Celebrating!

Once upon a time, I wrote a book . . . and then I wrote a bunch more. I published my very first book (FEARLESS) on December 6, 2011, about seven and a half years ago.
I remember the feelings I had, the trepidation, the anxiety–and then the inevitable let-down, because honestly, not much changed. I didn’t hit top lists or even sell more than a couple of copies. {Side note: there was good reason for that. I had no idea what I was doing, the cover sucked and I didn’t know from promotion and PR in those days!}
For subsequent releases, I had more realistic expectations. I didn’t wait for accolades and confetti; I did everything I could and hoped for the best, and that’s still been my philosophy.
But I have a confession: from the beginning, from that first book, I wanted the celebration. I wanted my family and friends to be excited for me. This was huge in my world! I wanted to go out to dinner, I wanted to talk with people who’d read the book, I wanted flowers and wine and  . . . well, recognition.
In the years between that debut and now, today, when my 75th book went live, I’ve gotten used to low-key releases. The positive part is that I don’t stress. I don’t worry. I know authors who need Valium to get through each new release day, and I’m glad I don’t. That being said . . .
I still want the celebration.
And that’s why today, this very morning, I had an epiphany. If I want the celebration, by gum, I’m going to make it myself. Today I’m not doing housework or hunkering down to hit my word count. Today, I’m going to treat myself to a leisurely bath. I’m going to read for pleasure. I’m going to eat something delicious for lunch, and when my family comes home, we’re going to have a celebratory dinner (they don’t know this yet).
What’s more, I’m not containing my celebration to only one day. No, sirree! Tomorrow, we’re having a family dinner to recognize that 75 releases is a damn good thing to appreciate. Thursday, I might go get a pedicure. On Friday, I’m taking the whole entire day completely off. And Saturday, I’m going to the beach.
I think that’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my fifties. We have to ask for what we need–and if no one else is going to supply that need, we have to be willing to do it ourselves.
Meanwhile, I want to recognize that YOU my amazing readers always make me feel special, loved, appreciated and yes, celebrated. My Temptresses especially post on release days, share the memes and pictures and tell their friends that they LOVE my books. All of you truly are my joy, and I thank you for that.
So celebrate with me this week. You deserve it, too! Watch on Instagram as I chronicle the celebrations . . . and tell me your favorite ways to mark special occasions. <3

The royal wedding was only the beginning of my happy ending . . .

I’m now a full-fledged member of the royal family. That means all my problems are over, doesn’t it?

Apparently not.

Even though I’m now a princess-by-marriage and a duchess-by-title, I’m still the same Kyra who’s prone to putting her sneaker-clad foot into her mouth.

It’s a good thing Nicky loves me. Our work is thriving and our marriage is strong. Together, we can tackle any challenge. But it’s not until our peaceful existence is threatened that I realize how precious it is.

And they lived happily ever after . . . right?

Live Now!

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The Real Crystal Cove

Does Crystal Cove Exist?

The question I am asked most often about the Crystal Cove books . . . is the town based on a real one? The answer is yes!

In 2013, I had just finished my YA paranormal romance series, The King Quartet, and I planned to write a spin-off series of those books next. However, one spring day, I was driving home from one of our frequent trips to the beach and suddenly, inspiration struck.

As I made the hour-long trek, the entire story of The Posse unfolded before me. I joked later that it fell into my lap, and that is honestly how it felt. I could see Jude, Logan, Matt, Cooper and the rest of the Posse as though we were old friends.

And it’s not surprising that where I saw them was in the quaint beach town I’d just left. New Smyrna Beach had won my heart over the year that had passed, once we’d moved from the west side of central Florida to the east side. I loved being able to drive onto the beach, and one of my favorite places to eat was a beach-front bar and grill called Breakers. I’d noticed, too, that a bed and breakfast was under construction on the main street. All of these factored into the story.

I’ve been blessed to spend many happy hours in New Smyrna since writing The Posse. Later, we stayed at the Riverview Inn, and that inspired parts of Abby and Ryland’s story.

So is Crystal Cove exactly like New Smyrna? Of course not. It is, in many ways, the skeleton upon which I hung the story and characters of that fictional town. I’ve never lived in New Smyrna Beach, so I see things from a very privileged outsider’s point of view. I’m sure that like any community, it has its troubles and drawbacks.

But if you want a taste of the Rip Tide’s famous burgers and atmosphere, check out Breakers. They don’t offer live music on Fridays and Saturdays the way Jude’s place does, and I added a deck on the outside, just because they needed it, but otherwise, it’s a close match. And if you want to know what the Hawthorne House is like, visit the Inn on the Avenue. Again, the bed and breakfast originally run by Abby and now managed by Cal and Alex isn’t quite the same. I’d described the interior before I’d ever seen the real-life component. But there are elements that are oddly close to its fictional component.

And if I had the chance to take my readers on a tour of New Smyrna Beach, I could show you the house upon which Jude and Daniel’s home was based, the area in which I envisioned Cooper’s house and workshop, the neighborhood where Emmy and her kids live. I could point out Matt’s surf shop and take you to the Riverside–eh, I mean the Riverview Inn.

I’ll admit, too, that whenever I visit NSB now, I feel as though if I turned my head just quick enough, I might catch a glimpse of Jude or Alex or Emmy or Logan . . . for me, this town and these people are as real as any other.

The Starfish Room at the Inn on the Avenue (Crystal Cove’s Hawthorne House)

The Riverside Hotel, which is known as the Riverview Hotel in Crystal Cove. The Cove version is actually set on a lot more land alongside the river.
The Inn on the Avenue (The Hawthorne House in CC)
Flagler Avenue (Main Street in CC)
Breakers (The Rip Tide in Crystal Cove)
Ahhhhh . .. the beach!!

THE MEANT TO BE GIRL (A Sneak Peek!)

The Meant To Be Girl is my contribution to the Christmas romance anthology THE 12 NIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, available everywhere now! This is a little peek at the magic . . .

“Hey, Ashley. Did you get drafted, too?”

The smile that curved my lips was completely involuntary, but I had trouble ignoring the spark of pleasure and want that tingled up my spine. Zane was sitting on the floor near me, surrounded by evergreen.

“Ohhhhh . . .” I grinned. “So, you’re the someone who got roped into putting the tree together.”

He shrugged. “I think Darlene overestimated my abilities. It looks like a pine tree murder and dismemberment back here.” Zane glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. “It might have helped if they’d saved the instructions. I’m totally winging it here.”

I sighed, and for a happy moment, I simply gazed at him. In the months since Zane had first wandered into my salon looking for a quick haircut, he’d become not only a loyal client but a friend. He had a standing appointment every three weeks, and I’d be lying to myself if I’d said I didn’t look forward to his visits. There was just something about this man . . . between his self-deprecating humor, his kindness, and his charm, I didn’t stand a chance. And that wasn’t even touching on the body that made regular appearances in my dreams.

“Huh.” Tori came up to peer over my shoulder. “Hey, Zane. Yeah, you’re in over your head, I’d say.” She gave me a little shove. “Ashley here just happens to be an expert at Christmas tree assembly. And she’d be happy to help you.”

I glared at my friend. “I thought you and I were supposed to be untangling lights.”

Tori shrugged. “I got that by myself. You should go where you’re really needed, Ash.” She gave me wide and suggestive eyes, and I prayed that Zane didn’t notice.

“Thanks for throwing me into the briar patch,” I hissed to her.

She giggled. “Looks more like a pine forest. And you’re welcome. Because you know, that’s what friends are for—to remind you about what’s important and to kick your ass when you forget.”

There was nothing like having my own words quoted back at me. I was well and truly stuck now. “Fine. But you better make sure I get some of those fries when Darlene brings them out.”

Tori held up one hand, as though taking a pledge. “I promise.”

Still wearing a scowl, I picked my way among the thick wire branches covered in green plastic “needles” and cleared a space to sit down on the floor.

“You’re really going to help me? God bless you. I thought you might just stand over me and direct what I should do.” He gestured to the piles.

“In for a penny, in for a pound,” I sighed. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. We should find the base first, and then the center poles.” I began to root around the branches. “Sheesh, they all look the same. How’re we supposed to know what goes where?”

“Trial and error, I guess.” Zane frowned and picked up a green-covered stick. “Hey, this might be part of the trunk. I think.”

“Is it longer and harder?” Even as the words tumbled out of my mouth, I heard what I was saying and felt my face going red.

Zane quirked one eyebrow. “Not yet. But there’s potential.”

Why I Write Strong Women–and Why It Matters

 

I don’t remember how I began writing strong women. I do recall, though, an early review of my first book Fearless wherein the review jeered that it should have been FearFUL because Tas was such a timid soul. And I remember thinking . . . well, no. She isn’t. She is just a seventeen-year-old girl who has led a protected life and needs to find her own strength. This is the story of how that will happen.

(And that’s exactly what happened in the four books of The King Quartet and by the fifteenth book in the overall series, Age of Aquarius. So there.)

Still, at some point, I began to internalize this concept as I wrote. I made a conscious decision that the women in my books wouldn’t be damsels in distress or weak creatures. I wanted them instead to be sassy, spunky, confident and able.

Recently, I was at a writers’ conference, where I was discussing romance with a group of other authors. The ages of the writers ranged from (probably) early 30’s to mid-70’s. The conversation was lively and interesting, until some time toward the end, when one author remarked, “Well, we all just have to keep writing strong women.”

To my shock, the younger authors reacted badly to that idea. One replied, “Oh, no, I never write strong women–they’re bitches. Readers hate strong women.”

Those of us who were older hardly knew what to say. It bothered me so much that I brought it up to a bunch of other author friends. And then once I got home, I decided I wanted to do something constructive, which is why today we’re kicking off the #IWriteStrongWomen #IReadStrongWomen campaign.

Please understand that I think strength comes in all forms. I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama for over 20 years. That is strength, baby.

Strength doesn’t come from education or money or career or religion or status. It comes from inside you. It comes from experience and choices and–and love. Loving someone else is a measure of great strength and courage.

I write women who’ve never been to college (Jude and Nell and Emmy and Jenna and Ashley and Tori, among them), women who have advanced degrees (Elizabeth, Abby, Maureen), women who would be considered white-collar professionals and and those who own their own businesses and those who are full-time moms . . . what they have in common is their heart and the strength there.

And this is important to me because I have three daughters and will shortly have a granddaughter. I want to leave them a legacy of example–whether that’s in real life or on the page–of women who can do anything they set their minds to do.

I invite you to join our Facebook group,  We Read Strong Women. It’s just fun and chatting about our favorite kickass heroines and their stories–oh, and just maybe a little about the sexy guys who love these spunky women!

I also invite you to join our campaign by posting on your favorite social media site. Just share a picture of one of your favorite strong leading women along with a hash tag like:

#strongwomen
#strongwomenwriteromance
#strongisthenewsexy
#strongwomengreatbooks
#romancetakesastrongwoman
#iwritestrongwo
men

And tell us WHY you read strong women! I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

Two new Career Soldier Books! Are you ready?

I have a super-fun surprise for everyone who loved the sexy six soldiers and their strong and sassy women in the first Career Soldier books.

The next two books are about to be released. Evergreen: A Career Soldier Christmas and Army Blue: A Career Soldier Wedding, will both go live on Tuesday, September 25th.

You can preorder the books on iBooks, Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Google . . . OR you can buy them now right here on my website.

But wait, there’s more! If you buy Army Blue on my web store, you’ll get a special bonus chapter won’t be available anywhere else. Ever.

Three more Career Soldiers will release in 2019, too. You’ll meet some of those characters in Army Blue.

So grab your copies now or place your preorders.

BUY THE BOOK Web Store  iBooks  Amazon  Nook  Kobo  Google  D2D

BUY THE BOOK Web Store  iBooks  Amazon  Nook  Kobo  Google  D2D

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