What I Learned from my Motorcycle Crash

I wasn’t going to write about my motorcycle crash. After all, us bikers don’t like to think about that kind of thing too much.

But I’ve come to realize that writing about something is part of the way I process it and – surprise! – I have something to say, both to bikers and to, well, folks in general.

I say crash (rather than accident) because that’s truly what it was. I was in a left-hand curve when I hit some gravel with my back tire. It pulled the bike toward the outside of the curve. I’m convinced I still could have recovered (you don’t go 29 years of riding without encountering gravel) except for the fact that there were some cracks in the asphalt there. Long story short I crashed into a guardrail.

crashed_bike_front_webThe bike was totaled. I walked away with road rash, bruising, whiplash and what turned out to be a broken finger on my right hand. That I walked away was a miracle in itself. (I told my kids that I had borrowed their guardian angel!) And I’ll always hold a fondness for my Yamaha Raider, which took the brunt of the impact instead of my body.

But here’s the million-dollar question, the one that bikers and non-bikers alike have asked (although non-bikers far more): will I ride again?

The answer is an unequivocal hell yes!

I’ve ridden motorcycles for 29 years, and some of my best memories are related to bikes, and I’ve met some of the neatest people doing it.

But here’s the thing I most want to say:

Anything worth having or doing in life carries a risk. It may be a physical risk, like motorcycling (or skiing or jumping out of planes). Or it may be a mental or emotional risk, like taking a chance on a relationship. Without risk you won’t have much of a life. Not the kind of life I want to lead, for sure.

I had this discussion with my kids shortly after the accident. The point I wanted to make is that you do what you can to minimize risk (I don’t go screaming into corners; I wear protective clothing; and my helmet likely saved me from having to be airlifted) but don’t avoid it altogether.

Did they get the message? Several weeks after the crash I asked my son (who is 12) how he felt about me getting another motorcycle and riding again. He looked thoughtful for a moment and then he said, “Well, I’m not sure I want to ride with you…”

I laughed, but I knew then he was getting the bigger message, because he wasn’t surprised that I wanted to ride again. My kids see their mom (or others for that matter) taking risks in life, and they’ll learn to do the same.

If I had died in that crash, here’s what I would hope to hear at my funeral: Man, she really lived life to max, didn’t she? She died doing something she loves. She didn’t let fear stop her from experiencing everything life has to offer.

V-signBecause there is fear. It would be foolish not to fear at times. When I rode for the first time after the crash (here’s me giving the Victory sign as best I can with my finger in a brace) I was nervous. It was doubly weird because I wasn’t used to being the passenger. (Many thanks to my brave husband for everything, but especially for understanding my need to get ‘back in the saddle’ sooner rather than later and taking me riding.)

To other bikers I say: The odds are definitely not in our favor out there. So a little fear is OK, even helpful. Because we’ve got to stay vigilant and not let our guard down. So be prepared, but don’t let fear rob your joy – in motorcycling as well as the rest of life.

Now do what I would do, and get out there and ride!

Bikers are Sexy; Biker Chicks are Even Sexier

Maybe you’ve read books with the bad-boy biker character. You know – the one with the thirst for adventure and the body to die for? The one the girl tries so hard to resist… but he sweeps her off her feet (literally, on two wheels) without even trying!

I’ve been a biker chick for over 20 years and let me tell you – there IS something sexy about a man in leather. And something inherently fascinating about biker gangs (just look at the popularity of the TV show “Sons of Anarchy”).

But how often do you hear of a biker CHICK in romance? Not nearly as often.

After my second novel came out (True Surrender) friends asked: “why don’t you ever write bikers into your stories?” (They knew that motorcycling is a big part of my life and even my work/family business.)

Truthfully, I was a little intimidated by the idea. Contrary to the stereotypical biker character you often see on the page, REAL bikers are complex, complicated people… with a REAL streak of rebel and adventure deep in their souls. If I were going to write about them, I wanted to write them WELL.

TakeTwo_COVER_NEW_FWhen I started writing Take Two: a Hollywood Romance, I knew that Gina (the Hollywood director/single mother heroine) rode a Harley-Davidson, but I didn’t emphasize the fact.

But then a funny thing happened – one of those twists in life that you know (as you look back) was NOT a coincidence.

I was finishing my second music video, “Cool Rider,” which (as you might guess) tells a girl-meets-biker, girl-wants-biker, girl-gets-biker story (original MTV-style, it was great fun, check it out). I had this idea of incorporating real-life biker photos into the video, so I posted on some women-rider forums.

I got stories and pictures from women all over, and I realized: the heck with my personal hesitations. It was time to write these women bikers’ stories.

Gina’s Harley now features prominently in the romance between Gina and actor Zachariah Davies, as well as Zac’s personal transformation that starts when he’s poisoned on the set.

And it turns out it’s not over: Gina has three lady biker friends whose stories need to be told!

You might say that Willow is the “bad boy/girl” biker. Andie is the goody-two-shoes. And Sabrina is the mothering type. Their personalities are as different as night and day. But their passion for motorcycling  translates into a love for each other. In fact, when I saw this photo by Lanakila MacNaughton, I saw Gina and her friends.

BikersKiss_COVER_webAnd it gets even better! In the fall of 2014, I released my first novella, A Biker’s Kiss, featuring a motorcycle-riding hero (Vince) who learns the joys of – you guessed it – kissing!

I’m having a ball writing about bikers (currently working on Lady Biker #2 – Andie’s story) – and, of course, sneaking in as may rides of my own as possible!

Just Released! Ranger’s Destiny (a Free Excerpt!)

RangerDestiny_webRanger’s Destiny is officially released! If you liked Cory from Ranger’s Luck, you’ll love his best friend Chase!

Army Ranger Chase Richards just wants to do the honorable thing – not so easy when it comes to his best friend’s little sister. Ella has been infatuated with Chase since the day her brother first introduced them. Will fate bring them together – or cost Chase his honor and the respect of his best friend? Read More.

Below is a free excerpt from the story – enjoy!

———————————————————————-

“You okay?” Ella said.

“Yeah,” Chase said. But when he took a step, he stumbled. “Sonofabitch.”

“Let me help you.” Ella slipped under his shoulder, wrapping her arm around his midsection. He didn’t argue.

“Don’t think I’ve ever taken the elevator,” he muttered.

He was trying not to put his weight on her, she could tell. But every few steps he wavered, as if he couldn’t get his feet to follow each other properly.

In the elevator, Chase propped himself against the wall. “Maddy,” he murmured.

“What?” For a moment Ella thought he’d mistaken her for the doctor.

“She put something in that shot. The same thing she gave your brother.” He narrowed his eyes at her. “That why you drove so fast?”

———————————————————————-

Purchase eBook: Kindle / Nook iBookstore Kobo

Ranger’s Destiny available for Pre-Order!

RangersDestiny_Book02_3D_MU

U.S. Army Ranger Chase Richards just wants to do the honorable thing. That’s pretty easy when he’s chasing bad guys, but harder when it comes to his best friend’s little sister.

Ella Foster is off limits – and has been for three years. But when Chase agrees to help her in an emergency, he gets more than he bargained for – with Ella and her drug-dealing ex-boyfriend. Now he’s got to keep his hands off her – and his heart intact – or risk losing the respect of his best friend. 

Ella has been infatuated with Chase since the day her brother first introduced them. The handsome hero was her knight in shining armor when she needed rescuing, but he’s so far out of her league, she’s sure she can never have him. 

But when Ella’s ex crosses the line, Chase’s honor will be tested like never before.

It seems like a long time coming, but the release of Ranger’s Destiny is only two weeks away (YAY!)! Pre-order it for Kindle now. Check here for links to all other “e” formats!

Read all about Chase and Cory here – and stay tuned for some FREE excerpts coming soon!

Memorial Day Veteran’s Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!

google-hangout-banner1During Memorial Day week, from May 22 to 29, more than 70 veteran authors are pledging 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite charity supporting veterans.

I am honored to be part of this challenge with every sale of True Surrender!

Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even active duty authors, are pledging. This diverse collection of works covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure and everything in between, there’s something for every taste!

The ultimate goal of this event is to raise $10,000 for the 20+ charities we’re supporting (my charity of choice is Veteran Fire Corps). The complete collection of participating books and charities can be found at http://bit.ly/vetsgiveback

If you aren’t interested in purchasing any pledged books, you can make a direct and public donation. If you’re interested in helping support or promote this event without having to donate, just share this info on Facebook, Twitter or your website. Every bit makes a difference! #vetsgiveback

True Surrender Audiobook Now Available in CD!

TrueSurrender_3DI was so excited to get the physical CDs of the True Surrender audiobook earlier this week (it was previously available in digital only). Check out the 20-second video below!

True Surrender is about an Army officer who is rescued from Afghan terrorists only to find his personal journey is just beginning. As he struggles with amputation and denies his PTSD, one woman challenges him to Surrender… and become the man he was meant to be. (Listen to a sample chapter here!)

I had never been particularly happy with my experience releasing the True Surrender audio book through ACX/Audible. The process was confusing and I could never reach a human being in a timely manner.  (Oh, and somewhere in the very, very fine print it states that you’re stuck with them for seven years whether you feel  they’re doing you justice or not.)

But perhaps my biggest frustration was the fact that I couldn’t control the pricing or other factors myself (as an indie author I’m used to being able to). Since I’m still a relative ‘unknown,’ I had hoped to price my audio book such that I could entice people to try it.

Then I found Blackstone/Downpour. Not only does the CD ‘package’ look amazing, but Blackstone has been a joy to work with. They offer something that the giant ACX ‘machine’ can’t: a human touch.

So I hope you’ll consider downloading True Surrender in audio format – or perhaps get the CD as a gift for that special person.

If you prefer to get audiobooks from Amazon/Audible, by all means buy it there (or here at iTunes). But you’ll get a better price here at Downpour. And the CD is only available here.

And, of course, you can still get it in your choice of eBook or print: Kindle / Barnes & Noble/Nook / Apple iTunes/iBookstore / Kobo / Amazon (print/hard copy)

Army Ranger Military Romance Series

slider_RangerSeries2

Warning: a spicy excerpt from Ranger’s Luck military romance

Well, today is the day! Ranger’s Luck is officially out in the world!

I wish I could say I’m prepared, but I’m not. Oh, I’ve done my due diligence as far as making sure the story is the best it can be. But as far as promoting it… I feel there are so many things I should be doing that I’m not. Never mind that most days I’m not sure what those things are/should be!

So I’m just going to ask you, my readers/followers/friends… if the story interests you, please buy it and please review it (especially on Amazon).

He dropped his underwear
As it mentions in the description, there is one rather erotic scene (yes there are details!). I thought you might enjoy a little lead-in to that scene…

“Beautiful,” he murmured as his eyes met hers.

Her eyes were drawn to his hands. She watched as he loosened the string on his gym pants and let them fall to the floor. She wondered briefly if his wound still hurt him, but this was like watching her own private strip tease show—starring her own private Adonis—and she forgot everything except how turned on she was.

She brought her eyes back to find his still locked on hers. “Underwear,” she managed through a suddenly dry mouth. “Take it off.”

Something sparked in his eyes, something fierce and primal, and it thrilled her. He dropped his underwear, and as she stared at his erection, he cupped it with his own hand briefly, as if to say This is for you.

Persuasive: a free excerpt from Ranger’s Luck

By special request of our friends at Book Boyfriends Cafe, here’s a sneak peek at a “Hot and Bothered” scene in Ranger’s Luck (Book One in the Army Ranger Series)! Available NOW on Kindle – and everywhere else on April 20!

As I recall“Why did you help me?” Cory’s question took her by surprise.

Maddy answered without looking up. “Because you needed it. Because you would have done the same for me had the tables been turned.”

He didn’t respond, and she glanced up at him. “And because you do it for people you don’t even know, every day of your life.”

She watched as the meaning of her words sank in. He brought one finger to her neck, tracing the chain of his dog tags before gently extricating them.

She returned her attention to the bandage before he could see how that affected her. “Besides, you asked nicely.”

“You mean Chase…?”

She nodded. “Quite a persuasive pair you are.”

“If I recall, I was barely conscious,” he said. “I could not have been persuasive.”

“Ah, but you were,” she said softly. “More than you know.”

She sensed a subtle shift in energy, and she dared to look him in the eye again.

It was there.

Desire. He desired her.

It had an amazing, immediate effect on her body.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book vs. Movie

It was my guilty pleasure – playing hooky from work one afternoon to go see the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course I’ve read the Fifty Shades trilogy (I had to as a fellow author, right?!). And those who know me know that I also have a keen interest in book-into-movie (it always fascinates me to see words on a page come to life on a screen).

50-shades-of-grey-filmHere are my key observations. (Please note there may be spoilers.)

There are some things the movie did well. And I have nothing but admiration for the actors and everyone involved in shooting some of those very intimate scenes (the camera work was excellent).

However, the biggest problem with the movie is that it lacked emotional punch.  I never felt emotionally connected to the characters. I may have felt excited (even that, not as much as I thought I might).  But the sexual stuff was so much (I would say ‘shock value’ but it wasn’t that extreme) that it overshadowed the emotional story.

To be fair, I found this to be an issue in the books as well. Overall, I rated the books highly, because the central part of my evaluation (“Did the characters change/transform throughout the story?”) was satisfied. Yes, I felt there was so much sex it overrode the character development at times, and yes, the books could have been shorter by cutting out some of the sex. (My personal favorite was the second book, because it is Christian who goes through the biggest transformation.)

Here is an example where I feel the movie failed to get us closer to the characters emotionally.

Those who read the book know Christian’s heart-breaking story of his life up to four years old. It’s a major piece of what helps Anastasia begin to understand him. In the movie, he reveals this information to a sleeping Anastasia. I kept waiting for it to be a ruse; I was so sure she was actually faking sleep. I watched closely, but no: she slept through his ‘confession.’

The closest the movie got to pulling us in emotionally is a scene where Anastasia is asking Christian why he won’t let her touch him. (Another major theme in the books.)

And of course, I have to talk about the sex. There are those who say this movie glorifies the rough treatment of women. I can only speak from my own point of view, and I didn’t feel this way. However, I got tired of seeing her naked and bound and writhing around; I think I would have been much more turned on to see him so!

And I’ll mention the ending as well, if only to say that I was gratified (if somewhat surprised given Hollywood’s penchant for turning everything into a happy ending) to see the ending stayed true to the book. (The author EL James’ involvement with the movie is perhaps part of the reason.)

The million-dollar question: will there be a Fifty Shades TWO?