Please enjoy this super interesting guest post.

On the Growing Popularity of Romance Novels

Quick: think of a novel that you would consider a classic – something that inspires writers across generations, and something that is dissected in university classes and used as a great example of writing. It’s not often that romance novels achieve this level of distinction, but this could soon change.

Following the growth of indie publishing and self-publishing, more and more romance novel writers have been able to launch their work into the public sphere, and the response has been overwhelming. Statistics released by Romance Writers of America showed that 13% of all adult fiction is found in the romance category, with sales reaching
 $1.08 billion per year. While nearly a third of all romance novels are purchased as e-books, romantic and erotic fiction remains the top-selling genre of the book market. It seems the genre is stronger than ever, and It’s showing no signs of slowing down.

There’s no denying that much of this growth can be attributed to the fact that our views on romance novels and erotica have been undergoing some significant changes. A survey of over 1,000 men and women ages 18 and up revealed that
 41% now openly admit to reading erotica, and this has helped spark the industry. Publishers are now more willing – and even actively seeking out – writers of romance novels and erotica, in an effort to cash in on the craze. 

But what is it exactly about the romance genre that is so appealing? An article on the International Business Times says that it might have to do with how the genre
 offers a release for many women -- the core demographic of the genre. Women make up 84% of the genre’s total readership, and the modern woman often finds herself without the time or opportunity to experience romance. “We're assailed from every direction with so much garbage (telemarketers, family demands, tedious chores, etc.) that we become numb out of self-defense, said Picciano. Reading romance and erotica gives us a chance to feel, to remind us that we're human and that there is a beautiful, exciting world out there, waiting to be discovered under the piles of clean laundry that command our attention.”

Of course, some would argue that
 women have always loved romantic literature, and that this has hardly changed in the past few years, despite a seemingly growing market for the genre. It can’t be denied, however, that romantic literature is ripe for the picking, and academics are now taking notice. “We’ve been talking about this for 30 years: since the 1980s at least, it’s been about empowerment versus oppression. Is this narrative empowering or oppressive to women?” Sarah Frantz Lyons tells the Smithsonian. “We need new approaches to romance fiction.”

Frantz Lyons founded the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance along with Professor Eric Selinger, a scholar of American poetry who teaches popular romance at DePaul University in Chicago back in 2007. She has since been gathering academic support to look further into the techniques and styles of romance novel writing, and with the unprecedented popularity boom of the genre, her work may soon come to fruition.



The greatest calling I've ever answered. 

And the most disgusting adventure I've ever taken. 

All wrapped up into one chaotic, never-ending, beautiful, messy, love-filled, crazy package. 

Er, four packages.

Since there are four children. 

I've been reflecting a lot on motherhood recently. Specifically over the last four days. 

I have never felt so deeply entrenched in motherhood. Which says a lot since I've been doing this for a while.

But here's the thing. I'm potty training. I'm potty training my littlest child. The last one still in diapers. The strong-willed, independent, his-way-or-the-highway, stubborn, adorable, cocky little ba.... baby. 

And it's not going well. 

Understatement of the freaking year. 

To be honest, it's not going AT. ALL. 

This child, this sweet, beautiful, smart, headstrong child, straight out refuses to learn. He will not even begin to make anything resembling progress. 

Sure, he'll go if I threaten him with my arsenal of mom threats and physically put him on the potty. But I'm not kidding you, this child has no issue with just peeing wherever he pleases. Including on his brother's toys. He will literally sit down on the potty for a half hour, stand up and pee on the floor directly in front of the potty.  

He doesn't care that I make him clean it up or change clothes six times a day.

He doesn't care that I'm near tears and frustrated beyond what my sanity should have to suffer. 

He does. not. care. 

And the worst of it? The very worst of it??? He has the Peter Pan Complex of a lifetime! 

I say, don't you want to be a big boy??? He says, I'm a baby!!!

I say, don't you want to go to school? You have to be potty-trained to go to school! He breaks down into tears and cries, "I don't want to go to school. I don't want to be late!" 

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a direct quote. 

Let's not examine too closely that he's apparently heard the phrase, "WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE!!!" shouted one too many times during the early morning rush so that he is now assuming he will be late to the school he's not even old enough to go to yet. 


We'll save that for a different blog. 

Moving on. 

The truth is, I've been through this rodeo more than once. I know better than to push an unwilling child. Especially one so damned determine to have it his way. But the thing is... I'm on a deadline. I leave for Orlando at the end of this month and he cannot be in diapers for the three days he'll have to spend in daycare. 

I have ten days to get him in underwear full time. 

Ten days to work a freaking miracle. 

Or come up with Plan B. 

Obviously, I'm working on Plan B. But it would just be SO much easier if he would just do things my way the easy way.

And yet, I know that's asking too much. That's asking way way way too much. 

And so all of this has me pondering the point of life... my sanity... motherhood. 

There is nothing else like it in the world. Never are we asked so much. Never are we expected to sleep so little, perform at our 110% every second of every day. And never ever are we required to love so deeply, from the very center of our bones, with all of our hearts and souls and lives. 

Motherhood is the greatest thing I have ever done. And yet sometimes I wonder if it's not also the worst? 

I am, after all, a human being. A flawed, faulted, messed-up human being. And I'm in charge of raising four little human beings. That will one day (God-willing) be independent, voting, functioning adult human beings. 

I'm responsible for that. 



This person right here. 

The person that recently tripped over a toy dump truck, skidded across the kitchen floor, landed on a different toy and sliced open the bottom of my foot while also severely bruising my arch. Then not two hours later, I stabbed my thumb with our sharpest knife and bled all over my dishwasher. 


I'm the person in charge of four little people. 

But that's how motherhood is. It's both sides of the coin. Of every coin. It's a dichotomy at it's finest. It's both joy and heartache, beauty and chaos. It's love and fear. And hope and worry. It's all of these things and so much more. 

And so during my philosophical freak out examination, I devised a list of five different multiple personalities contrasts that Motherhood is. 

What does it mean to be a mother. 

1. It means that you are simultaneously the most anal germophobe on the planet and yet somehow have become desensitized to every disgusting bodily function there is.

Mothers drive the market in antibacterial soap. We might be the only people buying it actually. Other than hospitals and doctor's offices. And actual germaphobes. It's really more of a life philosophy. We don't believe soap is just for the bathroom and kitchen sink. Oh no. We clip that shit on everywhere. I have 481 travel bottles of antibacterial soap in my house. They go in my purse, on my purse, in my diaper bag, on my kids backpacks, in our coolers, on our trips, to the pool, to the park, to the grocery store, to the mall (Ick. Especially to the mall. That place is a bacteria breeding ground.), to every single restaurant, to the doctor's office, to grandma's house, on every freaking play date because we can't possibly know what kind of plague that other child is carrying and who knows when his mother last bathed him, to church- Jesus takes care of our insides, but He does not wash those door handles white as snow. And let's not even talk about the nursery. *violent shudder* 

The point is, we power wash our children in antibacterial and yet, we are completely fine with every disgusting, grotesque, slimy, mucousy, poopy, snotty, slobbery thing that comes out of them. I am elbows deep in poop and pee. And I'm fine with it. Snot? Here, let me get it with my fingers. Oh, your pacifier dropped on the gas station bathroom floor?? Let me just suck on it for a second. It'll be fine. We're having lunch right now and you want to talk about the upcoming election? I'm going to stop you right there because my four-year-old has explosive diarrhea like you would not believe and I'm going to need to tell you all about it. In detail. With pictures I took with my phone and uploaded to Instagram. I hope you're enjoying your enchiladas. They look delish.

I'm a professional at shmutz scrubbing. Do you know what shmutz is? It's the crusties you get on your face from a variety of different things. And I'm the real deal. All I have to do is lick my thumb and wipe your face and you look picture perfect. You're welcome random stranger I met at the DMV the other week. Your face needed it. 

2. It means you both love school. And hate it. 

You love it because... the children!!!!!!! There are so many of them! And you cannot possibly be the only one responsible for their upbringing. You need someone else to blame. You need for their future therapist to be able to point fingers at someone else. You need them to learn things that you cannot possibly be expected to know yourself! Like math for example. Or spelling. 

You also need for them not to kill each other. 

You guys, it is survival of the fittest around here and if my children do not get a break from each other, someone is literally going to lose an eye. 

Or a toe. 

Possibly a larger appendage.

But you also hate school because... THE CHILDREN!!! And every time they go, they learn more and grow more and become more of these people that they are supposed to be. They leave you in the morning and when they come home, they are older. And wiser. And they're one step closer to flying the nest and entering into adulthood. And that sucks. Also sometimes they come home from school and suddenly know more than you. 

And that is not okay, because you have got to remain the final authority in your household. You cannot have independent thinkers running around thinking that they know better than you!! That is for later. Much later. When they move out. But right now, you need them to think you are the smartest person they've ever met so that they still believe you when you tell them that you're in charge.  

But let's get real. Let's have a moment of honesty. The honest-to-god reason we hate school is because it is EVERY FREAKING DAY. For nine months out of the year, five days a week, we have to be up early. Way too early. We have to be ready to go. We have to have eaten breakfast. A good breakfast. Not just half a pop-tart and a handful of M&Ms. But like a legit breakfast. With milk. We have to leave the house. And sometimes it's raining. And sometimes it's cold outside. And sometimes it's actually snowing. And we have to go to school. Every day. And then in a couple hours- way less hours than you thought it was going to be once upon a time- you have to go back to school and pick them up.

The people at my kids' school have seen me in ways that no living person should be able to testify to. Hair out to there. No makeup. No bra. Wearing three day old sweats with the worst coffee breath. And they see it. Day after day after day because school is five full days a week. 

It's the worst.

3. It means that we can multitask as if we had eight arms but we can't remember that the trash goes out tomorrow. 

There is this hour of the day that is so chaotic... so out of control... so completely packed with mayhem, I'm honestly surprised I have survived for this long. 

This hour is called the Vortex of Hell Dinner Hour. 

Let me set the scene for you. We've made it home from school (again.), I'm helping my girls with their homework as they sit at the table while I'm trying to potty-train the three-year-old. I'm also trying to keep my four-year-old from eating us out of house and home before I get dinner on the table. (He's a locust, I swear. He walks into the room and just starts consuming everything within reach. I'm worried he's not human.) I have to shout to be heard over the subtle roar caused by four children being in the same room as each other. I'm shrieking spelling words, math problems and in the stickiest, sweetest voice imaginable, screaming, "Did you get your pee pees out? Don't get up until your pee pees are out!" He's up. He's so up. Now he's running around the house like a maniac clothed in only a shirt. Hopefully by this point, he's decided to press his half-naked body against our front windows so that the entire neighborhood can check out his junk. I abandon the dinner I'm furiously making- so that the savages don't starve to death and start eating each other- to chase down the baby, plunk him back on the potty and threaten him with everything I can think of. And when that doesn't work, I start bribing. He's got me up to a brand new car and thirty-six straight hours of Paw Patrol. And I don't care. I will do anything at this point. I go back to dinner. Make a snack for the four-year-old just to get a moment of peace out of him(aka, put something in his mouth to quiet him for five whole minutes), start up with the spelling words again and the math and oh, shoot!! I have to take a casserole to church tomorrow! Start working on that too. Why not?? I'm already in the kitchen and it's dirty. I'm probably also involved in at least three text messaging conversations, phone tag with my mother and mentally plotting out the next chapter of my current work in process. BOOM. Homework gets done. Dinner gets on the table. The baby is not potty trained, but he did sit on the potty for a full three minutes(Success!!!) and I have just devised the hottest makeout scene between two supernatural teenagers of my life. 

I am a multitasking goddess. 

Just don't ask me my kids' names. 

Or my name.

Or who the president is or what the date is or where my husband left his keys??? 

But if you could remind me that Friday is picture day, that would be fantastic. Because I've definitely just filled out the forms but already forgotten about it so my kids are most likely going to show up in their rattiest clothes with their hair dangerously askew and red-Popsicle teeth. 

4. It means that I am the sweetest person on the planet until you mess with one of my kids. Then I will cut a bitch. 

You guys should know that I love Jesus. I really do. But if you so much as look at my kid wrong, I will run you over with my minivan. And if I go to prison for vehicular manslaughter because of you, who will be there to raise my babies???? 

Do you know what I mean? I am a nice, decent human being. I smile at my neighbors. If we pull up to a four-way stop at the same time, I wave for you to go first. I don't scam Groupons. I buy Girl Scout Cookies. I am an upstanding citizen. 

Until it comes to my kids. Then I am Mama Bear. 

I can't help it! There is a switch that is flipped when someone messes with my children. My eyes bulge, my breathing speeds up and I Hulk-out right there on the playground. I don't want it to happen. I would love to remain a rationally thinking adult. I would love to continue swapping recipes with you and talking potty-training tips. But woman, if you don't get your psycho child off my sweet, adorable, innocent one, I'm going to have to say things we will both regret. You probably more than me. Because this shit is about to get real personal. 

Okay, that is an exaggeration. I'll own up to it. But in truth, I have never been an aggressive person until I had children. And even if I don't viciously attack your fashion choices for the afternoon, I never knew I was capable of protecting something like I am my child.  

5. It means that you love them so much that you completely structure your life around them, that all you think about is their well-being and how you can improve their quality of life and give them the best childhood imaginable. But it also means that you cannot wait for them to get out of your house. 

I love these children like I have never known love. They are my life. I mean that. Everything I do, I do for them. But there has been a silent count down clock in my head since the moment of their birth and it constantly ticks down to that blessed day of high school graduation. 

It has it's own theme song. (That okay, slightly resembles Jeopardy.) It has neon flashing lights and a sparkling border. And it is always there. 


And it's counting down to one significant moment. 

When hopefully they will remove themselves from my house, go off to a good college and never move back home again. 

You guys, if I am doing my job right as a parent that means one day they HAVE to move on. One day they must become grownups and learn to fly on their own. They have to figure out how to find housing and pay bills and drive cars and get married and raise children of their own. 

That means I only have eighteen short, precious years with them before they leave me forever. 

And I am both so incredibly excited for that day and dreading it like a death sentence. All at the same time. 

How can they leave me??? After EVERYTHING I've done for them??? 

Although, I suppose it's better than, WHY WON'T THEY LEAVE??? WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG? 

They're beautiful and opinionated. And I want them to one day be successful in their own right. So I have to eventually let them go. I have to relinquish my control and hope that they really do know more than me. 

But it will be okay if they come home too. 

I might even do their laundry if they bring it. 

And that's motherhood. The good, the bad, the ugly. But also, the oh, so beautiful. I love these kids. Even though they gave me split personalities and severe memory loss. I love them so much, I'm willing to keep living in these dichotomies, both sides of them. 

I even love them enough to potty train them. 



It's Tuesday!!! Which means it's teaser time!!! :)

It feels like I haven't shared a teaser with you all in a very long time. I haven't really had anything to share. But now that I'm working hard on Every Wrong Reason, I can finally show you some of it!!! So, like I did with the Five Stages of Falling in Love, I'm going to share the Prologue and First Chapter of Every Wrong Reason!!!!

**This hasn't been edited yet and is subject to change.


1. He is the most selfish person I know.
2. I would be happier without him.
3. He can’t take a shower without leaving water everywhere.
4. If I have to clean up his toothpaste smears one more time I’m going to go insane.
5. How hard is it to put the milk away?
6. I don’t love him anymore.
7. We were never right for each other.

How did we get here?
I just wanted to go to bed. I had the most obnoxious day of my freaking life and all I wanted to do was come home, take the longest, hottest shower in the history of showers and face plant into my pillows.
Instead, it’s three o’clock in the morning and I have a migraine the size of Texas. Goddamn it.
“This isn’t about the water all over the bathroom floor, Nick. God, honestly! It’s about the principal of the water all over the bathroom floor!”
“Are you kidding me? What the hell does that even mean?” His handsome face contorted with frustration. He wouldn’t even look at me.
I thought back and tried to remember the last time he looked at me, really looked at me, and couldn’t remember. When was the last time he saw me? When was the last time we hadn’t been fighting long enough for his clear blue eyes to look into mine and make a real connection?
It had been years.
Maybe he had never seen me.
“It means there’s water all over the goddamn floor! Again! How many times have I asked you to clean up after your shower? I’m not asking for much! I just want the water cleaned up off the floor so that when I go in there I don’t soak my socks every single time!”
“You’re going to take your socks off anyway! Why does it matter?” His long arms flew to his side as he paced the length of our bedroom.
I flopped back on the bed and the pillows depressed with the weight of my head. I felt like crying, but I wouldn’t let something this stupid bring me to tears. I wouldn’t.
Not again.
This whole argument wasn’t really about the water. He was right; I had been planning to take my socks off. But I was so sick of asking him to do something so simple. Why couldn’t he just listen to me? For once?
“Fine,” I relented. “I don’t care. Let’s just go to bed.”
“Typical,” I heard him mutter.
I peeled my fingers away from my face and propped myself up on my elbows. His back was to me as he stared unseeingly at our closed blinds. I could see the tension taut through his broad shoulders. His thin t-shirt pulled on the sculpted muscle he was so proud of.
It was so late and both of us had to work in the morning, which only proved to fuel my frustration. His run had lasted forever tonight. He left shortly after dinner and hadn’t come home until close to ten. I had started to think that something had happened to him.
When I asked him where he was, he told me his running group had gone out for beers afterward. He’d gone out for beers and hadn’t bothered to text or call or let me know he was alive and not dead in the ditch somewhere.
I’d had a terrible day and my husband got to go out for beers at the end of an excessively long run while I did the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, started his laundry and graded papers.
And then at the end of all of it, I’d walked into an inch of standing water on our bathroom floor because he couldn’t be bothered to clean up after himself.
And he wants to throw around the word “typical.”  
“What was that?” My voice pitched low and measured, in complete opposition to the pounding of my heart and rushing of blood in my ears.
This was not the first time we’d had such a lengthy blow up. In fact, we fought more than we got along. If I were truly honest with myself, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d enjoyed being around him.
“It’s typical, Kate. Just when I finally get to the bottom of why you’re so pissed off, you decide to shut down and turn yourself off. You’re ready for bed and I just finally figured out what crawled up your ass. So what am I supposed to do with that now? Just forget it? Move on and pretend you didn’t keep me up all hours of the night yelling about it? God knows, you will.”
“I’m tired, Nick. It’s three o’clock in the morning. We both have to work tomorrow! What do you want me to do? I guess we could sit here and talk in circles until the sun comes up, but like you said, you finally get it!”
“God, you can be a bitch.”
His words hit me like a slap across the face. “And you can be a selfish asshole.”
I watched his face fall. It was that perfect kind of hit that took all of the wind right out of his sails. His entire body deflated and I knew I hurt him as badly as he hurt me. Except instead of making me feel better about myself, I realized I had never felt worse.
He slumped down at the edge of our bed and buried his face in his hands. His tousled, light brown hair fell over the tips of his fingers and reminded me of the times I used to brush it back, out of his eyes.
Even now, after seven years of marriage, he was still one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen. His tall frame was packed with lean muscle and long limbs. His face was blessed with sharp angles and deep, soulful blue eyes. His lips had always been dry, for as long as I could remember, but he had this way of dragging his tongue across them that used to make my mouth water.
I fell in love with him on our second date. We shared mutual friends that introduced us. My roommate Fiona was dating his track teammate, Austin, and one Saturday in October during our senior year of college, she finally hauled me along to one of their local meets.
We hit it off after he took first place in the thirty-two hundred and he was in a good enough mood to not stop smiling. I couldn’t stop starting at his lonely dimple and he had the keen insight to know he’d charmed me.
Our first date was an absolute disaster though. I was awkward and he was nervous. We didn’t find much to talk about and when he dropped me back at my dorm, I swore to Fiona that he would never call me again.
I never understood why he asked me out for our second date, but it was that next time, when he took me to my favorite Italian restaurant and then out for a drive that ended with trespassing and a moonlit walk through random fields in the middle of the country, that made me realize I would never find another man like him.
He had something I decided I couldn’t live without. His intentional questions and quick sense of humor held my attention and his big smile made my insides quiver. I had never met anyone that made me feel that way, that made it seem as if I were the only person alive that had anything interesting to say.
If every night could be like that second date I would never doubt what was between us, not even for a second. But after struggling to put up with each other for all of these years and knowing that whatever chemistry we had with each other fizzled a long time ago, I was exhausted.
And I was starting to realize, I was also broken. Or if not broken, then breaking.
I couldn’t keep doing this.
“What are we doing?” he mumbled into his hands.
Hot tears slipped from the corners of my eyes, but I wiped them away before he could see them. “I don’t know,” I whispered. My hands fell to rest against my flat stomach. “We hate each other.”
He whipped his head around and glared at me over his shoulder. “Is that what you think? You think I hate you?”
“I think we’ve grown so far apart, we don’t even know each other anymore.”
It was his turn to look like I slapped him. “What do you want, Kate? Tell me what you want to do. Tell me how to fix this?”
I recognized the pleading in his voice. This was how it always happened. We would start fighting about something mundane that neither of us would give in to, inevitably it would reveal our bigger issues, the ones we usually tried to ignore, then finally we would round out the night by Nick promising to do whatever it took to make this work between us. Only, the next morning we would wake up and nothing would be changed or fixed or forgotten and we would start the delusional cycle all over again.
I was sick of it. I was sick of feeling like this and walking on eggshells every time we weren’t fighting. I was sick of feeling bad for how I felt and the things that I said. And I was really sick of that look on his face right now, knowing I was the one that put it there.
I wanted to get out off of this crazy train. I wanted to wake up in the morning feeling good about myself and I wanted to go to bed at night knowing I wasn’t a huge disappointment.
My hands clenched into tight fists on my belly and I squeezed my eyes shut before they tried to leak out more painful memories.
“I don’t think we can.” My words were a shattered whisper, but they were the first truth that I had spoken in a long time. They were hurtful, but they were freedom. “I think we’re too broken, Nick. I think it’s too late for us.”
“What are you saying, Katie?”
I ignored the agonized rasp to his voice. If I started to feel bad for him now, I would never get this out. “This is over, Nick… We’re over. I think it’s time we were both honest with ourselves and admitted that.”
His response was immediate, “You’re for real? You really don’t want to try at this anymore?”
My temper shot up again and my face reddened from the hot anger pumping through me. “I have been trying! What do you think I’ve been doing for the past seven years? I’ve been trying every single day! And it’s not enough! It’s never enough! I cannot keep doing this day in and day out. I can’t keep pretending that things are okay and then falling apart every time we start arguing. Nick, I’m exhausted in my bones. You’re a good person, but it’s like… it’s like I bring out the absolute worst in you. And the same is true about me! I’m fun. I’m a really fun person. People like me! All of the people except you. And I don’t blame you! When we’re together I’m a nag and I’m ungrateful and I’m just… ugly. And I hate that person. I hate the person that I am with you. And I hate the person that you are…”
His head snapped up. I hadn’t meant to go that far or finish that thought, but Nick was too perceptive to miss it. “You hate the person that I am with you. Is that what you were going to say?”
I shrugged one shoulder, ashamed that I’d let those words slip out. I shouldn’t have said it, even if it was true. If nothing else, it drove my point home. I was a terrible person with Nick. To Nick. We’d made each other into horrible people.
Our relationship was toxic. He was slowly poisoning me.
I was slowly poisoning him.
“So what are you saying?” he demanded on a rasp. “You want a divorce? Is that what you want? You think we should get a divorce?”
I nodded, unable to get those precise words beyond my lips. “We aren’t good together. We hate each other.”
“Yeah, you’ve made that abundantly clear tonight.”
“Can you think of any reason that we should stay together? Give me one good reason that we should keep doing this to ourselves and I will try. I swear to you, if you can come up with one reason to stay together, I’ll keep doing this. But, Nick, god, this is ruining me. I don’t know how much more I can take before I just fall apart.”
This time when the tears started falling, I didn’t wipe them away or try to stop them. My chin trembled from the force of my emotion and a devastating sob racked my chest. It was true. All of it. I hated myself and I hated him because he was the one that had turned me into this awful person.
I could not do this anymore.
If he came up with a valid reason, I didn’t know what I would do. I knew I told him I would stick it out, but at this point, I couldn’t do it. I would never really try again at this broken relationship. I had nothing left inside of me to give.
He watched me for a long time. I could see him processing everything behind his veiled eyes. I knew he thought he was hiding his emotions from me, but after seven years of marriage and ten years of being together, I could read him like an open book.
This was his analytical phase. He had to weigh each piece of information, emotion against truth, accusation against reality, before he could come to a logical conclusion.
My husband, the cold-hearted thinker. Logic and reason outweighed everything else. If it wasn’t a fact, then it didn’t exist to him.
Or at least it didn’t matter.
“If this is what you want, then fine. A divorce, legal separation… whatever will make you happy.”
Whatever will make me happy. Is this it? Is this what I want? But I had already told him it was. Immediately I regretted everything about tonight, everything I had said and everything I’d accused him of. But I couldn’t keep feeling this way. I couldn’t go through this again, only to have it happen tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. It was time to stand up for myself and fight for my happiness. Nobody else was going to do it for me.
Not even Nick.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
There was a long weighted silence, as if he were waiting for me to take everything back, to make my final words disappear. Finally, he said in a hoarse, tortured voice, “I’ll, uh, sleep on the couch tonight. I can move my things out tomorrow morning.”
I sucked in a sharp breath. Was he serious? Were we really doing this? “Where will you go?”
“I’ll stay with my brother until I can get a place of my own.”
“Noah won’t care? I mean… what will he think?”
“You can’t have it both ways, Kate. You can’t ask for a divorce and then hope to keep it a secret. Besides, it’s better than staying at a hotel.”
“No, you’re right,” I whispered. I rubbed my stomach and tried to ignore the sinking feeling in my gut. I asked for this. I practically demanded the divorce. So why did I feel such a horrific feeling of disappointment.
My body felt like it was being pulled apart in every direction. My heart felt trampled beneath a stampede of bulls. This was supposed to make me feel better. This was supposed to feel like freedom. I was finally digging myself out of the wreckage of our marriage and yet, I felt more wrecked in this moment than any moment leading up to this one.
“We’re really doing this?” My words couldn’t seem to come out stronger than a weak whisper.
“You tell me. You’re the one that started throwing around divorce. It’s not the first time you’ve asked for one, Kate. I’m frankly sick of trying to talk you out of it.”
“I just… I don’t know where else there is for us to go. Nick, we’ve tried. We gave it our best and now I think it’s better if we move on… away from each other.”
“Yeah,” he breathed. “Tried and failed, I guess.”
I wanted to argue with him. I wanted to tell him that he was wrong and that we hadn’t failed, that there were as many good times between us as there were bad, but I couldn’t bring myself to put up the effort. He was right. We failed.
We were failures at our marriage.
When I didn’t say anything else, he grabbed his pillow and stomped downstairs to the living room. I rolled over in bed, pulled the duvet over my shoulders and cried until I passed out.
When I woke up in the morning, he was already gone.

Chapter One
My life will be better without him.

The bell rang and my stomach growled. I looked at my classroom, at the kids shoving papers and notebooks into their backpacks and the energetic chatter that warred with the high-pitched ringing of the fourth period bell, and wondered if I had some Pavlovian response to that sound.
I had been conditioned to know hunger, but I hadn’t felt it in months.
I smiled at my students as they filtered from the room and reminded some of them about homework they owed me, but I barely heard the words that fell from my lips or acknowledged the concise instructions I was notorious for.
Behind my smiling mouth and teacher responsibilities, I was made of brittle glass and emptiness. I was nothing but paper thin defenses and sifting sand.
I had never known this kind of depression before. I could hardly tolerate my soon to be ex-husband and yet his absence left me unexpectedly battered.
Once my tenth grade English class had left me behind, I let out a long sigh and turned back to my desk. I dropped into my rolling chair and dug out my lunch from the locked bottom drawer.
I set it on the cold metal and stared at the sad ham sandwich and bruised apple I’d thrown together last minute this morning. I couldn’t find the energy to take a bite, let alone finish the whole thing. I’d lost seven pounds over the last three months, one for each year of my disastrous marriage. And while I appreciated the smaller size I could fit into, I knew this was the wrong way to go about it.
My friend, Kara, called this the Divorce Diet. But I knew the truth. This wasn’t a diet. I’d lost myself somewhere in the ruins of my marriage and now that my relationship was over, my body had started to systematically shut down. First my heart broke. Then my spirit fragmented. Now my appetite was in jeopardy and I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know if I would ever feel hungry again.
I didn’t know if I would ever feel again.
I used to eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge, but lately I couldn’t bring myself in there to face other people, especially my nosey colleagues.
Everyone had heard about my failed marriage. They stopped me in the halls to offer their condolences or hitman services with empathetic expressions or playful smiles. They watched me with pitying eyes and sympathetic frowns. They whispered behind my back or asked invasive questions.
But none of them cared. Not really.
They liked having someone to talk about that wasn’t them and a topic that didn’t dive into their personal lives. I was the gossip martyr. As long as they could tear apart my bad decisions and argue whether it was my frigidness or Nick’s playboy tendencies that hammered the last nail in our coffin they shared a macabre sense of community.
They didn’t care that each callous comment shredded me apart just a little more or that I could hear them cackling from down the hall.
They didn’t take into account their own divorces or unhappy marriages or faults or hypocrisy or shortcomings. They only saw mine.
And now so did I.
The creaky door swung open and my best friend and fellow teacher, Kara Chase popped her pretty red head in the room. Her pert nose wrinkled at the sight of my untouched lunch and she smoothed down some of her wild frizz with a perfectly manicured hand. She had endless, luscious curls, but as the day went on and she dealt with more and more apathetic high school kids, her beautiful hair would expand with her impatience.
“That looks… yummy.” Her stormy gray eyes lifted to meet mine and I couldn’t help but smile.
I stuck my tongue out at her. “Don’t judge! It’s all I had.”
She walked all the way in the room and leaned against the white-washed cement wall with her hands tucked against her back. “You used to be better at going to the grocery store.”
The small dig cut deeper than it should have. “I’ve been busy.”
Her lips turned down into a concerned frown that I mildly resented. “You can’t wallow forever, Kate. Your marriage ended, not the world.”
But he was my world. I kept that thought to myself. Now was not the time or the place to sift through my complicated feelings regarding Nick. I wanted this. I wanted this divorce. I had no right to be this upset or depressed.
Deep breath. “You’re right,” I told her. “I just haven’t gotten the hang of cooking for one. Last time I went to the store, I ended up way over-shopping and then I had to throw half of it out when it went bad.”
As gently as she could, she said, “You’ll get the hang of it.”
I pushed off in my chair until the back of it slammed against the white board behind me. “I hope that’s true.”
Because if it wasn’t…
Had I just made the most colossal mistake of my life?
No. This was right.
But then why did it feel so… unbearable?
“Until then, let’s sneak out and grab something better than… than whatever is on your desk now.” Her expression brightened until I felt myself smiling at her. We had been friends since we started at Hamilton High School eight years ago. We had that kind of natural connection you only find once or twice your entire life. We were instantly inseparable. Even though Nick and I were already together we were only dating at the time. Kara had been my maid of honor at our wedding and my closest confidant over the years. She knew the lowest lows of my marriage and the hard adjustment I’d faced since I ended it.
I didn’t want to think about where I would be without her.
I looked at my wrist and checked the time. “I have twenty minutes. Can we be back in time?”
“We’ll hurry.” Her kitten heels clicked against the polished floor as she moved to hold the door open for me.
She was the only teacher at this school that had any sense of style. Her expensive taste didn’t mesh well with her public high school teacher’s salary, but thankfully for her, her wealthy parents supplemented her meager income.
My parents questioned my choices and thought I was a failure at life.
And yet we both knew what it was like to struggle to please impossible parents and feel insignificant in the wake of their busy lives.
I might not have a designer wardrobe, but at least my parents didn’t try to buy my love.
I grabbed my purse out of the same locked drawer I’d tucked my lunch into and straightened my pencil skirt as I stood. I felt my spirits lift immediately.
Kara usually had that effect on me. And it helped that we were sneaking out of our jobs, to do something forbidden.
I loved breaking rules.
We were halfway down the hall and laughing with each other when we were found.
“And where are you ladies off to today? I’m certain Ms. Carter has class in a few minutes.” The deep voice made my skin feel too tight and my insides warm slowly.
I turned around and met Eli Cohen’s rich brown eyes and tried not to smile too big. “Checking up on me?” I raised a challenging eyebrow.
Eli moved closer. “I was just in the lunchroom and heard a pair of junior boys discussing their hot English teacher.”
That wiped the cocky expression off my face. “Gross. Don’t tell me which ones. I don’t want to know.”
Eli’s face split into a grin and a rich baritone rumble of a laugh fell from his full lips. “On one condition.”
“This is blackmail!”
He laughed at me again, but when he raised his dark eyebrows and gave me a pouting look, I couldn’t help but soften toward him. He was adorable. “Bring me back something from the deli.”
I couldn’t believe him. “How do you know we’re going to the deli? We could just be… just be… going to the bathroom together.”
He shook his head slowly at me and grinned. “I see the determined look in Kara’s eyes. I know that look. She’s hungry. And she’s enlisted you to help her sneak out.”
“He’s good,” Kara mused. “I think our science teacher is a little too good.”
“I’m starving,” he admitted. “I’ve been watching the hall for five minutes hoping to catch a teacher on their way out.” He held out his empty hands. “I forgot my lunch at home today and I have a meeting in three minutes.”
I looked at Kara and tried to figure out what she was thinking. Eli had transferred to our school two years ago and over that time I had gotten to know him slowly. I could now say I counted him as my friend, but for a long time I had kept him at a distance. He was too good looking, too perfect. His skin was nicely bronzed, his hair perfectly quaffed and for a science teacher, his body was surprisingly filled out. I had found him intimidating at first and then, because I was married to a handsome man and supposedly in love with that man, I found it utterly ridiculous to be so affected.
I was a mess. Even back then.
“I suppose we can take pity on him,” Kara sighed. “He does look famished.”
I ran my eyes over his broad chest and flat stomach. “He’s practically starving.”
“Should I get you the cobb salad?” Kara asked innocently.
Eli pointed a playful finger at her. “Don’t you dare. I wouldn’t know what to do with something green. I’d probably make my students dissect it.”
It was my turn to shake my head. “You’re hilarious.”
He smiled at me, wide and carefree. “I’ll owe you one.”
“Sure you will.” Kara and I started walking again. “I’ll be sure to collect.”
“I’m counting on it.” His low voice followed us down the hallway and I had to turn around before he saw my inflamed blush spread across my cheeks.
I pressed my cold hands against my face and tried to ignore the burn in my abdomen. It had been a long time since I flirted with someone, even longer since that someone wasn’t Nick.
Kara’s elbow found my side playfully. “What was that?”
“A favor?” I turned my wide eyes to her and silently begged her to tell me it wasn’t as forward as I thought it was.
She pressed her lips together to hide her smile. “Sure it was.”
“We’ve been friends for years.”
“And now you’re single.”
A shuddering breath shook my lungs. “Not really. Not yet.”
“Soon,” she argued. “When the divorce is finalized, you’ll officially be back on the market. Obviously, Eli knows that.”
The flirty tingle turned sour in my stomach and suddenly I’d lost my appetite all over again. The blush drained from my cheeks and I felt myself turn pale and see-through.
Kara noticed immediately. “I’m sorry, Kate. I didn’t mean to… to upset you. I just thought… It’s been three months, babe. Nick hasn’t even reached out to you. Not really, anyway. I thought you might be ready to move on.”
Ready to move on after three months? Was that all it took to get over the last ten years of my life? I had been with Nick in some form or capacity for a decade, but I was supposed to erase him completely from the important parts of my heart in three months?
I wasn’t against the idea. In fact, I would have loved to forget about him and the poisonous relationship we’d created. I would love for this pain in my chest to ease and the sickness that seemed constant and unrelenting to ebb.
But it wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t shake our relationship or the hold he had over my heart.
Not everything about him was bad. In fact, most of him was good and beautiful and right. But with me, he wasn’t those things and I wasn’t either.
But how was I supposed to let go of him? I loved him. I loved him for ten years and knew nothing else but loving him.
How could I walk away from him and even entertain the idea of a man after everything I had been through? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to date again ever, let alone so quickly after my last relationship failed.
No. Epically failed.
Nick was supposed to be my forever. Nick was supposed to be my “until death do us part.” And now that the rest of my life had taken a sharp, life-altering turn, I didn’t know where I was headed anymore.
I was lost.
I was rudderless.
I was floating in a sea of confusion and hurt. I needed something to tether me, to pull me back to shore. But I knew, more than anybody else in my life, that I wasn’t going to find that with a new man.
“It’s okay,” I told Kara with a throaty whisper. “I just wasn’t… I wasn’t expecting that from him.”
She squeezed my forearm and gathered her thoughts. “I know that what you’re going through with Nick and everything is intense, but you’re still young. You’re still gorgeous. You still have a lot of life left to live. I don’t want you to give up, just because the first try wasn’t successful. You’re a catch, friend. You have to know that Eli isn’t the only man lining up to take advantage of Nick’s colossal mistake.”
“The divorce was my idea,” I reminded her. “I’m the reason we ended it.” The words felt like stones on my tongue. I felt their gritty, dirty wrongness and I wanted to spit them out and wash my mouth out with something cleansing.
Something like bleach.
“Yeah, maybe,” she sighed. “But he should never have let you get away with it.”
Something sharp sliced against my chest. I felt the same way too. If he had really loved me, he wouldn’t have let me go through with it. Right? If he really wanted things to work out between us, he wouldn’t have moved out.
He wouldn’t have stopped talking to me.
He wouldn’t have left.
Desperate to change the top, I pushed through a back door and blinked against the bright fall sunlight. “So, lunch?”
“Yes!” She smiled at me. I could see the concern floating all over her face, but she held her tongue in an effort to keep me together. “Garman’s has the freaking best pastrami on the planet.”
I would never understand how Kara could eat so much and stay so thin. She did what the rest of us did, which was an insane amount of cardio and limited alcohol. But she could eat whatever she wanted.
I looked at a piece of chocolate and my thighs expanded.
Well, until recently.
We hurried across the lengthy parking lot and busy downtown Chicago street until we reached the tiny corner deli that boasted whole pickles with every purchase and sandwiches the size of my head. It was a favorite spot for everyone that worked on this block, but especially for the teachers at Hamilton. When given the choice of bad cafeteria food, a quickly packed lunch from home or a thickly-meated, moist-breaded, delicious deli sandwich from Garman’s, the choice was obvious.
But after an incident last spring, in which a group of students had left school to corner and threaten a teacher off school grounds, our administrator had banned teachers from leaving campus during the school day and so technically we were sneaking out and breaking rules.
Hamilton was located in one of the under-privileged sections of Chicago. We were firmly in the city proper, not skirting the affluent suburbs or near a wealthier area of downtown. No, Hamilton was directly in the middle of gang violence, low-income housing and race wars.
I’d been offered jobs at some of the more stable schools in the city and even one at a prestigious private school in a well-off suburb. But when I chose Hamilton, it was with my heart. I had examined all of my options, and I knew that taking this job was a risk professionally, but I couldn’t deny that I felt something meaningful for these kids.
I wanted to make a difference. Not the kind that you see on TV or that moves you in a heart-warming movie, but a real difference. I wanted to empower these kids with knowledge that would never leave them and tools for a future that was beyond this neighborhood. I wanted to inspire something inside of these neglected teenagers that had all of the odds stacked against them and had to fight to just show up on a daily basis.
I fought a losing battle every day and I was exhausted. But it was worth it.
I could feel it in my bones.
Kara’s heels clicked against broken sidewalk as we hurried to Garman’s, mingling with the sounds of angry traffic and city melee. The warm sun heated my exposed arms and face and I lifted my closed eyes to soak it in.
There was healing in this industrial chaos. There was a beautiful surrender to the noisy madness that felt cleansing and therapeutic. It wouldn’t last. I would pay for my sandwich, go back to my desk and the reality of my broken life would come crashing down on me.
But for a few seconds, I had the flirtatious smile of an attractive man in my memory and a minute of reprieve from the demands of my life. I sucked in a full breath, taking in the exhaust and grit from the city. And yet, my lungs felt full for the first time in as long as I could remember.
“It’s going to get better,” Kara said so softly I barely heard her.
I opened my eyes to keep from tripping and they immediately fell to the cracked sidewalk and patchy grass on either side. “I’m not sure it is,” I told her honestly.
She dropped her hand on my shoulder and squeezed, pulling me into a side hug. “There’s more to life than Nick, babe. I promise you. And it won’t take you long to figure it out. You just need to get the divorce finalized so you can move on.” Her laugh vibrated through her. “And Eli would be a very good place to start.”
“Maybe,” fell from my lips, but I didn’t feel any sentiment behind it. More sickness roiled through me and a cold sweat broke out on my neck. I swallowed against rising nausea and convinced myself not to throw up.
I was getting a divorce, but even the thought of another man still felt like adultery. Whatever our faults, Nick and I had always been faithful to each other. Moving on seemed impossible when I had dedicated my entire life to one man.
To the one man that had let me down and stomped on whatever remained of my happiness.
Nick and I were over, I promised myself.
I would move on eventually.
And Nick would too.
We grabbed our sandwiches, but I let Kara drop Eli’s off. I had lost any desire to communicate with other people. I practically crawled back to my classroom and sunk into my chair. My deli sandwich went uneaten, just like my one from home, because I couldn’t bring myself to feel good enough to eat.
Kara had meant to encourage me, but she’d done the opposite.
I realized that she was right. That one day I would move on.
But that I was right too. Nick would move on as well.
I knew I could find someone better for me. I knew my life would be better off without him.
I just couldn’t swallow the hard pill that his life would be better off without me too.

That he would find someone better than me. 

Pre-order Every Wrong Reason at a special discounted price now!!!!! Every Wrong Reason


Happy Tuesday!!!!!! 

So today I'm revealing my cover of Every Wrong Reason. This is my next venture in adult contemporary romance!!!!!

And I'm so nervous I could puke so very excited!!!!!!!! :) 

For real. There is something so special about writing these adult romances. They get to go a little bit deeper. They get to highlight real tragedies and reflect real life. They are different for me and I love that. 

Of course, I seem to pour a little more of myself into them. Which makes them deeply personal. Which, of course, brings on the pukey feelings. 


Truly though, I cannot wait to give you this book. It's a long the same lines as Five Stages, in that it's emotional and raw, filled with real feelings. 

But it's different too. It won't be quite so gutting. It won't rip you to complete shreds or force you to sob within the first few pages. 

At least I don't think so anyway... 


Anyway, without further ado... Here is Every Wrong Reason!!! And after that, I've left you some sneak-peek teasers!!!!! 

***Special Pre-Order price of 2.99***
First comes love.

Then comes marriage.

Then comes the... really nasty divorce.

Kate Carter thought she married her soul mate. She thought she had her happily ever after. But seven years into Kate's marriage, she realizes that her husband Nick is not what she wanted. He's selfish, he's oblivious and he doesn't love her anymore.

Maybe she doesn't love him anymore either.

Divorce is the only option if either of them wants to find happiness.

Kate and Nick thought they knew what they wanted, but neither is prepared for the heartache that separating will bring them. The journey they embark on is not the freedom they wished for, but a painful look at the people they've become.

At the end of it, Kate has to decide if this is really the life she wants or if maybe there's a way to salvage her broken heart.

Now for some exclusive content!!!! 

Meet Kate. Our heroine. 

Kara’s heels clicked against broken sidewalk as we hurried to Garman’s, mingling with the sounds of angry traffic and city melee. The warm sun heated my exposed arms and face and I lifted my closed eyes to soak it in.
There was healing in this chaos. There was a beautiful surrender to the madness that felt cleansing and therapeutic. It wouldn’t last. I would pay for my sandwich, go back to my desk and the reality of my broken life would come crashing down on me.
But for a few seconds, I had the flirtatious smile of an attractive man in my memory and a minute of reprieve from the demands of my life. I sucked in a full breath, taking in the exhaust and grit from the city. And yet, my lungs felt full for the first time in as long as I could remember.
“It’s going to get better,” Kara said so softly I barely heard her.
I opened my eyes to keep from tripping and they immediately fell to the cracked sidewalk and patchy grass on either side. “I’m not sure it is,” I told her honestly.
She dropped her hand on my shoulder and squeezed, pulling me into a side hug. “There’s more to life than Nick, babe. I promise you. And it won’t take you long to figure it out. You just need to get the divorce finalized so you can move on.” Her laugh vibrated through her. “And Eli would be a very good place to start.”
“Maybe,” fell from my lips, but I didn’t feel any sentiment behind it. More sickness roiled through me and a cold sweat broke out on my neck. I swallowed against rising nausea and convinced myself not to throw up.
I was getting a divorce, but even the thought of another man still felt like adultery. Whatever our faults, Nick and I had always been faithful to each other. Moving on seemed impossible when I had dedicated my entire life to one man.
To the one man that had let me down and stomped on whatever remained of my happiness.
Nick and I were over, I promised myself.
I would move on eventually.
And Nick would too.
We grabbed our sandwiches, but I let Kara drop Eli’s off. I had lost any desire to communicate with other people. I practically crawled back to my classroom and sunk into my chair. My deli sandwich went uneaten, just like my one from home, because I couldn’t bring myself to feel good enough to eat.
Kara had meant to encourage me, but she’d done the opposite.
I realized that she was right. That one day I would move on.
But that I was right too. Nick would move on as well.
I knew I could find someone better for me. I knew my life would be better off without him.
I just couldn’t swallow the hard pill that his life would be better off without me too.
That he would find someone better than me.

Now meet Nick. Our hero? Our anti-hero? Our villain??? I haven't decided yet. :) 

I swept down and rubbed her ears with my two hands. Immediately the stress of the day started to melt from my shoulders and the dishes, the bills left discarded on the table waiting for me to deal with them and my looming divorce, didn’t feel so impossible anymore.
“What did you do all day?” I asked her with a soft voice. “Did you miss me?”
A deep, masculine voice came out of her, answering my question, “I doubt that. She was too busy eating my socks.”
I let out an ear-splitting scream and fell backwards on my butt. After a few seconds of blind panic, sanity returned. I recognized the voice and that it hadn’t come from the dog.
It had come from my husband. My soon to be ex-husband.
“Nick! God!” My hand landed on my chest and I pushed down, trying to slow my racing heart. “You scared the hell out of me!”
He leaned over the white-tiled island and stared at me with listless eyes. “I thought you heard me come in.”
I pressed my lips together and tried to ignore the pang of pain that hit me low in the gut. His eyes used to be his most expressive feature. They could glisten with humor or darken with lust in the span of three seconds. They were what had pulled me so deeply into him so quickly. All he had to do was look at me and I had been his.
Until now. Now they stared at me as if I were the most uninteresting thing on the planet. They didn’t light up when I walked into the room. They didn’t dance with some sarcastic thought spinning around in his sharp mind. They didn’t heat with lust or harden with frustration.
They just looked at me, shuttered and apathetic.
“I didn’t,” I snapped. My heart hadn’t found its normal beat yet and my voice sounded frustratingly breathless.
He moved around the island and held out his hand to me. I reluctantly took it and tried to be civil.
We had promised each other a peaceful divorce. This was something we both wanted. We had no reason to be anything but nice to each other.
Once I was standing, he looked me over again, but refrained from speaking his opinion. I tried to swallow back my annoyance. After living with him for seven years and hearing every little insignificant thought come out of his mouth, it bothered me that he had suddenly learned restraint.
What did he think about my outfit? Did he notice I’d lost weight? Could he see the dark bags beneath my eyes?
Did he think was losing sleep because of him?
Habits, I reminded myself. These were just familiar patterns from our marriage. I was used to being able to ask him his thoughts, which he always gave freely.
Now we acted like strangers, even though we knew each other more intimately than I knew any other person.  
“What are you doing here?” I finally asked when it didn’t seem he wanted to explain his presence.
“I didn’t think you were going to be here.”
His casual words lit a fire inside of me that I couldn’t ignore. My polite words tasted bitter and acrid in my mouth. “Teacher’s meeting was canceled tonight. Mr. Kellar had a family emergency.”
“Is everything alright?” Finally some kind of sympathy flared in his blue eyes, but it wasn’t meant for me.
My principal got his compassion, but not his wife.