*COVER REVEAL* Mythical (Mystical Series Book 2) by Michael Weekly

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Forming Lasting, Effective Critique Relationships (revisited again)

Im revisiting this post because of #CPmatch, a little Twitter party where writers can find critique partners. This is such an awesome idea. Critique partnerships are SO important in the life of a writer; not only can they help you grow as a writer, but they can help you grow as a person. Some of my CPs have turned into amazing friends. We are there to support each other through all the ups and downs of being a writer, and I know I, for one, would not have gotten published if it weren’t for them.

However, critiquing and accepting critiques is definitely an art, and forming lasting, effective critique relationships can be very difficult. I wanted to impart some of the things I’ve learned, in hopes they will resonate with and help others.

Most articles on this subject concentrate on what you should and shouldn’t do as the person receiving the critique; however I’m mostly discuss what you should and shouldn’t do as the person giving the critique. I have never seen anyone kicked out of a group for getting defensive, etc. while receiving a critique. I have, however, seen people kicked out for the way they give critiques.

I will reiterate, however, that we shouldn’t get defensive, try to “explain” the manuscript, or interrupt the critiquer while receiving a critique. We shouldn’t…but of us probably have and/or will at some point. When you feel defensive, take a deep breath and try to center yourself before responding —and you should only usually have to respond “thank you!” If it’s an online critique relationship, you often have the luxury of taking a few hours (or even a day) before responding, and you should use that time if you need it so that you can avoid damaging the relationship. If it takes you longer than that to center yourself after receiving a critique, the critique relationship needs to be examined: either the person giving or receiving has issues.

If you are a critiquer on the receiving end of a writer’s defensive tirade about your critique, at least try to give the person a second chance, because we all get defensive sometimes. Be gentle with the person, if you can. If they’re acting badly enough that you can’t, once again: the critique relationship needs to be examined.

So, here is my advice about forming good critique relationships:

1. Find Good Critique Matches

This is often the most difficult step. Even if a person writes well, and/or is published; even if they write in your same genre; even if you love them to death as a person, that doesn’t mean they’ll make a good critique partner for you (and keep in mind: learning to be a good critique partner yourself is a huge step towards finding good CPs. No matter how awesome your own writing is and how nice you are as a person, if you’re consistently off-putting with your critiques, you’ll have trouble finding CPs).

I’ve found that the best critique partners are people who:

a. Have a working knowledge of the conventions of your genre, even if they don’t write it themselves;
b. Have knowledge of the path you’re seeking to publication, whether that be through an agent, a small publisher, or self-publishing, so they can give advice not only on the writing itself, but on ways it can be made more marketable in that venue;
c. Are, of course, good critiquers, who give clear and insightful advice in a pleasant way, and;
d. Their advice resonates with the writer not ALL the time, but A LOT of the time.

You’re probably not going to find a single person, much less a whole group of people, who fit all these criteria all the time—at least not right away. But #CPmatch will increase your chances of it, as will making contacts though Twitter contests such as #QueryKombat, #pitchwars, and #SonOfAPitch!

2. Read your partners’ pieces like a reader, not a writer.

This is truly, in my opinion, the most important part of being a good critiquer. Most of the bad critiques I’ve given and received, as well as most of the problems I discuss below, stem from the critiquer’s failure to read like a reader. Instead, they read like a writer, searching for ways the writer has violated the “rules”, or for other technical flaws.

My favorite technique to avoid this problem is, I read the piece through once without stopping. I don’t make copious notes. I pretend the work is already published, and that I have no hand in changing it. If, when I’m reading, something bugs me—interrupts the flow of the narrative, or pulls me out of the story—I mark that section. I don’t give the actual critique yet, so that I don’t interrupt my reading. Then, after I’ve read it through once as a reader, I go back as a writer and try to determine what, exactly, bugged me about the passages I’d marked.

Using the above technique will prevent us from looking for things to critique, without allowing ourselves the chance to become immersed in the writer’s voice and story. We’re writers, so if we see a grammar error or that a writing “rule” has been broken, we’re going to want to mark it. However, it’s not important whether or not the writer follows the “rules”: what’s important is whether or not the writing flows, is vivid, and makes sense.

3. Always assume your critique partner is employing a technique or device intentionally.

Don’t immediately assume your CP isn’t intelligent enough to know what they’re doing. For instance, if a character speaks or acts in unexpected ways, or if the plot takes a bizarre turn, certainly point out that it caught your attention, but assume there’s a reason for it. The writer may need to make that reason clearer if it is catching readers off-guard, but if you just tell them to change that part entirely (or, worse yet, if you rewrite it yourself with your little red pen or the blaring colors of track changes), they might get defensive and think you don’t “get” their writing. They might either dismiss your critique,  or try to explain it to you instead of making revisions that might make their writing better while still adhering to their vision. Because we know we all can get riled up like a bull when we see all that red in our manuscripts.

4. Don’t give style critiques.

This is tricky, because from our subjective points of view, there’s a fine line between a style we don’t enjoy and what would simply be considered bad writing.

For instance, some people are very descriptive. This style was more in vogue in ye olden days; Dumas could spend three paragraphs describing the embroidery on a minor character’s doublet. He also gratuitously employed deux ex machina, and the most dramatic, ridiculous cliffhangers known to man.
There are very few serious critics that would say Dumas is a bad writer. However, if you write in his style nowadays, you’ll likely be laughed out of the room. Is this right or wrong?

Well, both. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell a critique partner that, in your opinion, their descriptions are slowing their pacing. But, do try to be objective about each piece, and ask yourself: is this a type of writing that someone else might enjoy? We can all probably agree that a writer doesn’t need to describe the arrangement and appearance of every piece of furniture in the house. Nor is it advisable to introduce the reader to every character with a long list of physical and personal attributes, accompanied by a heaping portion of backstory. But I’ve read page-long character descriptions that I thought worked within the context of the story’s voice and structure, and that the writer managed to make interesting and compelling. It all depends on who’s reading and who’s writing.

Similarly, short sentences are in fashion lately; but have you ever read anything by Charles Dickens? That man could write a sentence that twisted like a mile-long rollercoaster track. And he was good at it.

Also: sentence fragments. Some people use them to great effect. Others, not so much, perhaps.

There is no right or wrong way to write. Even if a person’s style isn’t fashionable at the moment, or isn’t to your taste, that doesn’t mean they need to change it (and, once a writer’s style has matured to a certain point, they probably can’t really change it much, anyway). All you can do is humbly tell the writer when something isn’t working for you. If they continue to write in that style, don’t harp on the same issues, group after group. Look for other ways in which the writer might grow in skill, and help them to become the best writer they can be, while staying true to their personal style. If you really just think someone’s style is terrible, though…or if they’re what you would term a terrible writer, and are making no progress in improving…the critique match may not be a good one. However, I have never had a CP whose writing hasn’t improved over time. It takes longer for some than others, but I LOVE watching my friends get better at writing (I hope they feel the same way about me). It’s a beautiful process to watch, and learn from, because sometimes a person’s style grows on me, and I’m able to grow as a critiquer when I watch it develop: it helps me to see the difference between a style I don’t care for and what is simply bad writing, and I’m able to apply that knowledge to my own writing, as well as to other critiques.

5. Don’t apply writing “rules” arbitrarily.

I cannot say this enough: it is never, ever a valid critique to say, “You should take this out/change this because it violates [writing rule].” There are no true rules to writing. Adages like “Show Don’t Tell”, “Don’t Use Passive Voice”, and “The Road to Hell is Paved with Adverbs” exist because they will, indeed, make your writing better if you are mindful of them. But—and I have seen this happen many, many times—they can also make your writing worse if they’re applied indiscriminately, and can cause much frustration and confusion if you apply them arbitrarily and without elaboration in your critiques.

So say, for instance, that you get a piece from a CP that starts off with the main character waking up. It goes through her whole routine of getting dressed (with lengthy descriptions of each clothing item and where it was purchased). It rambles on about her making breakfast, tells you how she likes her eggs, then has her sitting there, sipping coffee, and recollecting a huge fight she’d had the night before with her mother. It tells you, furthermore, that the fight occurred because the main character is a very stubborn and willful person, and her mother is condescending and cruel.

This, of course, breaks a billion writing “rules”. It’s not a helpful critique, though, to just chant, “Show Don’t Tell, Don’t Info-Dump or Frontload with Backstory, Don’t Give Unnecessary Details,” etc. Instead, tell the writer why the piece didn’t work for you. Get to the reasons why the “writing rules” exist in the first place.

In this example, you could say, “The beginning didn’t really hook me. The pacing was off, because there are details included that might not be important to the plot or character development—like, unless her egg preference is important later in the story, you don’t need to include it now. You might want to show us the fight with the mother (if it’s important to the plot), instead of telling us about it. That way, you can show us through dialogue and action that the characters are willful and condescending, etc., instead of saying it. That method of character development makes people more invested in your characters.”

You need to tell the writer why the piece isn’t working—not just that it has broken the rules. One reason for this is that if you simply tell a writer things like, “Don’t info-dump,” they might not be entirely clear on what info they’re dumping (even seasoned writers can have blind spots about this sort of thing sometimes). Additionally, if the info is something the reader needs to know, the writer might dismiss your critique as you just not understanding their story. They may not realize that what you meant by “don’t info-dump” is that the pacing at the beginning was off for you, and they need to work that necessary information in a different way, or in a different place. You will both have missed an opportunity for that person to grow as a writer.

Breaking a writing “rule” means nothing if the why doesn’t occur; I have read pieces that begin a lot like the one I described above, but it was actually compelling for me. If I had been on the lookout for broken writing “rules”, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get lost in the story, and I might not have realized that the pacing was fine and that the writing was good, despite the broken “rule”.

The same concept applies for things like use of adverbs and adjectives. Some writers overuse them in early drafts, but some of them add to the writing, and are consistent with the writer’s style. Do not cross adjectives or adverbs unless they are redundant and unnecessary—unless the adjective or adverb was already implied by the dialogue or narrative (or could be with slight revision).

I also want to talk about passive voice: I have seen so much confusion (and have been confused) by people saying, “Don’t use passive voice,” when there is none in the piece. For instance:

The hat was worn.
This is passive voice. The person/thing doing the action is unknown or hidden. This sentence should be changed to “Sally wore the hat,” unless there is a compelling reason why the reader should not know who is wearing the hat.

Sally was wearing the hat.
This is NOT passive. “Was wearing” is past continuous tense, and you could cause a lot of confusion and frustration by calling it passive. Some people are also against using the continuous tenses, but be sure you don’t misspeak and cause confusion.

Also: “Kill your Darlings”. I have seen this adage wielded like a weapon, seemingly to get writers to cut out all the best bits of their work. The point of “Kill your Darlings” is not to homogenize your writing and remove all traces of personal style, unorthodox writing, and character voice. The point is, you shouldn’t be averse to removing a particularly good or clever bit of writing if it is unnecessary to the story and interrupts the flow of the narrative. If it adds to the narrative, even if just to set the scene or develop a character more vividly, you should probably leave it (depending, as always, on context).

In summation, when you apply any writing “rule” indiscriminately, you run the risk of making the writer feel like you’re lecturing them on basic writing techniques, and of having them walk away with no clear idea of how to improve the piece.

6. Don’t waste too much time on formatting issues, nitpicking “nonstandard” usages, or even correcting grammar.

This one is hard for some people. We are writers, after all, and our eye starts twitching if someone neglects to use an Oxford comma, or thinks “alright” is a word, not to mention the catastrophe of misusing “there, their, they’re”.

I once was in a group with a man who gave me an impassioned fifteen-minute lecture every time I used the three-dot ellipsis format. He insisted that, if ellipses come at the end of a sentence, they should have three periods followed by the sentence’s natural punctuation. I finally gave in, since I was tired of listening to him. Then, when I signed with Limitless Publishing for Love or Money and The Other Place series, they had me change all my ellipses back to the three-dot format. Imagine my joy.

There are many different style guides and schools of thought with regard to things like punctuation, formatting, and formal usages. If someone subscribes to a different school than you, it’s not your duty to evangelize them. (I’ll come out of the closet here and say that I use “alright” often, especially in dialogue. I know it’s nonstandard in the U.S., but I have very good reasons for doing it. If you nitpick this fact in group, you and I are going to spend the whole two hours arguing, because we’re writers, and these are the things we care about. Don’t let it happen, people).

Additionally, while part of the function of a critique group is to catch the odd grammar snafu here and there, it is not its purpose to teach grammar to any of its members. If someone is a chronic grammar-offender, point out the nature of their transgressions once, and perhaps direct them to an online or community college course. Then let it drop so we don’t spend the whole allotted time blathering on about that shit.

Advice on How to Apply Critiques
Now that we’ve covered how to be a good critiquer, let’s talk about how to apply critiques.

It is sometimes difficult to absorb the (sometimes conflicting) advice we get from critiquers, and to apply it to our work. My method is this: I listen politely (or with relative politeness—my natural baseline of rudeness is pretty high) to all critiques. If I’m having particular problems with a piece, I will gather dozens and dozens of different critiques. I will never prompt a critiquer by telling them what my specific worries are, because that can make them look for that problem and find it, even if they wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. (I do, however, sometimes ask leading questions after they’ve given their critique, to fish out any issues they may have that they didn’t think important enough to mention).

Then, I weigh the advice based on the following criteria:

1. Did the advice resonate with me? That is, did it make sense and seem like good advice?

2. Did more than one critiquer have a similar issue? Or, did they have different issues, but with the same section?

3. Is the critiquer a member of the target audience for my piece?

It’s usually best to address these questions a few days after the critique, after it’s had a chance to sink in and any butthurt has healed so we can look at it objectively.

Even if the advice doesn’t resonate with you, you might want to reconsider applying it anyhow if more than one person had the same opinion. And if a certain section is bugging a lot of people, even if they state different reasons as to why, it’s probable that you should revise that section, one way or another.

Even if your critiquer isn’t in your target audience, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid opinion about your work. But it can make certain types of advice less trustworthy. For instance, when that 80-year-old who only writes technical pieces tells you that “you can’t have characters in a YA novel use foul language”, or “teenagers don’t talk/act like that”, you can safely ignore them. And perhaps laugh at them behind their backs, although that’s kind of mean.

Thus concludes my long list of advice. Do you have any other advice or experiences you’d like to share? Please comment below, because non-spam blog comments make me giggle and bounce in my seat with happiness.

THE HUSTLE GIVEAWAY!!

Hello, wonderful people! My second publication, The Hustle releases on 5/31, and I’m really excited! If you want to win a free Kindle copy, I’m running a giveway.

Entering is easy: Just follow this blog, like my Facebook author page, and follow me on Twitter. Then, leave a comment on this post telling me you’ve entered. On release day, I’ll pick an entry via Rafflecopter and notify the person via this blog.

I know you will love this book, but a summary  of The Hustle as well as its sequel The Other Place (which releases 7/5) can be found here on my webpage, if you want to see if the books are your cup of tea.

Thank you for your support!

*RELEASE BLITZ* Breaking Down Sydney by Brittney Coon

“Sometimes love follows you home…”
★★NOW AVAILABLE★★★
BREAKING DOWN SYDNEY by Brittney Coon

A Sydney West Novel, Book 2


★ SYNOPSIS 

Sydney West’s new relationship might
have survived Malibu, but her transformation from party girl to girlfriend
isn’t complete…

Sydney is back in Arizona, and with the fall semester at her doorstep,
doubts about her so-called summer love start to plague her. A good girl can
only stay good for so long. Jason King changed her and made her wonder if love
was real. But now, far from his charm, and with the party scene on campus in
full swing, the magic is fading…



Jason isn’t willing to let distance drive
a wedge between them…

A surprise reunion and a romantic cabin getaway is enough to reignite their
summertime spark, but Sydney isn’t convinced this whole monogamous,
meeting-your-parents thing Jason wants is possible. No boy has ever met her
mother. Then, when a sudden family tragedy strikes, it sends her spiraling into
her old habits of booze and boys.



Sydney can only hide from her past
for so long…

In the fog of drowning her sorrows, Sydney realizes her former party
lifestyle won’t make her happy. Her one-night stands ended with Jason. As much
as she wants to believe in that far-fetched fairytale ending, she’s afraid if
Jason finds out about all her summer boys, he will abandon her just like her
father did.

Jason refuses to settle for the superficial shell Sydney keeps between them,
though, and is determined to…

 
Break
Down Sydney once and for all.
 
★ PURCHASE ★ 
★ DO YOU HAVE BOOK 1? 
*~Buy SHADES OF
SYDNEY~*
★ BRITTNEY COON 
Brittney Coon graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a minor in Film and Media Production. Brittney has always been creative and turned to writing to share the stories playing through her head. In her spare time she reads, watches Friends, attends rock concerts, and hangs out with her cats. She currently lives in Arizona.
★ Follow Brittney 

*RELEASE BLITZ* Warning Signs by Alexandra Moore

 

WARNING SIGNS by Alexandra Moore

Broken Promises Series #2

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Release Date: May 10, 2016

— SYNOPSIS —

After spending two years on the run following an assault that nearly took her life, Bea Morrison returns home…

But home isn’t how she left it. Her mother is ailing with dementia and now lives with her brother, Ben. Even Ben isn’t the same. An incredibly famous rock star, he is bitter and angry over Bea’s self-inflicted exile. But Bea can’t explain why she left—it’s impossible to describe what living with PTSD means, and how her life has turned into hell.

But that’s not the only issue that’s kept Bea away for so long…

A deep depression has taken possession of her, to the point that getting out of bed becomes a chore. The relentless paparazzi chasing Ben’s fame only heighten her anxiety. And family secrets are far from dead and buried. It takes just one meeting with an old friend, Splinter Nightingale, to make her path clear—move to Connecticut, attend college, and start an ordinary life.

Her plan for a semi-normal life is going fine—until she meets Professor David Long…

It isn’t long until David shows an interest in Bea, and soon after, interest turns to obsession. Fearing for her safety, Bea sees everything falling to pieces. And right when she finds a way out, she vanishes a second time…and not by choice.

Bea must find something worth fighting for, or she will face death yet again. This time she may not make it back alive…

— PURCHASE —

— BROKEN PROMISES SERIES —

 

— ABOUT THE AUTHOR —

 

 

My name is Alexandra Moore. I’ve been creating stories since I could talk. I’ve been putting them onto paper since I could write. Writing books is my dream and my passion, alongside with rescuing African Pygmy Hedgehogs, retired race Greyhounds, French Bulldogs, and other various animals I’m probably allergic too.

I’m convinced I’m the blood of the dragon, and the Mother of Dragons.

When I’m not watching GoT, I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy (again) on Netflix, and crying over all the MerDer feels. I also spend time with my Boston Terrier Tank and my boyfriend. Both are my cuddle buddies, and I’m afraid the dog is around more often. I don’t bite (unless provoked) so feel free to tweet at me, or leave a comment on one of my InstaPics. I can’t wait until my book is in print, and to share my thoughts with the rest of the world.

– Social Media Links –

Five Things Every Writer Needs to Know to Get Published

I have the great pleasure and honor of being a Query Kombat judge this year. This time last year I was the girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, looking at the table of cool kids (the judges and contest organizers), daydreaming that one day they’d mosey over and ask me to sit with them. Since then, I’ve landed a couple of publishing contracts. The cool kids didn’t actually ask me to sit with them, but when I got up the courage to inquire if they had a seat for me they said yes!

I’m new to being a published author – just starting out on this journey. My first novel was published on 1/12/16, and I have a contract on a series with the first installment releasing  on 5/31/16 and the second on 7/5/16. This time next year, a lot of you will have agent and/or publishing contracts. For some of you, Query Kombat will be what lands you that contract. Regardless, each and every participant will learn something from the contest that will put them closer to that goal.

So, in the spirit of this contest, I’m going to do one of those Five Things Every Writer Needs to Know to Get Published columns. I know there are a billion blogs with similar lists out there, but this business is hard, and writers need as much encouragement as possible. I know that I personally go through periods where I compulsively read author success stories and advice columns to keep my spirits up and visualize how one day that could be me with the bestselling novel.

Before I was an author, I was a working musician. A lot of this advice comes from what I’ve observed growing up and living in the music scene, because any sort of artistic career is hard, and a lot of the same advice applies no matter which discipline you’re involved in. So I don’t know if I have wisdom, but I do have long experience.

So, here we go:

1. Believe in yourself.

It is likely going to be a longer road than you’d like. Even once you have that contract, you have to find your audience, build a platform, and keep writing books in order to keep your audience. It’s hard work, and no matter how much you love it, there are probably going to be times when you want to scream and cry and perhaps drink heavily. For instance, when a critique partner tells you to change everything you love about your book; when you get another agent rejection; or when a reader leaves you a snotty one-star review.

When that stuff happens, go ahead and do your primal screaming and slug down some wine, as long as sobriety isn’t one of your probation requirements. But keep believing in yourself. Don’t necessarily get thick skin, because that isn’t always compatible with being an artist. Nor should you probably believe you’re always right and every one of your critics is always wrong. But you should know that no matter how many harsh critiques, rejections, and bad reviews come your way, you still have a valid vision. You are still a good writer. And you will always have some new and beautiful thing to offer the artistic community that no one else can. So absorb and/or disregard that criticism and rejection and let it strengthen your writer spine.

2. Work at becoming the very best at what YOU do.

Notice I don’t say to work at becoming the very best, period. You have your own brand of creativity, your own voice. Develop that, hone it, own it, and take joy in it. Flaunt it for the world, and let other people see the incredible awesomeness that you are.

Notice I also don’t say to simply become the very best at what you do. No one should ever stop learning and striving to be better, to learn more, or discover some new aspect of their art. If you do, you’ll likely get bored and stagnate. So work at it, and keep working.

3. Writing is work, but it’s also play.

Writing is endless work. You don’t just write a book and then you’re done. It’s a full-time job which can become a career if you keep at it. It’s also, in my opinion, the bestest, most fun-diddly-unnest job in the world…even at the times when it’s not.

Sometimes writing is a slog, and sometimes you get so lost in your story that it’s shocking when other people look at it as a commodity. There will likely be times when you forget that it’s work, or that it’s play, or both, and that’s okay. But try to remember both so that you can keep going.

You will have probably have people tell you that writing isn’t a real job. They might tell you to grow up, stop dreaming, and get a nice job in industry. They might say that if you were a real artist, you’d keep doing it no matter how hard it gets and even though you are getting paid jack. In fact, some people will tell you bullcrap like art belongs to all of us and so you should give your books away for free. Most of those people are either idiots, misinformed…or just jealous. After all, most people can’t do what we do, or at any rate, they don’t. The people who say they’d write a book if they had the time—well, there are 24 hours in the day for each and every one of us. We’ve written books, and they haven’t. They can hate all they want. We’ll keep writing (and also see above about the screaming and drinking).

Conversely, there are people who will try to tell you, or sell you books about, how to carefully craft a slam-dunk bestselling novel based on market trends. That $hit might work for someone, but…whatever. I believe books should be born of passion and imagination, and not be something we crank out mechanically purely to make money. Having an eye on what sells is one thing, but that shouldn’t be the only consideration.

4. Make friends in the writing community.

I’m the worst person in the world at meeting people, but I’ve made so many wonderful friends by joining writers’ groups, joining contests, and trolling writing hashtags on Twitter. Follow other writers, agents, and editors. Learn from them, support them, and let them support you. Writing can be a very lonely thing sometimes, but we’re really all in this together. Writing buddies can be critique partners, mentors, and part of your street team when you’re published. Agents and editors are a wealth of information, and they’re generally nice people.

Entering Query Kombat is a great way to get involved in this community. If you’re new to it, welcome. If you’re a veteran, it’s nice to see you!

5. Keep writing.

This goes without saying, and everyone says it, but it bears repeating: the only thing that all published authors have in common is they didn’t give up. There is a path for each and every single writer to publication, and you will find it, as long as you keep writing.

Those are my five things. I can’t wait to get to know all of you through Query Kombat! 

*REVIEW AND RELEASE BLITZ* ALL OVER YOU by Ayden Morgen

I had the privilege of reviewing an ARC of All Over You by Ayden Morgen.

Ms. Morgen is an expert writer. Her characters are well-rounded and believable, and her love scenes hot and beautifully-written. I really felt like I was living in Ivy’s skin – and I liked the fact that she frustrated me by being so good, because that kept me reading. And Cam was sexy and dominant without being a jerk or creepy. He was also really smart and driven. I wanted him to take care of me, too 😀

The plot is exquisitely suspenseful, and never tiresome. She keeps the pace going, while still setting beautiful scenes.

My favorite part was the antagonist: the villain here was a nuanced character. I understood why they did what they did on a very human level, even though it was completely evil. This wasn’t a blindly, mindlessly horrible antagonist: it was a real person, who did some crazy and terrible things. I see so little of very human, realistic villains in books, and so it makes me giddy when I find one.

My only complaint with this book was that the San Francisco she described didn’t catch the vibe of the San Francisco I know. Also, some of the nuances and procedural issues with regard to the courts and jails were iffy (though these vary through jurisdictions) but I’m just being a nerd here—none of this will bother most anyone else, and didn’t truly affect my enjoyment of the story.
I highly recommend this one for those who love romantic suspense and good, hot love scenes.



A detective is about to take down a kindergarten teacher, one dirty word at a time…


All Falls Down Series (Standalone)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 1st, 2016
Cover Designer: Jada
D’Lee Designs

Ivy Kendall’s only plan for
her life was to teach, but then it all fell apart…


When Rory Clark disappears from UCLA after a lengthy online relationship with a
“catfish” pretending to be Ivy, the sassy former model turned
kindergarten teacher is forced to dive headfirst into the mystery in order to
clear her name. The catfishing phenomenon meets good, old-fashioned police work
when Cameron Lewis, a bossy San Francisco detective with a dominant streak,
offers to help her uncover the awful truth about her stolen identity and Rory’s
disappearance.

They’ve barely scratched the
surface when Ivy is charged with a murder she swears she didn’t commit.

As the evidence against her piles up and the intense attraction between her and
Cameron deepens, Ivy wants nothing more than to lean on the tattooed detective.
He’s already seen her at her worse. Now she has to find the courage to trust
him with her heart. But how can she when she’s terrified doing so will
ruin his career?

Her greatest fear becomes
reality when the ugly truth is revealed and their lives come tumbling down
around them.
 

Betrayed by the one person she never suspected, Ivy makes a reckless decision
that puts her in the sights of a murderer and jeopardizes Cameron’s career. He
will do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves…even if that means
becoming a killer himself.
 
Will he be
able to reach her before it’s too late, or will Rory’s catfish take more than
just one life?


All Over You
 is a
completely standalone sister novel to the All
Falls Down
 duo, intended for
readers aged 18 and over.


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“Morning,”
Detective Lewis says, leaning against the doorjamb with a cup of coffee in each
hand and a smirk on his face. He’s dressed casually today, in jeans and a dark
t-shirt. His tattoos once again peek from beneath his sleeves. He’s foregone
shaving. The scruff on his face makes him even hotter than usual. He’s all
rough and rugged, and what is he doing here?
“What
are you doing here?”
He throws
his head back and laughs at me, the wicked sound making my belly flip.
His laugh
is incredible.
Before I
can decide if I’m offended he’s laughing at me, confused that he’s here, or
happy to see him again, he straightens up and holds out a cup of coffee like a
peace offering.
“Wasn’t
sure how you take it,” he says, his hungry gaze running up and down my
body. Desire flares in his eyes as he takes in my tank top and tiny shorts,
turning them that same dark, stormy gray from yesterday. “But I’m thinking
you got about as much sleep as I did last night, so it’s strong.”
I take the
proffered coffee, gaping at him.
“You
gonna invite me in?” He cocks a brow at me, smirking again.
“Didn’t
think I needed to,” I grumble, lifting the cup to my nose and inhaling the
rich scent. “You didn’t wait around for an invite yesterday.”
He narrows
his eyes on me, clearly not amused by the sarcastic edge to my comment, but I’m
not nearly awake enough to heed the warning inherent in that look.
“Sure,
Detective Lewis,” I enthuse loudly, holding the door open wide for him and
rolling my eyes. “Come on in.”
He steps
inside, crowding me even though there’s plenty of room for him to go around me.
My nipples immediately pucker as his scent wraps around me. God, why does he
have to smell so divine? I can’t deal with him smelling that good this early in
the morning, especially not with those tattoos on display.
He crowds
closer, until he’s right up in my personal space, his breath washing across the
side of my neck. “Dreamed about that smart mouth all night,” he
mutters right beside my ear. “So don’t fuck with me if you don’t want me
giving you something to fill it with, kitten.”
Jesus. That mouth. That filthy, sexy mouth.
A shiver
rolls down my spine, and a little whimper escapes my lips.
He hums as
if he’s satisfied by my reaction and steps away, giving me room to pull the
door closed. I take a moment to turn the deadbolt, trying to marshal my
thoughts before I face him again.
What is he
doing here?
And why is
he so fascinated with my mouth and filling it?



Ayden lives
in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart/husband of twelve years,
and their five furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking,
reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army. Ayden
graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in
Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete
her graduate degree in CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in
the social services and CJ field. 


Ayden also writes Young and New Adult fantasy under the penname A.K. Morgen.


You can find her on 
TwitterFacebook, or via her website
at 
http://aydenmorgen.com.


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