My BIG BookBub Giveaway

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About 8 months ago I got my very first BookBub and the results were FANTASTIC! In a few days my second BookBub will go live and to celebrate I’m throwing a GIANT giveaway! If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you know that today is the day I’ll be sending out promo materials to blog hosts.

I’m also posting them here for two reasons: 1) To announce the giveaway, of course, so if you’re interested in a FREE Kindle Fire or any of the other awesome prizes listed below, feel free to follow the link and enter 2) So that anyone out there who’s interested in helping me spread the word can swipe these images to share on social media.GiveawayDetails

Pen&XanderExcerpt1

Pen&XanderExcerpt2P&XAuthorBio

 

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Stop and Look

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I have started a million blog posts this month and swiftly deleted them all for being manic nonsense that would no doubt terrify anyone who stumbled upon them. That’s what happens when the vision you had for your life–a vision that you were slowly bringing to life–suddenly crumbles, leaving you with absolutely no idea what comes next. (I’m being dramatic–sort of).

And I have to know what comes next. I have to know so that I can meditate on it and obsess over it and live it out in my own head until the day the future actually arrives. It was working so far, this whole living in the future thing. Or so I thought. Now, the things that are causing me stress and anxiety and fear are forcing me to do something else too. Actually live in the moment for once.

Living. In the now. With my students. With my dog. With my boyfriend. With my books. I’m writing in short bursts, as if writing is just this quirky hobby that I do on my lunch break. As if I’m starting over. And for the past month this thought has absolutely terrified me. Starting over? I can’t start over. Not creatively. Not financially. But suddenly I have no choice. And I can choose to be scared or I can choose, for the first time, to give up some control–okay, complete control–and stare into the unknown with excitement and an open mind.

Choosing excitement, choosing to have an open mind does not erase my anxiety but it does make it feel less life threatening. It does make it easier for me to acknowledge that it’s there and then go about my day. It doesn’t stop me in my tracks quite as often. But when it does I try not to get lost in it. Instead, I try to breathe, to look around, and see all of the beautiful things in my life. Relics of all the hard work and long days. Relics I can actually enjoy now that I’m finally being forced to stop and look.

Teaser Tuesday

P&X Teaser #1-7

I hold my breath and then I venture inside. A latex bubble floats in the center of the bowl. I lean against the wall, watching it twist. My survival rule about always doing the scary thing was not created with condom-clogged toilets in mind. Maybe it’s a metaphor. Maybe it’s a sign. I stare closer but then I start gagging the same way Josie was. And I realize that it isn’t the universe trying to test me or send me a message. It’s a condom in a fucking toilet and this is my life now.

Suddenly, I’m sliding down the wall. I land on the floor with a thud, my back pressed to the hard surface as I try to keep everything inside me from collapsing too. My lungs are the first to go, the smell of the stagnant toilet water making them clench. The dam in my tear ducts and the back of my throat goes next. The rush forces my lips apart and I cover my mouth, not letting myself make a sound. I barely sniff, shaking as I try to cry as silently as possible.

Because it hurts to feel it all over again—losing the restaurant, losing my father, losing the only purpose I had for anything.

And because this is where David said I’d end up. And then I challenged him to a duel. A duel I’m in very serious danger of losing if I can’t stop the storm inside me.

But maybe I don’t want to stop it.

Maybe this time I want to be swept up, torn apart.

Maybe that’s what I need.

Don’t listen. It’s lying.

I close my eyes, imagining the sounds of the restaurant, the smell of my food coming out on steaming plates, the tastes resting on people’s lips. On my own.

That’s the truth. That’s who I am.

Not this. This pathetic puddle.

You are fearless. You are strong.

You are fearless. You are strong.

I steal my breath back, chanting the words over and over in my head. Until it’s not such a fight to remember, to believe it’s true.

It is true. I am fearless. I am strong.

I am fearless. I am strong.

I rise to my feet, catching my reflection in the bathroom mirror as I scrape the tears from my cheeks. Then I stand over the toilet, staring down into the bowl. At a fucking condom.

I take a deep breath, reaching for the plunger.

Because this is my life. And. I. Can. Do. This.

 

Pen&Xander.v9

Available here!

Teaser Tuesday

P&X Teaser #1-6

Beneath the light whistle of the wind, crickets chirping, I say, “You’re a good friend.”

She ignores the comment, sitting on the lid of an old paint can. “It’s your turn.”

I sit down next to her. “I’m ready.”

She narrows her eyes. “Okay, for all the marbles this one’s a two-parter. One truth and one dare.” She stares at the street, cheeks burning.

When she faces me again mine are too.

“Truth,” she breathes. “Do you want to kiss me?”

I don’t look away or even blink. “Yes.”

She doesn’t look away either. “Dare.” She swallows, leans in. “Do it.”

My hands move first, trusting that the only way to make them stop shaking is to press them to her skin. My thumbs graze her cheeks, fingers in her hair. It’s soft and she’s warm and for a long time I just look at her, closing the space centimeters at a time while I take in the lashes that are stuck together by mascara, the birthmark buried under her left eyebrow, the small dimple on her chin. I stare, sorting every piece into things that feel good and things that hurt like hell, into things I never want to forget and things I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I never have to.

But before I have a chance to savor those first few breaths slipping between her lips, they’re pressed against mine, falling and climbing their way back up. I taste her lipstick, her tongue, and it makes me dizzy. Her hands are on my knees, pinning me there, and then they’re on my waist, on my shoulders, both of us gripping each other like we’re clinging to the edge of a cliff. Afraid of falling off. Or hoping that if we do, we’ll fall together.

Suddenly, Pen stops moving.

She stops breathing, my wild heartbeat the only sound.

I open my eyes and she’s not staring back. She’s staring at the street. At the car parked in front of Angel’s house, cigarette smoke slithering up from the open window, flesh and ink viper flexed against Jago’s forearm as he hangs it over the side of the door.

I’m on my feet and so is Pen. She shudders, angry, and unafraid. But I’m terrified. And not just of Jago seeing me here but of Jago seeing her. I don’t know how long he’s been watching us but I can tell by the way his mouth twitches that he knows who she is. To Ignacio Prado. To me.

The engine purrs as the car pulls forward. Just in time for Angel to step outside. For Jago to say hello to him too.

“Get inside, Pen.”

She straightens, shoulders heaving.

“Pen…”

“No.” Her stare sharpens. She charges down the steps. “He’s not gonna fucking do this.”

Angel wrenches her back. “Are you out of your mind?”

My heart races.

“Stay away from us!” Pen shouts, trying to tear herself from Angel’s grasp. “Stay away from the restaurant. Fucking stay away!”

She seethes but the faster her breaths, the more transparent she becomes. Beneath the anger, beneath the shock, her eyes glisten with something like fear. And it’s all my fault.

Jago hangs his head back, a whistle cutting between his smile. He leans on the gas, letting the engine growl, and then he speeds off.

Pen glares until he rounds the corner and then she finally lets Chloe pull her inside. I stay put, afraid of facing Angel. I know Jago’s been following me and because I wasn’t being careful I led him right to Angel Prado’s house. To Pen. Her rage wasn’t directed at me but what she doesn’t know is that it should have been.

“I’m sorry, Angel. I didn’t mean for—”

“It’s not you,” Angel stops me. “It’s…” he shakes his head, “it’s not you.”

Pen&Xander.v9

Available here!

Want more Teasers?

Teaser Tuesday

P&X Teaser #1-4

“I’m fine.” She hides her face, stepping to the window.

I follow, her staring into the night, me staring at her. “You know…you don’t have to be.”

She glances at me, confused. “Just because you’re the only person at the restaurant who’s ever seen me cry doesn’t mean you know me.”

I look back over my shoulder, Lucas and Struggles causing some kind of ruckus in the hallway. “Maybe they don’t either.”

She presses the heels of her hands to her eyes again, quiet for a long time. Then she says, “He could have just fired me.” She shakes her head. “He didn’t have to erase me.”

It isn’t just the faint tremble in her voice—I’m not sure what it is exactly. Maybe the room, bigger now with just the two of us in it. Or maybe I’m just really seeing her for the first time, the parts of her she doesn’t wear to the restaurant. But I feel like whatever threads have been holding her together are ready to snap. She feels it too, which is why she’s trying so hard to not let me see, to not let anyone see.

She looks up, tears drying on command. “I shouldn’t be talking to you like this.”

The creak of the door pulls my gaze.

“Did you find those box cutters?” Chloe asks. “They’re all waiting downstairs.”

I grab the box cutters off the floor and then I find Pen’s reflection in the glass one more time.

I want to tell her that I understand. What it’s like to feel invisible; to feel like all you’re good for is forgetting. Even though I’ll always remember her like this. Bare. Beautiful. But I don’t say a word. She seeks my eyes within the glass and I’m silent. And then, even though leaving is the last thing I want to do, I turn and go.

 

Pen&Xander.v9

Available here!