Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#WriterRamblings - In the public eye...

Back in July 2012, I hit publish on my first book, CONVICTION. I had no idea what was about to happen in my life. 


At the time, I had a full time job, two kids still at home, two dogs to care for and I spent any extra time I did have writing because I loved it. It was a stress relief for me. If I'm being completely honest, it was how I was dealing with my depression. It allowed me an escape and I needed that. I had just obtained my Bachelor's degree in Human Resources about a year before that and I was looking forward to utilizing that degree. I worked in a high-stress environment and I had recently gotten a promotion, which added to the strain at work and at home. Plus, my husband and I had decided to buy a new house. 

I had a lot to do, but I was looking forward to the new adventure. 


Self-publishing was on the rise and I figured why not? Maybe someone out there will enjoy my book. I wasn't at all thinking that because writing was my passion, it could become my career. I just wasn't.

Sometime in August of that year, I decided to put my book on Amazon for free. I thought it would bring the book some visibility. I'd had a few sales, but nothing significant. Putting that book out for free was what changed the entire course of my life. CONVICTION sky-rocketed on the free charts. I only had it out for free for a couple of days and when it went back to it's full price, the sales continued. I was in absolute shock. I remember thinking that the reports were broken. That someone was going to call me and tell me that those were merely the free copies trickling through. That wasn't the case.

I remember walking through the hallway in my office building, texting my husband to let him know that CONVICTION was #2 on the Erotic Romance charts (paid), asking him what that meant. He LOL'd me and told me that it meant I was doing well. I wanted it to mean that I could quit my job and put all my time into writing. For the record, that wasn't what it meant. I still had kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, electricity to keep on, car payments, etc. 

But that wasn't all that happened.
So, after releasing my first book, I got a Facebook account, then Twitter. At the time, I didn't even use Facebook. Not much, anyway. And after getting myself set up with a little taste of social media, I published TEMPTATION.

That was when everything changed. And I mean everything.

I started getting emails from people I didn't know. People who loved my books and wanted more. They wanted to talk about my characters as though they were real people. I was deeply grateful that my books had struck a chord with some people. It was surreal.

A few more books published, a lot more people showed their interest. With my husband's stable job, we decided that I could quit mine and put all of my energy into writing. I said my goodbyes to my friends and co-workers in December 2012 and in January 2013, I published KALEB.

That was the point in my life when I realized that not everyone was going to enjoy my books. In fact, some people were going to hate them. And more so, some people were going to hate me. I was told there were reviews where people were bad-mouthing me. Not the book. Me. 

Needless to say, I was devastated. It absolutely broke my heart that people could say such nasty things about me. Why would they do that? What had I done to them to make them say those things?

Now, don't get me wrong, there were still a lot of people who supported me, who raved about my books, who loved the characters, loved the writing. They encouraged me and their support was what fueled me to continue. However, it was the negative that I dwelled on because it hurt so much. You could give me 10 five star reviews and 1 one star and I would spend all my time thinking about the negative. 

I've always tried to be a good person. I don't judge other people and I try to remain positive, so why would someone want to hurt me by saying such things?

Well, the answer is simple. I put myself out there by publishing and made myself vulnerable to both positive and negative feedback. And I've seen a lot. When you have such loyal supporters, they feel the need to defend you and they take offense on your behalf. I've had numerous screen shots sent my way through the years. Even people who still claim to be my friends have bashed me, some of them even on a personal level, thinking that I don't know. I've seen it. They've hurt me. Social media is public. What you write isn't meant to be kept a secret. If you want it to be private, write it in a journal. There are a lot of people with two faces out there. That's life though.

Now, you might be wondering what prompted this post. I'll tell you.

Last week it was brought to my attention that someone was "trash talking" me on social media. 

What did I do? 

Nothing.

I've learned some things these last five years. A lot of things, really. I've learned that people will have their opinions and they will share them freely. Social media allows for anyone and everyone to speak their mind. And negativity draws attention. It invokes others to share their opinions, right or wrong. You've heard the saying: Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. It's true. They do.

This particular rant was against a comment one of my characters made in my book. I could almost even see their point because if they were looking to take something negative away from it, they easily could. However, when they decided that I was the one with this viewpoint, I took offense. It was a very damaged character who was going through a lot in his life. He was looking for something he didn't think he would get and he admitted what he didn't want. 

That person took that to mean that I had those feelings. Well, I can assure you, I don't. They decided that they would not finish the book to see how it ended, and that they would never read another one of my books because they felt I was a bigot because of the statement - a statement that my fictional character made.

I won't apologize for his statement because the character's feelings were relayed as he felt them. And for the record, the book was in no way related to that one particular statement. I can, however, clarify, that my personal viewpoints are not the same as his. I write fiction. My characters are not real people, their viewpoints are not my own. I feel it is necessary to make my characters as three dimensional as possible. If they all said and felt the same things that I do, the 47 books that I have published to date would all be the same. In a word, they would be boring. I'm not that interesting. Really.

Now, I know I'm being vague, but I'm doing it on purpose. I am not here to attack that person for their feelings. I will not call attention to them either. Rather than get angry, I decided to send out positive vibes to this person. No, I did not contact them, and no, I did not bash them in return. They have an opinion and they are allowed to voice their opinion however they see fit. 

The same goes for reviews. We all feel different about the things we read and I truly believe we should be allowed to express ourselves without fear of retaliation. I want the reviews - good, bad, or indifferent - because they will help the readers to determine whether or not they want to read the book. I don't have the right to say that people cannot have a negative opinion of my books. That's not fair. We take the good with the bad because it's the nature of the business.

I have friends who were bothered by the comment this person made and they came to my defense. I appreciate that, however, it isn't necessary. I know that I'm a good person. I know that my heart is in the right place. I have no ill feelings toward anyone. Even those who want to "trash talk" me. Even the authors who came to their defense, judging me without knowing me. They have a right to their opinion. However, I do know who they are and I don't forget things like that.

Of course, I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me that this person was hurt by the statement that my character made. It does. As an author, I'm telling a story, I'm providing a moment in time to escape from reality. I'm not trying to belittle someones choices or their lifestyles. I am simply telling a story from the characters point of view. In the real world, we all have different viewpoints, we all have different beliefs. It's what makes us unique. 

In the past five years, I've shed plenty of tears from the negative comments. That's my release. I have learned that I have to let it all go, then pick myself up and keep going. It takes time to develop a thicker skin. Once you are in the public eye, once you have put yourself out there, you have opened yourself up to opinions. That's a part of the process.

So, I think the moral of my story is this:

Have your opinion. Share it if it is something that you feel you need to do. Seek your friends out to get them on your side. Some people need that in order to deal with the frustrations in their own lives.  I get it. My husband bears the brunt of my tirades. He has watched me cry, he has held me when I felt defeated. He loves me. He supports me. He listens.

Everyone has a right to their opinion. They can voice their thoughts on social media. They can write a review that helps them to process what they read. Whether they loved the book or hated it. I never want someone to hate my book, but I do appreciate that they feel comfortable enough to share their opinion with others. If they can provide constructive feedback without personally attacking someone, they have effectively done their job.

Just know that I will not retaliate unless you publicly push your agenda and attempt to demoralize me as a person. This person did not tag me on social media. They weren't trying to share their viewpoints with me or with the people who are my friends. They didn't contact me directly. This was their way of venting their frustrations with something that they felt was wrong. I get it. I even respect it.

Lotsa love,
Nicole

Friday, August 11, 2017

#WriterRamblings - Positivity, please

If you've read KAUFMAN (Austin Arrows, 2), then you might be familiar with my thought process in regard to the power of positive thinking. In the book, Noelle sends out only positive messages to the universe in hopes of having positive energy returned to her life. Sound familiar? Well, if you've read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne then you might be familiar with it.


Personally, I'm a huge fan of the book. I'm also a huge fan of Joel Osteen and the positive message that he sends through his sermons and books. I find that I need that in my life to help push me each and every day. Did I mention that I also read my horoscope every day? Well, I do. It's a positive message that lifts my spirits.


But this isn't a post to promote my book or anyone else's. I've been giving this topic some thought these past few days and I thought I'd kick off my #WriterRamblings series with this.

So, as I sit here writing this post, I find myself deleting paragraph after paragraph as I hint on the negativity that seems to overwhelm everything these days. It's there, I can't deny that. Everywhere I turn, there's something negative that could very easily sway me in a dark direction. But, that's not the point of this post. I'm not here to point fingers or to determine who is right or wrong. That's not my job, nor is it my responsibility.

Now, I know you've visited social media and seen examples of the negative energy. A lot of people claim that it's the "book world" that has turned around. I don't buy that shit for a second. The book world is made up of people. Whether it's authors, bloggers, readers, publishers, editors, or the person who stocks the shelves at the book store, that's who makes up this book world. And we are responsible for our own outlook.

The "book world" didn't turn negative. We did and we allow that negativity to eat away at all our positive energy until the only thing we think about is why we aren't getting exactly what we want. Are we supposed to get what we want? Was there ever a guarantee that if we want it, we shall have it? Nope. When did being entitled become a thing? No, seriously. When?

Things happen. Seasons change as do trends. 

I don't want to hear that there are too many authors and too many books and that's why nothing goes the way it should. Really? As a reader, I can tell you, there will never be too many authors or too many books. Never.

And yes, I'm an author. But I'm a reader first. 

Then again, as an author, I don't see other authors as my competition. I see them as opportunities for me. Opportunities for a new friendship, for a new perspective, for a new inspiration. For every "new" author, I have the potential to find a favorite read. For every "old" author, I have the potential to find a favorite read. I know for an absolute fact that there isn't a single author out there who went to publish their book and thought, "Hmm. I think my book is better than Nicole Edwards's book." Why would they do that? Why would they care about me at all? They don't. And they shouldn't.

However, that's something I see all the time. One author against another. It makes absolutely no sense to me. The same goes for blogger against blogger, reader against reader, and so on and so forth.

Do you know how many times I've felt as though someone has wronged me these past five years? Plenty. However, you won't find me calling them out directly. Not publicly, anyway. Sure, my husband might have to endure one of my tirades when I'm fed up with the shit that rides the fine edge of my last nerve. But, he knows he's going to hear that from me. He married me. He agreed to hear me out. (Whether he knows it or not) However, those people who follow me on social media did not sign up to hear me bitch and moan about that.

I'm not one to start drama or get myself involved in it because as we've all seen too many times, it doesn't generally play out in a manner that leaves us feeling good about ourselves. Personally, I have enough to deal with.

So, what do I do when someone has rubbed me the wrong way? Well, most of the time I sit down at my computer and I write them a personal note. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't send it to them. I'm not an idiot. I'm not here to make enemies. However, I find that if I can get it out of my head then I'm better off for it later. It's a mental thing, I guess.

How I deal with it isn't important. What's important is that we look within ourselves and do something that will change the world and ourselves for the better. But, you can't fix anyone else. At least, I haven't found that possible. The only person I can change is myself.

And if you're thinking, "Hey, Nicole. Do you have a point?", well, the answer is ... probably not. I've simply been giving this some thought. I'm looking at ways to improve my outlook. And, you, my friend, opted to listen to my ramblings for the day. This is it.

Hopefully, if nothing else, I've enlightened you on how I work to add positivity to my own life. It's a personal choice.

Lotsa love!

~Nicole

**Edited to note that this post was written prior to seeing any recent negativity related to particular books. I can state right now that I do not have an opinion on what is taking place. Like I mention above, it is not my place to judge others, therefore, I choose not to**

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#TeaserTuesday - Bad Boys of Sports

It's been a while since I've done a Teaser Tuesday post, but I thought I'd give you something from my upcoming book Bad Reputation - the first in my Bad Boys of Sports series. Just so you know, this is a thematic series, which means each book is a full-length standalone. You're gonna love this one. Seriously.

BAD REPUTATION
Bad Boys of Sports, 1
Release Date: October 3, 2017

Chase: With a nickname like “Sin,” it’s no wonder they call me the bad boy of hockey. Opponents curse me. Fans scream my name—in the arena and in other, much more private places. Penalties or not, I’m not afraid to dish out a little pain. But pleasure? That’s my weakness. And no one knows it better than my best friend, Cassie Desrosiers. I’d have to be blind not to notice her rocking body and teasing grin. So when she invites me along on a trip to Vegas, my curiosity isn’t the only thing that’s aroused.
 
Cassie: Chase Barrett is a world-class A-hole. As his best friend, I’m allowed to call him on his BS. Who else is going to do it? Certainly not the puck bunnies swooning at every flex of his biceps. Everyone knows that Chase is the love-’em-and-leave-’em type. There’s no such thing as commitment for the king of casual hookups. So why should I care? Maybe because all work and no play makes me a sexually frustrated girl. It’s time to put the hockey stud at my beck and call to good use . . . but after a week in Vegas with Chase, I might never want to go back to the real world.

**Unedited excerpt - Subject to change and/or removal prior to publication.

“How’d you meet this one?” Chase shifts slightly, getting more comfortable as he sips his beer. 
Before I can stop him, he props his giant feet up on my coffee table.

I instantly reach over and try to knock his legs down. The guy has thighs like tree trunks, so that’s an impossible feat. “Feet on the floor, caveman.” He doesn’t budge, of course. I take a drink, then close my eyes. “He’s a software developer.”

“So he works with you?”

“Not with me, no.”

“That doesn’t tell me how you met him. Was he giving you a hands-on lesson in how to turn software into hardware?”

I smack him again. “You’re despicable. That’s gross.”

Chase plants his hand over mine, keeping me from hitting him again. I feel his abs flex beneath my palm.

“He’s gonna be at the conference in June, so he wanted to stop by and talk to me about opportunities. We’re finalizing the details.”

“Opportunities to get in your pants,” Chase mumbles, his voice ringing with amusement.

“Whatever.”

“This thing in Vegas?”

“Yeah.”

“And what? He thought if he could sweet talk your panties off, he could go as your sidekick?”

I snort. Some of the things Chase says . . . “No. There was no sweet-talking involved.”

Chase grips my wrist and I peer up at him. His iridescent blue eyes are wide with mock horror. “You were giving it up for free? Have I not taught you anything, child?”

Considering I’m a year older than Chase, he gets a kick out of calling me that.

But, he’s right. I don’t think I held out long enough. And honestly, Chase has been trying to school me in the art of casual hookups. I mean, he is the king after all.

It’s no secret that Chase Barrett is a total manwhore. The only thing that makes it semi-okay is that he treats women like royalty. Not kidding. Any woman who has done the deed with him has moved on with her life feeling like a princess. Not a single woman in his sordid past has ever said anything bad about him. He’s the love-’em-and-leave-’em type, yet every single one would probably give him another go if he simply snapped his fingers. I don’t know how he does it either.

If rumors are true—which I cannot verify, nor do I have any desire to—then it’s quite possibly due to how well endowed the man is. Chase has since stopped bragging about the size of his penis—having grown out of the adolescent phase of his life finally—but I’ve heard it plenty of times over the years. Not only from him either. Which is weird, but whatever.

Perhaps it’s his boyish good looks with his strategically mussed dark hair and contrasting glowing blue eyes. It could be the hard angles of his face or the small scars and slightly crooked nose that add the whole bad-boy vibe. Or maybe it’s the sensuous curve of his lip when he’s amused. The fact that he’s a well-known hockey player who makes several million dollars a year, with a body worthy of a hockey-hottie calendar, probably doesn’t hurt either. I honestly don’t know.

“So, are you going to hit him up for another round? Try the horizontal mambo again?”

“No.” That’s the truth.

It’s safe to say I won’t be seeing Andrew again. Even if I could get past the fact that he tried to lick all my makeup off, I can’t do it. I shouldn’t have brought him back here tonight.


“I think you should thank me for saving your ass. Imagine how you would’ve felt in the morning.”

*****

You know you want to read this! LOL Well, it's available for preorder, so go get it now and be ready for the smoking hot hockey hottie that'll hit your e-reader on October 3rd!


BAD REPUTATION
Bad Boys of Sports, 1
Release Date: October 3, 2017


Amazon    |    Barnes & Noble    |    iBooks       

Kobo    |    Google

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

#TeaserTuesday #ClubDestiny

Are you ready for more Club Destiny? Yes? I hope so because it's coming. The final book in the Club Destiny series -  the series that started it all for me - will be here before you know it. Yep, you heard me right. This is the end of an era, and it's going to be worth it.


So, how about a little tease from the book? Beware, this is NSFW (not safe for work)


SHARING HIS ULTIMATE FANTASY WITH Sarah had been a gamble, but the instant her eyes glazed over and she agreed, Dylan damn near came in his jeans. As much as he wanted to go on pretending there wasn’t a dirty, devious side to his sexuality, he couldn’t. He’d restrained himself for years and years, knowing that Meghan would never submit to his secret desires on an ongoing basis. Sure, she’d given in to him once or twice, back before they had children, but Dylan knew if he’d pressed for more, she would’ve thought he was perverted, probably even sick.
But he wasn’t either of those things. Not to say that sharing a woman’s body was the norm, because it wasn’t. However, it certainly was far more common than a lot of people realized. It was the very reason there were clubs like Club Destiny, Devotion, and Devil’s Playground. Those places offered people the ability to explore their sexuality with like-minded, consenting adults. There was nothing wrong with it, as long as all parties involved were safe and agreeable.
And yes, Dylan wanted to explore those more taboo aspects with this woman. What it was about her, he couldn’t put his finger on, but he was enjoying the fuck out of figuring her out.
After pulling her panties down her legs and discarding them into the pile of clothes, Dylan forced himself to his feet, then picked Sarah up and carried her over to the couch, perching her on his lap while he kissed her, allowing her to come down from her orgasm. He couldn’t resist stroking her smooth skin, cupping her breast, all while he teased her tongue with his own. When she sighed into his mouth, grinding her ass against his crotch, he allowed himself to be more aggressive, pinching her nipples gently, nipping her lower lip.
Damn, but this woman made him absolutely insane with lust.
“I want to feel your pretty lips on my dick,” he whispered against her mouth. “To watch you suck me.”
Sarah grinned and the gleam in her eyes made his dick twitch.
“Can you do that for me, Sarah? Can you blow me right here?”
She nodded and he reluctantly released her as she slid down to her knees in front of him. Not wanting to wait, Dylan unbuttoned his jeans and forced the denim down his legs while Sarah tugged his boots from his feet. When she pushed his shirt up, he realized she wanted him as naked as she was, so he quickly discarded it while she leaned in and teased the head of his dick with her warm breath.
“Fuck, yes,” he hissed, placing his hands on the couch cushion, not wanting to reach for her yet. “Tease me, Sarah. Lick me.”
He kept his eyes locked on her face as she wrapped her pretty pink lips around the head of his dick and sucked him, licking, laving, teasing as her eyes remained on his.
She was so sweet. Tentative yet eager. The way her mouth wrapped around him, her tongue curling over his shaft…
“Love your mouth,” he whispered encouragingly. “Perfect fucking mouth.”
That seemed to spur her on, because she caressed his shaft with her tongue, driving him wild with the soft vibrations from her moans. She seemed as eager to suck him as he was for her to do it.
Reaching between his legs, Dylan fisted his cock. “Lick my balls,” he instructed.
Sarah’s head dipped lower and the warmth of her mouth assaulted his sensitive sac. Damn. A chill raced down his spine, and his stomach muscles tensed, exquisite sensations rocking him.
He slowly stroked himself, not hard enough to push him over the edge, but enough to keep him hovering on the brink. When he knew he couldn’t handle much more, Dylan ordered her to stop.
“Stand up,” he instructed.
He assisted her to her feet as he got up. With his dick throbbing, desperate to be inside her, he urged her onto the couch.
“On your hands and knees.”
While she got into position, Dylan rolled a condom on, then moved in behind her, one knee on the cushion, one foot on the floor.
“You ready for me, Sarah?”
“More than ready.” She wiggled her butt toward him, making him smile.
Drawing on the last of his self-control, Dylan lined up with her warm, smooth cunt, then pushed inside her. He was once again overwhelmed with sensation, consumed by the tight sheath of her body as he plunged in deep.
“Oh, God!” Sarah reached forward and put her hand on the arm of the sofa as Dylan slammed into her. He pulled back, then thrust forward hard. He couldn’t help himself. He was staking his claim, taking what he wanted because he needed her with an intensity that scared the shit out of him.
“Don’t want to hurt you,” he groaned through clenched teeth.
It was a fucking wonder he had enough sense to realize that it was definitely a possibility.

He wanted her that fucking badly.



Want more? 
Available for preorder! Coming January 31st.


Time doesn’t always heal a broken heart. Sometimes the only thing it does is fill the darkness with more shadows, more pain.

Dylan Thomas has spent the past decade living in the shadows, mourning the loss of his wife, his best friend, his very reason for breathing. He long ago accepted that he would never feel again, that he was damned to a world without light, without hope. That was the day the bottle won, and he gave himself over to the darkness.

Until the one night that rocked his brittle, crumbling world on its axis. She told him what they shared was simply a distraction, a way to forget for a little while. It would’ve been, except the tiny glimpse of how it feels to live again, to feel again, gives him the strength he needs to pull himself up by his boot straps. But sobriety comes one day at a time, and three years later may be three years too late.