Saved from the Slump

~Buy Now~
As some of you might know, I've been on a reading slump since the beginning of the year. I don't know if it has something to do with being busy with juggling writing and editing or I just couldn't find the one that would glue me to my seat. Months went by and nothing. I started new books and promptly gave up on them. Nothing breaks my heart more. I love to read. I love to dive into a story. But for months, nothing allowed me to escape reality.

Another thing you might know about me is I'm a compulsive book buyer. I could buy several books and not read them until months in. This is what happened with Hearts in Darkness. It's a novella, so a quick read. I thought I'd give it a try. When I did, I couldn't put it down. Finally! I found a book that brought me out of my slump.

When I finished reading Hearts in Darkness, I sent an email to Laura Kaye, the author. I professed my love for her work and immediately asked if I could interview her for this blog. You might have noticed I don't do many interviews on my blog anymore. I decided if I did an interview, it would be with someone I really wanted to feature. Someone I'm passionate about. Laura graciously agreed to the interview.

Below are my questions and her wonderful answers. I decided to focus on the craft. What went into writing Hearts in Darkness. As a writer myself, I wanted to see what goes into the process of putting a story together that brings me out of a slump.

Please, enjoy!


Kate: Welcome to the blog, Laura! Thank you so much for giving us your time. It's a pleasure having you here. To starts us off, please tell us a little about Makenna and Caden beyond Hearts in Darkness. Such interesting names.

Laura: Sure! I’d be happy to! Makenna and Caden came to me as very lively characters. I knew right away he was the one with the claustrophobia, and I absolutely loved the dichotomy between his rough exterior appearance and his internal vulnerabilities. Interestingly, despite the fact that a lot of the book occurs in the dark, I saw the story very visually as I was writing it. I could see them in the darkness and knew exactly what they looked like and what they were doing the whole time.

K: That's so fascinating. I love when characters come already fully formed. How did you decide on the length of Hearts in Darkness?

L: I didn’t really decide the length of the story as much as the story dictated its length. I suppose I never expected it to be a full-length novel, but I didn’t set out to write a particular length, either. I’m a pantser rather than a plotter (i.e., I don’t outline a story before I start writing, I write by the seat of my pants…), so I always let a story and its characters guide me rather than trying to force it into a particular set of parameters unless, of course, I’m writing for a publisher’s line with very specific word count instructions.

K: I'm the same way. I believe in letting the story leave my head organically. It's so comforting to find another writer who is this way. Were you ever tempted to make it a longer book? To go beyond the elevator encounter?

L: The book does follow them outside of the elevator, back to Makenna’s apartment after they’re rescued. When I first wrote the book, I wasn’t at all tempted to expand it. The story was the story. The only reason I’m even tempted now is because so many of the fans have asked for more Caden and Makenna. But I still love HiD exactly as it ends now! *grins*

K: I would love more of them too! I’m a fan of the way you wrote this novella. How were you able to keep the whole situation happening in a few hours without making it look like a hook-up in the end?

L: I think the key technique I used to make their sexual connection feel legitimate and not rushed or cheap was deep point of view. I put the reader deep into the characters’ heads and emotions and physical responses and guided the reader step by step through what made each of them attracted to the other. Knowing the emotional makes the sexual more meaningful, and I really enjoy writing both equally.

K: Thank you so much for that insight. I love learning something new about the craft, and Makenna's and Caden's relationship did feel deep despite the circumstances and time frame. Tell us, why an elevator? And why in darkness? As opposed to other scenarios.

L: The story was always the story. I didn’t “think this up,” so to speak. The story came to me as two people trapped in a pitch-black elevator. I love forced proximity stories, where two characters are forced together and therefore have to deal with one another. And the addition of the darkness added a whole new complexity to the writing and the reading experience because it removed the possibility of physical attraction based on appearance. It was a very exciting challenge to write!

K: You removed the sense of sight, which I found brilliant. It's easy to rely on what the characters see when describing a scene. Let’s go back to the characters for a second. Why is Caden the only one with a past? What about Makenna?

L: Hmm…I think both characters do have a backstory. Makenna’s mother died when she was a very small child and was largely raised by her father and brothers, which is why she feels plain and not particularly feminine. She didn’t really learn about “girly” stuff until she hit college, and even in the present-day of the story she works in a mostly male office in a heavily male-dominated profession. So that shapes her belief about how Caden will react to her appearance, especially as she learns about his much more edgy appearance. The difference is that Caden’s backstory still impacts his present. The past is still very present in Caden’s life, in his personality, his fears, his appearance, etc., whereas Makenna was able to deal with her childhood losses in a way that don’t make them as key to her present-day views of life. Caden’s story is more prominent in the book because it leads to the phobia that is the central element animating the romantic plot—they play Twenty Questions to distract him from being trapped in the dark.

K: Beautiful! I didn't see it that way with Makenna. Thank you so much for clearing it up. I love alternating points of view in my own writing, what made you decide on alternating between Caden and Makenna?

L: This was never a question for me. Both their points of view needed to be told to get the reader to accept the growing attraction between them in such a short time. The majority of romance is written in third person alternating point of view, as well, so most of my books are structured that way.

K: Now that I think about it, you're right. A lot of the novels I've read do alternate. Last question before I let you go, do you ever get requests for a continuation of Makenna’s and Caden’s story?

L: This question is far and away the most frequently asked question I receive and has been for the past two years! *grins* It’s possible I will write more about Caden and Makenna, but I can’t say anything firm about that just yet!

K: Oh, you tease! But I look forward to anything that comes from you, Laura. You have made yourself a new fan. Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Laura. And thank you for getting me out of my reading funk. *runs off to read your Brazen titles*

L: Thanks for having me!


I love this Q&A. It really helped me get to know Laura a bit better as a writer and what her process is like. I am a writer, but first and foremost I am a reader. Finding authors to love is something that makes me really happy. 

Let's get to know Laura a little more, shall we?

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

And make sure to visit her at the following:

When you leave here today, grab a copy of Hearts in Darkness. You'll miss an awesome read if you don't!

Details on April 30

Taste Trailer on USA Today

Hi, everyone!

I just wanted to share that the Taste trailer is being featured by Robin Covington on the USA Today blog. Here's the link if you'd like to read the post:

Please share the news. 

*happy dance*


April 16, 1961

I'd like to dedicate this post to a very special woman in my life. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here today in more ways than I care to think.

On this day fifty-two years ago, a baby girl came into this world named after one of the most iconic women in Hollywood. She had a tough life growing up, but she survived everything life pushed in her way. Her story is actually the real life Cinderella.

Everyday of my life, I admire who she is. Her strength. Her kindness. Her capacity to love. I always say that if I could be a tenth of the person she is, I'd consider myself lucky.

Please take a moment to greet this wonderful woman everyone knows as Momager.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you. We love you.

Here's to many more years of love, life, and happiness.

Introducing Xavier Solomon -- the Tamara version

I'm in the middle of my second pass for Romancing the Bookworm, and everything is looking great. I love Tamara's and Xavier's story. It's something I hadn't done before. And since I'm basking in that glow, I wanted to share a snippet of their story with all of you from Tamara's point of view. I hope you enjoy it.


He looked sceptical for a second then raised both his hands. “Put your palms flat to mine.”

I did as he instructed. The warmth of his hands curled all the way to the pit of my stomach. I barely felt the rising heat from the sun, already overheated inside. I kept my eyes on his.

“Okay, I’m going to push forward. When I do, you need to relax your hands, let me push your hands back. When I stop pushing, that’s when you push back.”

We did this a couple of times. It took me several tries until I got comfortable enough with relaxing my hands when he pushed. I had to stop thinking that we touched and just go with the flow. I think that was what he meant about riding the energy of the wave.

Without saying anything more, he turned me around and pulled me against his front. I couldn’t stop the gasp that came from the skin to skin contact. I could actually feel the softness of my body fitting into the hardness of his. He put his hands on my hips and bent down until his lips touched my ear. I stiffened.

“Relax,” he soothed. How could I not melt into a puddle? Goose bumps dotted my arms. “Close your eyes and put your hands on top of mine.”


“Just do it.” He didn’t raise his voice, but I felt the force of the command there. “Just forget that there are other people around us. Relax into me.”

Even when I closed my eyes and put my hands on top of his, I didn’t relax. “Why?”

“Why what?”

I licked my lips, way too aware of how tall and muscular he was. “Why do you want me to relax?”

“Because if you don’t relax when we are on the board, if I want to maneuver, I won’t be able to unless you move with me. Remember what we were doing with our hands? That’s a trust exercise.” He nudged my feet wider apart. “Imagine yourself on a board balancing on a barrel.” He swayed from side to side, taking me with him. “If you don’t go with the flow, you’ll fall. It’s the same with being on a surfboard.”

I didn’t know if it was the rhythmic sound of his voice or the smooth way he swayed, but soon I relaxed my body to flow with his movements. Then something magical happened. I realized we actually swayed to the music. I found it so cool, I almost lost the Zen I’d found myself in.

Satisfied we could move together, Xavier patiently explained what I needed to do on the board when in the water. He made me lie flat on my front and demonstrated a paddling motion with his arms.

“I’ll be behind you paddling too,” he said. “Once the wave crests, we stand on the board.” He demonstrated the proper stance to me and I mimicked him, only a little embarrassed. Several sunbathers and surfers watched us, whispering to each other.

“Something funny?” he asked.

“No,” I said, returning my thoughts to our on-land lesson.

“You were smiling,” he insisted.

“Don’t you ever get tired of people staring at you?”

He laughed. “Come on, let’s get into the water. I think you’re ready.”

I swallowed, my eyes wide. “What? That’s it?”

“Basically. Just follow my lead and you’ll be fine. I’ll keep you safe. Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I meant.” My stomach crumpled. I hadn’t thought about my safety until he’d mentioned anything about keeping me safe. I knew how to swim, but I never tried swimming against a crashing wave before. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.”

He took off his shirt and all thoughts of being scared disappeared. I swallowed, dumbstruck at the expanse of ripped muscle. Holy sweet heaven on earth. The Xavier Experience 2.0, and I liked every bit of it.


Ready for one hot summer?

Make sure to add Romancing the Bookworm to your TBR list by clicking here. Tell your friends.

Then join my giveaway on the post below this one and get a chance to win a copy of Romancing the Bookworm.

Have a great weekend! 

2 Words Giveaway

Let's start the week right with a giveaway!

A couple weeks back, I went through my first pass edits for my New Adult novel IMPULSE to be published by Entangled under the Embrace Imprint.

During this process, I wrote two words I never thought I would ever write in my entire life. 

This is the basis for my giveaway today. 

The first person that could guess what those two words are in the comments section gets to pick any one of my books as a prize. 

Books to choose from:


The first 2 books on the list are already out. The last four are to be released one after the other starting June of this year. 

The giveaway will run until the end of the month.

You can use the rafflecopter or just go straight to the comments section with your guess. Up. To. You.  

Enter now!

Clue: Naughty (maybe even a little vulgar) *winks*

End of the Hunt

The YA Scavenger Hunt has come to an end.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated. The winners of the giveaways will be announced on Monday at the YA Scavenger Hunt website, so please check there.

It's been a fun ride.

Now it's back to work, back to work.


I may have another giveaway up my sleeve.

Stay tuned.

Ken Spillman / NBDS AFCC Subsidy

Got awesome news today and I want to share it with all of you.

A couple weeks ago, I found out about the Asian Festival of Children's Content. In connection with this event is the Ken Spillman Subsidy. Basically it's a grant that can help an author attend the festival.

I sent in my application and promptly forgot about it because of the deluge of manuscript editing that came my way. Well, this afternoon I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. Ten seconds after answering, I was basically OMG-ing my way through every question the caller asked me. It felt like winning the lottery. Seriously.

Below is the letter they sent me.

I'm grinning from ear to ear. I finally get to attend my very first conference. *happy dance*

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