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It was supposed to be a fling.

After events beyond her control upend the course of Amber’s career, she decides never to return to the band she helped found, Not My Best Day. She’s done with the rock-star life, the highs of performing weighed down by the lows of grueling schedules, endless travel, and the uncomfortable intimacy of living two feet from everyone else on the bus.

But when her replacement has to bail a week before the new tour starts, the band asks her to fill in temporarily. What else can she do? They’re still family.

Rob, as the other new member in their revamped lineup, is doing his best to fit in. His time with Not My Best Day has been defined as much by Amber’s absence as his presence. When she returns in their time of need, he sees what the others don’t-–how much it’s costing her to save them from disaster. When his supportiveness becomes attraction, and mutual attraction becomes a fling, Rob faces decisions he never expected. He may doubt their secret affair is good for the band, or even for himself, but he’s certain it’s what’s best for her.

But what becomes of them when the tour is over? Can they really go their separate ways like nothing ever happened?

I said I was going to release a book in 2020, and I made it!

I’m really proud of this one. In some ways, it ended up more personal than my previous novels (despite the fact that I am not and will never be a rock star) but I definitely think that makes it better, not worse, than what I’ve written before.

This is where I would usually share the first chapter as a sample, but with the structure of this story, the first chapter on its own is not all that representative of the book–I’d really need to post the first two, maybe even three, chapters, to get the ball rolling. Instead, because music is even more important to this story than it was my last series, I’m going to share the novel’s playlist, all the songs performed as covers by any of the main cast. (There are a few more mentioned than this, but they’re not story-relevant, they’re details.)

“The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley

“Cornflake Girl” – Tori Amos

“Dancing With Myself” – Billy Idol

“Not An Addict” – K’s Choice

“Curl Up and Die” – Relient K

“Santa Monica” – Everclear

If you can believe it, none of those songs are the ones I used in the first draft of the story–everything has been replaced at least once, sometimes twice, with songs I eventually decided were more appropriate for some reason. That’s what happens when it takes four years to get something from rough draft to published form!

Those of you who’ve been following me this year know what a struggle it’s been for me, so I’m glad I ended up with something to show for it. And not just this book–I do intend to make it a series, I’m still chugging along on the NaNoWriMo ’20 project that should end up being the sequel to this, following characters from this novel on their own romantic journey. I’ve got to at least finish that draft before I make any big plans for it, but if I can get back to my previous one-book-a-year publishing schedule, then that’s my goal for 2021.

Thank you to everyone for your support, and if bisexual rock-star contemporary romance isn’t your cup of tea so you’re not going to read the novel, would you consider mentioning it to a friend or three who might be interested? Independent authors survive on reviews and word-of-mouth, so anything you can do to spread the word is greatly appreciated!

Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #4

Photo by Ingridi Alves Photograph on Unsplash

My goal for this month was to finish draft five of Fifty-Five Days, the listening edit. I’ve got a week left to get that done. How am I doing?

I’m exactly halfway done! (by the time this posts)

Can I finish by my original deadline? I sure can. My lack of progress has mostly been because I’ve been focusing my energy elsewhere, not because it’s going poorly. I simply haven’t devoted enough time to it. But the good news is, I crunched the numbers and I know exactly how much I have to get through every day between now and Halloween to get this done.

As for my other novel-related goal, making a cover, I have been through so many ideas and plans for this I’m going to stop talking about them ahead of time because they’re constantly shifting. One thing I did realize, however, which I think I’ve “realized” before when commissioning covers and never remember between books: I can mock up ebook covers all I want ahead of time (and I have) but I can’t do any real work on a real cover that I can use for a paperback until the entire editing/formatting process is complete, because I need a final page count.

I have, in lieu of actually making the damn cover, researched and read and bookmarked many useful resources to help me through the process of attempting my own, when the time comes. But I absolutely have to have the print manuscript ready to go before I start, which is a delay to my original plan, but not a fatal one.

I just don’t understand why I forget that, every time.

With NaNo starting in a week, this is the last you’ll probably hear about 55D until I’m ready to announce a release date and send out ARCs! (Unless something else goes horribly wrong! Which I hope it won’t!) So until then, I’d better get my nose back to its novel-shaped grindstone to make that happen.

Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #3

Photo by David Fanning on Unsplash

I’ve been updating frequently in the end-of-month wrap-ups, so I haven’t posted specifically about the novel project since partway through Camp NaNo in July! Oops!

The status update: Fifty-Five Days, v4, the filler-word editing pass, got underway this week. As of yesterday, I had the first four chapters edited, of 36. If I can do at least two a day, I’ll be done before the end of this month, so that’s the plan!

As I’m still shooting for a release before the end of the year, I’ve got to make that deadline (or come close to it) in order to give myself time for making the cover (cross your fingers for me) or commissioning one, doing all the file and text formatting, putting together the marketing materials…I haven’t done this dance since 2017, so I’m rusty. I definitely could have taken better notes on my process.

The editing itself is going fine–I’ve always enjoyed this nit-picky word-choice nonsense. While it’s faster than a straight-up rewrite, it’s still a time-consuming process, and after that I still have to listen to the whole thing for mistakes I haven’t caught yet…

I’m confident, though. I can get this done!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Checking In

Today is the halfway point, so I thought it would be a good time to update.

My combined word count as of yesterday for writing/editing: 32,980/50,000.

It’s clear I’m going to “win,” because boy, howdy, is line editing faster for me than writing new material. My highest daily word count so far is 4,113, and on the days I was tracking my start and stop times, I clocked rates of anywhere from 1500-2000 words an hour.

The funny thing is, I don’t actually know how long the second draft of Fifty-Five Days is that I’m editing, so I don’t know how much more I have to go beyond the standard 50K goal. I wrote it completely on 4thewords, divided into separate chapter files. But I’ve got the original and my failed 2018 rewrite stored there, too, for easy access; each draft in a separate folder under the parent project. I know the project as a whole is currently at 300K–but the individual folders don’t have totals! I’ll either have to add the count for each chapter up (not a chore I look forward to) or transfer all the material to a single document that will count for me (not something I plan to do until I have a draft someone else gets to read.)

Most of my novel drafts clock in somewhere between 95-110K, but even if that “feels” right for this, that’s still a big window. And it actually could be longer, I cut quite a few chapters but I think I added at least as many new ones.


Whatever the total is, the plan at this point is to keep working until it’s done. Draft four (or maybe, more accurately, 3.5) can start immediately after that, no break necessary, when I drag this draft over the coals of my filler-word list to make the language even tighter and neater than I’m doing now.

The world may have gone to pieces around me in the spring, and I had some setbacks, but Camp NaNo is giving me the push to get back to work and hopefully still get this book out in 2020. That was the goal, and I’m sticking to it!

Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #2


Not a deadline this time–the next one is at the end of March–but as of yesterday, I have a working title and the first draft of a blurb! That seemed worth checking in early.

Please enjoy:


It was only supposed to be a fling.

After the bus crash that ended the second tour, killed one of her band mates, and left her in chronic pain, Amber Riley decided never to return to Punch Drunk Love. She was done with the rock-star life, the high of performing weighed down by the lows of grueling schedules, endless travel, and the uncomfortable intimacy of living two feet from everyone else on the bus.

But when her replacement has to bow out a week before the new tour, the band needs a rescuer, and she answers the call. What else can she do? They’re her family.

Rob Sullivan, as the other new member of the band in their revamped lineup, is doing his best to make a home with them, to prove his worth. He only met Amber days before the accident, and his time with Punch Drunk Love has been defined as much by her absence as his presence. When she returns in their time of need, he sees what the others don’t–how much it’s costing her to save them from disaster. When his support of her becomes attraction, and attraction becomes a secret fling, he may doubt their affair is what’s best for the band, or for himself, though he’s sure it’s the best thing for her.

But what becomes of them when the tour is over?

What happens when you fall in love with someone living a life you can’t share?

I have some really rough ideas for the cover as well, but I’m letting those stew for a bit while I keep up momentum on the actual rewriting. Which is going reasonably well, I’ve just hit a snag where, once I put a tour schedule in place, suddenly a few of my major plot points were simply happening too fast! So I’m tinkering with the outline and moving a few chapters around to improve the flow.


Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #1



I made my first (self-enforced) deadline!

As of yesterday, I have 12K worth of notes taken on #rockstarnovel, broken down into general stuff and chapter-specific, plus a transitional first-to-second draft outline, showing how many chapters are switching POVs (ten,) how many are getting cut (seven,) and how many I have to write new (five, so far.)

I also have a 55-day, 44-show tour schedule in a text file, cobbled together from five different actual tours across the continental United States from five artists across several decades. No, I’m not worrying about the actual venues (some of which might not even exist anymore) but I did want to use real-world resources for dates and cities and thus, actual travel times. I strung together logical pieces based on location, but didn’t mind the weird spots too much because this band’s tour was put together close to the last minute and so can be a little scattershot, based on what venues were even available on those nights. (Also, in researching the existing tours, a lot of their dates and jumps between cities don’t make “sense” for efficiency, so it’s not like I don’t have a realistic basis for the occasional weirdness in the schedule. One band took a two day break to travel from Louisville, KY to freaking Toronto, in Canada, then had another two-day break to get to Newark, NJ. That happened, it’s real, but like, you didn’t stop over in Detroit or Cleveland or something on the way up, or anywhere in New York State on your way over to New Jersey? Probably because there were no venues available.)

So the prep work for the second draft is done, on time. As for how long I expect the rewrite to take…hard to say for sure? A lot of the notes I have for individual chapters amount to “this is basically fine story-wise but needs a few details changed for consistency.” So there are chunks that hardly need work at all. But I’ve got those ten chapters that are getting rewritten from a different POV character, and at least five new ones to write, and honestly speaking I’ve never taken less than two months to finish a draft of any full novel at any stage except line-editing.

I’ll be generous with myself and say I need to have this draft finished by the end of March. That’s two and a half months, starting today. But I’ll check in at the end of February to reassess my progress. See you then!

New Year, New Draft of an Old Project


Photo by Getúlio Moraes on Unsplash

That’s right, I said I was going to dig up an old project to rewrite and publish in 2020, and the one I’ve chosen is #rockstarnovel, my NaNoWriMo novel from 2016. Yeah, it’s been gathering dust for three years now.

Despite that, I’ve thought about it often. To this day, when I go running, if my brain gets blank my mind might jump to these characters, because I’ll imagine them covering whatever song is up on my playlist. Which one of them would suggest it? How would they arrange it? Would they play it straight or put some spin on it? Who would the lyrics mean the most to?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I went and made my first romantic hero in print a struggling singer-songwriter, so go figure the next big project I tackled afterward stepped me up to a full band.

I’m about a quarter of the way through rereading it and taking a fresh set of notes about what needs cutting and what needs fixing. Part of the problem was that I bit off more than I could chew with my concept–a double romance, both of a pair of twins finding love over the course of the same tour of their band. One of those plot lines turned out far superior to the other, and facing the rewrite the first time I tried to keep them both, shoring up the lesser one with more development. But it wasn’t working, and I knew it wasn’t working, so I set it aside to work on other things, and here we are years later.

Another part of the problem is that I had done about zero research into what being on tour was like; since then I’ve read quite a few rock-star novels, whether adult romance or YA, and taken notes on what made sense and what didn’t. (Obviously some are more realistic than others. Also, not all tours are created equal in the real world.) I think I can make this believable enough to read as realistic without slavishly including every single detail until the plot is totally lost in the shuffle. (I’m haven’t forgotten you, For The Record.)

So what am I doing differently this time around? I’m cutting that second, weaker romance entirely, which entails looking at each chapter from either of those characters’ POVs and deciding if I still need to show those events, and if so, which of the surviving POV characters get to “see” them. And if I am cutting the whole chapter, I have to make notes about what world- or character-building I did in it, so I know where to find it if it needs to get moved elsewhere when I start to rewrite.

This is going to be a tedious process, but a necessary one. A lot of writing advice would have an author “bang out” their reread as fast as possible, so as not to get bogged down in fixing each problem as it comes up, but to look at the whole. I’ve seen advice that says get the whole process done in as little as three to four days, but I don’t write full-time, so I’m aiming to have it done in two weeks. By the 15th, I want to have all my notes in order, an outline of events with the chapters I’m keeping slotted in and the holes marked where I have to write new ones, and a reasonable goal set, time-wise, for getting the next draft written (once I know how much new material I need.)

So expect me to check back in on this in two weeks!