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Publication date: January 17th 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

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Trying to Figure Out the Hardest Job in the Universe

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the universe. Some would argue it’s the hardest. And when something goes wrong–say one of your kids commits suicide–well, it makes you question everything you thought you learned. Everything about yourself, your abilities–as a parent, as a human being.

All those years of trying to get it right, of working toward a positive outcome, of reading, studying, planning, hoping, praying; all of it was washed away over the course of one tragic evening during which the child I raised made the ultimate bad decision. In my case, it was thirteen years’ worth of on-the-job training.

To make it worse, while I’m grieving the loss of one kid–and doubting everything about myself–there’s still another to take care of. My son left behind his sister, who happened to have idolized him like any self-respecting younger sibling would. For the last nineteen months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance my own grief with ensuring she’s happy, well-adjusted, managing her way through this new life we’ve been forced to forge.

My daughter is now twelve. She’s in seventh grade. A year younger than he was when he made that horrible decision, but now in the same grade. I have no idea if it was the age or the grade or if both had a factor in his choice, but that hardly matters. I’m left to pick up the pieces—we’re left to try to make our way down a new path that has been twisted beyond recognition, and the suspension bridge leading to the way back has been cut, collapsed in on itself and plummeted to the ground a thousand feet below.

We’re all changed since that day; that’s inevitable. And none of us have changed in the same way. My husband golfs more—a lot more. I blog—a lot more. And cry. A lot more. My daughter, well, she’s quieter, more reserved, but bits of harsh, teenage personality flair up every now and then. I suspect these startling flair ups are as shocking to her as they are to me. I also believe they are a bit of stress relief, which I know she needs, because like her father, she keeps everything bottled up inside, tucked away near her heart, in a tiny box reserved specifically for emotions she doesn’t like to deal with. Unfortunately for her, those emotions aren’t very good at listening and following directions—much like the teenage mind she’s trying to lock them into.

I, of course, don’t think it’s a bad thing to let those emotions out. I believe they need to escape every now and then, they need to breathe, they need to cry, shout, scream, whatever it takes to help her find her equilibrium again. As much as I hate crying, I admit I always feel a bit cathartic afterward. I find I’m better able to handle tough situations such as when my daughter tells me she doesn’t like having anything to do with me because I’m so different since “it” happened nineteen months ago.

Thank God for that random, out-of-nowhere crying jag while I was driving in my car earlier in the day, because otherwise there was no way in hell I would have been able to hear something like that without losing my shit.

But I didn’t break down or go ape shit, much to my own surprise as well as my daughter’s. She fully expected me to have a meltdown or scream at her; I’m still not sure which. All I know is I took her completely by surprise by talking about the subject entirely rationally and calmly, and hopefully with a bit of intelligence to boot. Maybe I’m finally managing to become the parent I thought I was before my son died.

I told her everybody grieves differently. It’s okay if I cry at the slightest provocation or if her dad golfs all the damn time or if her grandma visits her grandson’s grave on a weekly basis or if her grandpa talks to him every night before he goes to bed—even if it’s a one-sided conversation. It’s okay because we aren’t curled up into balls in the bedroom, hiding from the world. We’re living, even if it’s differently from the way we were nineteen months ago. We’re making our way in this world, we’re figuring it out, and the process isn’t really something to be concerned about so long as we’re doing it. I let her know that if she wants me to do something differently, I’ll give it my best shot, because that’s what parents do. We try our damnest to make our kids’ lives easier/better/safer/happier. That’s part of why our jobs are so freaking hard, because we don’t have all the control; all we can do is our best and hope it’s good enough to overcome some of those external factors.

And sometimes good enough isn’t enough.

She left the table after my little spiel, and I didn’t call out to her or yell at her and demand she stay or even ask for a response. I finished my dinner and then began to clean up. And a little while later she came back, hovering in the hallway outside the kitchen, and said, “You know how you said everyone grieves differently? Well, I grieve differently than you, and I need you to respect that.”

And you know what? She’s right. And I told her so. And I promised to try.

This grieving process has turned into a learning process. Learning how to live again. Learning how to be a parent and a daughter with the dark cloud of a lost son/sibling hovering over our lives. Learning how to communicate with my remaining child, the one who is suffering as much as I am—just differently.

Because we all grieve differently. And that’s okay.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an award winner, wine drinker, and writer of happy endings. Because life sometimes sucks, and we all need an escape. Check out her website here: http://tamilund.com

Silly Author Interview with Tami Lund

As I searched my laptop looking for blog post inspiration at midnight the night before I was scheduled to post something here on Love, Lust, and Laptops, I stumbled across an author interview. I don’t even remember where it’s from or for whom I wrote it, but I thought it was quirky enough to repost here, for your reading pleasure. Hopefully it makes you chuckle…

  1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Tami Lund, and once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. Then life and insecurities got in the way. Then that same life threw me a curve ball in the form of the recession, which introduced me to the world of unemployment for fifteen long months.  Job searching become tedious and incredibly boring, since, you know, there weren’t any jobs, while the desire to write became all-consuming.

I finally gave in, wrote a few dozen manuscripts, decided a couple were reasonably good enough to be published, and I haven’t looked back since. Oh yeah, and I have a husband, a kid, and a dog who is convinced the world revolves around me (it isn’t nearly as flattering as it sounds). When I peel myself away from writing that next book (or procrastinating via surfing Facebook), I’m usually cleaning up after everyone else in my family, occasionally gardening, rarely cooking (although you’d question that statement if you follow me on Instagram), often walking my dog, and sometimes paying attention to the kid and husband.

  1. What genre do you write and why?

I write both contemporary and paranormal romance. Mostly it’s because that’s what I love to read.

  1. What books have you published?

I’ve published quite the selection of books, so it might be easiest to give you the Amazon link to my author page. Hang out, peruse, enjoy, have a read or ten:

https://www.amazon.com/Tami-Lund/e/B00AXJH5MY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1422919572&sr=8-1

6. What are you working on next?

There’s always something! First, there’s a Christmas anthology releasing on Christmas Eve – I have a brand new short story in there. Then there’s a vampire boxed set coming in February. If you’re a fan of my book, Resist, be on the lookout for Anya’s sister’s story in this one. Oh, and Misti Murphy and I are hard at work on the next Sexy Bad book – this one’s called Sexy Bad Boss and it’s James’s story. There’s also another paranormal that at the moment involves shifters and faeries and demons. And lastly, I’m working on my first dragon shifter book! Wow, that was a lot, wasn’t it?

7. Do you use experiences from your own life in your writing or does it all come from your imagination?

I use real life experiences all the time. Usually, my best story ideas – even the paranormal ones – come from real life. Lucky for me, my friends all laugh whenever I say, “This is going into one of my books!”

8. What is your favorite curse word?

I’m not gonna lie. I love the f-bomb. There is no mistaking your passion when you insert the word fuck into a sentence.

9. Are you a cat or dog person?

I love both and I wish I had one of each. But we just have a dog. Not ‘just’ because I adore her and she’s my baby girl, but I’d still love to have a cat too. Unfortunately, the hubs isn’t nearly as fond of cats as I am. By not nearly I mean he’s literally on the other end of the spectrum. So yeah, no cats.

10. If you had your choice of writing retreat would you choose:

a.) Villa in Italy

b.) Cabin in the woods

c.) English estate in Derbyshire (think Pemberly)

d.) Beach house in the Virgin Islands

Beach house. Doesn’t even have to be in the Virgin Islands. Sandy beach and blue water and I’m there. Forever. I’ll send postcards. And new books.

Bonus Question: Tell us a funny story about you that we can’t find on your bio.

In the early years, when I was still treading the murky waters of publishing, I was embarrassed over the sex scenes I’d written in my books (crazy, I know). I had recently self-published the first in a now unpublished series called The Resort, and had finally started admitting to my inner circle of friends that I had books available to read, if they were so inclined. At a party comprised of mostly friends I had met through my kid’s school, one of the dads came up to me, ipad in hand, and told me he downloaded my book and it was surprisingly good. A small crowd gathered, and he read a passage that wasn’t exactly PG … Resulting in at least thirty minutes of teasing due to the redness of my face.

Yeah, that happened.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund writes romance, drinks wine, wins awards, and occasionally does author interviews on her own blog. If you want more, check out her website: http://tamilund.com

Throwing Slop at the Pigs, er, Doling Out Marketing Advice

Today, I’m going to decipher some of that marketing advice that’s thrown at authors in much the same way as farmers throw slop to pigs. Just toss it in there and they’ll gobble it up. Why? Because if there’s one thing all authors crave, it’s help selling books.

Let’s talk slop, er, shop. There are several pieces of advice I see as fairly predominant. These are the ones we read most frequently, the ones we are supposed to take to heart. The bits of information we are supposed to actually act on. But how many of us really know how to act? How to follow all this sage advice?

That’s what I’m going to go over today. Ready? Good. Let’s do this.

  1. Forsake all else and write another book.

Okay, maybe that’s not literally what “they” say. Usually “they” say it much more eloquently, in order to ensure authors believe their fabulous advice. Write a damn book. And another. And another. What I hear when I see this bit of advice thrown at me over and over again is: Forget marketing. Forget the world. Forget Amazon rankings. Just write the damn book.

Let me translate what “they” really mean. When you aren’t working the day job (because everyone has bills to pay), and you aren’t paying attention to your family (because they sort of expect it once in a while), and you aren’t flapping your arms on social media, trying to get somebody’s attention, and you aren’t managing your street team and seven hundred other Facebook groups, and you aren’t throwing spaghetti at the wall on Twitter, and you aren’t editing, and you aren’t updating your website, and you aren’t designing eye-catching graphics to announce that next book promo… In those seventeen minutes before you pass out cold at two a.m. – yeah, that’s when you should write the damn book. Because readers like books, the more the better.

  1. Authors must blog. Blogging draws readers.

Oh the irony that I’m writing a blog that is about to trash blogging. Okay, not really. I enjoy blogging. I do it probably more frequently than I ought to, given the next book isn’t yet done. And yes, I believe people enjoy reading blogs. I do. I read a lot of them. I share them, I post them, I take them to heart. I especially like the funny ones. It’s just, I notice most of them dole advice about how to be a better author or sell more books.

…which I’m not convinced are things readers want to read about. So if my blog posts are aimed at other authors, how is blogging going to help me sell books? Yeah, I know authors are readers, too. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Yes, we read each other’s books, but often for free. It’s called beta reading or critique partners or reviewers. So while my author friends may very well read my books and (hopefully) enjoy them and therefore tell their fans about them, those aren’t exactly sales. Organic or strategic marketing, sure. But it’s not a direct sale. And I’m not convinced talking to authors about marketing advice is going to draw readers to my blog. I’d be thrilled if I’m wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

  1. Brand yourself as an author – not as your books

This one is pretty straightforward, so I don’t think I need to explain much. But I will anyway. What’s a blog post without words, right?

So here’s how it works: You wanna be an author. You write a book, you take all the right steps (editing, quality cover, marketing, maybe even secure an agent and/or a contract with a publisher). You are so damn excited about that book that you start telling the world, before it’s even finished the first round of edits. You create a Facebook page using the book’s title. And a Twitter account. You design your website around the book. Use the cover as your profile pic on all your social media accounts – maybe even your personal Facebook page. That book is everywhere.

And then it finally releases. And then it’s time to write the next one. Now what? You’ve branded yourself as that book, so how in the world are you going to convince the world to read your next one, or the next after that?

Yeah, so this bit of advice has merit. But then again, many authors, famous authors, really, really famous authors, are known by their book series. The first one to pop into my head is JK Rowling. Then there’s that chic who wrote the Twilight series and the one who wrote Hunger Games. Oh yeah, and the Stephanie Plum series. And Game of Thrones – no, wait, everybody knows who GOT author, George, I-have-two-middle-initials Martin is. Anyway, I think you get my point. Which is…

Brand yourself and your books. Websites can be (and should be) updated regularly. Cover photos can be changed. Taglines and logos and Twitter handles are a little harder – so brand those as you and update your pics and website every time you release another book. And then when your series starts picking up steam (or, really, before that point), add a page to your website or a second Twitter handle (if you can handle the extra work. Don’t take on more than you’re capable of juggling. Remember, you’re still supposed to be writing the next book.). Why not be known as an author and by your book series?

  1. Build relationships with readers

This one makes me chuckle. First, this is a virtual world in which we live. In-person, intimate author events are practically non-existent. Author events are now large cons, and how the hell do you develop relationships when you’re competing with seven thousand other authors? Additionally, while I can be a social butterfly, it usually requires either wine or for me to be in my comfort zone, or more likely, a combination of the two. And building relationships with strangers (no offense, readers!) is not in my comfort zone. I don’t imagine readers want to curl up on the couch with me while I’m in my pajamas drinking a lovely rosé.

Do they?

So what does this really mean? Well, it means be yourself. Yep. Be… you. The person who wills the clock to tick past noon so she doesn’t feel guilty for pouring that first glass of wine. The person who nearly wept when her laptop had to go to the shop for a few days. The person who would rather stay home and write the next book (or hang out on social media, posting funny memes about writing that next book) instead of go to an actual, literal, in-person social event. The person who considers her dog to be an additional child, and sometimes her husband too. The person who has a day job but likes to pretend she doesn’t because she would much rather be a fulltime author.

Yeah… you got it. Be yourself, even when you’re on your author social media sites. Make it personal. Pretend you’re a movie star or rock star. Tell me you don’t love it when movie stars or rock stars post pics of their new puppies or babies. Makes you feel like you got a glimpse into their lives, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what readers want. From you.

  1. Organic marketing

I confess, I bought into the organic marketing concept, mostly because it works. But dear God, it is a phrase I. Am. Sick. Of. I’ve worked in nonprofit, in public relations, as an event planner, in sales, in fundraising. I get organic marketing.

But it is one of those overused corporate terms that makes me want to grab the nearest fork and stab somebody in the eye. Repeatedly. It ranks up there with, “It is what it is” – a phrase that, whenever I hear it, I also hear nails on a chalkboard, and I cringe accordingly. Also, “cascade down” is pretty high on that list, because no phrase can make someone feel like a peon more succinctly than that one—and even if we are peons, we don’t want to be reminded of that fact every damn time we get a corporate email. Come on, leaders.

True confession: My hatred of the term, “It is what it is,” is quite personal, actually. Once upon a time, during the Great Recession of the Early Two-Thousands, I worked in hotel sales, for a general manager who was the world’s cockiest son of a bitch (without much justification) and a director of sales who never, ever ceased to look out for number one. When cuts had to be made—because I live in Detroit and nobody was traveling to Detroit back then—I was the lucky one to get put on the chopping block. When the director of sales informed me of my imminent demise within the hotel sales industry, she gave me a saccharin smile and said, “It is what it is.”

Which is complete and utter bullshit. “It is what it is” is an excuse to not try harder or find another route or seek out a goddamn solution to your problem.

While I sound bitter, I’m actually not. To tell you the truth, getting laid off was without question one of the best things to have happened to me. Since there was a recession and I couldn’t find another job in Corporate America, that’s when I started writing with a vengeance. Because I got laid off, I’m here today, blogging to you all. So maybe I should love that phrase, instead of loathe it…Nah. I still hate it. It’s a cop out.

Anyway, back to deciphering organic marketing. As I see it, organic marketing is the same thing as building relationships with readers. It means thinking long-term, always think long-term. Few authors will be successful overnight or even in ten days or ten weeks or ten months or, well, let’s not go the ten-years route just yet.

If you stick to it, if you continue to write, continue to put out quality (big emphasis here on that “Q” word) books, continue to market them, continue to build your relationships with readers, then yeah, you’ll make it. Maybe not JK Rowling make it, but you’ll develop an audience, have readers who eagerly anticipate your next book. And, frankly, in today’s publishing world, that’s pretty damn impressive all on its own.

So just keep at it. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t ever utter the phrase, “It is what it is…” Sorry, that one’s personal. Let’s try this again…

I could go on and on, but you’d get bored or your lunch break is gonna end, and I personally hate really long blog posts, so let me stop here and quickly recap today’s lesson:

  1. Write the next book
  2. Market yourself – and your books
  3. Blog because you like it and maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will actually read it
  4. Be yourself on social media
  5. Don’t expect overnight success, but don’t give up, either. It’ll happen. Probably later, but it will.

Ready? #yougotthis

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author, award winner, wine drinker, and blogger, not necessarily in that order. She tends to dole out advice while drinking copious amounts of wine, so you should probably take whatever she says with a grain of salt … or another glass of wine.

http://tamilund.com

 

 

12 Magical Nights Teaser from Tami Lund

“I know Christmas is still a few days away, but I’ve brought you a gift. A small token to prove to you I’m sincere.”

Asher cringed as the royally annoying Prince Julian Montclair spoke in his oily, far-from-sincere voice.

And no doubt he was talking to Princess Charlotte. Julian had been chasing the princess’s skirts for nearly as long as Asher has known him. Since that day, ten years ago, when he’d come across Asher and Charlotte kissing in the woods and had been so furious, he’d gotten Asher thrown into the dungeons beneath his father’s castle.

Sure, Asher was a pauper and the princess, well, she wasn’t supposed to be locking lips with someone so beneath her station, but gods be damned, they’d been thirteen at the time. The punishment hadn’t exactly fit the crime.

Shaking his head, Asher turned to head back to the stable. He’d intended to give one of the horses a run, but not if it meant he would have to interact with the two people around the corner—out of sight, but not out of earshot.

“You’re giving me a necklace? Why do you think you need to prove your sincerity, Julian?”

Asher paused, curiosity overruling the knowledge that being anywhere in Julian’s vicinity was never in his best interest.

“The serving girl comes to mind,” Julian said, and Asher’s fist tightened around the reins until the leather bit into his skin.

“You insisted that was entirely innocent. Are you changing your story?” There was a layer of frost to Charlotte’s voice now.

“No, not at all. It’s just … I know you were upset by it. Even if it was innocent. Because, of course, it looked … well, we all know what it looked like.”

Asher leaned forward to better catch her response, which was silly since he doubted she would say, “Yah, it looked like you were trying to convince that serving girl to share your bed that night. And considering you’re a fucking prince, it probably happened. Even though you’re supposedly courting me, presumably falling in love with me, treating me like the princess I am, the queen I will someday be.”

But the words were only in Asher’s head. In fact, she didn’t say anything at all, and eventually, Julian cleared his throat.

“It’s enchanted,” he said. “See how it has started to glow with a blue light? That’s how you know your one true love is near.”

Give me a break. An enchanted necklace? Fucking parlor tricks. Asher could create magic like that in his sleep. And he’d bet the ten silver pieces he was paid last week that Prince Julian either bought the necklace that way or paid someone to cast a spell over it. Because everyone and the gods were fully aware the man could barely invoke the simplest of spells.

But power and control were all about the station one was born into, and Julian Montclair has been one lucky son of a bitch—no, son of a queen—since the moment he came into this world, wailing like a gods-damned banshee.

“It’s lovely,” Charlotte said. “And it’s warm to the touch.” Asher grimaced as her voice drifted over him, like it always did, making him hard, making him grit his teeth, making him angry for being so stupid. There were plenty of women in the village who were of an acceptable station and perfectly happy to warm Asher’s bed for a day, an hour, a year, however long he was willing—and he wouldn’t end up in the gallows the next morning, either.

Yet all he did was yearn for a woman he couldn’t have. A woman he didn’t really want.

Okay, didn’t want to want.

“It’s channeling my feelings,” Julian’s unctuous voice said. He was touching her, too, no doubt. He’d likely removed his gloves so he could rub his hands over her arms, his fingers probably grazing the sides of her breasts. Asher had seen him do it too many times to those serving girls he swore he wasn’t sleeping with. It was his signature move.

Bastard.

Wait, no, Julian wasn’t the bastard. That was Asher. He was the one born without a father, while Julian had been born into royalty, his mother a queen, his father, the king, standing by, prepared to declare him heir to the kingdom.

Clearly tired of skulking here instead of going for the ride Asher had promised, the horse nickered and pawed the ground.

Damn it.

“Oh. Who’s there?”

And then the princess stepped around the corner, resplendent as ever in a pale blue cloak lined with white fur, white leather gloves, and a matching hat perched at a slightly off-kilter angle on her golden curls. Those almond-shaped blue eyes widened for a moment when her gaze fell onto Asher, and the sides of her rose-colored lips lifted into a smile. For him. And the fact that they moved at all meant she hadn’t been smiling before.

Gods be damned, he’d spent his whole miserable life pining for things he couldn’t have, and this woman was most definitely the farthest out of reach of all his unobtainable dreams.

“Asher.” The way she said his name, slightly breathy, almost hopeful, slammed into his balls like it always did, and he shifted his hips and willed his hand not to reach down to adjust his swelling cock.

“Were you taking Juniper out for a ride?” she asked.

He glanced at the snow-covered ground, at the woods on the horizon, at the garland of evergreen boughs dressed with red ribbons adorning the stone structure next to them. Pretty much everywhere but at her and her companion.

Clearing his throat, he finally nodded. Julian glared at him like he wished he could conjure daggers with his mind and toss them at Asher. Too bad for Julian he couldn’t even create a simple poison and convince Asher to drink it.

“Perhaps I would like a ride,” Charlotte said, brushing her gloved hand along the horse’s neck. “Julian and I are heading to the stable so he can be off. He really needs to go so he is home in time for Christmas.”

“I told you, I’m happy to stay—”

She shook her head and talked over Julian’s protest. “Nonsense. Go home and spend the holiday with your family. You’ll be back again soon enough. Too soon, undoubtedly.”

Asher bit the inside of his cheek to keep from chuckling, while Julian gave the princess a look as if he couldn’t quite determine if she was insulting him.

“Would you mind saddling a horse for me, Asher?” Charlotte asked.

He was the horse trainer, not the stable boy, but those of high stations didn’t always understand the difference. Or care. Sighing, he followed along behind when she and Julian began walking toward the stable.

Asher watched as the prince reached out as if he meant to clasp Charlotte’s hand, and she tucked her own into the folds of her heavy cloak. It may have been an entirely innocent movement, but Asher wasn’t convinced. Which was interesting, because he, like nearly everyone else in the kingdom, was under the assumption Charlotte welcomed Julian’s advances. For most of the last ten years, the king and queen have been anticipating the day they announce their betrothal and therefore finally make the move to merge the two kingdoms.

For Asher, it was the day he planned to move on, to pack his meager belongings and strike out on his own, to go in search of a new home. He would never live in a place ruled by Julian Montclair.

“Hey, stable boy,” Julian said when they stepped inside the stone and wood structure.

Asher snorted. His arms were twice the size of Julian’s, his chest wider, his legs thicker and stronger. With the mop of dark hair on his head and the thick growth of beard on his face that he was too lazy to shave, he was far from being a boy, and Julian bloody well knew it.

“Horse trainer, actually,” Charlotte said. Asher caught her eye and arched his brow. She didn’t need to defend him. He didn’t give a fuck what this loser thought of him.

“Well,” Julian muttered, flapping his hand. “Do you see a stable boy around anywhere? I presume one who trains horses can also prepare them for a journey.”

“I presume one who rides horses can too,” Asher snapped back before he could catch himself.

Julian narrowed his eyes and glared at Asher, who didn’t flinch or look away. Julian may carry the title of prince, but until he married the princess, he had no authority while they stood on her father’s land. Not like ten years ago, when he claimed Asher and Charlotte were on his parents’ property when they’d been kissing by that stream that created the boundary between the two kingdoms.

“Oh gods above,” Charlotte said, and she shouldered her way past the two men and stomped toward to the stall where Julian’s horse had been housed for the past seven days while its owner called upon the princess and tried to woo her into becoming his wife. When he wasn’t wooing serving girls into his bed, at any rate.

Not wanting the finicky animal to bite or kick Charlotte, Asher hurried after her, reaching the stall door first and nudging her out of the way so he could tend to Julian’s snorting, glaring beast. The necklace around her neck glowed more brightly for a scant second.

Stupid parlor tricks.

Asher shook his head and guided the horse to where Julian’s saddle and tack were being kept, near the stablemaster’s office. The moment the last strip of leather was secured around the horse’s belly, Charlotte stepped up to the beast, Julian trailing along behind her.

“Thank you for visiting,” she said, patting the horse’s shoulder. “And for the token.” She touched the slightly glowing gem, a bright blue resting against the pale blue of her cloak.

“I’ll be back on Christmas Day,” Julian said.

“That really isn’t necessary,” she said. “You should stay home, be with your family.”

Julian reached for her and hesitated. “Could you give us a moment?” he said, glaring at Asher, who shrugged and led his horse outside into the snow, securing it next to the one he’d intended to take for a run before he bumped into the courting couple.

In short order, the prince strode from the stable and snatched the reins, smoothly leaping onto the horse’s back. Glancing down at Asher, he lowered his lids and said, “Paupers don’t marry princesses, boy. Perhaps you should set your sights lower.”

Asher arched his brows. “I’m not the one unsuccessfully courting the princess. Or whoring around with serving girls in the interim. I recently heard another has discovered herself with child, and with no man about to lay claim to her bastard.”

Julian’s face turned as red as his cloak, his ungloved hand squeezing the reins so tightly, the knuckles were white. “Do you recall your visit to my father’s dungeon? Do you recall the smell? The sounds? The fear that permeated the place?”

Asher still regularly woke from a restless sleep, bathed in sweat, his heart beating erratically, as his mind relived those moments when he’d thought he was going to perish in that underground prison.

“It’s gotten worse,” Julian continued, one side of his lips quirking. “And I cannot wait for the day I make the princess mine. Because that’ll be the same day you return to that place—and this time, you won’t leave alive.”

Magic coursed through Asher’s veins and he struggled to control the urge to knock Julian from his horse and beat the man to a bloody pulp. Instead, he touched his fingers to the horse’s rump, giving it a slight zap, which caused it to snort and jump, bucking and leaping around in circles while Julian tugged on the reins and shouted at the animal.

Turning away from the sight, Asher came to a stuttering halt when Charlotte stood not ten feet away, holding Juniper and another horse both by the reins. While he’d been verbally sparring with Julian, she had saddled her own horse.

“I would have done that for you,” he said.

She shrugged. “Like you said, if one can ride the beast, one should know how to prepare it for the journey.”

Right. He hadn’t meant for her to take that particular insult to heart.

“Help me up?” she asked. Apparently the interaction with Julian had made him bold, because instead of lacing his fingers so she could use his hands as a step up, he grasped her around the waist and tossed her into the saddle. She gave a startled eep and covered the glowing pendant with her hand. “Thank you.” Her voice was breathy again, like she’d gotten some sort of enjoyment out of that brief moment of physical contact.

He nodded and leaped onto Juniper’s back, tugging the reins to guide the horse down the path leading to the woods where he often exercised the animals. Julian, he noted, had gotten his own beast under control and was cantering away in the opposite direction, toward the road that would take him back to his home. The same path Asher and Charlotte had taken that fateful day ten years ago, when their innocence had been striped in more ways than one.

Asher spurred his horse on, needing the speed to help chase the demons away—not to mention the lust swimming through his system. Which was ridiculous. Charlotte was untouchable, a princess; one who was all but engaged to another. To Julian Montclair, no less.

When would he ever learn to stop yearning for things he could not have?

Sound interesting? It’s the first chapter of my contribution to an upcoming Christmas anthology called 12 Magical Nights of Christmas. Releases on Christmas Eve. The cover reveal is in a couple weeks, September 15-17, over on Facebook. Here’s the link:

12 Magical Nights of Christmas Cover Reveal Party

Head on over; it’s guaranteed to be fun. There will be prizes, books, and a bunch of authors having a grand ole time. Pretty sure the book will be up for pre-order by then, too. Oh yeah, and all proceeds from sales of the anthology will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This same group of authors worked together on a Valentine’s anthology and ultimately donated thousands of dollars to St. Jude’s!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

 

Tami Lund is an author, award winner, wine drinker, and contributor to fun anthologies. Her website is here, if you want to scope it out for a free read: http://tamilund.com.

 

These are the Days of My (Fall) Life

Life is hectic right now. So yeah, I’m writing this blog post the night before it’s scheduled to go live. No promises on how good it’ll be, let alone whether I’ll manage to catch typos and grammatical crap that isn’t called out thanks to Word’s swiggly red and green lines. Like swiggly. Word doesn’t like that word. Thinks it’s misspelled. Should be wiggly or swingy.

To be honest, I didn’t know ‘swingy’ was actually a word, and okay yes, ‘wiggly’ would probably work to describe those handy reminders Word offers up. But I like swiggly. It’s wiggly with swagger, and who doesn’t like a good swagger?

Especially if it’s attached to a desperately in need of redemption bad boy.

Speaking of—side bar—I just finished an amazing book with a hella sexy bad boy. I spent a fair portion of the book working myself up, figuring there was no way in hell this author could redeem him properly. He was that bad. And she did what I thought was impossible, thank God, because I truly thought I would finish the book and throw my phone against the wall with fury because the hero ended up not being much of a hero. I was so relieved I damn near cried.

The book’s called Beautiful Beast and the author is Aubrey something-or-another. I’ll have to look it up for you.

(Here it is: Beautiful Beast on Amazon)

So back to swiggly and swagger and my hectic life. (Although maybe now that I’ve finished that incredibly addictive book, it suddenly won’t seem so hectic. Because yeah, I was having a hard time focusing on the real world while reading it.)

It’s always crazy this time of year. It’s that part of the summer when it hits you that it’s almost over, so you do whatever you can to spend as much time doing summer stuff as possible, like you should have been doing for the past three months.

And then there’s back to school, which, now that we moved the kid to a different school means earlier than normal (public schools in the state of Michigan don’t start until after Labor Day, since tourism is an obscene amount of our state’s budget—hello, have you seen our state?—and Labor Day is a huuuuuuge tourism weekend).

Like next week earlier. Which will likely sneak up on my every single year until she graduates, I’m sure. Because geez, summer’s still in full swing, and now I have to make sure she has a haircut and that her uniform fits, make sure her shots are up to date (that makes it sound like she’s a dog, doesn’t it??), purchase all those school supplies we suddenly have to have in less than a week. Oh, and we’re going out of town for the weekend prior to the first day of school (not exactly well planned), so yeah, everything has to be done by this Thursday.

And let’s not forget football. Just to be clear, I could give two shits about football. The only game I ever watch is the Super Bowl and that’s only because I’m surrounded by friends and drinks and delicious, unhealthy food, watching the best commercials I can expect to see all year long. And for whatever reason, all those aspects make the rest of the game pretty fun too. Usually.

And yet football affects my life, adds to the insanity of fall, creates a whole additional layer of compaction as I try to balance an utterly impossible to balance load of life. How? Because the husband, who has a nice, normal day job, moonlights as a high school football referee. When my kids were little, I called myself a ‘football widow.’ It wasn’t quite as bad as being a football coach’s wife (okay, not remotely), but in my world, it was plenty bad enough. When you have two little kids and your husband is gone four or five days a week, it’s damn hard to manage. Oh yeah, and did I mention my day job gets insane at this time of year, too? And a few years ago, the owner had the brilliant idea to move the office thirty minutes further away from my home (I am convinced it was a personal affront and not because of the availability of real estate and tax breaks), which means my commute is a lovely, loooooong one hour each way. So when I work ten hour days, plus two hours of commute time, WHEN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE?

And that’s the crux of all this whining. I miss my writing at this time of year. I want it, I crave it, I need it. It’s my wine. My chocolate, my sleep, my world. I need to write like normal people need to breathe. And finding time to do so at this time of year is hard. Really hard. (When you read that last bit, read it in a really, really, high pitched pitiful voice—there, that’s how I feel.)

Well look at that. Somehow, I managed to write a blog post after all. While I’m on this roll, I should probably try to get in some words on the latest manuscript.

After I make dinner.

And convince the kid to shower.

And walk the dog.

And clean the kitchen.

And do a load of laundry.

And water the flowers.

And … pass out on the couch.

Did I mention it’s already after seven in the evening?

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is an author, award whiner (see what I did there?), and wine drinker. She prefers the wine without the ‘h’ whenever possible, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta vent.

Check out her website here: www.tamilund.com

Post Vacation Blues

My last blog post was about anticipating my annual vacation at the lake; this one is about the post-vacation blues. I’ve been home four days and I desperately want to go back.

Could be the day job. Not that I hate it, but it isn’t related to writing, and writing is my dream job, so…

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Could be the fact that I do not actually live on a lake, during my non-vacation time. Sure, there’s one at the end of the road, but that requires loading all the stuff into the car and driving down there. By stuff I mean a cooler full of drinks and a few snacks, not to mention rafts and tubes and towels and sunscreen and the dog and the kid and…the list sometimes seems endless. For a precious few hours’ fun. Not that we don’t do it regularly, but it sure would be nice to walk out my front door to the water.

Maybe it’s the fact I live in the city. Okay, in the ‘burbs. And I hate it. Okay, I don’t. I love my neighbors, I love my neighborhood. It’s nice that everything I need is less than a twenty-minute drive away. And when I want to get cultured, downtown is only an hour away. Easy, fairly convenient.

But that drive includes traffic and construction delays and then there’s the noise and the people and more traffic. I’d just like to try living in the middle of nowhere for a change. To see if I’d enjoy it as much as I suspect I would. If I hate it or get sick of it, I’ll wave the white flag and admit I’m wrong and move back to the city. I promise.

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Maybe it’s the inspiration created by sipping coffee early in the morning, perched next to a large body of crystal clear water, with only the sounds of nature accompanying me. Loons, mourning doves, water lapping at the shore. A fork rattling against a plate in someone else’s kitchen; a kid crying because he wants to swim before breakfast. Okay, those last two aren’t exactly nature, but they’re three doors down and part of lake-living. It’s amazing how far sound travels over water. How clearly, too. Can’t be a screamer when you’re living on a lake.

Wait, I’m getting off-track here.

“Up north” living as we call it here in the great state of Michigan, is inspiring. I always get a decent amount of writing done when I’m on vacation. Sure, it’s because I’m not at the day job for seven glorious days, but it’s also something else. The lack of distractions. Often, when we’re on vacation, we don’t have a decent internet connection, so I can’t spend a lot of time on social media or planning the next marketing ploy or begging readers to buy my books (although please do!) so I can leave the city and live on the water, you know, just to see if I like it.

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I suppose, if I’m truly going to live up north and write for a living, I probably have to choose a place with decent wifi. And then I’ll probably get distracted, thus reducing the amount of inspiration that lifestyle creates. But still … I’m still more than happy to try.

Really. I don’t mind.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is a writer, wine drinker, award winner, blogger, and dreamer. Mostly of sandy beaches and blue lakes. Oh, and of living on one, one of these days…Check out her website for books and more blog posts to entertain you: http://tamilund.com