Reader Q on abuse in books

So I had recently somebody ask me why I had abuse in my books, specifically Kit’s books…was I having fun torturing her?

This comes up a lot, so I’m just going to blog about it and when I get asked, I’ll direct people here.

Do I torture my characters or write about abuse because it’s fun?

No.

I’m not a plotter.  I don’t set out with a plan in mind lets see how much hell I can put these characters through.

Now when I’m writing romance, I do work at finding realistic ways to keep them apart, because if you’re not doing that, you don’t have a romance.  You just have a HEA.  There has to be a conflict, internal and external, or there’s just no story and what’s the point.

But yes, I do have a habit of writing about people who have gone or are going through abuse.  And no, I don’t do it because I think it’s okay.

Abuse appalls me.

Sexual abuse appalls me.

It pisses me off.  I regularly donate to RAINN and I’ve mentioned the organization in at least one, if not more, of my books.

Bullying appalls me.  I’ve the one who will approach kids and teenagers when I see them picking on somebody else and interfere.  Have I gotten yelled about this?  Yes. Do I care? No.

Domestic abuse appalls me.  There’s been more than one time when my husband was almost positive either he, me, both of us would end in either in jail, or the hospital because I’d see something happening that I didn’t like and I’d shoot my mouth off and the guy involved wouldn’t like it.  When I go out of town on a trip, he tells me to stay safe and behave, and more often than not, I suspect it’s because he knows how I am with my mouth.

I had to leave my day job in nursing, in the end, because of burn out and part of that involved a boy who’d been abused by his father. It was breaking me inside.

I grew up seeing more than a few people I knew in life be abused and I know people even now in those situations.

Trust me…abuse isn’t okay in my book.  And if it’s okay in anybody’s book, they had a deep problem that is probably unfixable.

But abuse is out there.  Much of society turns a blind eye.  I don’t.

One reasons I’ve written the FBI Psychic books, particularly THE MISSING was because like most moms, I have fears of bad things happening to my kids. No, nothing ever has.  But I put my fears down on paper..I make them more manageable and I twist the bad things I see in society into a way that makes to where the bad guy is the one who goes down.  We don’t see in that in real life often. THE DEPARTED had a scene that was inspired by a real life bullying of a high school girl by some boys during her senior prom. I changed the set-up, I changed the outcome, I changed the methods of the madness, but I left the way one of the parents responded as it played out because the parent of one boy tried to act like …hey, it was no accident…her death was a tragic accident.  My character-well, one of them, didn’t die, but the abhorrence of what they tried to do is still there.

My romantic suspense that recently came out was set in Madison Indiana and yes, it is completely fictional, although some things I’d seen in the media – other years – did play a part in some of the things I wrote about, particularly about how people will turn a blind eye to some of the most disgusting evil in society.  Somebody made a comment along the lines of I can’t see this happening anywhere.  I hoped it never does, but the fact is, child abuse happens.  It happens daily.  It’s happening in your town.  Possibly on your street, or by people you know.  Pretending otherwise doesn’t change it.

I’ve always written about some of the harsh facts of life in my romantic suspense stories and yes, in the urban fantasy stories.  Evil happens and sometimes, there is no justice for it.  When I write about it, I can find justice…I can make it happen.  I always thought this was the main reason I did it…to make sense of things that have no sense in my head.

But I’ve realized it goes deeper than that and it took attending ConFusion and speaking on one of the panels to understand just what it was.  One of the panelist, I believe it was Christian Klaver, made a comment.

Horror is the most moral of genres

That sounds like a strange statement, doesn’t it?

Horror is about hacking people up, the woman running naked into the field…

Or is it?

See what WhatCulture says about it?

After watching Carrie, I bet you will never pick on the underdog or weakling in your life again for fear that you will go up in a blazing inferno or be killed by flying kitchen implements.

and

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue tells us to avoid messing around with nature lest we unleash a wave of flesh hungry undead zombies. 

Sure…they are graphic moral messages, but those messages still exist.

Now, I don’t write horror, although yes, some things are rather horrific. I don’t think I try intentionally to write a moral message.

I don’t turn my back on the ugly things that exist in society, but what I do try to do is this…the people in the books I write are often broken.  And by the time I’m done with them, they are stronger–they come into my head as broken and they have a story.

I’m not going to fight the stories that God gives me. Humans are capable of remarkable things.  Some of the people that I’ve known who have lived through abuse are now free of it…and they chose to escape it.  It wasn’t easy, but they left it behind.  They fought free of it…some ran from it. But they escaped it.

Others, sadly, didn’t get away.  Or haven’t. They are still trapped in that ugly cycle. People turn a blind eye or think, Why don’t they just leave…if it was just that easy, they would.

But many of the stories that come to me are about broken people and during the course of the book, my job is to take that person (or persons) and make them stronger, to help them find the bits and pieces and put them back together.  And find a happy ever after, hopefully, justice or closure for whatever was done.

This is what I have a voice for.

I’ve lost track of how many emails I’ve gotten from survivors of abuse, be it domestic, sexual or emotional–there’s one in particular that I can remember reading her email even now and I cried as I read it.  It’s been years since I received that email and I still remember her name–that’s not just unusual, it’s unheard of for me.  She wrote of how she’d read FRAGILE…how she’d cried…and then she thanked me, because she felt like it had helped her take a step toward healing after her own abuse.  She felt that book had given her a voice.

Has Kit from the Colbana books been through hell?  Yes.  Am I trying to break her? No.  What people didn’t see is that she was already broken, even in book one.  She used her sword as a crutch, put all her value in it.  Others saw that she had more worth than that.  Why did things have to happen the way they did? Well, if Kit was around to ask, you’d have to ask her, because I didn’t plan that.  I can tell you that Kit probalby won’t have an answer, though.  Bad shit happens, period.  That’s the truth in fiction as well as in reality.  Kit was never going to be a character where life was smooth-sailing for her.

But I don’t plan these stories…they play out for me and I write them down.  They come into my head,  almost like a silent movie reel and I’m just the narrator.  I couldn’t have changed that ending if I tried–the only thing I could have done was written it…and not published it.

Nobody has to like how the book turned out and nobody has to like the book either.  But I didn’t write the book just to abuse my character.

I don’t carry these themes in all of my books.  My contemporaries are lighter, they’re fun and easy and sexy.  But the RS books and the UF books take a hard, sometimes brutal look at things.

I don’t write about abuse in my books because I think it’s okay.

I write about survivors.

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So DBD is upon us… FYI, the site is having problems. dbd But I have a book for you! Hunters: Declan and Tori is free for a little while, so if you’ve never read my Hunters series, here is a good starting point…but be warned.  It’s super hot…these are the erotic romances I started out writing, so they are loaded with heat.   You can find it at the links below! ARe | Smashwords | Nook | Kindle | iBooks

And I think J.C. has one for you, too…

Also!  If you like my suspense stuff and haven’t read CHAINS?  You might wanna check it out.  It’s normally $10 & higher, but it’s on sale now for less than $5 in ebook.

Links!

BAMM | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound | Amazon | iBooks

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Isn’t he pretty? You Own Me

YouOwnMe300

It had always been her…
Ten years had passed since the doors slammed shut behind Decker Calhoun, taking away his freedom, but more importantly, locking him away from Elizabeth Waters, the only woman he’d ever loved—the woman he’d given up everything for. The day he was sentenced, he’d looked at her and said, No regrets, Lizzie.
But he lied, because he did have one. Although he’s been out of jail for three years now, he was a year too late. Lizzie never knew how he felt and just months before he was released, she found somebody else and it’s too late.
Or maybe not. It seems that Lizzie’s boyfriend wants an open relationship and two can play at that game. Now all Decker has to do is convince Lizzie that he’s the better man…and has been all along.

Releasing in August.  (self published)

It will be going up for pre-order shortly.  I’ll be notifying those who requested to review here in a few days.  At this time, I won’t be taking any more review requests.  My hands are going to kind of die sending out the ARCs as is.

 

snippet…

Snarling, he tore his mouth from hers and jerked away, sitting at the far end of the futon. With hands that shook, he rubbed at his face.

Son of a bitch.

“Lizzie…fuck. I’m sorry.”

A harsh intake of breath reached his ears and the last thing he wanted to do was face her, but that was what he made himself do.

The minute he turned his head to look at her, she surged up off the futon, moving across the small office to stand by her desk, head bowed, arms wrapped around herself. “Get out,” she said, her voice quiet.

Too quiet.

“Lizzie?”  Wincing, he climbed off the couch. “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—”

“Don’t.”  The word was pure steel and it caught him off-guard, for a second.

But just a second. Because while Lizzie was soft and sweet, under all of that, she was steel. She always had been—he’d figured that out when he hadn’t chased her off within the first few hours of meeting her. Now, as she turned and looked at him, tears glinted in her wide, dark brown eyes, but nothing could hide the fury, and the hurt, in those eyes.

Fuck, he thought miserably. Rising from the couch, he lifted a hand only to let it fall uselessly to his side. “Lizzie, I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“I don’t want to hear it!” she shouted, cutting him off.

He had to duck to avoid the little potted orchid she sent flying his way. And damn, she still had a good throwing arm.

“Do you hear me?” she said, her voice starting to shake. “I don’t want to hear. I get it, okay?  Nobody wants me. No fucking body. I’m fine as a doormat for Noel as long as I let him treat me like shit, but he doesn’t want me. Neither do you. I get it. Okay?”

Stunned shock rippled through him as she shoved her tumbled hair back from her flushed face. Her eyes shot sparks as their gazes clashed. “I get the point. You’re a fucking hound dog and I know that. But I’m not good en—”

He caught the rest of her words with his mouth and when she went to shove him back, he caught her wrists, too. Sinking his teeth into her lower lip, he backed her up against her desk. “Not want you?” he muttered against her mouth. “Are you blind?”

She tried to turn her head and he tangled a hand in her hair, yanked it back. Her pupils flared, her mouth falling open on a startled moan. “Give me your mouth, Lizzie,” he said and then, without waiting, he took it, thrusting his tongue deep.

She bit him and he responded by letting her wrists go and catching her hips, boosting her up with one arm while he used the other to swipe out against her desk, clearing it with one careless gesture. Lizzie worked her hands between them and although he didn’t break away from her mouth, part of him held his breath—waited.

When she reached up and tangled her hands in his hair, he snarled in savage satisfaction.

Lying her down on her desk, he broke away. Her hands clutched at him and he caught them, shifted her wrists to one hand and pushed them up over her head. Then, as he held her gaze, he reached down and freed the top button of the top she wore. With each successive button, he bared more and more skin, pale, pretty skin, lush curves, her breasts cupped by silk and lace and his brain almost exploded as he flicked a look from her face downward to study those ripe curves.

“My hands are shaking,” he said, struggling to keep his voice from doing the same as he trailed his fingers along the delicate lace design of her bra, watching as a soft blush pinked her flesh and started to climb upward. “I’ve dreamed about touching you a thousand times and now I am and my hands are shaking…”

Now he looked at her, watched her throat work as she swallowed.

“And you think I don’t want you.”

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Would you like to see…

The third and final cover for the Secrets & Shadows series?

Darker Than Desire

 

This is one of my more…tortured heroes, folks. This wasn’t an easy story, and he wasn’t an easy character…And that’s about all I saying about him for now.

But I’ll share this.

A hand touched his arm.

He fought the urge to react, and react with violence.

He had been forged in the fires of hell. Physical touch wasn’t welcome.  There were only a very few that he allowed to touch him.

As the woman sat down beside him, he had to force himself to relax.

She was one of the few.

Due out in March 2015

Amazon (other pre-order links will be posted as I get them)

 

 

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Lacey’s Game…new-ish release 30% off

So this book had sort of a sneak release date…it’s an EC book and it ended up coming out right in the middle of deadlines, me getting ready for RT and my Secrets & Shadows releases and I didn’t really have time to prepare for the release or anything. So we’ll do it now! For those who like the older, menage style books I did with EC, this is right up your alley…. Also, it’s on sale, 30% off. Lacey’s Game Lacey's Game Lacey Morgan is fed up and heartbroken. Her boyfriend Brogan is all about control and she’s all about breaking through his barriers. Except she can’t seem to do it. Unwilling to settle for only part of him, she takes off, figuring it’s better that way. After all, half of a relationship is worse than none. She settles in with her best friend, hot and sexy photographer Lou, figuring she’ll lick her wounds and give her heart time to heal.

Finding Lacey gone is a punch to the gut. Finding her with another guy is even worse. She isn’t interested in listening to what he has to say, though. Not unless he’s willing to strip himself bare and give up pieces of himself that died long ago.

Snippet!

Lacey stared in shock, dazed delight, in fear as Lou told Brogan the code.

“My rules.”

He won’t… He’ll come in and start a fight, or he’ll leave—

But he came in. Came to her. Went to his knees in front of her. Lacey swore, her fingers trembling as he cupped her face in his hands.

“Your rules,” he muttered. “What are they?”

“You’re willing to play by my rules now?”

He slanted his mouth over her lips and kissed her—it was a punishing kiss, the kind of kiss she’d seen him give Grace, the kind of kiss he’d never bothered to give to her. She was too soft, too fun, too innocent…

She was all but dying with the pleasure as he kissed her.

“What are your rules?” he asked again. Something swelled inside her. Hunger, so wild and raw and fierce…

Lifting up, she braced her back against Lou’s body and reached for Brogan. With eyes that practically burned, Brogan came to her and she was pressed between them.

“Do I get what I want?” she demanded, averting her face when he would have kissed her.

“Tell me what it is,” he snarled, capturing her face by the chin and jerking her back to face him. As his mouth crushed to hers, he said it again. “Tell me what you want.”

But when he went to draw her against him, she shoved him back. Brogan obliged, moving back a few steps, and she continued to watch him, her breath coming in rapid pants as she said, “Everything you can give me.”

Brogan started to reach for her but she shook her head. “No. Not yet. We’re playing this my way.”

read more EC | Amazon | Kobo | BN

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Deeper than Need… now available!

So my newest romantic suspense is now out.

Deeper Than Needsq9

Even when she hadn’t realized she was that close to falling apart, he’d been there. Maybe now she wouldn’t have to bury her face in the pillow to keep from choking back the screams so she wouldn’t wake up Micah.

“Thank you,” she said, ignoring the erratic cadence of her voice as she forced herself to get the words out. “I know you had to hang around for a while, since you were down there, too. But you didn’t have to stay all day.”

The chains on the swing creaked and she heard him rising. Twisting the doorknob, she opened the door and watched as light spilled out onto the porch. She turned and faced him then as he moved closer. “I couldn’t just leave,” he said, a look on his face that told her he meant every single word.

“Some guys could have done just that.” She stepped over the threshold. Leaning against him had felt entirely too right. It was that odd little click thing, all over again.

He opened his mouth to say something and she lifted a hand. “Don’t,” she said, shaking her head. “I know plenty of guys who would have done just that, stayed just long enough to take care of whatever had to be done with the cops and then they’d disappear. It’s probably just human nature. You didn’t have to hang, but you did. So thank you.”

“If you think that’s human nature, then you know some really lousy humans.” He gave her a tired, sad smile and shook his head. “We can be selfish creatures, I know. But that selfish?”

Trinity suspected selfish didn’t even touch on some of the traits she’d come to expect in people. Shifting her gaze to stare off into the night, she licked her lips. “Look, I just . . . well. I wanted to say thank you. I did. Now I’m going to get some sleep.”

She ducked inside before she could say anything else. Before she could do anything else. All she really wanted to do was go back outside and lean back against him; maybe even wrap her arms around him and then push up on her toes and see what he’d say if she pressed her lips to his.
What he’d do.

Because she was desperate enough to push for whatever he’d let her take, find comfort in whatever he’d give her.

 

 

If you liked my Ash trilogy or are into my FBI Psychic books, you’d probably like these.  Also, if you liked Quinn from BROKEN?  You’ll probably like the heroes in these books.  Quinn was a broken, messed-up mess of a mess.  So are these guys…

iBooks Indiebound | Amazon | B & N | BAMM | Kobo

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Tomorrow…

Deeper Than Needsq6

 

“So what happened?” she asked, sliding a hand around his waist.

He wanted to turn back to her and lose himself. Forget the darkness, forget the pain, the misery. Forget everything but her.

Trinity rested a hand on his shoulder and he locked his limbs to keep from giving in to that urge. It all but consumed him. He knew the oblivion he could find in a woman’s arms. It had given him comfort for a long, long time. And this need went so much deeper. The need for Trinity all but consumed him.

“What happened that day?” she asked quietly.

iBooks Indiebound | Amazon | B & N | BAMM | Kobo

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Deeper than Need…five days left!

Deeper Than Needsq10

“You try and take it easy if you can,” she murmured. “You look like you’re having a rough one there, Noah.”

A rough one . . . maybe that was why he did it. Reaching up, he touched his fingers to her cheek when she went to pull away.

She stilled.

The voice of reason, rational thinking, restraint . . . the voice Noah expected to hear whispering to him from the back of his mind was silent as he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers.

Just a light, easy kiss. Almost impersonal. Impersonal . . . if anything could be impersonal when a man had spent so many nights dreaming about a woman. If anything could be impersonal when the heat of her skin reached out to tease him, even though inches separated them and the scent of her, sweet woman and lavender, rose up to taunt him. If anything could be impersonal when her lips parted on a gasp and he caught the first hint of her taste.

If anything could be impersonal when he lifted his head and saw her staring up at him, her gaze smoldering, smoking, as if it held all the heat of the sun. It was almost too much and he had to fight to keep from hauling her back against him.

Another kiss, just one more, he thought. Deeper, harder

A car sped by and he heard Micah’s voice bounce off the glass as the boy called for his mother, but the words made no sense.

Trinity licked her lips, her lids drooping down to shield her lashes.

Aw, now that wasn’t helping at all. “It just got a little bit better,” he murmured, stroking his thumb over the path her tongue had taken.

She eased back, a slow blush rising up to stain her cheeks pink. But she didn’t look away.

“Should I apologize?” he asked.

She reached up and closed her hand around his wrist. “I’m hoping you won’t. If you do, my day is probably going to take a turn for the worse.”

 

iBooks Indiebound Amazon | B & N | BAMM | Kobo

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I have news…such nice news, I have.

So I live by the Ohio.

It’s weird how you never realize how something like that plays into your life until you find yourself driving down by it.  Stopping to taking pictures…

And then one day…bam…there’s a book.

More like three.  This idea has been toying and dancing and flirting with me for a while now and finally, it let me catch it.

It’s a fun one, too.  Fun as in, it’s suspense-ish.  But I won’t be killing people all around town, either.  I mean, yes, there will probably be mayhem.  But I don’t think I’ll be smashing and bashing on every corner.

That’s the fun for me…maybe a little more laid back.  Maybe.

Here’s the fun for you…(and me)…I sold it.

St. Martins has bought a new trilogy for me.  It’s going to be a three book series, another small town romantic suspense series, this one, set in the south.  Instead of the Ohio, I ended up going with the Mississippi for reasons that I won’t be going into, but it was important to the story.

I have NO idea when it will be out.  I kinda need to write it first.

But here’s a snippet.

 

 

The last thing Gideon Marshall expected when he woke up that morning was to see trouble come rolling back into town.  But, unlike most people, he didn’t mind one bit.

He’d always had a soft spot for Neve Flanagan, the hellion youngest child of the family that had been the central figure in this small town for more than a hundred and fifty years.

Now that he was the sheriff of said small town, people might expect things to change—Neve had gotten into trouble more than once in her life, both before and after she’d left home.  But to be honest, Gideon suspected a lot of that was because people had expected her to get in trouble.

Neve simply gave them what they wanted.

Right now, as she leaned against the side of the beat-up Corolla that looked nothing like the fire-engine red Porsche she’d driven away from here eight years ago, she did the same thing.  She gave him what he wanted.

A smile.

It wasn’t the same smile, though.  That hit him, right in the heart.

Neve was like the little sister he’d never had and that wan, tired smile mad him want to chew nails and hit something.  Or somebody.  Because he recognized the look on her face, all too well.

She had the look of somebody who needed to hide.

But he knew his Trouble too well.  Instead of handling her the way he wanted to, hugging her up against him and demanding she tell him what was wrong, he did what he would have done eight years ago.  He reached up and caught of lock of her hair—deep red and soft—and pulled.  “Well, well, well.  Trouble is back.”

She made a face at him.

“In town fifteen minutes and I’ve already heard that—three times now.”

Gideon grinned, somewhat relieved to see an echo of her old smile flash across her face.  Then she moved away from the car and wrapped her arms around him.

Now, he let himself hug her.  And it hurt, he realized, more than he’d thought possible to feel the sharp bones and frail strength in her.  She’d lost weight, too much of it.  It was like there was nothing but skin, bone and the remnants of that cocky attitude.

“You stayed gone way too long, sugar,” he murmured against her temple as she tucked her head against his chest.

“Yeah, well.”  She sniffed and snuggled in closer.  “I kept thinking about coming back and nabbing you up for myself since my sister was dumb enough to let you get away.  But…well.  You’re so old.”

“Old?”  Chuckling, he rubbed his cheek against her hair.  “You mean to tell me I’ve been waiting around here for eight long years, pining after you and you think I’m too old for you?”

The gas pump shut off and she sighed, breaking away from him.  “Well, maybe not too old.”  Then she shrugged and finished dealing with the car, grabbing her receipt, putting the gas cap back on.  “But you and I both know you’ll never love anybody but Moira.”

He didn’t say anything.

Neve’s gaze swept up to him and he knew he didn’t have to.  She wouldn’t tell anybody.  Neither would he.

Their secret.

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Friday 56

Eli and Sarel 2011So, who is all at RT this week and which of you are living vicariously through the tweets and Facebook posts? I fall into the latter category. I love New Orleans and I hate that I’m missing out on so much fun and a wonderful city.  But, don’t fret if you’re like me and had to stay home; we can still have fun, right?  We’ve made it to Friday…and it’s time for some Friday 56.  Grab your closest book and flip to page 56 and give me the 5th full sentence.   This week, I’m going to go back a bit and I have one of Shiloh’s older novels, The Hunters: Eli and Sarel, and it’s a steamy one ;)!

 

Lifting his head, he asked, “No panties, darling?”

 

If you’re at RT, make sure to find Shiloh and say hello!

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