Friday, July 8, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Kiersten Hallie Krum

Last Minute Writer
I’m convinced procrastination is an art form. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m staring down a deadline with no clue in sight as to how I’m gonna meet it in the time left. Have you seen the TV advert where the couple is calling out all the home projects they’re desperately doing to avoid the Herculean task of dealing with their retirement planning? Cleaning the gutters is suddenly more preferable to them than dealing with this important part of their lives. This resonates because it’s true, and not only regarding retirement planning. Suddenly, the languishing laundry is crucial and that refrigerator cleaning must be done tout suite
Look, procrastinating gets a bad rap, but for good reasons. If we procrastinate our lives away, we’ll never accomplish anything except being experts in the optimal wielding of the remote control or the best dipping sauce for garlic knots (it’s Ranch, obviously), or the precise number of pillows required to properly prop up your head for the best angle toward the flat screen (three with a baseline of two underneath).
I’ve spent years—years—crafting my art of procrastination and along the way, sussing out exactly why I court this kind of self-sabotage. Ultimately, it’s rooted in a gut reaction against being told what to do even when/if the project is something I not only asked for but pursued and despite my brain sensibly ordering my ID to get over itself. It’s not reasonable and it’s not logical and the mind hoops I push myself to jump through in order to put hands to the keyboard (for example) are considerable and frankly a lot more work than just getting the job done. Alas, my ID doesn’t seem to learn from doing and so each project, the battle begins anew. This doesn’t worry my best friend though, who always shrugs all this off when I unload my mania on her. “You do your best work when you’re under the gun,” she tells me. Funnily enough, my day job boss agrees.
Let’s face it, nobody’s going to jump up and say “Yay! Let’s procrastinate! That job’ll get done by itself, right? Hurray!” because that would be silly. Discipline and self-control are admirable traits to be set as goals—for some people. And yeah, those times I haven’t plunged through a project proverbially at the last minute have been incredibly fulfilling, even more so for not mentally flogging myself with guilt and shame for not being better at the whole adulting thing that surely would’ve had me sticking to a set schedule and achieving specific word count on a daily or at least weekly basis.
But I’ll tell you, being a Last Minute Writer has taught me a few things that have actually improved my final product even if it came at 3 AM the day before (or, GASP, day of) deadline.
Recently, I told an author pal how a project of mine had simply poured out of me out of desperation. She replied that desperation was how most of her books got written. There’s hyperbole there, of course, but the root is truth. I’ve discovered that fine edge of desperation can cultivate some amazing things.
Here are the top five things that happen when you’re a Last Minute Writer (or Whatever):
1.                  There’s no time to second guess yourself
Holy cats, is this a big one. When there’s no time to dither, every word slams on to the page. You can’t second guess if this is show or tell or whether you’re in deep POV or if your characters are clichés. There’s not time to think, just do. Or do not. (Yes, I’m quoting Yoda here, but you can’t tell me you weren’t thinking it too.)
2.                  There’s no time to jerk around
Boy. Howdy. Feet to the fire time, baby, and while you or I may have procrastinated our way to an Olympic time trial in order to get things done, when there’s no time left, there is no time left, yanno?
3.                  There’s no option for failure
This is a biggun, because feel of failure is, I think, the number one reason why we (I) drag our feet, especially if/when it’s a project we actually *want* to do. “Fear is the mind-killer.” You betcha. It’s like, if I don’t finish, they won’t know I suck at this. Here’s a tip: everyone sucks at it, at least in their own minds. Neil Gaiman thinks he sucks at it. Truth. When you’re a Last Minute Writer, there’s no time for those fear demons to feed. Get with the program already.
4.                  There’s no time to doubt your talent
Because you got it, baby, or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. You had the talent and drive to get started, to solicit the project, to have the idea, the story, or the image. When you’re a Last Minute Writer (or artist, or musician, or plumber), there’s no time left to waste doubting the talent and skill that brought you to the party.
5.                  There’s no time for the nay sayers
This, I think, is the next biggun after the fear demons. People are gonna talk crap to you. They’re going to say your idea is flawed or redundant or that your talent and skill aren’t what, in your better moments, you tell yourself they are. Shut them out. When you’re a Last Minute Whatever, there’s no time to stop and internalize their garbage. There’s the clock. It’s ticking. They’re wrong. You got this. Time to move on, baby.
We’ve been taught and trained that planning and self-discipline are key to success, and that’s been proven over and over again. But it’s not the only way, and trying to force ourselves into the confines of someone else’s process just because the world tells us it’s the better way isn’t necessarily the best—certainly not the only—way to go. There’s a Shakespeare quote I’m constantly trotting out to remind myself to go my own way: “Self-love is not so great a sin as self-neglect.” Don’t neglect yourself. Stay true to you, and do what works even if it’s a Kermit flail final lap to deadline. If that’s how you need to get it done, then, by all means, flail on.
Can a woman on the run trust the man she once abandoned?
Wild on the Road
Driven by wanderlust and insatiable curiosity, Quinn Forrester views every new gig for her mixologist business as another chance for adventure. Until the night she wanders down the wrong hallway and witnesses a mob murder. After a week on the run, lack of funds and few options land Quinn in Barefoot Bay where she takes a job tending bar at the swanky Casa Blanca resort…and hopes no wise guys show up to make her sleep with the fishes. But nothing whacks a low profile like having your Navy SEAL ex-husband walk through the door—especially when he’s the love of your life you left behind. 
Wild on the Beach
Discovering his restless ex-wife at Casa Blanca—and still going by his name—is enough to drive Lieutenant Commander Jasper McQueen wild. When she ran out on their marriage, Quinn left him a broken man. Now with his career in jeopardy and his sexy ex-wife at hand, Jasper is ready to chuck responsibility and submerse himself in a hedonistic affair—all sex, zero emotions—with the woman he won’t forgive and can never forget. And this time, when they’re done, it’ll be Jasper who does the leaving. 
Wild on the Rocks
But a mob enforcer has tracked Quinn to Barefoot Bay. With her days numbered, Jasper may be her only shot at living through the night—if Quinn can get him to believe in her one last time.
"Supersensual and suspenseful, Krum’s (“Castle Haven” series) book has a lot to offer as part of this inventive series. Besides hot sex between two characters with plenty of chemistry, there is a deeper story here, with serious moments touching on PTSD and suicide that add more bite than your typical romantic suspense fare."   STARRED REVIEW from Library Journal
 "The whole book slides down like a tasty pina colada while you sit by the beach. So sweet and tasty you’ve slurped the whole thing before you know what happened."     —Heroes and Heartbreakers
"Highly entertaining, fast-paced, and sexy romance. 5 stars, and it’s going on my best reads of 2016 list."    —Straight Shootin' Book Reviews
Buy Link: Amazon
Nettie’s tray clattered onto the bar. “Holy shit,” she gasped, eyes fixed on the restaurant’s entrance. “Is it Christmas already?”
Quinn glanced over her shoulder as a trio of men crossed the threshold. The last rays of sun shined through the door behind them, blinding her and making the men little more than shadows. Large shadows with broad shoulders.
Hoo. Shah.
She shielded her eyes and turned back to the blender. “We should send God a fruit basket.”
“Full of gold.” Nettie nodded toward the man on the end. “That’s Luke McBain. He does the resort’s security. Very married to one of the wedding planners.”
“So looky but no touchy.”
Nettie grinned. “Exactly.”
Quinn checked the men out again from the corner of her eye. All three wore black collared shirts tucked into belted black trousers and topped with aviator glasses they removed almost simultaneously as they came fully into the bar and approached the women. As classic a uniform for their job as her black and white get-up was for hers. Standing nearly at the same six-foot plus heights—though the one on the opposite end from McBain was an inch or two shorter—they were all armed, two with weapons in hip holsters while the guy in the center sported a shoulder rig.
To Quinn’s mind, shoulder rigs were the sexy, Mad Men version of gun holsters. In a good way. Intensely masculine but minus the infuriating sexism. So her eyes lingered on that man, skimming over his wide, muscular chest framed within the holster’s leather strips while she absently noted he alone of the three had his sleeves rolled up to the elbow. His thick throat rippled as she watched and sharp hunger spiked deep in Quinn’s belly, the likes of which she hadn’t felt in more than a year. What looked like two days’ worth of scruff covered his scarred chin, surrounding lips she’d bet were full and a shy short of too fleshy when not drawn into their current tight line. Coasting past raised cheek bones, the hair on the back of Quinn’s neck lifted and her nipples contracted into painful points as her avaricious gaze met eyes she already knew were a stunning golden hazel when not darkened with swelling rage that made his pupil expand until the color was a mere glowing rim.
“Can you imagine having that in your bed every night?” Nettie said.
“I can, actually.” Quinn replied on little more than an exhale. The bottle of wine in her hands trembled. She set it down on the bar with extreme care and deliberately laid her hands on either side of it before looking up into the breathtaking, hard-set face of her husband.
“Fuck, Roy, but you can pick ’em,” the third man said as he settled onto a stool, seemingly oblivious to the heaving tension.
Quinn ignored him. She knew better than to look away from the seething powder keg that was Jasper. “You look like a recruitment poster for Badasses ’R Us.”
He stepped toward the bar as though seconds from yanking her over it. “You look like you’re on your way to try out for the Coyote Ugly sequel.”
His friend split a grin between them. “Okay, now I believe she’s your wife.”
Ex-wife,” Quinn and Jasper snapped simultaneously, which made the man crack up.
“Cut it out, Twist,” Jasper growled.
This was Twist? She risked taking her eyes off Jasper, fascinated to finally meet his closest friend, though it escaped her why it could possibly mattered after all this time.
Twist’s grin didn’t falter, but it didn’t reach his eyes, either, and the frank animosity there scorched her skin.
Okay by her. Not like she was trying to make friends.
“Luke McBain.” The other man introduced himself with a warm smile. She tore her eyes from Twist and reflexively accepted his proffered hand.
“Quinn McQueen,” she replied without thinking and immediately regretted it when Jasper’s entire torso recoiled.
The tailored shirt rippled over his muscled chest, mesmerizing Quinn so that Jasper startled her when he leaned those bare, cut forearms on the bar and got right back in her space. Holy crap, arm porn. She was in no way prepared for her ex-husband’s delectable arm porn.
He glared at her hand still caught in McBain’s until she yanked it free. “Come again?” The sibilant whisper coasted over her skin. Quinn caught her breath.
Even though his arrival right now, right here, and all that might mean scared the holy shit outta her, even after all the bone-crushing, lonely days and weeks she’d spent without him, even now, that deep rumble of his voice raised goose bumps on her arms.
“Jasp,” she whispered with absolutely no idea what to say beyond that or how to justify being Quinn McQueen again without telling him that simply having his name was a comfort when she felt more lost than ever before in her life.
His eyes flared with heat. They were close enough now for Quinn to see that ribbon of green gold around his pupil glow bright. She’d always thought his eyes were the perfect complement to the slight russet sheen in his thick hair.
She locked her knees and clutched her hands together beneath the edge of the bar to keep from grabbing him.
“You’re using my name again? Since when?”
“About a week ago,” she admitted, her voice small.
“For hell’s sake, why?”
Because I’m on the run from the Russian mob and the only place I’ve ever felt safe was with you.
Yeah, like either of them was prepared to detonate that cans of worms.
She forced herself to shrug. “I like the cadence.”
His hands spread wide on the wood. She half expected him to push right over the bar. “You like the cadence?” he hollered back, practically into her face.
She huffed out a breath. “It’s not like I expected you to find out about it! What are you doing here anyway?”
He tossed an incredulous glance at McBain as though the answer were obvious. And to be fair, it kinda was. “Searching for buried treasure.”
Despite his dry tone, Quinn’s eyes went wide at the thought of such an adventure. “Really?” she breathed.
“Jesus, no. I’m working security for the wedding.” He shook his head with familiar exasperation. “Christ, you look ready to abandon everything to go buy shovels and rent a trawler.”
“Ah, is this gonna be a problem?” McBain asked.
Slowly, Jasper eased back from the bar. “That remains to be seen.” Quinn could see he was already locking himself down, pulling those pesky emotions back under his control. He’d always been able to get over her so easily when she’d barely been able to let him walk out of a room without her.
Guess nothing had changed on that front.
“What are you doing here, Quinn?”
Irritation quickly replaced her shock, and Quinn reclaimed her attitude along with it. “Uh, working. Obviously.”
“And I’ve no doubt my wife would appreciate it if your impending domestic didn’t upset her high-society wedding,” McBain warned without heat.
Quinn zoned back in on the unfinished tab before her. “Shit. Nettie, I’m sorry. Let me get you sorted.”
The waitress eyed her with rampant speculation. Quinn expected she and Jasper would be tasty fresh meat for the locals when this got out. Say in five minutes. Or however long it took Nettie to speed dial the whole world as she knew it.
Charity would have a cow not to have had first dibs.
“Don’t worry about it, hon,” Nettie reassured her, but Quinn was already dumping the trio of cocktails.
“These margaritas have settled. Take the wine out while I whip up a fresh batch.” Running the blender would hold off Jasper’s impending interrogation, too, maybe long enough for her to come up with an explanation that didn’t involve the words “Russian mob” and “murder.”
Because there was no way he was letting it go that easily. Jasper McQueen did not quit until he got what he wanted, be it answers or his ring on her finger or her ass in his San Diego condo.
“Queen, you and Twist stay here for the duration of the dinner. Rotate out with one of the boys in the dining room on the hour,” McBain ordered. “Time for me to walk the perimeter.”
She threw a look at him over her shoulder in time to see him give Jasper a shoulder clasp of male solidarity.
Great. He had reinforcements.
“More bartenders are coming tomorrow with the catering staff for the wedding,” she explained needlessly after McBain exited and Nettie toddled off. “But I’m it for tonight’s dinner, so I don’t have time for a chat.”
“I’ll wait,” Jasper promised.
Of course he would. “Ho-kay then.”
Since she couldn’t budge him and had zero hope of ignoring him, Quinn focused on the work. She finished the margaritas as Nettie returned with a new order, all the while feeling Jasper’s accusing gaze locked on her, his eyes tracking her every move as though she’d disappear if he blinked.
God, he looked good enough to eat.
Down girl. He wasn’t hers anymore, and while she might still look, not being able to touch would probably kill her before the Russian mob did.
About Kiersten Hallie Krum:
Writer, singer editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her romantic suspense novel Wild on the Rocks is now available and its sequel, SEALed WITH A TWIST, will be available in October 2016. Visit her website at and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.
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