Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a year!

I always tend to get a bit sentimental on New Years Eve. It's the idea that this year is in the books, and I can never write the numbers 2013 on a check again (yes, I still pay by check sometimes). My kids are a year older. Hell! I'm a year older. Didn't we just celebrate Y2K?

This year has been interesting. It's the first time in a long time that I did something for myself. I got serious about writing. Since, I became a mom, I've kind of checked out of me being me. Yes! Some will say that I became a new me when I had kids. But, I kind of missed the old me. When I got pregnant, I ditched my fabulous high heels for Uggs and flip flops. Getting dressed up became putting on nice jeans instead of my ten-year-old Gap jeans that are so soft that I could sleep in them. That was just my physical appearance. Mentally, I thought more about how I was going to get a local merchant to donate the silent auction gift certificate that my kid's school needed for the fund raiser than what was important to me, which has always been writing.

So, about this time last year, I took a deep breath and spilled my heart out to my husband. You see, I've been writing Colin and Charlie's story since I was kid. Of course, their story has evolved throughout the years, but the theme hasn't changed. How does one find the balance between their passions and their family (kind of like what I've done this year). My husband told me to go for it. I gave him the latest manuscript and left the house for a long time. You see, I couldn't stand the idea of him reading "Falling Into Infinity" let alone any of you.

When I returned home, he told me how proud he was of me. Then, he said that I couldn't publish it. The latest manuscript was written before the 2012 Aggie football season. He pointed out that I'd essentially written Johnny Manziel's debut season before it happened. I sucked it up and told another friend what I had been up to and let her read it. She said that I should go to Vegas because I could be a millionaire.

In late January of 2013, I had pretty much given up on their story. It was always just a college story with an epilogue that is essentially now the fourth book in the series. Then my friend, insomnia, reared its ugly head. One night, about two o'clock in the morning, I went to my computer and began to rework the book. In ten days, I had the bones for "Falling Into Infinity." I outlined the next three books and found that I had a story that I really liked. In fact, it was even better than the original - so much more authentic.

In May, I was ready to publish. My husband kept pushing me to do it. Terror is not a strong enough word to describe the couple of weeks before the book went live. I sent out seven ARC's to bloggers that I followed and prayed that the emails would wind up in their SPAM folders. My best case scenario was that I was able to check this off my bucket list without a single soul ever reading the series.

Then, in early June, I heard back from Jessica's Book Review. She said how much she loved "Falling." She gave it five stars. I cried.

I used to compare the process of writing a book to putting a picture of your child on the Internet and asking people you don't know to give you their opinion of him or her. That's no longer accurate. The kid is half my husband. I can reason away any faults that you see as his genes not mine. I now think of it as broadcasting your most inner thoughts - the ones that you never want anyone to know - and asking the world to judge you while you stand naked in front of them. It's gut wrenching.

I hit publish and ignored Amazon and all social media. I dove into finishing "From Now Until Infinity." Two weeks after it was live, my friend set up an author page on Facebook for me. Then, I drank half a bottle of wine and began reading the comments on Goodreads and Amazon.

The good reviews are still just as difficult to read as the bad. It's hard for me to come to terms with the idea that you know who Colin and Charlie are. They've been my dirty little secret for far too long. I'm also very protective of their story. I've been asked by blogs to do character interviews, and I always turn them down. I think of them as my friends, and I'm telling you their story over a long dinner. You wouldn't do a media interview about your best friends would you?

In six months, I've spent less than $50 on Facebook advertising. I've sent out very few ARC's. I've turned down all requests for public book signings. I'm a promotion person's nightmare.

But, because of you, my dreams have come true. I'm an Amazon best selling author. It's hard to even type those words because it still seems so impossible. Thank you to everyone who's read the entire series and fallen in love with Charlie and Colin. Thank you to those who couldn't get past the second chapter of "Falling" and sent me messages telling me so. I appreciate you for taking the time to let me know why you didn't like the book. Especially, thank you to everyone who's shared the series with a friend. God, it means so much to me that you cared enough to tell someone else about Colin and Charlie. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My goals for 2014:
  • Do a better job of accepting your praise and criticism.
  • Be more available on my blog and other social media.
  • Oh yeah... Get book four in your hands some time in March :-)
  • Publish my new book. It's not part of the Infinity Series in that you need the back knowledge to appreciate it, but it does feature a character from the series. Let me repeat... It's not part of the Infinity Series at all. There is no new information to be gleamed about Charlie or Colin from the book. You can read it without knowing who Colin and Charlie are and not miss out on anything. I'll give you a hint... The character is not Rachael or Aiden.
I also believe in sharing what I've learned so far on this journey:
  •  I can wear my worn out Gap jeans, grey sweatshirt and keep my hair twisted up in a clip and still accomplish more in five hours than most people get done all day!
  • Amazon is unpredictable at best and a nightmare at its worst.
  • My kids can eat cereal and hot dogs for supper (sometimes together) and survive - even thrive.
  • I can shut my office door and ignore my family for a night and the house doesn't collapse around us. Kids still get bathed, homework is completed and children don't starve if I'm MIA. I also still get picked flowers and "I love you notes." My kids see that I'm doing something for myself that doesn't revolve around them and they're proud of me. It's really amazing.
  • There is still an abundance of kindness in this world. My new book friends I've made this year have enriched my life in ways that I didn't even know I was lacking.
  • Tough skin is necessary if you want to take your foot off of first base to steal second. People have bad days. They say things that they don't mean. Meanness is all about the person dishing it.
  • Too much wine equals insomnia. Who knew?
Cheers! Here's to wishing you a blessed 2014, and hopefully more great stories from me :-)




Monday, November 25, 2013

"Finding Infinity" is live!

Today, I hit "publish" instead of breaking up my kids' morning fight over who gets what cereal bowl. I hit "publish" while my husband took over my job coaxing our dogs to use the restroom outside when it's freezing cold and raining. More importantly, I pushed aside the huge knot in the pit of my stomach and clicked on the singular word that gives you, my loyal readers, the heart - the crux - of Charlie and Colin's story. I'm scared to death that I've let you down. I'm scared that the book is too real - not enough fantasy. In the end, though, this is their story. This has been their story for longer than I've been a wife and a mother. I hope you love Colin and Charlie even more for their faults and failures. I also hope you appreciate their journey and feel, when you're finished, you caught up with an old friend over an amazing dinner and bottle of wine. And you look forward to the next time you meet again.

Click here (http://amzn.com/B00GWNJK14) to purchase a copy.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Finding Infinity" Teaser - Part Nine


Here's your last teaser... "Finding Infinity" will be live on Tuesday, November 26!
With that, he takes my hand, and leads me back to the lobby where our friends are waiting. They all wish Colin good luck, and head off to find their seats in the upper levels of the theater.
Colin and I make our way into the auditorium with our game faces on. My arm is laced around his elbow. I have a pageant-ready smile on my face. I glance up at Colin. He appears to not have a care in the world. His camera-ready smile is plastered on and his jaw is relaxed. We’re good. Real good.
After being stopped numerous times, and going through lots of introductions to people that I’ll never remember, we find our seats.
Once we’re seated, Colin leans over and breathlessly whispers in my ear, “Every man in here wants you, but I’m the one getting to take that dress off tonight.”
Why does he do this to me? I’ve been so good. Game face is on. Then, when he whispers dirty words, I dissolve into a puddle of goo. “You’re a bad boy McKinney,” I whisper.
He gives me a discreet lick behind my ear. “Your bad boy.”
I pull back, so he can see me blushing.
He laughs, his loud, gorgeous laugh that starts at his toes. “God, I love you.” He takes my hand and gently rubs his thumb on my palm.
The lights dim, the director counts us down, letting us know that we’re about to be live on television, and the host comes out on stage. I’m sure that Brad knows exactly who this guy is, but I haven’t a clue.
He starts his opening monologue. I guess he’s funny enough. I politely laugh at his jokes, because everyone else is. That is, until he starts shooting zingers at the athletes in the audience. I know that a joke is going to be hurled Colin’s way. He’s been too high-profile lately to be passed over. I mentally prepare myself to laugh at it, no matter what the comedian says. I refuse to let the world see that whatever the joke is bothers me.
Then it comes.
“No wonder Colin McKinney takes painkillers. If I had to endure that many heartbreaking seasons, I’d be an addict, too. And what about his doctor girlfriend, or should we call her his dealer? Convenient to be engaged to a doctor. Rather convenient, huh?” he says, tapping his forehead, as if he’s really thought this out.
I glance over at Colin, expecting his jaw to be set in that terribly pained way, and the lines around his eyes to have deepened. That’s not the case. His face is relaxed, and determined.
He stands up, offering me his hand. Dear God, what is Colin doing? I take it, blindly, not having an idea what’s going on. Then, I soon realize that we’re standing, and walking up the center aisle of the auditorium, headed for the three sets of closed double doors in the back. I see everyone staring at us in shock, surprise, amazement and confusion. We’re the car accident, and everyone is rubbernecking. My eyes lock on Liza’s. Her hands go to her mouth as she stares at me.
The audience is silent. The comedian is silent.
Colin’s grip on my hand is painful. He’s walking, more determinedly than I’ve ever seen him. He has his eyes fixed on the exit sign. I feel like I’m almost running to stay by his side. I follow him, not saying a word until we’re out the auditorium doors. They slam behind us, which reminds me just how eerily quiet it really is.
Colin’s drops my hand, and blood returns to it in a gush of painful prickles. He runs his hands through his hair, and begins pacing back and forth. I recognize this for what it is. Colin just reached his breaking point. He’s me, seeing Alice iron my underwear. It’s something small. What the comedian said was not something new or original. It’s not something that hasn’t been theorized in the press for the previous weeks. But, hearing the words come out of the comedian’s mouth while I was sitting next to him, was the last straw for Colin.
Some producer, or director, or someone who seems to have an important job rushes over to us, apologizing like crazy for the comedian’s remarks. I’m too stunned to fully register what he’s saying, but he’s definitely trying to talk us out of leaving. Next, we’re joined by Brad, Aiden, and Jenny. They start chiming in on the conversation, trying to calm Colin down.
I feel my blood pressure rising, and it’s not from the inappropriate remarks made by the comedian. How dare they? How can our friends be blind to what I see so clearly? Colin might be a super athlete. He might be one of the most recognizable men in the world. But he’s still just a man. He has feelings too. His heart beats with the same red blood as everyone else’s. He feels pain and anger. He’s not a robot, and he shouldn’t have to take abuse from anyone, especially someone who makes mean remarks about people for a living.
 I finally snap out of my shock and say, just to Colin, ignoring the large group of people that have now surrounded us, “You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. I love you. We can leave and go back to our hotel.” I take his hands in mine, and look into his green eyes. “You. Don’t. Have. To. Stay. Colin.”
That’s all the permission he needs. Without an explanation to the group that is still chirping at him, trying to convince him to go back inside and have a seat, or our friends who are desperately trying to calm him down, we walk out the side entrance of the theater, hand in hand. One boy who’s hurting, that’s loved infinitely by his one girl.
We leave the limo for Brad, Jenny, and Aiden. Colin hails a cab, and asks the driver to pull in at In and Out Burger.


Friday, November 22, 2013

"Finding Infinity" Teaser - Part Eight

Tuesday is the big day :-)

As I see him finally make his way to the auditorium doors, I grab Brad and head for the area where he will be entering.  I’m waiting as he steps inside, and out of the firing line of the reporters. Jenny and Aiden follow him in. The lobby is filled with the chaos of arriving athletes, PR people, guests, and producers.
But I ignore them all, because the look on Aiden’s face says it all. Colin’s going to have to answer the media’s questions. He can’t spend the rest of his career ignoring them. But that’s a tomorrow problem. Right now, Colin and I need some privacy.
I turn to our little group. “If you’ll excuse Colin and I for a minute. We need to talk.”
I grab his hand, ignoring his face, and lead him back to the secure area where I’d watched him walk the red carpet. Once I’m confident that we’re alone, I pull him to me and wrap my arms around his chest. I look up into his shell-shocked green eyes. I would do anything to make sure that he never looks like this again.
“I’m going to have to do something aren’t I,” he states, rather than asks me.
“Yeah, baby. I think you are,” I say, as calmly as possible, as I continue to hold him to me. There is nothing I want more than to make this better for him, but I know that I can do nothing but love him and support him through it. This is the first time that his name has been tarnished, and it’s killing him.
He clings to me, pulling me tighter to him. We stand there, holding on to each other, until I finally break his grasp on me. “You handled Sasha well,” I say, looking in his eyes, hoping that I don’t see anything other than relief.
“Yeah,” he confirms, rubbing his hand through his waves. “I did.” I get the reassurance that I need. “I guess we should go inside, and hope that the host isn’t some comedian looking for his five minutes who’s going to drag this on longer than it has to.”
These are the words that come out of his mouth, but neither one of us actually moves. Once we’re inside the theater, the cameras will find us. I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that there won’t be multiple shots of us sitting next to each other. It’s three hours of being perfectly on point. They’re hoping to catch Colin and me during an intimate touch or a warm embrace. They want to see my reaction when the winners of the awards that Colin’s up for are announced. This is our last unguarded moment.
I reach down, and grab his left hand. I bring his ring, with its secret meaning, up to my lips, and kiss it. “It’s you and me, baby. That’s it. I’m just a girl who loves a boy.”

He smiles the half smile that I live for. “You’re right. I’m just a boy who’s crazy in love with a girl. Fuck the rest of the world.” He smirks. “We’ll add all of them to my I Don’t Give A Fuck list.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Finding Infinity" Teaser - Part Seven

November 26 is so close that I can taste it...



As soon as Brad and I are inside the lobby, security walks me over to a bank of televisions so we can watch Colin walk the red carpet. It’s amazing to see how carefree he looks. He’s walking along the line of fans, shaking hands, signing autographs, and posing for pictures. I see him grab a fangirl’s camera and take a photo of the two of them together. She nearly passes out. He acknowledges all the kids and gives them an extra half-second of his time.
The producers of the various networks that have sent reporters to cover the red carpet arrivals are trying to get Colin’s attention. I see them finally giving up, and pleading their cases to Jenny and Aiden.
I can tell when Colin spots Tyler and Liza, because his smile finally reaches his eyes. He walks over to them and greets them both. They pose for pictures together. I’ve grown to really like them. Liza, being a music stylist, has them dressed as if they’re going to the Grammys. However, I have to laugh out loud when I see the tie that Tyler is wearing. He has on all black: black pants, jacket, and shirt. All of his tattoos are appropriately covered. However, the tie that he’s wearing is the ultimate in tacky. It’s a Dallas Cowboys tie from the 1980's that probably came complimentary with the purchase of a bottle of cologne. It’s hideously perfect for the rocker/football player. His hair is a crazy shade of blue. The fans love him, and scream for his attention.
Aiden and Jenny direct Colin to the line of reporters covering the red carpet arrivals. That’s when I see her. Sasha Stone is holding a microphone, and trying desperately to get Colin’s attention. I turn to the security person standing next to me. “Please turn up the volume,” I ask, trying to keep the fear out of my voice. The ever present knot is growing in my stomach.
I watch Colin’s body language, trying to predict what he’s going to do. As he approaches her, his face is unreadable. He’s slipped the game day mask on. He could stab you in the heart, and you wouldn’t see it coming.
I’ll give Sasha credit. She looks gorgeous. Her dress is lime sorbet green, which sounds ugly, but looks fantastic against her tan complexion, light blonde hair and bright blue eyes. It skims her body, revealing every curve without showing much skin.
When Colin reaches her, he bends down and places a kiss on her cheek. I’m sure that it’s friendly, but it makes me crazy. Those lips will not touch me until they’ve been sanitized . . . with Lysol. Their body language is friendly. I reach down and feel my engagement ring with my finger. I know that Colin wants me and not her, but I still hate seeing them together. Her beauty rivals his.
She single-handedly sunk my career by granting that awful interview. Because of her, Colin and I had to open our lives up for public viewing. I hate her. How can he be so friendly to her? She pushed the pebble down the mountain, creating our avalanche.
Then, I notice what Colin’s doing. He’s rubbing his thumb back and forth over his engagement ring. It’s a very small gesture, but I’ve noticed that he does it frequently. My first impression is that it’s become the equivalent of a child’s safety blanket for him, or a much-loved teddy bear. The ring, that he complained so much about wearing, is bringing him comfort. That loosens the knot in my stomach.
Sasha keeps her questions focused on football, which is smart, on her part. Colin gives the same rehearsed, tired answers that he always gives. Yes! He’s looking forward to the season. This is one of the best teams that Dallas has ever had. Blah . . . blah . . . blah . . .
Then, to my surprise, she asks him if he can confirm the rumors that he’s ending his endorsement deal with the underwear company. Colin flashes his “Aw, shucks” grin and replies, “You know, I’m almost in my mid-thirties. I think it’s time to hang up the briefs.”
Sasha jumps on the news, like white on rice. “So, you’re confirming that your famous underwear campaign will be coming to an end?”
“Yup. That’s what I’m confirming,” he says, still smiling his good ol’ boy grin.
“I noticed a wedding ring on your left hand. Can you also confirm that you’re married?” I’ll give Sasha credit. She asks the question without a hint of malice or jealousy in her voice. She’s either a great reporter, or she never really loved Colin, like her interview led everyone to believe.
Colin’s jaw sets in the rigid stance that I’ve become familiar with when he’s angry, and I see him thumbing his ring even faster. “Sasha, I do not comment on my private life.” As he says this, the camera zooms in on his left hand. His emphasis on the word “my” clearly has a double meaning. He’s telling her that it’s his life, not hers, and also letting her know that he didn’t appreciate the tell-all interview that she granted. “My” is one hell of a powerful word.
He turns and walks away from Sasha, without an ounce of pleasantries. I can hear the questions being shouted at him. Reporters are asking where I am. They want to know when the baby is due. But, most disconcertingly, they want him to answer questions about the rumors of his addiction to painkillers and other narcotics. He’s doing a wonderful job of ignoring all the noise, and going back to interact with the crowd of fans.
I want to run down and rescue him. I feel my blood pressure rising. How dare they? I’ve never seen someone who takes as good care of their body as Colin does. Yes. He admitted only to me that he had a problem, but that was very early in his career, and he’s moved on. Damn the media, for building him up just to tear him down.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Finding Infinity" Teaser - Part Six

A week from today... "Finding Infinity" will be live on November 26.

Then Brad slightly gestures his head toward Colin. I look up at the man standing next to me. He’s staring down at me with a look that I can’t place.

When the elevator reaches the ground floor, I ask everyone to get off. I hit the elevator’s close-door button, and turn to Colin. It’s the first time that we’ve been truly alone without others hanging around in earshot since we got up this morning.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, in my sweetest, most non-accusing voice possible.

His eyes are wide, and Colin has a light sheen on his forehead. “Nothing’s wrong, Caroline. Let’s go.”

I’m only Caroline when I’m in trouble, or he’s serious. Even when we’re playing his favorite game in bed, I’m Caroline McKinney. Not just Caroline. He moves to hit the open-door button, but I block it. I’ve got all night.

He moves his hand up to start running it through his waves, but I grab his wrist, and ask again. “What’s wrong?”

Colin looks down, as if the elevator floor is going to give him the answer. Finally, he says, “I’m not ready to give them what they want.”

“Who?”

“Them. The public. The fans. Everyone there. I don’t want to let them see us together, exposing ourselves to their shitty comments. To see what we have between us. They don’t deserve to have their morbid curiosity fed.” He tightens his grip on my hand.

Caroline of a couple of months ago would analyze Colin’s words to death. What if he’s ashamed of me? What if there are other women? Is it because I’m not pretty enough, like a model, or actress, or a certain entertainment reporter? However, I know exactly what he means, without asking him to explain. He doesn’t want to share our relationship with the world yet. The interview taught us that we’re much more private people than even we realized.

“How about I don’t walk the red carpet with you? I’ll just meet you inside.” It seems like a great compromise. He can interact with his fans and the reporters without worrying about me, but I can still be his date during the actual awards ceremony.

I watch his face pass through a variety of emotions. There’s confusion, angst, nervousness and, finally, agreement. “It’s not because I’m not proud of you, Charlie. You are so beautiful. And lovely. And sexy.” He whispers to me as if these are the most important words ever spoken.

I place my perfectly manicured finger on his lips, silencing him. “I know what your reasons are. Let’s get out of this elevator. It’s getting stuffy.”

I press the button to open, take Colin’s hand once more and lead him out of the elevator, through the lobby, and into the limo that’s already filled with our friends.

I slide in first—as gracefully as possible—and Colin folds his body in behind me. When the limo starts moving, Colin turns to Jenny and says in an authoritative voice, “Find out how Caroline can enter the theater without walking the red carpet.”

Aiden and Brad both shoot me a look. I smile brightly and say, “I don’t feel comfortable walking the red carpet, and Colin isn’t going to make me.”

Jenny jumps into action, and whips out her phone making the necessary calls.

Colin squeezes my hand, acknowledging and thanking me for my small lie. I’ve come to understand some things about Colin. He might be strong and tough as nails on the outside. He might be cocky and self-assured to the world, but I think that I’m the only person who gets to see the other side of him. His tender side. His blinding need to protect our relationship. Us. Him and I. I get it. We’ve been through too much together to take a chance on anyone taking it away from us.

After Jenny hangs up with whomever she was speaking with, a new plan is hatched. Jenny, Aiden, and Colin will get out of the limo together, and walk the red carpet. Jenny and Aiden will field reporters’ questions.

The limo will pull up to a side entrance for Brad and me. I’ll meet Colin in the lobby after he’s given himself to everyone who expects so much out of him.

When the limo stops, Colin leans over and whispers in my ear, “Don’t go all Charlie on me.”

I brush my lips against his cheek so I don’t leave lipstick. “Same for you, mister.”

We break hands only when he steps out of the limo. I can hear the roar of the crowd screaming his name. There are cheers and shrill screams. I can see him smiling his winning smile, and waving to his fans as he buttons his black tuxedo jacket.

Next out of the car is Jenny, and then Aiden. As the door is shutting, I hear someone yell. “Where’s Charlie?”

The limo pulls away before I can hear his answer, or if he even does.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Finding Infinity" Teaser - Part Five



He turns away from me, breaking our image together in the mirror and reaches back grabbing my offered hand. He leads me into the living room of the suite where my beauty team, and Brad, Jenny, and Aiden are waiting for us.
Everyone but Jenny and Aiden swarm me, like they’re in a pack of locusts. Someone’s touching up my lipstick. Someone else is fussing over the hem of my dress. I hear the makeup artist say to the hair stylist, “She certainly doesn’t need more blush, does she?” That makes me smile, which earns me a reprimand from the makeup person.
Jenny and Aiden are surrounding Colin, whispering like middle school girls with a big secret. I try very hard to hear what they’re saying, but all I can make out are a few syllables. I glance at Brad, asking him for a clue with my eyes.
The best assistant in the world mouths, “Security.”
Oh! I give Brad a small head nod. Even though there will be heavy security tonight, Colin has been anxious about today. Every week since the interview aired with Allison Katz, the amount of interest in Colin has increased to an even more frenzied pitch, if that was possible. The public is clamoring for answers to the world’s most important questions. When is our wedding? Is he a drug abuser? A painkiller addict?  As he has told me numerous times, “I created the Colin McKinney brand monster, and now we’re suffering the consequences.”
Jenny thankfully announces that it’s time to head to the Nokia Theater. That makes the little mice working on me move that much faster, until they’re finally convinced that I’m as pretty as I’m going to get. Brad grabs my purse, if it could be called that. It’s not even large enough to hold a phone. And Jenny (whose hair is bright red), Aiden, Brad, Colin and I head downstairs to our waiting limo.
Brad mouths at me when in the elevator, “You look fabulous.”
I mouth back, “I feel like a clown.”

"Finding Infinity" will be available on November 26!