Layla & Omar NEW RELEASE TODAY

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Why couldn’t she be honest with herself? She knew, from the moment she’d left the house, where she was going. Two blocks over she found it. La Noche. The sign was a wolf howling into the moon. She felt like a wolf on the prowl.

She pushed through a group of young men sharing a joint at the front door. Trendy Guadalajara youths hunched around intimate café tables playing dominoes and looking cool.

She heard him before she saw him.

A smiling waiter found an empty table in the corner close to the band. “Cómo estás, señorita? What can I get you to drink?” Two boys at the table beside her, still wearing their shorts from the beach, looked her up and down with half-closed bloodshot eyes.

“What’s a pretty girl like you doing here without a boyfriend?”

“Why? You want to apply for the job?”

The one with dreadlocks tried a seductive focus in on Layla. But she was laughing, so he gave up.

“No, I got a job already. I work on the beach at Los Muertos doing the parasailing trips. My friend Manuel runs the boat. Have you ever gone parasailing? You know, where you get strapped into a harness and you sail up into the sky while the boat leads from the ocean.”

“No. I haven’t. I want to do it sometime, but I’m too nervous.”

“Well, I will take you up for free! But then, you have to pay me to bring you down!”

“Very funny.” Layla gave them a smile, a kind of sloppy, stupid grin. They weren’t the only ones under the influence. She should really order a coke.

“Hey, we’re thinking of going to the Zoo. Do you want to join us?”

“No, I don’t even know you guys.”

“Come on. You’ve been talking with us for at least five minutes. What’s your problem? If you like us, we will even pay you for sex!”

Layla laughed. Fun. She needed some fun in her life. At first, she thought they were joking. But they weren’t laughing. Did they think she was a hooker?

“What’s the going rate? And I suppose you want me to go with the both of you at the same time?”

“Hmm, what do you think, Manuel? It depends. What do you like to do? They call me Ricki, by the way, nice to meet you.” Ricki put his arm around Layla and gave her a kiss on the cheek. They were really quite charming, considering their proposition and the fact that they were drunk.

“Well, actually, it would have to be at another time. I’m waiting for my novio. He’s a Federales officer and should be here any minute.” The waiter chose that moment to bring over her wine.

Instantly, the arm came off Layla’s shoulder.

“So, I think we should go. Hasta Luego. Let’s go, Manuel. Nice meeting you.”

She glanced at Omar playing his guitar. He had long dark fingers, lovely hands. She had been too busy checking out his body to notice his hands before. His voice was strong and focused; totally lost in his music. He sang from his heart with a depth of passion she hadn’t expected.

He turned slightly, maybe sensing he was being watched. She wanted to touch his silky ebony curls. He looked into her eyes. She flushed, her lust taking over.

Why had she come? This was stupid. She was in need of serious self-talk. Don’t act like a groupie. No, that’s not working. What about his age? He’s beautiful and hot, age never stopped her before. Okay, so none of that’s helping. Here comes the low blow: think of what he does for a living.

He finished his set and placed his guitar against the stand. Layla took a sip of her wine while he made his way over to her table. He was dressed all in black. She pretended to be cool, but a gorgeous dark Mexican man dressed in an Armani black t-shirt and pants? She was fucked. He could tell just looking at her face.

He leaned down and kissed her slowly on the cheek, his hand lingering possessively on her neck. She reached up, twisting his hair around her fingers and moved her head until their lips met. Her nipples hardened instantly.

“Layla. I’ve been waiting for you.” He pulled a chair closer to Layla so their legs touched. She could feel his heat. She didn’t move away. She didn’t want to.

For once, Layla didn’t feel like talking. Sometimes, she just wanted to feel.

The waiter put a tequila shot on the table.

“You’re very quiet, Layla.” Omar downed it quickly. “I have an idea. My place is very near here. We can walk. I will play some of my music for you. Let’s go.”

 

They walked hand and hand down the almost deserted Old Vallarta streets. Just around the corner from the Fajita Republic, they stopped at a steep set of stairs. Omar pointed to the staircase.

“Do I have to carry you, Layla, or can you walk on your own?”

“Very funny. I only had a little pot and little booze. I’m fine. Just walk behind me and watch my back in case I stumble.” Layla started up the steps. Her jeans hugged her butt and she knew it.

“No problemo. I will watch your back anytime, señorita.”

At the top of the stairs, a doorway led into Omar’s apartment. He struggled with his key. Nervous.

Two guitars sat on his bed; sheet music on his pillow. A half-burned candle and a half-smoked joint lay side by side on his night table.

Layla picked up a chunk of pink quartz in the shape of a heart.

“I got that from the interior here in Mexico.”

A funky ceramic lamp covered with a blue, green, and purple cotton pareo cast a nice soft and romantic glow around the room. An oversized poster of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones covered the wall above his bed. His studio apartment was neat and smelled of incense. Not what she had expected at all.

“Make yourself comfortable.” Omar turned the key in the lock and walked to the fridge in the kitchen area.

There was a chair by the table where more sheet music lay half completed. Other than that, the most comfortable spot looked to be the bed. Layla chose the bed, dropping her shoes as she made her way over to its edge.

“Don’t have a lot to drink, but vino blanco and some beer. Which would you prefer?” He smiled in acknowledgment of her choice of seating.

“Just water. I still need to make my way home.” She laughed self-consciously.

“Don’t worry. I will make sure you get home okay.” He handed her a glass of ice water.

“Sing something for me.” She smiled as she bunched the pillows together and leaned forward into them.

“Sure. Let me play the first song I ever wrote. It’s in Spanish. A love song, actually. I was sixteen when I wrote it.” Omar began to strum his guitar.

Even though it was in Spanish, Layla loved it. When he finished, she applauded and asked for a translation.

“Well, it kind of goes like this. It’s called ‘It’s Time to Let Me Go.’

 

Now that we are over, remember only the good part.

Remember how I loved you.

Forget how I hurt you.

Remember how we longed for each other when we were apart.

Remember how we ached to touch when we came together.

Forget the lies, the deceits.

Remember only the good parts.

Remember how we loved to make love, how we touched each other.

How we slept holding each other in our arms.

Forget the nights I didn’t come home.

Remember only the good parts.

Thank you for everything,

the love I never had before,

the love you gave me

and the love I could not return the way you needed

Remember only the good parts.

I will carry your love with me.

Forever in my heart.

 

“That’s beautiful, Omar.”

Layla stretched out across his bed.

Omar continued playing, soft and romantic melodies. Lost in the music, he closed his eyes and thought about the words. When he opened them, Layla had fallen asleep.

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New Release Introductory pricing: $2.99 Thanks!

 

 

Do you ask yourself: am I good enough?

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“But I think talent as a writer is hard-wired in, it’s all there, at least the basic elements of it. You can’t change it any more than you can choose whether to be right handed or left handed.” Stephen King

We spend our whole lives always chasing something, always telling ourselves we’re not good enough. But is it really true? I think major accomplishments in this world have been made by people who never believed they were good enough but sucked up the fear and did it anyway.

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. When my sister Cathie turned 21, I wrote a poem for her and superimposed it on a beautiful photo I’d taken of her. I had it placed on a wooden plaque because that was the style “in those days.” I know she still has it, hopefully hanging on a wall where she can be reminded that I love her.

“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings–words shrink things that seem timeless when they are in your head to no more than living size when they are brought out.” Stephen King

My sister also typed my first handwritten manuscript for me. I lived in Montreal and I’d send chapters to her in Ottawa. Then she’d call me up and ask me when the next one was coming. She couldn’t wait to find out what was happening next! My sister was my first reader 40 years ago. And today, she was the first person I told when it was announced that I’d won this amazing award!

Best in Contemporary Fiction 2017 Blog Talk Radio Club for TARGET in the SUN. Without her love and encouragement so many years ago, I know I would have thought I wasn’t good enough to continue writing.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King

I went on to have a successful career in design, fashion, sales, and management. But through the years, I continued writing. It wasn’t until an author friend, Russell Blake, invited me to participate in his JET Kindle Worlds, that my desire to write and entertain overcame my fear of failure. I published my first novella JET-Exposed–now there are 4–for Kindle Worlds in 2015. And I haven’t stopped publishing novellas, novels, and non-fiction, since then.

This year I finally published a memoir of a life-changing period in my life called LOVE The Beat Goes On. It was chosen for Book of the Month in October 2017; and more importantly touched hearts, and been as much a healing journey for me as for the many readers who’ve contacted me and shared their personal stories.

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” Stephen King

TARGET in the SUN, VANISHED in the SUN, LOVE The Beat Goes On and my soon to be released Lie to Me, an exposé on sex for money all taught me one thing: if there are no paragraphs or pages in my books that bring tears to my eyes or take my breath away, then my writing is not good enough.

That will always be my promise to you, my readers, and will continue to be what motivates me to let my little light shine.

 

Authors and Readers, What do you think?

 

As a professional novelist, are there “rough patches” in your books that you accept aren’t as good or interesting as others or do you keep working until you polish every bit of prose to the same degree?

In the writing of a manuscript, the answer to this would be yes, the latter. I insist that the experience my reader has is 100% the best entertainment I can provide. I write, for the most part, in the mystery, romantic suspense genre. I can’t leave any holes. I also write with several characters so there may be more than one plot line. I like short chapters. I keep my readers moving at a fast pace. Well, you can tell that just from the way I answer your question.

First I plot on Excel. If a plot line is not up to par, it gets deleted. I’m brutal with myself. I’d rather write a novella that’s good than a novel that has chapters or ‘rough patches’ that will take away from your enjoyment as my reader. I can tell you that a reviewer will catch your rough patches and call you on them.

I received a MS back from my editor this evening. I told her to be totally honest: If you don’t like it or have areas that need work or total re-writing, tell me. I want to know how my readers will experience this book. So her job is to challenge me if my work is crap.

I haven’t opened it yet to see what changes she made. But in this particular case, by the time I sent the MS to my editor, it was edited 4 times by me. The topic is male prostitution in Puerto Vallarta Mexico so there is sex in this book—more than I would normally write. I was feeling insecure, not wanting the work to be smutty or erotic. I prefer that it be classified as Contemporary having adult content.

This is what she said:

Anyways, I LOVED this story. It was engrossing, fun, emotional, sexy, and even a little unnerving at times. It was perfect!

It’s interesting that she said ‘unnerving’ because that’s EXACTLY the experience I had when some of the stories flowed through me onto the page. Each adjective she used to describe the book is the tone I wanted to achieve. Now when I open it tomorrow, there may yet be things I will change. That’s the way I work.

But professional writing is a learning process too. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If you know there are rough patches, my advice would be to shelve the manuscript for a few months. Then go back to it and delete the parts that suck. It feels good to delete whole pages. I did it with this book and I liked the feeling. I said to myself: I can do much better than this, gone!

If you’re taking the time to read my work it better be the best that I can possibly deliver.

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On another note, I want to thank Book Talk Radio Club for nominating TARGET in the SUN for Best Contemporary Novel of 2017! Thanks for the honor!! If you haven’t read it yet, here’s what reviewers are saying:

“Gripping and suspenseful, clever and sharp, Target in the Sun is a romantic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the format, telling parts of the story through letters. I also enjoyed how smoothly it read, the type of book that sucks you in. Highly recommended.”

“WOW, what a journey! I couldn’t wait to continue with the second, ‘Vanished in the Sun’. I read both in 2 days, and I’m totally exhausted now with all the action in the fight against the drug cartels, love, Mexican cultural knowledge and the beautifully descriptive word paintings of Western Mexico, especially the amazing sunsets! The super-secret off-the-grid organization keeping watch over these characters is “Genius! Very intriguing! Can’t wait for #3!