BelievingRory_FBprofile_OptizimedForFeedI was thinking about how sometimes, as an author, I feel pressured into writing to what I think is commercial rather than what I would want to write about. But it occurred to me that isn’t why I write. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the lighter stories. I enjoy every story I write or I wouldn’t write it. But I do seem to be occasionally drawn to darker subjects. (Believing Rory and Painful Lessons would be examples of that) Or maybe just writing a story that isn’t dark, so much as it deals with dark subjects like stalking, death or subjects such as those. After all, I’m writing romance.

So I guess my question is; do you not buy books if they have any kind of serious subject? Do books that touch on the subject of death or grief turn you off? I don’t like movies or books that end sad, but I can handle anything if the book or movie ends happy. Are you like me, or do you veer away from anything that isn’t super cheerful and fluffy?

Go ahead and leave a response in the comment section along with your email address and I’ll pick two winners to receive an e-book of choice! I’m excited to hear what you have to say. Should authors just write to market or can you handle romance books that aren’t always light and fluffy, so long as they ultimately end happy?







Painful Lessons is the story of Brett Bridgeworth’s first year in college. He runs into a few problems when he falls under the spell of an obsessive guy. It was written by tapping into those strange, insecure emotions of the new adult years. We’ve all been there. Maybe we didn’t have to go through what Brett goes through in this story, but we were all messed up, emotional kids at one point.

PainfulLessonsFSI guess if I’m honest I still often feel like that awkward kid. I think that person is still very much alive inside of me. I think I’d hoped that as I got older all my insecurities and pressure to measure up would just fall away. But it didn’t, and I don’t think it ever will.


Do you ever still feel like you’re that gawky kid from the past? Or do you have it all together now that you’re all growds up? Tell me how you see yourself now. Let me into your mind and heart.

Leave a comment below and I’ll pick three people whose answers resonate with me for a free copy of Painful Lessons.



As a freshman both in love and in college, sometimes there are painful lessons to be learned.

Excited to begin his first year of college, Brett Bridgeworth has just one problem: he sucks at math. Luckily there’s the sensual and mysterious math tutor, Jeremy Price, to help him out. It isn’t long before Jeremy is tutoring Brett in more than just pie charts, but it isn’t until they split up that Brett discovers Jeremy’s twisted, obsessive side.

Sam Hawthorne is two years ahead of Brett, and they share a strong mutual attraction. When Brett breaks it off with Jeremy and gets involved with Sam, disturbing things start happening. It soon becomes obvious that Jeremy isn’t willing to let Brett go without a fight.download


I definitely don’t want what I’m about to share to look like I’m bragging. But I think it’s important to give a glimpse into my first sexual experiences because it has a lot to do with who I am, or at least who I was, when I went through all of that shit with Jeremy. Looking back, now I can see so clearly that I was like a sail with the line sliced, flapping uselessly in the cool sea breeze. Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of the story a little bit. I tend to do that sometimes.

I’ve always been bad at math. I mean, like, really awful. But I’d managed to get through high school because my teachers liked me. Mr. Winter, my algebra teacher, liked me a whole lot. So much so that, senior year, he made a deal with me; he’d give me an A if I let him suck me off.

Mr. Winter wasn’t one of those hot teachers we students fantasized about. He wore a lot of loud polyester shirts, and he had a pot belly. I went back and forth about his offer, and I did a bit of research on the Internet so I’d know what I was getting into. But ultimately I agreed, because if I failed algebra I’d be held back, and that would be way too embarrassing to me and, more importantly, my dad.

My dad owns Bridgeworth Electronics, and if his kid failed high school he’d probably have a heart attack. So I let Mr. Winter pull the blinds, unzip my jeans, and do his thing. The sight of him on his knees and the glare off his shiny bald head was all very surreal. I remember being super nervous because, while I was eighteen and I knew I liked guys, I’d never been touched by one yet. It was just me and my faithful hand, up until Mr. Winter introduced me to fellatio.

At his first touch I was numb inside and grappling with insecurities. Would I come too soon? Would he be too rough? Or worst of all, was he going to make me suck him off? But the initial warm slide of his mouth chased those fears away. Old dude or not, my eyes rolled back in my head, and I’d thrust into his mouth, oblivious to the world around me. Afterward he’d grinned up at me with a crooked, lecherous smile, as if we were somehow coconspirators.

For my first time, it was a little seedy and humiliating. I’d certainly never pictured my initiation to a BJ happening quite like that. But I had to admit his lips on me still felt great, so I shoved down the feelings of shame and took my A. I never saw Mr. Winter again, and I went on toward college still horrible in math but no longer pure as the driven snow.

I spent my summer waiting for responses from the colleges I’d applied to, and worried someone would find out about me and Mr. Winter’s arrangement. Would they be able to retract my grade if they knew what I’d done to get it? I’ll admit to feeling guilty about the whole arrangement with Mr. Winter, but the thought of failing had been too terrifying. When my acceptance letter arrived from UCLA, I put thoughts of my old math teacher behind me and spent the rest of the break celebrating with my friends.

I will say, after my sexual encounter with Mr. Winter, it was as if my hormones woke up for real. I became a horndog of epic proportions. My dad hired a new pool guy for the summer, and he was the opposite of Mr. Winter. This guy was probably in his thirties and hot. I mean smoking, Zac Efron hot. We exchanged lusty looks for a few weeks before anything actually happened. One day after swimming, I was showering in the small side building near the garden, and Lex walked in on me.

He set his pool skimmer against the wall and pulled his shirt off with one yank. I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and waited for him to make the first move. Soundlessly he dropped his shorts and underwear and walked up to me. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but I was excited to think this gorgeous guy wanted to do things to and with me. I believe I said a breathy, “Hi.”

“How old are you, Brett?” he’d asked, almost as if it was an afterthought.

“Eighteen,” I responded right before he pushed me against the slick white tiles and took my mouth roughly.

He tasted like tobacco and cinnamon, and his hands were rough on my hips. His cock wasn’t as wide as mine, but it was longer and it fit next to mine nicely. When the kiss ended, he began grinding his cock against mine, and the heat that flared in my groin was like an inferno. I grasped his shoulders and held on as lust rumbled through me like a steam engine. It wasn’t romantic by any stretch of the imagination. The ceramic tiles were freezing against my back, and they hurt my shoulder blades, but I didn’t care. I was young and ready to explore what I needed sexually.

I’d had a growth spurt toward the end of high school, and I was slightly taller than Lex. I clutched his damp chestnut curls and panted against the orgasm gathering at the base of my cock. He was louder than me. He groaned a lot and cussed as he threw his head back and flexed his hips like a jackhammer. I liked his noises. They were guttural and dirty, and they made me excited as my need ramped even higher. When we came the warm water washed the evidence down the drain as if it never happened.

I remember he stroked my cheek afterward, as I stared into his golden-flecked brown eyes. “That was nice,” he panted, and then he washed under the water with me, dried off with my towel, and got dressed. Right before he left, he turned and asked me, “Are you a virgin?”

I’m sure my cheeks turned red. They were warm now, thinking about how embarrassed I’d been to answer yes. Not to mention I wasn’t even sure if I was answering correctly. Was I a virgin? Did blow jobs count, or did not having had anal make me a virgin? But Lex had just smiled and quietly closed the door. I wasn’t a “virgin” much longer because a week later, Lex took me in that little shower area. I still remember the smell of the coconut-scented lube and the first burning glide of his cock in my untouched ass.

I learned a lot from Lex. The guy had zero inhibitions. We fucked our way through that hot summer, and when it came time to leave for college, I was thankful I didn’t have to go there not knowing anything about sex. I’d assumed I’d show up at UCLA horrible in math and a virgin, but thanks to Lex, only the “bad at math” part was still true.

My dad didn’t have time to drive with me to my new school. He said something about a crisis in the capacitor industry. I didn’t know what he was talking about, and it didn’t really matter because it wasn’t like it was negotiable or anything. Hey, how about you come to my college, see my room, and pretend you give a shit about me for a day? I’ll bake brownies for you?

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I guess at this point, I should mention the reason it was only me and him was because my mom died when I was ten. She went in for a routine hysterectomy and never came home. I remember coming back from school and finding my aunt Rose sobbing in the kitchen. She’d hugged me and my dad, and stayed for weeks to cook casseroles and keep the house clean. But after that she’d had to go back to her family in New York. Aunt Rose called me and my dad “her boys,” and she phoned to check on us often. But my dad’s never home, and I didn’t want to talk about my mom dying, so the time between calls had become longer and longer.

So back to my college experience. My roommate, Ted, was nothing like me. He was boisterous and loud and straight as a ruler. He was hugely into sports and talked about football nonstop. I, on the other hand, knew little about that subject, preferring reading and sketching to getting dirty and running around a field with a pigskin.

We still found some common ground since we both enjoyed eating. We always went to the cafeteria together for all our meals. Generally his jock friends would descend, and I’d sit mostly in silence, shoveling my cheese macaroni in like a machine. I think having Ted as my roommate protected me from being picked on by his homophobic buddies. They gave me hard looks and didn’t sit too close to me, but nobody ever said a disrespectful word to me.

One of the guys I didn’t mind so much. He had auburn hair and light green eyes, and he always smelled like vanilla. His name was Sam Hawthorne, and he was the only one who would speak to me without looking like he was afraid my gayness would get on him. I didn’t hide that I was gay, but I also didn’t flaunt it. The “gayest” thing I did was wear a small diamond stud in my ear that was one half of a pair of earrings my mom had owned. I didn’t wear the earring to make a statement as much as it made me feel connected to my mom.

I soon learned I liked being away from home. When nobody knew me, I could be different and didn’t have to play the role I’d always felt had been thrust on me: good son. Grieving son. It had been eight years since my mom died, and while I missed her and her quirky sense of humor, I wanted to live a little. These were my college years, and I was expecting to have new and exciting experiences. I wasn’t supposed to sit around trying to remember what my mom looked like, although sometimes the fact that I had trouble recalling her features bugged me a lot and made me feel like a horrible person. So I’d pull out the crinkled picture I kept in my wallet. The photo was of a family vacation at the beach a year before she died. She looked happy, and we were both smiling like idiots. My dad wasn’t in the picture, and I guess I mean that both literally and figuratively.







Howdy all,

I’ve been working on a story that’s darker than usual. My stuff always has tons of angst, but this one deals with suicide. It’s a New Adult story about a high school senior whose best friend kills himself. He finds out a lot about his friend and himself while dealing with the aftermath. This story was hard to write and easy all at the same time. It’s allowed me to tap into so many forgotten feelings from high school and college it’s been cathartic.depressed-boy

Ultimately, of course, my MC finds his way out of his depression by meeting an equally damaged individual. They help each other become whole again.

Here’s an excerpt: (Be warned there are sweary words)

I’m distracted by my thoughts of how terrified I am at ever making the first move when I hear Rory’s mother call my name. I’m frozen in place. What does she want?

“I’d love it if you’d say a few words, Lane.” She dabs at her red rimmed eyes with her tissue. “You knew him better than anyone.”

Finally. Validation that I was his best friend. I meet Baron’s gaze feeling triumphant. Until it sinks in she wants me to speak in front of everyone. I can’t do that. Does she not realize I never talk in front of people? How does she not know this about me? Why in God’s name did she not at least warn me, so I could have had some time to think about what to say? I swallow against the bile threatening to rise in my throat. With any luck I won’t throw up on the poor unsuspecting priest.

I force myself to walk to her side. I feel like I’m dragging my unwilling limbs along like a zombie. I’m certainly numb enough to be one of the undead. She takes my hand and I’m sure she must feel how cold and clammy my skin is. What should I say? Certainly not what I want to say; Fuck you, Rory, for killing yourself. Rot in hell Rory for leaving me here with all these other nobodies. I clear my throat, stalling for time. She’s shifting restlessly beside me. Well, lady, maybe you could have given me some God damned warning. That would have been nice.

“Rory was my best friend.” Great opening, genius. Everyone already knows this. My throat is like a rusty gate swinging open after years of disuse. Say something witty. Say something thought provoking. Say something. “I remember the first day I met Rory. He stopped some guys from tossing me head first into a trash can.”

That gets a little laugh. Perhaps I’m on a roll, now.

The smell of damp earth is heavy in the air, and a soft breeze blows my hair. Relax. Think about Rory. “From that point on Rory was always my protector.”

I see his face clearly in my mind. I’d had trouble doing that earlier, but now it’s there. I hear his husky laugh, and remember how he smells like the ocean when he hugs me. My heart aches because I never get to hold him again. “No one bothered me because they would have Rory to deal with.”

 I meet his mom’s gaze and there are tears streaming on her face. I gulp, pushing down the emotions that want to bubble up. “He was kind and…”  I’m shaking like a jackhammer as all eyes are on me. “He was sensitive…”

Why are they all watching me so intently? They must think I’m going to say something amazing. I’m not. Sweat trickles down my back and my legs prickle from the heat.  I’ll be lucky if I don’t pass out in the flower arrangements. “He was funny.” A crow squawks as it passes overhead. This moment would only be improved if he let loose a load of bird crap on my head. At least it would distract everyone from how awful my speech is.

Rory deserves such a better eulogy than I’m giving. God I suck. His image comes to my mind and my gut aches. I miss him. It’s like he’s been gone forever and it’s only been a week. I let him down so bad. I should have been more alert. I’m so fucking stupid. He needed me to notice and I missed the signs. I missed the signs and now Rory is gone forever. I’m so fucking useless.

I whisper, “I let him die. I failed my best friend and now he’s dead.”

There’s a gasp from the group of people staring. I drop Rory’s mom’s hand and head straight for my mother’s car. I can hear people mumbling in confusion but I just keep walking in a straight determined line. Why did my mom park so far away? I only stop when someone grabs my arm.

“Wait up, Lane.” I turn to find Baron beside me. He has that same nervous look again. The one that says he knows I don’t approve of him being Rory’s secret friend.

I’m embarrassed because hot tears are spilling down my cheeks. The statue is crying after all. “I failed him,” I choke out.


I feel like I’m going to drown in my tears. “I’m a worthless piece of shit.”

“No. God, no.” Baron surprises me when he pulls me into his arms. He squeezes me so tight I feel like I can’t breathe, but I don’t really care. I’m tired of breathing anyway. His body is hard and warm. I can hear his heart pounding under my ear. “He hid it from you. He knew you’d try to protect him and he didn’t want that.”

I nod, even though it’s hard with him holding me so close. “He tricked me.”

Baron gives a tiny, hard laugh. “He fooled both of us.”

“I’m so angry at him.” My voice shakes with rage.

“Me too.”

He lets me go, and I swipe the tears off my face roughly. I don’t know why I started crying. Maybe it’s because everyone was staring at me. I hate speaking in front of people. Now I’m mad at Rory’s mom for making me do that.

Baron grips my shoulder. “Can we go get that coffee now? I can’t take another second of this scene.”

I can’t just leave without telling my mom where I’ve gone. But there’s no way in hell I’m walking back over to that group of gawking people. My hands tremble as I text Kit and ask him to tell mom I’m going to coffee with a friend. Kit and my mom know my only real friend was Rory, so they will probably be even more confused by my text.

I follow Baron to his black sports car. I give one parting glance toward the group of mourners. I’m just in time to see them lowering my best friend in the world into the cold, hard ground.