrowed shoes and clothing, Trinity was still so distracted by her surroundings that it took her a moment to process Parker’s question. Parker, who was trying not to look at her as she asked, probably because the question was loaded and they both knew it.

“She’s a friend.” Trinity shrugged, wondering if her answer was true.

Skylar sometimes showered her with attention and affection, inviting her places, hugging and kissing her, toying with her hair and telling her she was “super-pretty”. She had given Trinity a few of her cast-off outfits, expensive pieces from Banana Republic and Lacoste, and even shoes from L.L. Bean and Bass, which she declared “way too preppy” for her current “style aesthetic.” Trinity didn’t even know what her own “style aesthetic” was, but she knew that it would be stupid to pass up perfectly good, barely worn clothes that she never would have been able to afford.

But the gifts and the attention alternated with periods of coldness, or even outright cruelty, when Skylar would make fun of the way she pronounced a particular word, or random things, like … her never having had raw oysters. There had been days when Trinity had awoken to find that Skylar had turned inexplicably hostile overnight, speaking to her only when absolutely necessary and in monosyllables; or sometimes not at all. Shooting daggers across the room with her eyes, Skylar’s lips would curl in unspoken contempt and Trinity’s heart would sink.

And then the next day or the day after that, the sunshine of Skylar’s friendship would shine on her once again, and Trinity’s mood would soar because despite herself, she craved Skylar’s favor, just like everyone else.

“I only ask because …” Parker took a breath. “Oh, what the hell. I ask because Skylar, is a fucking nightmare. I met her only a couple times, but she’s just … ugh.”

“She’s not so bad,” Trinity said. Again not knowing for sure that what she said was true.

“I don’t know. You live with her. But one thing I do know? Guys like Ethan always seem to get ensnared by someone like that. I rescued Mitchell from his own little Skylar.”

At that, Trinity turned, holding on to the pole a little tighter.

“She was his girlfriend for like, three years or something when we met. And even though I knew I was pretty much intruding on an existing … situation, I made it my mission to take him away from her.”

Before they’d left the apartment, Parker had opened a bottle of wine and had two glasses of her own, so she may have been saying more than she normally might have done. But Trinity wasn’t inclined to stop her. Occasionally brushing a wisp of her wavy auburn hair from her face, Parker’s green eyes had a heavy-lidded tipsy look about them.

“So yeah, I broke them up or whatever,” she continued. “But it wasn’t easy, let me tell you. Mitchell—like Ethan, I’m guessing—is one of those rare guys who like to ‘do the right thing’. And the agonizing he did …” Parker groaned and rolled her eyes. “I was like, ‘Jesus dude, just dump her and get on with it! She makes you fucking miserable and who cares how many years you’ve been together, just do it already!’ And finally he did. And hasn’t looked back.”

Parker shot her a beatific smile, then reached out and squeezed Trinity’s arm as though in final punctuation of her monologue.

“I don’t know why you’re telling me all this,” Trinity said.

Parker smiled again. “Because of the way you look at him.”

“The way I look at him? I don’t think I …”

“Oh, girlfriend, it’s all over your face. But I’m not trying to embarrass you or anything. It’s just that I have a good instinct about people, Trinity. I know I don’t know you at all, but something tells me you’re a good egg.”

Trinity laughed. “A good egg who shouldn’t hesitate to step to her roommate’s boyfriend?”

Parker gave her a coy look, and a shrug of one shoulder. “No. I would never say anything like that. That would be reprehensible, wouldn’t it?” She winked. “But what I am saying is, don’t let your morals prevent you from saving Ethan from someone who probably has none.”


Posted in Books, In the Nothing, New Adult | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

BLOG STOP: Jacinta Howard, author of ‘Less Than Forever’


Jacinta Howard has been a favorite of mine since I read ‘Better Than Okay’ and I’ve read everything of hers since. Her novels are populated with young, hip, urban professionals trying to make sense of life and love, making mistakes and eventually finding their way. I credit her work with helping remind me why I like new adult fiction, and inspiring me to finish something of my own that had been languishing for literally years.  So it’s my pleasure to feature her book on my blog this Saturday. This is one I’ve been looking forward to …

About ‘Less Than Forever’: Raven Daniels and Dorian Thomas have been best friends since college. But while the free-spirited bond they share holds their relationship together, it’s also the reason they both know they’re better off as friends—flirty friends, but friends.

So when Raven decides to leave her old life and cheating ex behind in Fort Worth, TX and move to Dorian’s turf in sunny Miami to take a job as a middle school art teacher, they’re both excited about the prospect of being around one another full-time. As the social media manger at a prominent company, Dorian knows his city, and he’s eager to show his girl the ropes.

But one night, emotions run high and everything about their platonic relationship is put to the test. A series of events is set in motion that neither one of them is prepared for, events that force them to answer the question… is love always worth it?

Less Than ForeverFrom ‘Less Than Forever’:

“I guess this is the part where we talk about what happened and what it means,” he said as they were getting dressed, after their third session.

She didn’t look at him, fluffing her hair in the mirror that was across from the very unmade bed.

“We don’t have to talk about anything,” she returned, too casually.

“I didn’t mean that how it sounded,” he said, bending to tie his sneakers. He stood and grabbed his Suns baseball cap off the bed, placing it backwards on his head, before perching on the edge of the desk that was pushed against the wall near the TV. She stared at him and then looked away.

“How did you mean it then?” She sat down on the bed, pulling on her strappy black heels, still refusing to look at him.

“Raven, come on. Don’t put this all on me.” She looked at him then, growing agitated.

“Put what all on you?”

“This,” he said, waving a hand between them. “Like I’m the only one required to offer an explanation. Or a solution. Or to know where we go from here.”

She finished with her shoes and sighed, running her fingers through her hair.

“Okay. So…” she shrugged and stared at him. As prepared as she was to get upset with him for not having any, she didn’t have answers either.

“I know we can’t do the shit where we pretend to be ‘just friends,’” he offered, raising his cap and scratching his head. “And I know I can’t do the thing where I pretend that this one time, that last night was even close to being enough for me either.”

His voice lowered and he stared at her, his eyes soaking her up and making her fidgety and hot all over again.

“Are you ready to be in a committed relationship?” she asked.

“Are you?”

“I asked first,” she responded.

He rolled his eyes, his dimples blaring as he frowned. “So we’re twelve now?”

She sighed, tapping her foot against the carpet. “I don’t know what I’m ready for, Dorian.”

“And you’re not gonna be pissed at me for not knowing either, right?”

She looked up and he met her eyes deliberately. She turned away again and he sighed.

“We shouldn’t have even…” she started, but his head snapped up and he stared at her.

“Don’t go there. I don’t regret this. At all,” he said. His eyes traveled over her. “And if you’re real, you don’t either.”

There it was. That brazen confidence that she loved so much but infuriated her at the same time.

“I know you were emotional and probably overwhelmed by everything,” he paused and she lowered her eyes to the floor. “But what happened last night was about more than that, Raven. You know it and I know it. It was only a matter of time before we acted on what’s been there for a while now.”

She released a breath, still studying the floor. “But that’s the problem,” she admitted, meeting his eyes. “I know you, Dorian. We didn’t act on it for a reason.”

“What’s that mean?”

He stared at her like he might’ve been angry and she leveled a look at him. He sighed.

“Look, Chipmunk,” he said, pushing himself off of the corner of the cheap hotel desk and crossing the room to sit beside her on the bed, “I don’t even think I have the words for what last night was…or this morning.”

He reached and twirled a strand of her hair around his index finger and she couldn’t help but smile at him. He grinned too, then leaned toward her, brushing her temple with his nose before kissing the same spot. Her eyes drifted closed and he dropped a kiss on the corner of her mouth.

“We obviously had a lot of pent up shit we needed to… express.”

“That’s what that was? Us expressing ourselves?” She arched an eyebrow and he grinned.

“Hell yeah,” he said, biting his lip as he smiled, causing her breath to catch in her throat. “I was expressing the hell out of myself. I’d say you were too.”

Her face heated and he grinned again, chuckling softly at her expression. His hand trailed to her waist and he pushed her back gently onto the bed, and leaned over her, balancing his weight on his forearms. His brown eyes were serious as stared down at her. She couldn’t stop her eyes from trailing to his lips, those lips that had touched every inch of her body last night. He was so sexy it almost hurt to look at him. He grinned at her as she took him, no doubt reading her thoughts, because she felt the beginnings of his erection against her abdomen.

“I’m not gonna pretend that last night was less than it was,” he told her. “And you shouldn’t either,” he tacked on when she started to speak. “I think we should just see what’s up with us, you know? Explore the possibility with no pressure.”

“And by ‘no pressure’ you mean while you continue to screw everything that moves?”

She stared up at him pointedly and he rolled his eyes, shaking his head. He pushed himself off her and slowly, she sat up beside him. Their shoulders were touching and she looked up at him.

“I’m not sharing you Dorian,” she said quietly. “I can’t share you.”

The admission made her insides hot. It was embarrassing how territorial she already was. He grinned slightly.

“I don’t want to share you either, Raven. Especially with those off brand dudes you always seem to like and attract.”

“I do not.”

“You do,” he countered.

“So, what?” she asked, ignoring him. She stood because she couldn’t sit still any longer. “We’re not ready to be committed but we don’t want each other seeing anyone else? What does that even mean? We can’t be just friends anymore but we can’t be not just friends any more?”

He stared at the floor, narrowing his eyes as he shook his head. He looked up at her.

“I guess we don’t need to figure everything out this second, right?”

She released a breath and stopped pacing.

“I guess.”

They stared at each other for a full minute, both of them knowing they’d reached another turning point and neither of them willing to make the decision to bend.

About the Author:

Jacinta Howard is the author of new adult and contemporary romance with a real-life edge. Since 2014, she’s released three novels, including the well-received Love Always Series which includes the titles ‘Better Than Okay‘, ‘More Than Always’ and the final installment, ‘Less Than Forever’. She also released the USA TODAY Must-Read Romance, ‘Happiness in Jersey’.

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BLOG STOP: Kim Golden, author of ‘Maybe Forever’

Maybe ForeverI first “discovered” Kim Golden with her book, ‘Maybe Baby’ and fell in love with her storytelling skill, effortless prose, the deft characterization and strong sense of place. I reviewed that one, and then set about reading all the others. So, it is with great pleasure that I host her to talk about her return to my favorite couple, Laney and Mads, in ‘Maybe Forever’.

Welcome Kim!

In all three of your Maybe … stories, Sweden as a country is as much a character as New York City is a character in the Candace Bushnell’s ‘Sex & the City’ Tell us a little about how your personal expat experience informs your work.

I moved to Sweden for love, so I think it made my experience a bit easy. I was twenty-five when I moved here and I moved to a country where nearly everyone speaks English, which also made it easy. When I loved to Stockholm, there were not many blacks living here. I sometimes felt like a fish out of water, but it was an interesting experience. Because I was different, people would approach me, talk to me in a way that Swedes don’t normally do (they usually will not approach strangers, they don’t usually strike up random conversations or do small talk). Most of the people I met here were very friendly but it took a while to really feel like I’d made friends. Swedes can be a bit difficult to get to know—they’re reserved, they don’t often open their social circle unless they really like you—and initially I was struggling with the language. You can live here without learning Swedish, but you’ll never really feel like you’ve come into society. I’d moved here here for love and wasn’t planning on moving back to the US unless things really went pear-shaped, so I threw myself into studying Swedish, making friends absorbing as much as I could about living here and not falling into the rut of only being around other Americans.

Inevitably, all of us expats end up knowing one another. The contrasts of being an expat were definitely something I wanted to capture when I started writing the Maybe… series—how everyone seems to know everyone else, how you can pretend you don’t know the language to avoid conversations you don’t want to have, how sometimes you feel more like a Swede than an American or how life back home slowly becomes foreign.

I also wanted to capture the way that being a black woman living here meant I didn’t have to live up to these pre-conceived notions of what it means to be black. I could try new things and not be told I was trying to be white or something equally ridiculous. It’s something that gets my goat when I am back home in the US. How some people constantly say “You can’t do that because you’re black” or “only white people do that”  if you show an interest in something that isn’t “the norm”. I wanted to write about women who were free from that, even if sometimes it pops up or gives them pause. I think a lot of this comes through in my writing.

When you picture ‘your reader’, who is she/he? Do you have a target audience?

When I first began writing, I never really thought about who was my reader. I wrote the sort of stories that I wanted to read. When I wrote my first short story, I wanted everyone—men, women, black, white, whatever—to read it and love it. After a while, I realised I needed to have more focus. I knew I liked writing about relationships, specifically interracial/multicultural relationships since I had experience with it, and I thought I would gear my fiction more towards women. Probably my target reader is women, 25-40+, African American (though I found out recently I have a few fans in Lithuania and Estonia). I want *all* women to read my books, but I know there are still readers out there who won’t buy a book because they think they cannot relate to a black heroine.

I find that sometimes writers return to themes that intrigue them. I like to write about ‘broken people’ or people with secrets. Do you have a recurring theme that you return to in your work?

Infidelity seems to be a recurring theme in my books. I never intend to write about it, but it inevitably pops up—why do people cheat, what makes someone who never thought they would cheat do so… Second chances at love is another theme that pops up a lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen quite a few people around me who’ve reconnected with loves from their pasts and actually made it work. Or it could be that I am just a hopeless romantic (even if I think of myself as being a bit cynical).

Is there one character in ‘Maybe Forever’, male or female, that you identify with more than others? And if so, why?

I would love to be able to say that I identify most with Eddy—she’s so fearless and she doesn’t care what other people think—but I think I identify most with Laney.  In some ways, we have a similar background. My parents stayed together for the sake of the kids, but my father was often emotionally absent. We had a love-hate relationship. He didn’t understand his bookworm daughter and I didn’t understand why he was always angry. I knew I wasn’t his favorite child. I felt like a rootless tree and I always longed to be elsewhere. Laney is the same. In her case, she is rootless following the death of her mother and being abandoned by her father.

 Of all your work, which stories/books did you feel compelled to write?

Probably ‘Maybe Tonight’. I wanted to tell Mads’s side of the story. I felt like I had to dig deeper with him and get to the core of just why did he want this life with Laney so much, why did he pursue her even when he knew he probably shouldn’t have. It was interesting writing Maybe Tonight as a serial novella and getting into his head. I think it also helped me understand Laney even more, seeing her through his eyes.

Of all your work which was the hardest to write?

Maybe Baby was the hardest to write. I knew that some readers would instantly dislike Laney simply because of the infidelity angle and I wanted her to be a difficult (though likeable) character. It helped that I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo—it kept me from letting my inner critic sidetrack or discourage me from finishing the project. But the revision process was difficult as I tried to add deep point of view to flesh out her story. Maybe the fact that it was such a hard story to write is why I ended up loving this book so much.

Now that you have a good body of work under your belt, what’s your writing ambition? What do you want to do writing-wise that you have not yet done?

I don’t really care about being the #1 bestseller. I just want to reach readers who will enjoy my work. And I want to get to the point where I can write novels full-time instead of having to fit it around a full-time job. I know I have a lot more stories to write, so I’ll just keep writing them because it makes me happy. I would love to write a thriller similar to Paullina Simon’s ‘Red Leaves’ or a paranormal novel. I’ve got an unfinished ghost story set in Scotland with an African American heroine. Maybe I will finish it one day.

Maybe Forever PromoNow let’s talk about Mads and Laney, the couple in ‘Maybe Forever’. Pretend you’re describing them to a friend who’s never met them. Begin with ‘Laney and Mads are that couple who …’ and tell us a little about them and their relationship dynamic.

Laney and Mads are that couple who love each other so much that they sometimes forget the rest of the world exists. I like the intensity between them. I like that, for them, the connection they have and that spark that drew them together, still burns bright. They were both orphans of sorts, looking for someone who would understand what it’s like to be the one left behind (both of them lost their mothers when they were teenagers and had absent fathers), both of them felt lost or like something vital was missing from their lives and they were going through the motions of everyday life, accepting this and settling. And then they met and that recognition of finding your kindred spirit took over.

What made you want to write this one, the third book in the Maybe … series? What do you want to say that hadn’t been yet said in Mads and Laney’s other stories?

I never really planned to write this story. I was going to focus on Maybe Tomorrow and let Laney and Mads remain in their bubble of love. But one day I was talking to a friend about how her marriage nearly fell apart due to the pressures of trying to hold it together with a new baby, a toddler and trying to be perfect, and I began to wonder what would happen to Laney in that situation. Also, I felt like I wanted to strip away the perfect veneer of their lives. Yes, they love each other—they were meant to be together, but they are human, flaws and all. And I wanted to capture that story. I felt like it needed to come out.

If you had to sum up the ‘conflict’ between Mads and Laney in this book, what one word would you use, and why?

Insecurity. Both Laney and Mads are struggling to deal with their own insecurities. Laney is struggling with motherhood and not feeling adequate; Mads is struggling with his own in fear of failure, of comparing himself to Laney’s ex and fearing that—at least financially, he may not measure up. And this escalates, leads them both to do and say things they regret.

How do you write your books? Do you think of characters first, or plots? Which came first in the Maybe … series?

Usually, the characters come first. It was that way with ‘Snowbound’ and with ‘Choose Me’. And it’s definitely been that way with my new WIP (Under the Milky Way). With the Maybe… series, the characters definitely came first. I was sitting in the outdoor bar of a hotel when the characters came to me. The story flowed from there.

What should we expect from you next?

I’m finishing up another book in the Maybe… series—this one focuses on Eddy (Laney’s cousin) and what happens when she meets Henrik (Mads’s cousin) on Midsummer’s Eve. It’s called ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and is set in Copenhagen and New York. I’m also working on a futuristic story called Under the Milky Way’ that focuses on a woman trying to come to terms with her future, an astronaut who is losing his humanity the longer he’s out in space, and a robot who falls in love. And this one is also an IR/MC story—even if it sounds like pure sci-fi. ☺


“Are you attracted to her?”

He glanced away. I saw the tension building inside of him. Instead of answering me, he began undressing. Was he ever going to answer me?

I didn’t want to cry anymore. I didn’t want to think about Benny or what he might have done with her. I kept telling myself that maybe I was overreacting—maybe there was nothing going on between them, but the telling silence continued to fester. Mads went into our en suite bathroom. As soon as I heard the shower sputter on, I ended up following him. He was already in the shower stall, his back to me as the water streamed down his body. I watched as he rinsed off a day’s worth of sweat…maybe even another woman’s scent…from his skin. But standing there watching him…I hated that I still wanted him. I still wanted him to want me and only me. And I knew that tonight might be the last time I could have him to myself. Maybe it was already too late. I was trembling, still unable to stop this unsettled feeling inside me. And when he finally turned off the shower and reached for his towel, I ran my hands along his hips and pulled him close. He turned and the tight expression on his face nearly sent me away. I steeled myself. He exhaled slowly and leaned into me. He captured my lips with his, kissing me tenderly at first, his lips grazing mine, the tip of his tongue gently urging me to let him in. I squeezed my eyes shut and let my arms tighten around him.  For a little while the rising heat between us was enough to make me forget. I let him peel away my camisole, let him push down my shorts. I kicked them aside. My body was coming alive for him even while my doubts were whispering to me, “This won’t help…”

Author Bio

Kim GoldenI grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spent most of my childhood summers in Smithfield, Virginia. I’m not sure where my love of words comes from, but I’ve loved books since I was a child and I’ve loved writing stories for as long as I can remember.

My parents wanted me to do something practical–be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant. But I always dreamed of doing something completely different. I knew I wanted to be a writer, even if it took a bit of time for me to get to that point.

It led me to spend more time writing stories than studying physics and chemistry in high school. It’s what led me study literature and then work on an MFA in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. And when I finished my master’s degree, love led me away from the US and brought me to Sweden.

So what do I write? I write about relationships, about love. I often write about interracial relationships. I like reading stories about people who are different, who see past the differences and fall in love. And those are the stories I also enjoy writing. I write stories for people who know that love comes in many colors.

Other Books by Me

Maybe Baby (Book 1 in the Maybe… series)

Maybe Tonight (Book 2 in the Maybe… series)


Choose Me: a novella

Linger: a short story

30 Days, 30 Stories (a Wattpad exclusive)

How can new readers find your work?


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