Living a Double Life: How faith and romance coexist

My unusual situation has almost become part of my branding and schtick at author events. I’ll be in the middle of a panel about writing romance, and the question inevitably arises: “Are any of your plot lines based on your own love life?” and the ever-popular “How does your significant other feel about your 46975_452627834144_5854393_nbooks?”

When it’s my turn to answer, I usually play it up, with a deep sigh and an air of sharing a secret. “Well . . . my husband is a priest. So you can probably guess which plot lines are not based on my own life!” As for how he feels about my books . . . that’s a little more complicated.

To be fair, I was a writer long before my husband became a priest. I wasn’t a clergy wife who woke up one day and decided to write romance. I’d been writing for years, and while it’s true that I published my first book (a young adult paranormal romance) the December after my husband graduated from seminary, it had never crossed my mind that our careers could ever be considered incompatible. And for a while, they weren’t. He started out his career as a hospice chaplain, working for corporations who didn’t care what his wife did for a living.

Meanwhile, my first books were quite clean, with almost no language or sexual content. Of course, there were still some Christians who took umbrage with them because The King Quartet was paranormal, featuring witches and psychic phenomenon. From my point of view, though, this story of good versus evil was completely consistent with my beliefs. Christianity has a long tradition of literature that is written in metaphor. Some of the most famous of those books never even mention God by name. While I never intended Tasmyn’s story to be overtly religious, I didn’t see anything in it that should offend Christians.

My next books after The King Quartet were quite different. I’d moved away from young adult lit and into contemporary romance for adults. I was very excited about the story in The Posse, but because it was adult, and because I felt the plot called for it, I included a few love scenes. Oh, let’s not be coy; they were sex scenes, although they were fairly mild. But I found I really enjoyed writing books for adults and then eventually, for new adults, and I didn’t like to close the bedroom door, as they say.

Still, my husband continued to work for hospice at this point, and no one seemed to care about my smutty books, as my kids teased me.

In the summer of 2014, I wrote a new adult romance called The Last One. It would be one of my best-selling books, and it also contained some of my hottest sex scenes to date. That book released in 16423_10151353464799145_1026237428_nSeptember, about two weeks before my husband took his first position in parish ministry. I was a little nervous, but fortunately, I was able to fly under the radar when it came to church. Since we’d been attending the church where my husband was now serving, I wasn’t a new commodity. I was the same lady with purple hair I’d always been.

But then my not-so-secret identity began to crack a little. A few ladies in the church mentioned that they had read some of my books, and after some initial panic (mine!), I realized that the world wasn’t ending. No one stood up in the middle of church and pointed at me in condemnation.

Of course, I don’t necessarily flout my books in certain settings. I’ve had conversations with people who have roundly criticized any books with mystical elements–and sex? No. Just no. When they finish up by asking for a copy of one of my titles, I’m understandably a little reluctant to share. I’ve learned that redirection and stall tactics work every time.

I’m very blessed that my husband supports my work, no matter what. My kids, who are mostly grown, 10678164_10152498592689145_1076123883_odon’t read what I write (because ICK–who wants to read their mom’s sex scenes?), but they’re tolerant. I’ve had a few dear ladies at church whisper to me how much they enjoy my stories. One told me recently, “Father is a lucky man!”

I’m not naive, however, and I realize that there may come a point when we have to explain to someone in the church why I write the books I do. The truth is that although I understand my work will never be classified inspirational fiction, I don’t find it inconsistent with my faith. My love stories are between two consenting adults, who always end up in a committed, loving relationship by the end of the book. The choices they make might be different than those I made for myself and those I’d want for my kids, but they are within our cultural norms. I don’t write violence nor do I glorify irresponsible sex.

All of my books celebrate love, family and the triumph of good over evil. Some of my characters attend church, and it always portrayed in a positive light.

Sometimes I wonder if those who might judge my books harshly have read the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. It’s a love story, a beautiful recounting of a couple coming together, and although it is often described as a metaphor for God’s love for His people, there is no doubt that this is the most sensuous book in the Bible.

So how does it work, being a priest-and-romance-writer couple? Actually, it’s easy. We support each other, and we do whatever we can to help each other. When I’m traveling for work, I often miss Sunday services, but I try to make Wednesday mass. My husband usually can’t make my signings or events, but I know he’s got my back, and when I come home, he makes me dinner and spoils me while I recover.

When it comes down to it, our careers really aren’t that different. They’re both all about celebrating love . . . and could there be anything more beautiful than that?

One Week Until Hanging By A Moment Releases!

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One week!

Seven days!

168 hours!

Yes, I’m literally

HANGING BY A MOMENT

waiting for this release.

Book 2 of the Keeping Score Trilogy

comes out May 24th,

and I can’t wait.

 Amazon/iBooks/Google/Nook/Kobo

So since it’s #TeaserTuesday, I thought I’d give you a little sneak peek.

Young sensual couple during romantic evening

“Babe, you awake?” Leo’s voice was low and husky, murmuring against my ear.

I snuggled a little closer to him. “Mmmmm. Kind of.” My bedroom was dark except for the faint glow of the streetlight just outside. Tonight, for the first time all week, I hadn’t dropped right off to sleep after I’d laid my head on Leo’s broad chest.

“I talked to my mom a little bit tonight before they all left.” His fingers moved in small circles on my upper arm. “She didn’t push, but she suggested I give you and your mother some space tomorrow.   She said you two need to talk about some stuff and make decisions.”

Panic welled up inside me, and it was on the tip of my tongue to argue. But I knew deep down that Leo couldn’t stay glued to my side forever. We both had to figure out what was going to come next for us, just like my mom and I had to do the same.

“Yeah.” I swallowed hard. “She’s probably right.” I turned a little, resting my chin on Leo’s sternum, staring up into his face. “But don’t go far, okay? I’m not sure I’m ready to go cold turkey on my Leo addiction.”

He brushed his hand over my hair. “If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll sit in the car outside, just in case you need me.”

I sniffed. “You don’t have to do that. Maybe after breakfast, you could just go home for a little bit.”

“That works.” He crunched up, bending so that his lips could reach the top of my head. “Hey, Mia? We haven’t really talked about anything serious yet. I mean, about us. But I wanted to say this now, before anything goes any further.”

Trepidation gripped my gut. “I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with this.”

“Babe, no.” Leo slid me off him, rolling to lay on his side so that our faces were close together. “Nothing bad. I just wanted to say . . . I love you, Mia. I didn’t say it to you last week. I hoped you understood it, but I thought I better be clear. I love you. I loved you before, and I never stopped.”

I traced his jaw with one finger. “I love you, too, Leo. Still. Always. Forever.”

He released a breath as though he’d been holding it. “Okay. Good.”

I frowned. “Did you doubt that I did? That I do?”

“No, not really.” He nuzzled my neck. “But I wasn’t sure if you were ready to deal with me again. I know you needed me this week, but I was afraid once things started to settle down, you’d think that maybe I wasn’t worth the effort.”

Following my finger with my lips, I kissed his chin. “You’re worth everything, Leo. And I hate that it took my dad—what happened, I mean, to get us back together, but I’m not going to have any regrets anymore. Loving you is part of me, and so are you. I wouldn’t have made it through this week without you.” I paused, enjoying the feel of the late-night scruff on his neck. “That first day, before you got here, I wanted to die, too. It hurt so bad, and I felt like nothing was ever going to be right again. But then you came to me, and I’ll never forget that you were here for me.”

“I always will be.” He tipped up my chin and kissed my lips, softly. “Nothing in my life works without you.”

Want MORE? You can read a sample chapter here . . .

And if you preorder, the full book will show up magically in your ereader next week!

Amazon/iBooks/Google/Nook/Kobo

If you haven’t read WHEN WE WERE US yet, grab it now so you’re ready for next week!

iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Google Play/Goodreads

When We Were Us

Hanging By A Moment Tease and Giveaway!

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HANGING BY A MOMENT

releases on May 24th!

Are you ready for the next chapter in

Leo, Quinn and Nate’s story?

If you want a sneak peek–just a little taste!–a sample chapter is here for you to read.

And don’t forget to preorder your copy from Amazon/iBooks/Google/Nook/Kobo.

When We Were Us

 

 

 

Have you read WHEN WE WERE US yet? If you did, I’d love for you to review it! You can leave your review on iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Google Play/Goodreads.

 

 

 

And last but certainly not least . . . we have a fun giveaway going on through release day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Adult Scavenger Hunt and Giveaway 2016

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Welcome to New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are THREE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the TEAM PURPLE–but there is also a red team and a blue team for a chance to win two different sets of books!

 

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If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page.

***THE SCAVENGER HUNT***
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my lucky book number. Collect the lucky book numbers of all the authors on Team Purple, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by May 1st, at noon Eastern Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

LET THE HUNT BEGIN!

I’m happy to be hosting author Jessica Ruddick.

Jessica Ruddick lives in Virginia and is married to her college sweetheart–their first date was a fraternity toga party (and nothing inspires love like a toga, right?). When she doesn’t have her nose in a book or her hands on a keyboard,Jessica-cropped she can be found wrangling her two rambunctious sons, taming two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs, and battling the herd of dust bunnies that has taken up residence in her home. LETTING GO and WANTING MORE are Entangled Embrace releases, and she has a forthcoming romantic suspense release with St. Martin’s Swerve under her pen name, Jessica Linden. To learn more about Jessica, please visit her websites atwww.jessicaruddick.com and www.jessicalinden.net.

 

Today she’s sharing some exclusive content from her book WANTING MORE (A Love on Campus novel).

 

WM_500Bri Welch likes to play it safe. I don’t. She’s wound tight, and I’m all about a good party. But there’s something about her that makes me want to pull those uptight layers away one-by-delicious-one. But the worst thing is she makes me want more… I can’t stop wanting her…

 

 

 

In Wanting More, Josh plays guitar. Below are some of the songs he plays in the book.

“Little Lion Man,” by Mumford and Sons

“Dust in the Wind,” Kansas

“Landslide,” Fleetwood Mac

In the end of the book, Josh composes his own song. (I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so you’ll have to read the book to find out the context of the song.) These two songs are sort of what I had in mind, though.

“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran

“In Your Eyes,” Jeffrey Gaines

 

I LOVE this music–and can’t wait to read the book! Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by Jessica Ruddick, me and many others!

To enter, you need to know that my lucky book number is 9 .

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on Team Purple and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

And for a chance to win even more, enter the rafflecopter below.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

***CONTINUE THE HUNT***

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Tellulah Darling.

GOOD LUCK!!