Front Porch Stories: Monday’s Five

1. Had a family reunion out at my parent’s place this weekend. It was a big, Cuban affair with my dad’s brothers and all my cousins. We all grew up together in Homestead and went different ways via formidable years in Georgia and are now spread out between Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but when we all get together it’s noisy, joyous and filled with my mother’s food. We even made a hashtag, because it’s apparently 2015? And people do that. #MorenoReunion2015

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It’s a little mad to realize we’re not the kids anymore. The young cousins I last saw as babies are in high school and most of us have kids and what even is this time thing. Glancing at my mom and grandmother I wonder how it feels. Then again, I look at my kids chasing each other and laugh at the fact that somehow I’m someone’s mom and where is Mufasa to explain the circle of life to me.

2. And it was nice to cap off the week with a party. Because, last week? It was awesome.

Like, real awesome.

So awesome my dude and kids took me out to a nice dinner at the lake. I mean, sure, the lake is at the end of my street, but it was some delicious seafood and fruity drinks out by the water as the sun set with signs reminding us not to feed the gators. I love you, Florida.

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3. ALSO SOUND THE ALARMS BECAUSE OUTLANDER RETURNS THIS SATURDAY. *faints*

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Every day, Jaime. Every. Day.

4. I didn’t get to watch the Orlando City match this weekend, because of the reunion, BUT I did follow the score on my phone, because of course I did, and I absolutely rocked my Orlando City koozie. I’m actually new to the koozie thing. I was once at a bar in South Carolina with a friend and every woman I ran into had a koozie in her purse. It was amazing. My sister has a drawer of them. I only have three. A Florida Gators one, Orlando City, and a blue one with Daleks that say, “Intoxicate. Intoxicate.” I’m feeling pretty good about my koozie collection representing who I am as a person.

5. Speaking of koozies and what we put in them, found this beer at Publix this week.

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Something something about tequila barrels and almost like a beergarita, but really smooth.

Finally, someone on Twitter reminded us all that it’s two days until APRIL in the year 2015.

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Put that in your koozie and drink it.

My Crooked Bookshelf: Kicking the 2014 Book Slump

Unfortunately last year was kind of a crap year for me reading-wise. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine. It was literally an “it isn’t you, it’s me” situation. Between the drafting and revising and life-ing, I couldn’t turn the voracious reading part of my brain back on. I was binging on Netflix, discovering Doctor Who and scrolling through Twitter in my down time instead of picking up a book.

The reader inside me was STARVING.

When 2015 kicked down my door, I looked it in the face, narrowed my eyes and said, “I’m going to read the crap out of this year. I swear it.”

To be completely frank I read a total of 20 books last year.

20. Books. In twelve months. I can’t even with myself.

Here we are at the end of March, and my current total is 23. Not too shabby.

Some of those have been rereads, but I totally count those, because choosing to go back means something.

I reread all of the Fever books by Karen Marie Moning in preparation of reading BURNED and it was amazing, frustrating and everything I love about that series. I also reread the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews as well as caught up on the last two books and am officially now dying for the next one. I swear, MAGIC BREAKS was one of the most epic reading experiences I can remember in forever. Speaking of Ilona Andrews, I read the first in their new series, BURN FOR ME, and dammit, if they aren’t amazing storytellers and totally top five forever and ever for me. I’m currently on the hunt for all the Urban Fantasy I haven’t read. I just finished MIND GAMES by Carolyn Crane, and will be surely reading the rest of that trilogy.

This is also the year I want to read more Fantasy Romance. I started with WARPRIZE by Elizabeth Vaughn and RADIANCE by Grace Draven, and am now reading LORD OF THE FADING LANDS by C.L. Wilson. (And I am SO IN.)

I was also on a New Adult kick and loved THE HOOK UP by Kristen Callihan, THE DEAL by Elle Kennedy, and LUCK ON THE LINE by Zoraida Córdova. All are first books in series I will follow from here on out, waving my fangirl flag.

As far as Young Adult, I read two amazing, contemporary YA books that take place in the South. BIGGEST FLIRTS by Jennifer Echols and NO PLACE TO FALL by Jaye Robin Brown. I’m working on a blog post about southern YA and the ways some of my favorite stories use setting, voice and characters to show the many sides of the South.

My bracket is also still alive and well in this year’s DABWAHA. It’s a tournament of 64 books put together by Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches, and it’s a ton of fun. There’s no telling how long my luck and guesses will go, but I’m going all the way with MAGIC BREAKS. It was that kind of book.

Here’s to creaking bookshelves and never-ending TBR piles.

Lazy Girl Crafts: Make Your Own Art

We’ve lived in our house for almost three years now, and there was a lot of work that went into getting it to where it is now. We bought an old place beside our small, but working downtown, and it is definitely not the house we walked into with our realtor anymore. The previous owners had run a business out of it, so there was glass walls, bright red paint, and concrete floors. Truth be told, we walked around a bit, sighed over not finding our house again, and moved on. But both Craig and I had felt something. Something in the backyard, something from standing beneath the big oak trees. From standing in the driveway and being able to look down the street and see the lake. From the grapefruit tree, blooming sweet. There was something to this house, and maybe we could make it work.

And we have.

I’m proud of the life we’ve built, and the work we’ve put into our house. From the wood floors Craig put down himself, to the walls he’s taken down and put up somewhere else. I’ve painted every single wall, and even the kitchen cabinets. But now here we are three years later and we’re finally making our own art for these walls.

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We found two MDF boards in the clearance cart at Home Depot and my eyes lit up, because I’d been flirting with the Scrabble tiles idea. After sketching out how to work all of our names together, we got the letter stencils and paint, also at Home Depot, and got to work.

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He may not find his name on a keychain in a tourist shop, but my son will always win the most points for that damn X.

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I had one more idea for a piece of art for our walls, and of course, it was also inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest. Putting letter stickers on a painting you found at the thrift store, painting over them and then peeling them off to reveal a revamped painting with a hipster cool quote?

And I had the perfect painting.

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I’ve been carting this thing with me for YEARS. And it’s huge, let me tell you. I found it in a thrift store when I still lived at home and I dragged it to every single apartment we lived in. We were the kids with the grandma apartment, and this was my showpiece. Over the years it got slipped into a closet, but I couldn’t get rid of it. There’s a tiny old couple walking down that nice, autumn street, and they were waiting for me to make this a showpiece again.

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So, with a beloved Parks & Rec quote in hand, I was ready to make this a forever piece. A “we’re gonna grow old with this one” piece.

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That bad boy is up on the big shelf, lording over us again. I’m proud of seventeen year-old me for picking it out, for twenty year-old me holding onto it, dragging it up another set of stairs, and for twenty-nine year-old me not being afraid to mess with it and make it completely ours.

Front Porch Stories: Hello, 2015

  1. I’m not immune to all that new year/new you talk. As much as I love Christmas, the older I get, the more I’ve looked forward to January. Maybe it’s because the weather gets so good here. Instead of snow we get crisp mornings and good breezes. The mosquitoes are a thing to worry about later and the sky is big and blue. It’s brand new calendars and planners. January is a first page, a tangible thing to grab and uncap your marker and make plans. Better ones. So, I celebrate it.
    I’ve started a #365project over on my instagram in an attempt to document the little things.

    Reading again. Kicking that slump right in the teeth. 4/365 📚 #365project

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    The quiet ones that have been redesigning me. This isn’t the year of waiting. It’s the year of writing.
    And reading.
    And making.
    It’s the year of stretching, more dancing and music, old books, Spanish and non-fiction ones, and growing. Celebrating my center, decorating it and burrowing into it. My anxieties and worries will be along for the ride, because fighting them never gets me anywhere new or good, but they can fumble around with the map while I drive.

  2. Speaking of January and new calendars and planners I bought one and am in loooooove. 2015-01-06 11.00.46
  3. I’m also doing Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 Days of Yoga.
    I stumbled upon her videos on Youtube one day and really dug it. I’ve had a yoga mat for years and it’s one of those things I always look at and give a try every couple months, because I’m an old creaky lady who feels better when I stretch. Who wants to find my place in all the noise of everything and I like the idea of doing that with my body. My about to be 30 year-old body. I want to be at peace with it, feel it move and stretch beyond this computer chair. So, I found her videos, loved how chill and relaxed she was and her Texas cool vibe. Her earlier videos even have a Shakey Graves song playing. It felt like I’d found my place to do this and she’s put together a 30 Days series and we’re into Day 6. Figuring it out with a toddler climbing all over me is right on the money for how I will rock this year.
    Here’s to that stretching thing, yeah?

The Writer Who Waited

This is where I hand you a list of what I did with the year and my scribbled, hopeful notes about the next one.

But first I have to be honest about this one.

2014 for me was the year of waiting.

Sitting alone with my manuscript at the end of 2013 I’d wished and something impossible happened. I ran after the hope as it dashed through my life, hands out, weaving incredible stories I couldn’t believe yet. Hope told me to wait for just one moment, so I ran back to grab my coat, rushed out to the garden, where I sat, on my suitcase, staring at the sky, waiting for the groan of brakes from that magic blue box.

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It didn’t come for me this year.

Oh, but how I waited. I waited and waited as I listened out for the chime of my phone, waiting for something new to be slipped into my inbox. Something new to stir and bump into the old things and wake them. See if maybe I got it right this time.

I didn’t. So I spent the year waiting.

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It’s a balance. Opening up about the process of querying literary agents, but maintaing the professional quiet. It’s a balance to put yourself out there, your name and your manuscript, and then to simply wait.

To realize you’re not ready yet. To get back notes that rock your world and step back from the arena.

I did that, too.

I didn’t get my agent this year. But I did get something else. I found other writers. And they were my blue box this year.

They’ve read and reread. They’ve listened and somehow, even after every stop and fall, they’ve believed. Always slipping me songs or shouting from the arena, never once letting me forget the orange grove I took them to.

And my captain who has been beside me since the beginning, sitting on this suitcase in the garden, holding my coat for me when I get tired of watching the sky. Telling me stories when I forget.

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But you need new fire to keep going. To keep the girl who got the guts to send that first email, enter that first contest. That girl was riding the high of creation. She’d built a ship with words and heartbreak and made up people and was watching the sea beyond the garden. She was made of stardust and ran on impossible ideas.

She was my forward momentum. Always had been, always would be.

So, I stepped back. Moved my thumb away from Twitter and made a new playlist. Built a new ship.

And in October I finished another manuscript.

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And then a window opened somewhere behind me, in a crumbling house out in a swamp and a gust of something new blew through. Rifling through pages of the old story. I went back to it, slid my finger over the words and old thoughts bumped into new ones and everyone woke up.

And here I am revising that story again. Because I’m tireless. Because that window opened unexpectedly. Because now others are waiting. I’ve got a new story and whispers of others pulling at my hair asking me to put fingers to keyboard and come explore. I’m spilling over with stardust and impossibility.

And yes, I’m waiting. And I’ll spend 2015 waiting at new turns in the road.

But I’m also writing. And believing.

And hoping with my coat close at hand.

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It’s A New Adult Christmas with Chanel Cleeton & French Kissed!

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It’s a New Adult Christmas!


Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the holidays with thirteen New Adult authors. Check out every stop leading up to December 24 to get excerpts, exclusive content, and hopefully a cutie under the mistletoe! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter to win a grand prize pack of an ebook from every author!

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It’s a New Adult Christmas with Kristine Wyllys and WILD ONES.

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It’s a New Adult Christmas!


Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the holidays with thirteen New Adult authors. Check out every stop leading up to December 24 to get excerpts, exclusive content, and hopefully a cutie under the mistletoe! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter to win a grand prize pack of an ebook from every author!


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Bri Martin likes her skirts too short, her heels too high, and trouble close at hand. So when big, brooding underground boxer Luke Turner comes into the bar where she works and starts a fight before she brings his first drink, she can’t help being intrigued. Luke is everything she never wanted and everything she can’t resist.

Soon, Luke is showing up everywhere Bri is, and she can’t break free of his hold on her, nor does she want to. When her best friend turns on her, it’s Luke who is there. When Luke’s opponent comes after her to send Luke a message, it’s he who comes to her rescue.

Before Bri knows it, she’s caught in the midst of a rivalry between her boyfriend and her boss, both of whom are not content to settle their scores inside the ring. She swore she’d never live this life, so like the one she once ran from. But only by confronting her past can she decide where her future lies…and whether Luke can be a part of it.

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BONUS WILD ONES CHRISTMAS SCENE:

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