Humor · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Directing Professional Growth Through Stress

An author is a force to be reckoned with as they juggle endless duties. From administrative tasks, to marketing implementation; then continuous study/brushing up of the writing craft and publishing; also, reading books in and out of their chosen genre for a well-rounded literary palate. This is only the tip of the iceberg for most authors. For those who are new to reading my blog, I write romantic fiction and multi-genre short stories. In professional terms, I consider myself a newbie self-starter at three years into the journey. For a year I blogged and have continued to blog. The next year I added in self-publishing two works of fiction – Serendipity Summer, a heartwarming and comical romance, was picked up by Booktrope Media and Publishing. October of 2015 Serendipity Summer was re-published by Booktrope. And now as we approach 2016 I’m looking forward to continuing the second book to follow Serendipity Summer in the Riverbend Way series.

In the time I’ve been building a social platform, writing, and publishing, I’ve noticed a majority of authors (including myself) are fueled by the challenge and madness of it all. After three years of being self-published and hybrid-published, there are many writers who are “rich” in giving of themselves even with no immediate monetary success. I think several authors experience what I have experienced at one time or another in their career: we continue to do what we do because our lives are enriched in some way with the process of writing, producing, publishing, and connecting with others who appreciate it, too.

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Whether authors and writers (one and the same, IMO!) want to admit it or not there is an emotionally rewarding “payoff” to the madness. The return on investment (ROI) surely isn’t immediate when we start out and for some unfortunate ones not at all. Then if caught in a weak moment and discouragement sets in, it’s easy to buy into the “art doesn’t pay” trope just about every writer has heard from friends, family, and strangers alike. They do have a point. Tweet: Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. #LaurieWriting Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. Everyone has an opinion and they have a right to it! Authors know about the right to opinions better than just about anyone. So then the author has a big decision to make each time they are challenged with so much it’s nearly too much to manage: act out or act on the pressure-task-cooker they’ve stewed in for the love of their art.

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Yet there are OPINIONS ALL AROUND. Little is more valuable to a writer than to be able to visit a website knowing that what they read will lift their spirits. Perhaps it’s time to weed out some of the more negative perspectives on the people I follow, like, retweet, and friend to reflect my own positive outlook for writing and author community. I get that authors can sometimes be difficult, moody, and hard to work with-but diverse types of personalities are everywhere. Generally everyone goes through slumps, defeats, and success.

I wonder sometimes when I skim articles shaking their proverbial finger or fists at authors for not doing EVERYTHING if the people writing the pieces have actually re-read their manipulating content of all the things authors could do better. Sure, a lot of the posts hold great writing craft and marketing tips, but at what cost to the writers value of their individual process? Writers, haven’t we heard over and over and over: PROTECT YOUR CREATIVITY.

So why do we (yes, me too-though not as much as I used to because there are times when it doesn’t serve my writing process or motivation) continue to absorb what I like to call “tough-love” information in our precious reading time?

It could be tough-love motivates you (me)? Suggested content of an article screams :”here’s the heart where my art was born, please stab it with your scoured word-spear” -your mouse clicks the link- and the brain replies, “yes, please!”

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img cred: newsnster.com

Facing the negative, not responding to it, and taking from it what serves your writing process is a clear indication of professional maturity. As we continue to write, we allow an internal compass to guide us. This compass is a combination of self-discipline (directly benefits our interests) and what some call a thick skin (directly benefits others interests): Our Interests + The Interests of Others = The Sweet Spot where stress has potential to become a compass for professional growth and direction.

If you take something with you from my ramblings today, please remember it’s okay to re-direct your goals this year and adjust your internal compass. Tweet: Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. #LaurieWriting Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. 

I’ll leave you with a paraphrased quote from  friend who guided me into the publishing waters:

I realized after nine books, working with an agent, and treading water in traditional publishing -then going into self-publishing and being my own agent-that someone somewhere wanted to read my books. Then gradually many someones read my books. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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Go-To Resources To Unleash Creativity

There are times when we need to change up our routine to keep sane. For instance, if you work in the same cubicle doing the same tasks for the same minimal pay–perhaps your life could benefit from creativity. Or if you’ve finally taken time off to use your vacation time and don’t want feel like you need a vacation (from) vacation, simple creative activities could help.

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Check out this list of go-to resources to unleash creativity and use the ones that catch your interest. The lists are in two categories: writing related and non-writing related. I admit most of the recommendations are veered toward introverts because I’m a happy and proud introvert myself. 🙂

Writing Related

The thrill is gone. Once upon a time you had the feels for the book or story you started, but the thrill is gone. Maybe you need a break from a long-term goal. Your imagination can go wild when you write flash fiction. From 100-1,000 words, challenge yourself with a new story trope or idea.

Not sure about where to find ideas? Try TVtropes.org and find tropes from your favorite categories and genres related to movies and TV shows. Finish your story piece and publish it or keep it to develop later. But finish it. You did it! Now go back to that big idea. You can do that too.

No idea where to start or what to do. Do you like movies? Most people have a favorite movie they know or can quote. They are familiar with the story. But have you ever applied your writing to one of your favorite movies? Screenwriting tips from Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” method uses a three-beat system to divide scenes up into three beats. Take a look and print off the worksheets. Then sit down and take brief notes when you watch the scenes in your favorite film or even tv show. You’ll eventually begin to grasp story structure.

Apply what you learned about writing to a short story idea. Perhaps the story could also have potential to become a working outline for a novel (Here is a helpful site to download free resources to outline a novel, when you’re ready.) You’re off to a great start. Keep writing!

Blog? What is this blog thing and how do I do it? A blog is a place of unlimited potential for just about anyone. You can make a blog as formal, as funny, as serious as you want to make it. It can be on any subject under the sun. Blogs are happy places where you can be yourself on your part of the web. You’re able to monitor comments or turn them off. Blogs LAST beyond the ever-changing whims of social media channels. Check out Hubspot’s blog topic generator for ideas on what to post. Visit bookpromotion.com to know how to effectively pimp your blog out. Also, don’t be afraid to go to your favorite blogs and see what they are doing. Copying posts is a BIG no-no without permission from the author, but you may come across content that inspires you to write your own spin on the topic.

“I’m all out of love for ideas.” Yeah. We’ve all been here before. It sucks. To re-vamp your inspiration try Pinterest. Type in some of your interests or things related to your interests. Like if you enjoy cooking, type “recipes” or if you only like to eat vegan type “vegan food.”

Non-Writing Related

Oh my, are the options endless here. I’ll throw a few out for you to explore. Of course, if you think of any others, do those too. You know you better than anyone.

*Love Machines (technology)*

I-Movie is a fun way to create a movie or book trailer. It’s simple to put something together and share it with friends for fun or compile something for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. The music is pre-loaded, but I think you’re also able to upload your own music. Just be sure to use royalty free images and music.

Did you know you can create simple memes, Facebook banners, and jazz up your photos in MS Word and Pages for Mac? You can. It’s time- consuming, but for those who love to tweak (not twirk) until the sun comes up, you’ll love doing this. Here’s a YouTube tutorial for Facebook banners . There is a ton of instructional videos on how to design on Word or in Pages (for Mac.) Go crazy designing and show off your work.

Move to the beat. Playlists encourage movement and happiness. If you’re sad, there’s a song for it. If you’re mad, there’s a song for it. Playlists on Spotify are a fun way to categorize music for whatever mood you want to nurture. If you’d rather bypass the low monthly fee, try I Heart Radio. There will be commercials on your favorite radio stations, but that is why it’s free. YouTube is another way to categorize music videos into stations, and it works sort of like a playlist. If you’d rather not be bothered with ads, the small monthly fee is well worth it.

*Hands-On Hobbies/Occupations*

Crocheting is a skill that can be learned and is a creative and relaxing way to create numerous things. Check out Crotchet Guru on YouTube.

Repurposing home goods is good for the environment, but it also saves money and encourages practical solutions in a creative way. Here are some ideas from a previous post I’ve written. Pick something you like to do and make it your mission to complete it.

Pottery creation is a way to spin ideas while creating original art. You can paint, glue, and design to your heart’s content. Then use the final product later as a centerpiece, stepping stone, or pen holder.

Adult coloring books are a thing now. Check out these free and printable designs. For those who are mentally burned out, coloring is a subconscious way to soothe anxiety and stress associated with burnout.

Cuddle an animal if you have high blood pressure, PTSD, have anxiety or depression, or want a better perspective on life. Local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to walk and care for the animals. The advantage to volunteering is that you’re able to love on the animals too. When potential adoptive parents come in to ask about the animals, you’ll know their best attributes so they’ll find a loving home. Who doesn’t need more love in their life?


Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow this blog. I follow back and enjoy keeping in touch through blogs and email. My email is authorlauriekozlowski@gmail.com . I have two FREE flash fiction stories for you to enjoy. The first one is a humor diddy: Undercover Panty Agent . The second story is suspense: Dagger of The Damned. My usual genre is contemporary romance fiction and I write for Booktrope Publishing. More on recent publications can be found >here<.  I have book to be released soon and will set up a newsletter because it will be fast forward from there! 🙂 Happy reading and writing!

Laurie Kozlowski


Health and Wellness · Humor · Inspiration · Mental Health · Messy Muses Childrens Book Project · Music · Musings · My Motherhood Memoir · Parenthood · Parenting · Relationships · Writing · Writing Tips

Confident Parenting ( Past Judgement and Fear ) #Parenting #Moms #Dads

There has been a ton of articles on mental health issues lately.

I started A Motherhood Memoir about a year and a half ago. It was a piece touching on post-partum depression, and I didn’t think it would have gotten welcome reception then. But now…I still hesitate.

Some thoughts are better left unsaid or unpublished. In my private journal is one thing–but to put it out here for the world to see is also putting my daughter at risk for certain privacy issues. There is no way to write about it without it also reflecting on her in some way. Since I love her more than life, certain thoughts will remain dead in concerns to publishing them online.

It is also quite a leap to go from writing romance fiction to press into the non-fiction world of memoir writing.

I am not an expert on mental health or parenting, but do know there are a few insights I can offer to those who may have been or are going through many of the same things.

However, there is still a desire to express this story. If you’ve tuned into Heart-to-Heart with Kyrian Lyndon on her worldwide blog talk radio show, you have heard her interview me about issues I’ve held back on discussing until recently.

A couple of things we talk about is mental health and the effects of childhood abuse. I share a beautiful memory of me and my mom sitting by a heater during a thunderstorm as the oil lamp burns.

And so though I will go through and write more about my challenges and overcoming depression as a (then) new mother, it will be from a better place of gratefulness (now.)

I’m able to see the positive aspects during those challenges, so as to note that point in life as a time for better understanding and learning to nurture myself and my daughter without apprehension.

Every parent worries, but coming from a place where childhood abuse shaped my way of life–I was beyond worried about my daughter on every occasion.

The anxiety sucked the life from me knowing any and every trip to the grocery store, to church, or even to a day at the playground was a full-fledged emergency waiting to happen. Especially when she was around the ages of three and four.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Many parents (especially new parents) continue to feel isolated and alone, even when they take actions to un-isolate themselves.

Everyone has an image ingrained on what makes a good parent. There may be a few who do not hesitate to shove their wisdom down the throats of struggling or discouraged parents in the middle of a poop-smearing or snot-rocket storm right before that comfortable and big event for childless parents, grandparents, friends, and/or family.

Of course, they mean well, but it isn’t always the perfect timing when these issues do arise. In fact, you can count on it not being the perfect time–ever.

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[Image credit: quoteswave.com]

I think what pulls so many away from well-intentioned advice is when it is shaming or meant to cause guilt. At times, those people have no clue that they have rubbed a parent the wrong way by saying things like “Santa is still in the store, but he’s leaving in ten minutes.” (When it would take the parent over ten minutes to even get to the line for Santa.) <<<< This happened to Zoko and I just before Christmas. I wanted to ask the lady if she had a clue as to what her words were causing…but it would be a waste of breath.

You learn that as you go. What battles to fight and which ones to leave alone. It’s often best to Let it go.

There are occasionally people who want to stir the pot on your parenting abilities. Keep in mind that their snarky or sometimes very harsh comparisons or advice are only reflections of their insecurities. Even when it is in humor!

It is important to your eye on what works instead of what isn’t working. Remember, people speak from their own experiences, NOT YOURS. (I have to remind myself this all the time because I’m one of those people who will hug you, buy you dinner, and rub your back if you cry, but I will also sock your lights out if I witness you saying meany-butt things to hurt my kid’s feelings.)

I encourage any parent who feels condemned or shunned by their efforts to remember this list of reminders. I’ve seen my daughter flourish in the past six years because I stay aware of these things:

* By choosing not to adopt others’ perceptions of your parenting, you are freeing yourself to give your child what he/she needs the most–love and security in a way only you can give it.

* When your children see how you are not affected by other parents or critics comments, they learn true confidence takes restraint and discipline. They learn how to focus inward on what they do right and how to improve, instead of what they do wrong, causing low self-esteem and doubt.

* Your children will be a reflection of yourself and behaviors. Imitation is not a bad thing when you parent on *your* terms, keeping in mind the love, safety, and wellbeing of your child is in your capable hands. It also does no good to go around paranoid about your every action and how it affects them because though a child imitates many of your actions, you both are human and will make mistakes. If they learn no one makes mistakes, it could cause the opposite affect…a lack of compassion and love toward others and/or themselves.

* It teaches your children how to be actively aware of conflicts and resolve them amicably, without physical, emotional, or verbal violence.

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[Image credit: smartmom.co]

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2015 is a new year and new start! First and foremost, it is easy to continue doing the same old thing. Continue to pile on the guilt for not spending that extra few minutes with the little one before bedtime because you’re tired and preparing for the next day. Or you may over-commit yourself to focusing on your child’s worries instead of taking time to slow down and find a reasonable or new solution that could make you both happy.

Let’s leave those things in the past. The doubt. The worry. The guilt over the small stuff. The outside opinions that rile us up and cause discouragement either unintentionally or intentionally. Take away from those moments what is constructive, learn from them, and say “bye, bye, bye” to the rest. Even the New Kids on The Block agree. See!

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[Image credit: scottradecenter.com]

(Those random rock-star poses say “YES, these random audience members and our higher stage lighting power agrees, too!”)

Trust that the love, safety, support, and attention you give your little one(s) is sufficient because you have what it takes.

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Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

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Deep Gratitude Hits Home – My First Booksigning Event

 

This year has been a roller coaster. Not just for me–for many of my friends and family, for just about everyone I know. Then there is the gratitude that comes with knowing we are all not alone. We can laugh together. We can still hug our loved ones through the doubts. And those who have lost loved ones understand another’s loss–they send encouraging thoughts, offer their help, and when there are no words…simply pray healing for that person’s heart. This type of community derives from a sense of caring, compassion and being motivated to help one another knowing we are all, in some way, broken, but not defeated.

The morning after my first book signing, I awoke at 2 am to journal. Journalism is nothing new. The insomnia has to be fed in positive and constructive ways, and sitting down with pen and paper to write down things running through my head is a natural occurrence.

What was different that morning, however, was waking up in the middle of the night feeling an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.

I curled up in my robe with tea and wrote in my journal, teary-eyed and smiling. I knew this type of ‘knowing everything is going to be okay’ was beyond anything I could describe here on the blog. My heart beat with meaning, with a satisfying love, and with contentment… is how to describe it.

An author from whom I had bought several of her books had endured the death of her husband only the night before my book signing. I didn’t want to type my condolences in some thread on Facebook (though I am grateful for those who did), but I wanted to hug her.

I wrote about my first book signing, too, and what a wonderful experience it was. Not bragging, but seeing those in the community come out to buy my book. To talk with me about my book and to see, in action, what beautiful people surround me on this journey. I was overwhelmed with love and happiness at what I thought would be a room of empty chairs.

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~ Morning of book signing photo, as I wrote out an outline on flashcards for the event. ~

My sister helped to take a few pictures of friends, family, and new acquaintances approached the signing table. I had a great time speaking with individuals one-on-one. I’m not one for sitting around when socializing, especially as the guest-of-honor at an event.

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Look! No sweater to cover up those arms! Insecurities, be damned.

People showed up. More people than I ever thought possible. It wasn’t the mosh pit of a concert (thank goodness), but it was a gathering of smiling faces, a pleasant reunion with some I haven’t seen in quite a while. Even the local Italian bakery my family and I frequent made a delicious cake for the event as soon as they found out about it. My husband and daughter had surprised me with the cake only moments before I spoke to the small crowd.

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“CONGRATULATIONS!”

I hugged my husband and daughter when I saw the gift they had bought for me, and later laughed when my husband told me the pastry chef and bakery owner asked him what message to put on the cake…this was his reply: “You’re asking the wrong person. My wife is the writer and would know what words to put on there.”

As you can see, the message is simple, but still, looking at it now, it makes me smile.

The stack of books of my new novel, Serendipity Summer, soon dwindled down to small stack as people offered warm smiles, questions, book chat, and I got to catch up with a couple of good friends. My family gave hugs and congratulations as their kids were hanging out with my young daughter in the childrens part of the library. Though not everyone was blood related, I felt at home as I handed each person who showed their support by buying my book a copy of Serendipity Summer with a bookmark and the pen I signed it with. The potpourri mason jars, once filled with pens, emptied by the end of the event.

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The front book on top of the table, beside the business cards, is my original proof copy. I read the excerpt from it, and the big jar in the back, was for the giveaway of the self-spa gift set raffle.

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It was a wonderful time of celebration and beautiful memories. The morning after the event my husband asked when I had woken up. He always seems to know when something is off or if I’m going through an emotional time.

My daughter was shuffling around in her pj’s, petting the dog and yawning while my husband was turning omelets on the stove, with a spatula, for breakfast. I had a cup of coffee this time and looked at him with watery eyes as I wrapped my hands around the warm cup.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

He stood holding the spatula, eyebrows crinkled, while my daughter and dog began to fill my lap, offering kidlet hugs and puppy kisses.

I chocked up but finally got out what I wanted to say.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

He turned the heat down on the stove eye and started towards us.

“Happy tears?”

I nodded as he embraced all of us in a big hug.

Health and Wellness · Inspiration · Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Messy Muses Childrens Book Project · Parenthood · Relationships · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

A New Project: Messy Muses Childrens Books

Many of you who follow this blog know I write romance. My five year old daughter and I are also having fun creating a childrens book. It gives me a break from revisions–though I’m excited about the cover release, coming up soon, for Serendipity Summer!–and it has also given her an outlet for expression as she creates the illustrations. We don’t worry about how messy it gets, but we enjoy cutting loose each weekend with a ton of multi-textured finger paint as we break out the brushes with all sorts of colorful backdrops for the foundation. We explore our messy muses by telling the story we want through art.

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It has also been a way for me to communicate with her in a more relaxed environment. I have felt our communication growing stronger and our bond growing as we continue to build upon our story with these fun illustrations. If you’d like to know more about Messy Muses, our new childrens book project, please feel free to follow our blog. We hope to have our first newsletter out soon and would love for other parents, teachers, musicians, and artists who want to spread the word for child literacy through art, music, reading, and writing…to be guests on our Messy Muses blog and be involved with us on our site as the project continues to grow.

Learn more about Messy Muses HERE. Or go straight to the BLOG. Our first post includes an audio interview, where Zoko, my daughter, interviews me about being prepared.

Now back to revisions with Serendipity Summer! As promised, I will be posting back here, soon, to let you know of the progress concerning my romance writing. Be on the lookout for the beautiful new cover designed by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I’m so excited to share it with you! Thanks for being a part by following LaurieWriting.

Have a wonderful week! 😀

Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance · Fiction · Humor · Musings · Relationships · Writing · Writing Tips

‘Alpha-Cavemen’ In Romance Novels and My Review of ‘Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense’ by AD Marrow

Primal instinct doesn’t necessarily mean knuckle-dragging or stone and chisel record-taking. The alpha-caveman character is written into many romance stories, as well. These heroes aren’t dumb or abusive, they are usually driven by their most basic instincts when it’s time to finally ravish the heroine. They are the essence of sensuality many women crave.

In the most recent romance book I’ve read, Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense, one of the highlights and most beautiful part of Evan and Maggie’s story was when he threw her over his shoulder just before they made love.

I know, I know…what is so romantic about a guy man-handling a woman?

I can’t speak for all readers, but there are a few great things about the ‘alpha-caveman’ :

1 ~ He’s protective. Not because he doesn’t think you can’t handle yourself, but because his desire and love runs deep and strong. It’s a connection to his one-and-only’s body, heart, mind, and soul that yearns to defend her at any cost. What woman wouldn’t want that kind of love?

2 ~ He’s quick-wired for bravery. If he notices you’re in a situation out of your control and he’s able to help, he damn well will – and then some. He’s loyal to the core and will call in re-enforcements from his ‘posse’ if needed. The thing about a brave man is: others admire him because he isn’t cocky, but his confidence shows without bragging. One of the most attractive attributes in a person is courage. It’s contagious.

3~ He’s inventive. Give a caveman an opportunity to prove himself and he will not only show you how it’s done, he’ll figure out unique ways and alternatives to just about any problem given to him, and surprise you with something extraordinary. Things never get boring or routine with an ‘alpha-caveman’…especially in the romance department 😉

I have no idea why I know these important facts about alpha-cavemen, I just do. It may have something to do with my husband being 90% Neanderthal (no complaints here.) But most likely, it also has to do with Evan throwing Maggie over his shoulder in Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense by A.D. Marrow. Yeah. That’s it 😉

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Buy on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

Review: of Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense by AD Marrow

Enchanting And Wild Read

Chemistry between artist Evan and beautiful and witchy Maggie is off the charts as they pursue uncharted waters of love after a detrimental break-up, courtesy of the cosmos.

Evan was pure Alpha. I loved the way his softer, artistic side brought out his vulnerable passions. When he tattooed a memorial portrait of a widower’s deceased wife on the guy’s arm , it made me absolutely love him to death. Not to mention the scene where Maggie’s heels dig into his waist while he…uh, well, where was I?

Oh, yeah. Buy this book! You’ll fall in love with Evan and will absolutely adore Maggie for her sweet and sexy witchiness. I highly recommend Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense to readers who love a fun love story with a twist of paranormal and hot love scenes.

Review by Laurie Kozlowski

MORE FROM A.D. MARROW

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Kill Devil Crew – Book 1 by A.D. Marrow

Buy on: Amazon * All Romance * Bookstrand * Smashwords

A LICK OF FLAME TEASER

In the battle between good and evil, there are angels, there are demons…and then there’s Dane Mason.

President of the Kill Devil Crew, his fighting skills are legendary both in Heaven and Hell. When a high ranking demon taps him for a prime spot down under, Dane must pull out all the stops to protect the town of Graves Hollow but more importantly, to save the soul of the one woman he can’t live without.

Where Dane destroys, Emme Rooney heals. Physician’s Assistant Emme sews up the members of Kill Devil Crew when the things that go bump in the night lash out. Dane knows loving him could get her killed, but her hands on his body sends him reeling out of control.

Dane pushes her away time and time again, only to be drawn back to her flame. Will his desire blind him to the real danger surrounding him?

ABOUT A.D. MARROW

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A.D. Marrow is a registered Sapiophile, a proud Geek since before Geek was chic and believes that everyone deserves a happily ever after. She lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her ridiculously hot and amazingly supportive husband, three kids that rock so hard there should be a national holiday for their awesomeness, two really stupid dogs and a plethora of Post-it notes with book ideas to last her until she’s 90. Her childhood dream is realized in the fact that YOU have cause to read her bio. She hopes that one day, it lends her enough credibility to live out her second dream, which is to write and episode of Doctor Who.

Her personal mantra echoes that of Morticia Adams: “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

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