Capture Me Sneak Peek

He picked up the bouquet of roses and tossed them into the trash bin near the TV. Then, still holding his beer, he gathered what he needed and dropped them into his bag. He thought he was smarter than that. He had been certain he wouldn’t let emotions get in the way. She was just a girl. Just a stupid, naïve, pain-in-the-ass–

“What are you doing?” Startled, Logan spun towards the bathroom door, spilling his beer in the process. Foam poured over the top, running down his shirt and onto the floor. He set it down on the TV stand, shaking the droplets of booze from his fingers. Kass stood in front of him, dressed in Levi’s and a tank top, drying her brown hair between the folds of a towel. On her chest, where the top didn’t cover her skin, droplets of water clung to her skin. At first, he didn’t know what to say. He’d expected her to be long gone. And yet, here she was, standing in front of him. Still here.

And she was smiling.

“I thought you’d left,” he said. It was all he could think of to say as she dropped the towel onto the floor and ran her fingertips through her hair. Then she crossed the room, peering into the waste bin. She reached in and pulled the bouquet out.

“Who are these for?”

“Uh. I–” The words he couldn’t say felt heavy on his tongue. He picked up the bottle of beer and took a swig, wishing it was a flask of whiskey instead. Some liquid courage would serve him well right about now. He turned away from her. “You, I guess.”

She said nothing, only put her nose in the buds and smelled the flowers like it was the most natural thing in the world. Logan sat down on the bed and watched her, taken by the way she moved across the room, the way her hips sashayed and her wet hair clung to her cheeks.

“Are you going to offer me a beer?” she asked. Before he could respond, she leaned over him and reached for a Bud. She smelled only of hotel shampoo and soap, but it caught him off guard, anyway. His fingers twitched as he fought the urge to reach up and touch her skin. As she straightened up, he caught sight of her cleavage peeking through the top.

“Christ.” He stood up abruptly, nearly knocking the bottle out of her hand as he did so. Kass stared at him, taken aback.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

Logan stared at her, eying her up and down, and then lifted the bottle in his hand and pointed it at her. “Why are you still here? Why haven’t you left?”

He watched her pop the cap off her beer and take a drink. She looked down at her hands, and her shoulders rose and fell slightly.

“I don’t know, Logan. I don’t have an answer for you.”

“Bullshit.” He set his beer down again, irritation boiling in his chest. “I gave you an out, Kass. I gave you an out, and you didn’t take it.” He crossed the room, taking her face in his hands. She met his eyes, but he couldn’t read the story behind the pain. “Why didn’t you leave?”

A tear appeared in the corner of one eye, and she tried to pull her head away, but he forced her to stand still.

“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I don’t know why I’m still here, Logan.” She yanked away from him with surprising strength and backed up. Her hands were trembling. She sat down on the edge of one of the beds, cradling the beer between her legs. Then she looked up, meeting his eyes once more. He saw the confliction in her expression, hidden behind the stillness of her face.

“I hoped you would have an answer for that.”

Something To Be

I haven’t posted here in a while, so I figured an update might not be too bad, for those who care.

Things are pretty good for the most part. For the last few months, I’d been insanely busy working from home as a manager for a ghostwriting company. I loved my job, even though they paid me shit, and I was excited to see it take off. I loved the clients and the team and I learned a lot while I worked there. A couple of weeks ago I had to get a second work-from-home job as an assistant (essentially doing the same thing I was doing for my first company) just to supplement my income. I enjoyed both jobs and did them both well until my first company up and fired me for taking the second job. (They didn’t say that was the reason, per say, but the timing was awfully convenient.)

These things happen, I suppose, and I was pretty torn up about it until I got on my computer the next day to NOT work and ended up writing 10k words on my own WIP in two days. It was exhilarating, and enforced the belief that everything happens for a reason.

There hasn’t been much news one way or the other on my novels; one agent that had both of my drafts when MIA, like, 10 months ago. No joke. A few agents have some drafts, some fulls, and some partials. It’s a lot of the same stuff that comes back, as it has for years . . .

“Loved it, but…”

“The premise is amazing, but…”

“You have such talent, but…”

“I already represent a book like this, so…”

And on and on. Some feedback is helpful, some isn’t, but that’s the nature of the business and every writer/aspiring author feels the exact same way.

So, I’m keeping myself busy trying to finish this WIP of mine, Ladder One. It’s a favorite premise of mine, personally, and was inspired by some of my (very minimal) experiences here in Pocatello. Here’s a blurb, just to get you excited:

Becoming the first female firefighter in a small-town, conservative fire department full of egotistical men should be something to be proud of, but Hallie has never felt so rejected. The men don’t want her there, and neither does anyone else. With the taunts, harassment, and dangerous situations she keeps finding herself in, sometimes quitting sounds like the only way out. It’s even harder when the townspeople themselves see her as a hussy for wanting to do a man’s job.

Fortunately, Hallie has someone on her side: their captain, Tate Becker. Handsome, kind, and charming, Hallie isn’t sure she’d make it there without Tate’s support, especially when her fiancé Jeremy doesn’t even want to hear about her day.

As Hallie fights for acceptance into this testosterone-riddled, tight-knit crew—all while defending her reputation to the town and her to own family–she finds that the only person she wants to be around anymore is Tate. Too bad she’s engaged, and he’s dating another department’s jealous paramedic.

When Hallie is nearly killed during a rescue mission, Tate isn’t the only one who starts to see Hallie as much more than just an intrusive female in their all-boys club. Just as she’s starting to fit in, the squad finds that a hidden arsonist is responsible for these treacherous fires they keep responding to—and it’s possibly one of their very own.

Hallie is framed, and trust begins to shatter. Someone wants her gone, and they’re making it clear. Proving her innocence and getting her crew to trust her again means finding the real culprit, even if it kills her.

Fire isn’t the only thing heating up this department, and time is running out; possibly for all of them.

So it’s a romance, because a good romance book is my jam, and it should be a great read by the time it’s polished up pretty. Here’s an excerpt that you’re welcome to skip over if you just don’t care (I won’t be offended, promise):

All I could see was darkness. A black hole that enveloped me, dragged me in. Smoke was everywhere, a dank, murky smoke that blended with the dark walls and consumed the space around me. Orange flames flickered from above and below, licking the ashy surface of what once was a hardwood floor.

      I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the vent of the oxygen to reassure me. Every step had to count, because any step could be the last one I took.

      The steps groaned and creaked below my feet, smoke slithering around my feet and ankles, a mere warning for what was to come. The first floor was clear of flames, but the rest of the building wasn’t. The higher up I climbed, the thicker the smoke became.

      Tate’s voice came over the radio as I planted my step firmly on the second floor. One hand gripped the rickety handrail, the other reaching out in front of me to feel my way across the floor. I could only tread lightly, carefully, and not rush; rushing across this floor could mean a collapse that would likely kill me and send down any other firefighter relying on the burning floor to keep them alive.

      “Hallie, do you copy?” Tate’s voice was garbled, tone blended with the static of the radio.

      “I’m here,” I said, my words coming in out in what felt like no more than a whisper.

      “I want you—turn-aroun—come back—o . . . do you copy?”

      “Sorry, sir, you’re breaking up.”

      “Hal–,”

      I couldn’t turn back, not now, not when I was already here. Somewhere in the building, I could hear someone’s distress alarm beeping. My heart caught in my throat, knowing that however long that alarm had been going off equated to however long one of my crew had been down. It seemed to be coming from another floor up, maybe two.

      Taking another steadying breath, I made my way across the floor, carefully avoiding the growing areas of flames creeping up the walls. Through the black smoke, I felt around for the second stairwell and found the first step, hesitating for a moment to make sure it hadn’t burned through yet. The higher I climbed, the more possibility of damage that—in a single collapse—could efficiently bring the entire building down on top of us.

      I was halfway up the stairs when the beeping grew louder. I was getting close, hopefully, close enough that I could get those men out of there in time . . . if I wasn’t already too late.

      The steps groaned beneath my weight, shifting a bit with each step I took. I had both hands braced on either side of the railing, praying to whatever higher power there was that we would all make it out of here alive.

      “Kyle?” I shouted. My voice seemed engulfed by the smoke, as though the fire in the building was actively resisting my mission to save my people. “Porter?”

      There was no response, nothing but the frantic beep of the emergency device. I took another step, and somewhere near me, the sharp, horrifying sound of splintering wood reached my ears. I stopped where I was, catching my breath, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for the inevitable collapse.

      It didn’t come.

      “Jesus,” I breathed. It took me another couple of seconds to settle my racing heart, but I knew I couldn’t stand there for long. If I didn’t find Kyle and Porter and get us the hell out of that building, we’d all die soon. There was no escaping it.

      “Kyle,” I called again. “It’s Hallie. Can you hear me?” I took another step, and then another. My hands gripped the railings with desperate terror, but it didn’t matter what I was holding; if the building went down, no railing would save my life.

      One more step and I was there, standing unsteadily at the top of the third floor. There was no seeing through the smoke, but the flames had nearly engulfed the entire third floor. And there, lying in the middle of flames, either dead or unconscious, was Kyle.

      My first reaction was to rush to his side, but if there was ever a time to take it slow, it was now. The flames were growing, gnawing through the wood floors with unrelenting wrath. We were closer to the danger zone that I had been any moment before this one. Above us, the flames had already eaten through the floor, and it was then that I realized the floor had given way beneath him. Soon, this floor would collapse too . . . how soon was unknown.

      “Kyle, it’s Harper,” I said, still as a statue. “Can you hear me?”

      There was no response or movement. I’d have to risk putting my own weight next to his and simply hope and pray that the floor wouldn’t give way and send us falling to our deaths.

      “I should have expected that you would be the result of my inevitable death,” I said out-loud, taking a step towards him. “And here we are, inside a burning building—without Porter, I noticed—and your ass is being saved by the one person you simply can’t stand. Oh, the irony.”

      Wood cracked beneath me. I stopped, breath catching in my throat. When it didn’t give way immediately, I continued, dodging flames while trying to see through the black smoke that wrapped me in a suffocating cocoon.

      “Kyle, please don’t die,” I said, lowering myself next to his still body. “I know we’re not best friends, but I could use a morale boost at work.” My hands shook as I gently rolled him over, onto his back. For a split second of utter terror, I was sure he was dead, and that I was too late. Then his eyes flickered open under the mask of his suit, and he stared up at me.

      “It’s about time,” he muttered. Laughing hysterically, I reset his PDA and helped him sit up.

      “Where’s Porter?”

      “He went back to get help,” Kyle said, wincing. “Are you the help?”

      “You can call me Hallie. I thought he was in here with you. Are you hurt?”

      “Would you be hurt if you fell through a floor?”

      “I can make it hurt worse, if that’s what you want,” I snapped. Grunting under his weight, I helped Kyle to his feet. His leg was injured, I didn’t know how badly, but I didn’t have much time to wonder how in the hell we were going to make it safely back down the stairs on his bum leg, because the first step we took set off a series of events that I never in my entire life thought I’d have to face.

      It was the sound of splintering wood that braced me for what was coming next. I knew Kyle heard it, too, because his grip on my shoulder instantly tightened.

      “Hurry,” I breathed, but it was no use. Another crack like a gunshot vibrated through the air, and the floor beneath our feet cracked and splintered. The last thing I saw was the malicious read and orange flames lapping at our feet as the floor gave way beneath us.

Other than that, my little family is doing well. Husband is still working hard to keep us above water, and our darling tiny human just gets cuter every day. We intend to buy a house this year, preferably by this summer, even. That will be nice, I’m pretty tired of renting.

I’ll try to post here more, just for those who are interested.

Be good to each other, guys.

(P.s. here’s a pic of my family in Vegas. Just for something fun.)

20171017_113227

 

Here’s some fun news…

As many of you know, I’ve been writing for a long time. Like, a really long time. I’ve tried time and time again to get an agent and land a book deal and get rich and essentially just be JK Rowling.

But that didn’t happen. What happened instead was, I found an agent, she loved my book, she worked for a legitimate agency, and then right before my book went on submission, she dropped her clients to be a full-time mom.

So, there I was again, lost in the slush with a heavy heart and nowhere to go.

Sadly (or not so sadly), this is not an agent news post. There will be no jumping up and down and screaming and crying because I finally found an agent who loves my writing as much as I do and now I’M FINALLY THERE.

No, this is a, “I’m taking this shit into my own hands” post. This is a, “My writing is good, I’m not the only one who thinks so, and I’m tired of waiting” post. This is a, “I’m going to get my work in the hands of people without an agent” post.

After waiting for (it will be 6 months at the end of this month) an agent to get back to me about two books she has, I’ve finally said—in the words of Stephen King—fuggedaboutit!

It’s come to my attention that becoming an indie publisher is growing more and more popular with each coming day. I know multiple authors, in fact, who are cutting ties with their agents to go indie. The more research I did, the more I found how successful people can be in the self-publishing world . . . sometimes even more successful than the traditional way!

My debut Romantic Suspense novel, Capture Me, will be out on Amazon on May 15, 2018. I have the help of so many wonderful people on my side, people who are helping me get the word out and prepare for the release. Until then, you’ll be seeing teasers, a cover reveal, you’ll have the chance to enter in a book giveaway, and so much more.

Stay tuned. This release will come sooner than you think.

Xo,

Amber

 

 

 

Ladder One Snippet

Just a sneak peek into my current WIP….

 

Chapter 1

      “Today we are here for a swearing-in ceremony for firefighters, one of the world’s most honored but dangerous occupations.”

It was unusually brisk outside for a late-spring day in April, but as I stood in front of the crowd of my department’s family and friends, I felt nothing but a red-hot iron of disapproval branding me from all directions. My face was burning red, probably in synch with the US Flag hanging on the pole behind us. I tried to keep my eyes to myself, hesitant to meet the disapproving gazes of my soon-to-be colleagues. They didn’t want me there; I knew that. From beginning to end this department consisting solely of men had made it clear to me that–as a woman–I would somehow be unable to do the job I was hired to do.

“When there is an emergency in the community, firefighters are one of the first on the scene,” Chief Preston Davis continued. “Firefighters are there at devastating ravages of fire, motor vehicle accidents, tornadoes, hazardous material incidents, rescue operations, explosions, medical emergencies and many other critical events.”

They had tried so hard, some of them, to push me out and intimidate me away, frighten me out of showing up today. But I’d come. Months of interviews and physical fitness routines and skills tests had finally gotten me here, to where I’d always wanted to be. Screw them and what they thought. I was finally in, and I wasn’t going anywhere despite their best efforts to scare me out the door.

“Firefighters are civil servants as sworn officers following standard policies and procedures of the fire service and standard operating procedures of their departments. They are there to prevent human suffering and death, to stabilize the incident and prevent damages and loss of property.” Chief Davis paused a moment and looked up, his eyes frisking over the crowd. A dark-skinned man in his 50’s with years of experience under his belt and a protective eye for his squad, I liked Chief Davis. From the beginning, he’d been nothing but supportive of my being there. That was more than could be said for everyone else.

Next to me, Jake Finn, a fellow recruit, had tiny beads of sweat forming on his shiny forehead. I’d come to find in the short time I’d known him that Jake was a good kid. He was young, maybe twenty-two, with a scale of red hair and freckles that made him look sixteen or seventeen. Finn was a friend, my friend, one of the few people who didn’t whisper nasty comments behind my back or scowl at me in the training room. He was just as new as I was, a rookie breaking into the tight-knit group of this department. If I had no one else, at least I had him.

“Relax,” I whispered to Jake. “It’s almost over.”

I looked away from him and scanned the faces in the room. Aside from Holland Jensen, the town’s mayor, there was nobody there I recognized, but that was no surprise. My fiancé, Jeremy, made it clear from the beginning that he didn’t support my desire to get onto the squad. Per his opinion, a fire department was no place for a woman. He wouldn’t stop me from doing it, of course, but he couldn’t support me in it, either.

I averted my attention back to the chief, who was introducing our new captain, Tate Becker. Tate was another one of the few that I liked. It wasn’t just his apparent charm and physical appeal though; Tate was a kindhearted man who took his rank seriously. He was patient and compassionate, professional on every level. He didn’t look down his nose at me, and that’s all I could have asked. This was great timing, Tate’s promotion, because the captain of any squad would be the person hovering, directing, and caring for his recruits and team. A bad boss could quickly turn a dream career into a miserable life, but Tate didn’t seem like the kind.

“Today I would like to offer the opportunity for our new captain to swear in the new members of our family,” Chief Davis said, shaking Tate’s hand as he joined Davis at the podium. There was a loud applause, a few whistles. Tate thanked the chief and then turned to face me and the two other recruits. His gaze met mine, and I was pleased to see an expression of satisfaction on his handsome face. I was the first female firefighter ever to be accepted into the department, and that was something to be proud of; not just for me, but for the rest of the department. I only wished they all felt that way.

“It is a great honor to have this opportunity to swear in these recruits of the Davenport Fire Department,” Tate said. “Jake Finn, Tanner Rey, and Hallie Harper, will you please raise your right hand, and repeat after me.”

I took a deep breath, voice shaking slightly as I repeated the oath.

“I, Hallie Harper, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the State of Idaho against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, and I will faithfully and impartially discharge my duties as firefighter of the city of Davenport under the appointment of the department according to the laws of Idaho State to the best of my skills and abilities, so help me God.”

Pitch Wars and Other Stuff

So. It’s over. Pitch Wars, I mean. At least, it’s over for the mentees who did not get picked and who are now probably wallowing in their own self-pity. (Maybe that’s just me, I don’t even know.)

I shouldn’t say it’s “over”, because that’s bullshit. I don’t believe there’s such thing as “over” until you throw your computer/pad out and never write again. And if that’s the case, you were probably never a true writer to begin with.

A billion years ago (or, like, 4….I keep trying to bury the memory), I signed with an agent and it was cool. For months we worked on my manuscript until it was ready to go on sub, and then shit hit the fan and it’salongstoryidontevenhavetheenergyrightnow.

So anyway. My point is (yes, there’s a point, shaddup), I can’t stand when Pitch Wars hopefuls act like Pitch Wars is the ONLYTHINGEVER that will get them an agent and get published. Um, nah. Even mentors will tell you that. Over and over and also over again.

 

Keep going. Keep moving. If you’re a true writer, this won’t hinder you for long. Have some wine or a beer, eat lots of chocolate and have sex. Or, you know, whatever people do to feel better.

And get on with it.

Yes, Your Rough Draft is Shit

As I was lying in bed the other night thinking about life instead of actually sleeping (as you do), I realized how long it took me in my writing career to finally learn the importance of WHY a rough draft is not as Pretty and Shiny as you think it is.

I get it. It’s exciting, guys. You’ve slaved over this baby of yours for months, sometimes years, and finally it’s done. The sucker is DONE. You have 2, 3, 400 pages of utter brilliance, and your very first thought is going to be, “Who will I pitch this to?!”

The answer is no one. Not yet anyway.

For some writers (I am one of these writers) the temptation to throw it out there into the world days after I type The End is overwhelmingly strong. After all, it’s beautiful to us. Who really cares about a few silly spelling or grammar mistakes? Who cares if it looks like something a ten-year-old wrote in English class? Okay, I’ll tell you who.

EVERYONE does. Everyone cares, guys, especially the agents and/or editors you are so excited to pitch to.

Again, I get it. Your Pretty-Shiny is finally done and you’re proud and want people to see it, but I promise you . . . this is one of the worst decisions a writer can make.

Let’s look at it like this: instead of sending your Pretty-Shiny out to beta readers or friends for critique, you send it straight out to a whole bunch of agents who you happen to adore. One of two things will most likely happen:

1. If your query is decent, they’ll request a partial or a full, and end up passing because of the sloppiness that is your first draft.

2. They’ll truly like it, but won’t sign you because it needs revisions and edits. Maybe they’ll ask for an R&R. Maybe they won’t.

With either of these events, you may have lost your chance at signing with them simply because they found four or five minor spelling errors in the first chapter of your book. (Which, point being, is unacceptable.) Maybe it’s not even the minor stuff, maybe it’s the ginormous plot holes and nonsense crap you have tying this draft together, and you have no idea because you never got a second, third, and fourth opinion on this thing.)

FYI, it’s not an agent’s job to make your manuscript Pretty-Shiny. You are the writer, you are the artist, that is YOUR job. It’s their job to like it, and it’s your job to get them to like it.

It’s sucky, I know. A lot of agents I know really have no desire in seeing a manuscript they’ve already rejected once, so why on earth take that chance?

Beta readers. AKA Critique Partners: CP’s, Betas, No-Nonsense People, Badasses.

CP’s are glorious, people. They are GLORIOUS. Now when I say CP’s or Betas, I don’t mean your best friend since high school who adores your work because, well, let’s get real: they don’t know any better. I don’t mean your mother who has always stood behind you fawning over your work because you are her precious-wittle-writer-baby and she’s oh-so-proud-of-her-little-munchkin. They are not beta readers, and they will not help you. #sorrynotsorry

I repeat, THEY WILL NOT HELP YOU. Get it? Got it? Good.

Why? Because no mom and best friend are going to look at your Pretty-Shiny and say, “Jane, this is terrible. Why would you do this? Why, JANE, why?”

They won’t read about your main character and say, “John, this character is an annoying sonofabitch and I hate him. I hate him. Get rid of him, or make him less annoying.”

(I’ll just say, if your mummy or your BFF *does* say these things, I stand corrected.)

Up until about a year ago, I refused to send my Pretty Shiny out to anyone, because I thought it was perfect how it was. After all, *I* was perfectly capable of reading through my manuscript six or seven times . . . no one else had to do it for me. Who better to critique my work than, well, me?

I was wrong. I was so wrong it was idiotic.

It’s a scientific fact that it’s nearly impossible for a writer to catch errors in his or her own writing. Why? Because when you’re reading over the lines you wrote, you’re still reading them as they were INTENDED to be and not how they really are. Seriously.

So, after months of embarrassment when a close friend would point out silly mistakes I never caught (I was flabbergasted, I really was) I buckled down and found some beta readers to help me.

Here’s the thing, friends: it’s not all about minor spelling and/or grammar mistakes. A beta can (and should) catch things like plot holes, terrible characters, and literal nonsense things. A beta reader will point out things to you that you will look at, blush furiously, and think, “What the HELL?! HOW did I not see this obvious, in-your-face mistake?”

You will feel like an incompetent idiot. Yes, it’s humiliating, and yes, it’s necessary, because I guarantee you: better a beta reader catch it than an agent and/or editor.

If your beta reads your manuscript and the only advice they have is: “This was great, Amber, seriously!” Find a new CP. Find one now. I can only assume that if a CP sends 300 pages of my novel back with nothing but praise, they are either lying or completely incompetent. You don’t want that. As flattering as it is, it will do you NO good. That’s what your mom and BFF are for, okay? An ego boost. A good CP will hopefully send back suggestions and edits that make your eyes sting with tears of failure and your mouth pucker up in defeat.

Just keep in mind: they’re not doing it because they hate you and think you’re terrible, they’re doing it to make you BETTER. Take it in. Wallow in it. Cry about it. AND THEN FIX IT.

Granted, you might not like all the suggestions one CP has for you. In this case, I urge you to get a second opinion. Two or three betas for one book is a great idea for this reason exactly. Then you have three fresh eyes on it, and if something is over-the-top ridiculous, more than likely 2 out of the 3 betas will make it known to you. If there’s something you love and refuse to change, then fine. It is your book after all. Just keep in mind: if one person hates it, especially two, there’s a 98% chance others will, too.

I’ll wrap it up with this: I firmly believe that the harsher feedback is, the better it is for you. A good writer should always strive to be better, and sometimes harsh critique is exactly what is needed. If you don’t like it . . . get out of this business.

Until next time, my lovelies.

Real Word Fiction: Abusive Relationships

I’ve written ten books.

Out of those ten books, I’ve come to find over time that at least half of them involve a protagonist who is struggling in an abusive relationship.

It’s something I never really noticed until lately, and the reason for this is because I have gotten a lot of feedback and critiques from Beta Readers and agents alike. A lot of the feedback looks like this:

“I don’t understand why the MC doesn’t leave this abusive guy. He’s such an asshole.”

“Your character seems stronger than this, why is she staying with him?”

“You make it clear this guy is a jerk, why does your MC stay with him?”

For a long time I took these words and pondered them, gave them deep thought, but then never changed it. People were adamant about it. They hated to see such a strong protagonist struggle with an emotionally and/or physically abusive relationship. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? It’s stupid. No one does that, no one stays with someone like that.

But actually, maybe they do.

Writers write what they know. It’s common knowledge. It’s said that in every, single book ever written, part of the writer comes through in their main character. And it’s true. I’m not in an abusive relationship. My husband is probably the coolest, most chill guy I’ve ever met in my life. I’m lucky I ended up with him, because for a while I was going down the wrong path.

But I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed first-hand abusive, controlling relationships. Some of the darkest moments in my entire life revolve around those times.

I’ve come to find in my critique partner feedback that it’s generally the people whom I know have struggled with those kind of relationships in their own lives—or at least witnessed them—never make those comments. Because they get it. For others, it seems so easy: leave the asshole. Escape. You’re so tough, so get out.

That’s not how it works. Not even a little bit.

I write about these abusive relationships in my books because I know them. I’ve seen them. And honestly? There’s nothing more empowering to me than allowing my protagonist to break free at the end.

That’s the whole point, and sometimes life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, okay?

Women (and men) in abusive, controlling relationships aren’t in these relationships because they want to be . . . I promise you that. So while you’re reading about a character in a book who’s struggling to escape from this bad relationship with no idea how to do it (or fear, because fear is a huge culprit in abusive relationships), try to understand that most people can’t just “dump” their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife whatever when they’re stuck in this vicious cycle of abuse.

THAT’S why.

THAT’S why I write characters who struggle in these kind of relationships, because that’s real life. Of course their partner is an asshole. That’s the point. Of course they get battered. That’s the point. But getting strong enough to leave, walk away, to say enough is enough . . . that’s the real point. It always has been.

Ignorance is bliss, but the real world certainly isn’t.