2017 is ending... but it's only the beginning...

Sunday, December 31, 2017 No comments

2017 wasn't the greatest year.

Neither was 2016 for that matter.

But as 2017 comes to a close, I've been soul-searching and figuring out where I want to be in 2018 and beyond. And in this soul-searching, my goals and desires are coming to the fore. I have been planning out what I want to publish next year, not to mention a bunch of other things.

There are lots of things in store for Lilly in 2018 and I can't wait to share them with you. I'm working on several projects, but only have one of them actually set in stone. The rest are... well... I'm still figuring that out.

The one you already know about: the Here All Along re-release. I'm excited to share these new chapters with you and I hope you love them. The bonus content will be uploaded a few days before the book's anniversary on February 14th, but you can stay up-to-date on when it's live by subscribing to my newsletter and joining my reader group, Lilly's Lovelies. Links are below under my signature!

I'll be sure to blog as much as possible in the new year to keep everyone in-the-know about what's coming soon. Thank you so much for following me all this time and...

Here All Along First Chapter AND news!

Friday, December 15, 2017 No comments

Hello lovelies!

Hope you've been enjoying reading the first chapters of my books that I've been sharing on this blog. For today's post, I will be sharing the first chapter to my story, Here All Along... after I tell you some news about the book.

"What kind of news could it be?" you may ask.

Well, I'll tell you.

Following the publication of Here All Along, I had a few people tell me that they'd love to have Hazel and Adrian's story continued. I started to write this continued story following HAA... and then stopped because I couldn't make it work. The conflict was forced and some of what I'd written felt like filler story and nothing of substance. I didn't want to publish something mediocre, dull, or boring, so I moved on to another project.

Over the last year, I've been browsing through my old writing and poetry files to see what I had worked on years ago. I came across the HAA continuation and read the first few pages... and I really liked them. It got me to thinking about how I'd love to share it with my readers, and then I had an epiphany:

Re-publish Here All Along with new chapters!

It was such a simple solution. Since I'm self-published and I have full control over what I do with my work, I can easily add to a story and republish.

After I decided to do this, I got to work on this new plan. I won't be changing what's already been published, just adding 2-3 more chapters to it to expand on what happens with Hazel and Adrian. There will also be a cover change, which will happen closer to the re-release date, which is to be decided. All of this will happen early 2018, that I can tell you for sure. The rest of the details... those aren't known yet. I have tentative dates in mind, but it's all going to depend on how quickly I can get the story written, edited, and formatted. Once I know, you'll definitely know!

In the meantime, please enjoy the first chapter of Here All Along!

Chapter One

“I need a drink. Now.” 

After tossing—fine, throwing—my purse and keys on the couch, I march straight into the kitchen. No more delays; it's time to forget tonight. It’s been yet another night like all the other first dates that never meet a second one. When you begin to lose count, that's when it's really time for a drink.

Adrian stands there, leaning against the counter in an unbuttoned dress shirt and dark wash jeans. He glances at me as I walk in. “How was your date?” he asks, taking a swig of his scotch. 

I brush past him on my mission, opening the cupboard and moving a couple bottles around. I reiterate, “I need alcohol.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch him hiding a smile before he says, “That bad?”

My face twitches as I ignore his line of questioning. It is more like a statement he wants me to clarify, even though he already knows the answer. Instead, I ask, “I have vodka left, don't I?” I stand on my tiptoes in hopes of spotting something in the very back. Nothing. 

He waltzes over and looks with me, his chin almost touching my shoulder. “I think you polished that one off after last week's date.” His voice is low right next to my ear, very nearly causing a shiver.

I let out a groan of exasperation as I recall that last drop of vodka. “Damn it!” It was the flavored kind, too. Adrian remembers everything. If he remembers the vodka, he probably remembers when I finished off the Kahlua the week before. It's becoming a trend—a very bad one.

Shutting the cupboard door, I spin around to face him, giving him a once-over for the first time since I got home. The fact that his five o'clock shadow beginning to show up more or less demonstrates his effort today. Tilting my head to the side, I ask, “What's up with this?” as I touch his jaw line with my index finger. “And this?” I pinch the collar on his shirt. “Actually, I'm more surprised you still have your clothes on.”

“It's not like I walk around naked all the time.”

“Almost naked.” 

“Hey,” he says, pointing at me sternly. “It was just that one time.” 

I bite my lip recalling that day I caught him walking down the hallway in just his boxers. I’d freaked out at first, but it was a nice sight now that I think about it. Very nice. “Maybe it was.” 

“I'm your roommate, not your boyfriend.” He touches a finger to my chin. “I make sure I'm decent in front of you until you say otherwise.” His smile morphs into a smirk.

I smack his finger away, but smile back. “Knock it off, Adrian, or I may kick you out.” I wouldn't do that, of course. He may be trouble at times, but we've been friends for many years. When each of us had our roommates up and leave us, it practically became necessary to move in together to save money. There were other options, sure, but I liked this one best. My friends thought it would be a bad idea to become roommates with Adrian since they consider him a player and worry that being in close quarters will just make me another one of his conquests.

The reality shows how little they know because, despite their concerns, he has been quite the gentleman since the move. A gentleman with a few flirtatious words and the occasional double entendre. Not that it's ever bothered me—I've always liked being able to have that one guy friend I can joke around with like that. It keeps things interesting in more of an amusing way rather than a dramatic one.

Adrian continues to smirk at my empty threat. “What would you do without me?”

“Live in peace and not run out of alcohol,” I mutter, taking my brown hair out of the ponytail it is in.

“I'm not the reason you drink.” He gives me an exasperated look. “Somebody's got their panties in a bunch, and not at the end of someone's bed.”

It's impossible to argue there, not that I'd ever own up to that fact. This whole night has me frustrated, which is clearly evident. “I just...I just need a drink,” I say with a sigh. “I almost want to ask you to take me to the bar for drinks, but I don't feel like going anywhere now that I'm home.”

“Here,” he says, setting down his drink. “Let me mix something up for you.” He places his hands on my shoulders and moves me over enough to get into the cupboard. 

His gentle touch puts me at ease. I glance up, giving him a tiny smile. “Thanks.” While he pulls out a couple bottles and another glass, I begin my own line of questioning. “Why are you home so early anyway?” I'm not the only one who had a date tonight, and apparently not the only one who didn't have a good time. It has to be a first for him to be home before me. “What was wrong with this one?” 

“She was clingy.” 

“So was the last girl.”

He shrugs. “It happens.”

“It's been happening a lot.” Ever since we moved in together last month, his dates haven't lasted longer than dinner and drinks. Maybe it's just because of the transition, but a month should be long enough to get back into a regular routine.

As if I'm one to talk. 

He hands me the finished drink. “Do you want to talk about why you're home so early?” he asks.

I shrug while rolling my eyes. “He got too... handsy.” I shudder, reluctantly recalling Louis from earlier tonight. 

Adrian freezes. “How so?”

While his concern isn't out of the ordinary, his reaction seems out of character. He's heard all my bad date stories before and this doesn't even break the top ten. I assure him by saying, “Nothing bad, just putting his hand on my leg and arm.” I swirl the drink and finally take a sip. “Oh my god. This is so good.” It's heavenly and sinful at the same time.

“You like it?” He straightens and his chest puffs out a little bit.

I take another long sip before answering. “You went with the spiced rum this time.” It may not be vodka I’ve got a taste for, but it still hits the spot. Setting the glass down, I hop up on the counter and pick up the drink again. “He was pretty much a repeat of last week.” And the week before, and the week before that... 

“Didn't pay attention to a single word you said, only kept repeating how beautiful you are, and then he shoved his tongue down your throat?”

Cringing at the last part, I reply, “All of the above minus the tongue.”

He gapes at me. “He didn't try to kiss you?”

“He tried, I turned away.”

“Good for you. I don't like hearing about guys attempting to take advantage of you.” He reaches out, stroking my arm with his fingertips.

A light flutter runs through me at the simple kindness of his words and his touch. This is a new feeling. Adrian and I are just friends. Aren't we? It must be the alcohol going to my head already. More likely it has to do with the loneliness I've been feeling. Each of the men I've gone out with this month hasn't been the greatest and it's making me want to give up on my quest for love. First there was Malcolm, the sports fanatic who only talked about his favorite teams and spent half the time checking the scores. Then there was Angelo, the pumped-up athlete who spends most of his waking hours at the gym to the point where everybody there knows him. Tonight there was Louis, the self-absorbed hunk—and I use the term loosely—who spoke more about himself than I'm sure even his mother does. This isn't me stereotyping either; this is exactly how they were. 

“Believe it or not,” I say, “he invited me to spend the night. I may have considered it if he had been more interested in my personality than my looks. Or to put it plainly, my boobs.” I gesture to them dramatically. When I got dressed I put on a fairly low-cut top, so they have been on display all night.

Laughing, he says, “Well, they do look nice.”

Hearing him say this doesn't bother me. Just like it doesn't bother me when I catch him looking at them. He doesn't leer like every other guy; it's almost as if he's admiring them. That's pretty sweet of him now that I think about it. “Thanks,” I tell him. 

“I don't know how you keep getting these guys.” 

“It's mostly Jocelyn's fault.” Malcolm and Angelo were Jocelyn's fault. “Tonight was Anna's though.”

“I thought Anna had more scruples than that.”

I smirk. “She introduced us,” I say, gesturing between us.

He hits a hand to his head. “Yeah, I guess I can't fault her for one mistake when she put together this team.” He holds out a fist and I bump it with mine.

I finish my drink, setting it on the counter. Leaning my head back against the cupboard, I say, “We're in our early twenties and home before ten on a Saturday night. We're quite the pair, aren't we?” 

He smiles sweetly. “That we are, Hazel. That we are.” He tilts his head, deep in thought. “How about this.” He sets down his empty glass and takes both my hands in his. “Let's watch a movie, get drunk, and forget all about tonight and bad dates. What do you say?” 

The light flutter returns with him holding my hands. His smoldering gaze would cause my knees to buckle beneath me had I been standing. I swallow. What is happening to my resolve? Sexual attraction has never been a factor for us, even though it’s been hidden beneath the surface. Something I’ve purposely keep hidden because he's one of my best friends. Shrugging off the nagging thoughts, I say, “Why not?” as I jump down, still holding his hands. It has been awhile since I've done anything fun like this. My recent dates started out with the promise of fun, but never ended up as a remotely good time.

Letting go of my hands, he grabs the bottle of rum and his glass. “All right, let's do this,” he says hurrying to the living room.

“Somebody's enthusiastic.” I pick up my own glass and follow him. I come to a stop on my way and ask, “Are we going to turn this into a drinking game?”

He glances back at me, grinning. “We could make it into one if you'd like.”

I shake my head. “No, let's just drink.”

“Works for me.” He sits on our leather couch, patting the spot next to him with a wink.

As I sink back into the cushions, a calm comes over me. I almost smile but then it hits me: it's being near Adrian that has created this calm. But is it just gratefulness for our friendship or the way his touch is making me feel tonight? It didn't feel that way before, that... fluttering. Like nervous butterflies parading around where my organs should be. Maybe tonight I can find out what this is. Between work and nights out with friends and dates, we haven't been alone for longer than half an hour since moving day. Well, aside from sleeping in our beds at night. Separately. Unfortunately. 

Where did that come from? 

“Did you want to change into something more comfortable?” Adrian asks with a raise in his eyebrows, breaking me out of my train of thought, but not away from naughty thoughts. 

I smack his knee. “I'm comfortable, but I know you're not.” He doesn't mind dressing up, but on most days I see him in casual clothes like screen-printed tees and hoodies.

“You're right,” he says, tapping my knee lightly, standing up. As he walks toward the hallway, he slips his shirt off the rest of the way. I can't look away from the sight, even if it is only from the back. Damn. What is happening to me? Have I gone mad? 

Before I can tear my eyes away from him, he turns around. Judging by the look in his eyes, I've been caught. I have so been caught. Damn again. I didn't want him to see me practically drooling. It's too late for that now. 

He smirks. “You know, I could spend the rest of the night just like this.” He places a hand to the hard muscles of his chest. 

I clear my throat, trying really hard not to imagine my hand in place of his, and say, “If I'm wearing clothes, you're wearing clothes.” 

“So if I'm not wearing clothes...” I grab a coaster from the coffee table and fling it at him. He catches it in his hand. “Just remember, all you have to do is say otherwise.”

I put a hand on my hip. “Well, I haven't said otherwise yet.” The last word slips out before I can stop it. It would be great if I could understand what is happening to the spot in my brain that filters my thoughts, words, and actions properly.

He winks. “I'll remember that.” 

When I can hear that his steps are far enough down the hall, I let out a long breath. This is getting out of hand. What is causing me to lose all control? I can keep trying to tell myself it's the alcohol, and perhaps a little bit of it is, but it's only intensifying the effect. The effect meaning that he has one over me. Adrian Williams, of all people. 

But how? And why? And why now? It's not like I haven't had ample time before to feel this way. The sudden discovery has me nervous as hell. I'm not even sure how to act around Adrian now. Especially when I can't keep my eyes off his body. His exceptionally toned body, with sinewy muscles, and those gorgeous green eyes...

Hazel Bell! Snap out of it! I kick off my shoes and lean back into the couch, attempting to relax. Just when I'm starting to, Adrian walks back into the living room, donning a half-zipped gray hoodie. It shows off a little bit of his chest as a tease, making me wish it wasn't just a tease. It's hard to relax when all you can think about is your roommate being shirtless again.

He plunks himself down right next to me, an arm going behind me. “So what's it going to be?”

“What's what going to be?” His nearness is causing my brain to short-circuit.

“What movie?” He leans forward, picking up the bottle of rum and pouring a generous amount in each of our glasses. 

I lean toward him with my elbows on my knees. “I want to say romantic comedy but I don't think it would be right to torture myself.” Maybe not so much torture but depress considering how unromantic life really is.

“Well, you know I would be fine with it.”

I smile. Adrian is one of the few men I've come across who can sit through a chick flick and not be bored. “Okay, let me see what I can come up with.” I stand up, crossing the room to our shelf of combined DVDs. We put both of our collections together in alphabetical order since that would make it easier to find what we're looking for. There were only a couple duplicates, but that's because we always knew what movies the other had. Why buy a movie when you can borrow it from a friend? 

I settle on Northanger Abbey. While it's not a romantic comedy or a chick flick—okay maybe kind of a chick flick—it is Jane Austen. I hold it up for him. He says, “I've never seen it.”

“Good,” I say, putting it in the DVD player and press play. When I sit back down, I accidentally end up closer to him than I had been a moment ago. Part of me wants to scoot over—just a teeny bit—back to where I was before. The other part tells me not to. I don't want him to think I don't feel comfortable being close to him. On the other hand, I don't want him to think I want to be closer to him for another reason. Although...

Brushing off the thought, I relax where I am and focus my attention on the television screen. 

More Than Words First Chapter

Friday, December 1, 2017 No comments


Chapter One

"I'm sorry, you want me to what?"

There has to be cotton in my ear. Or maybe I blasted My Chemical Romance too long in the car on my way here today. Perhaps she was mumbling and the words she said became misconstrued in my head. There's no way Jamie just asked me what I think she asked me.

She frowns and clears her throat. "I need you to write an erotic novel."

I didn't misunderstand what she said. Her words were clear as crystal that time. "Um...Why do you need this from me?"

She takes off her glasses, setting them on a stack of papers on the desk. "Our ghostwriter for Juliet Oliver just quit before turning in her latest submission. She was already well past deadline, but we thought she'd pull through at the last second. Unfortunately, she didn't. Now we're in a bind and scrambling to find someone to write a new story while we find her replacement."

I realize their predicament. If a writer goes too far past the deadline, it creates even weightier deadlines for the publisher. What doesn't make sense is where I fit in. I may have been writing and publishing with Gravity Lit for three years, but this request is way out in left field. "Couldn't, I don't know, Gina do it? This is more up her alley than mine." Gina's stories fall into the category of romantic suspense and wouldn't be complete without at least one romp in the sheets.

She shakes her head. "I already checked with her. She's too pressed for time completing final edits on her next release to squeeze it in."

"I don't..." I press my lips together for a second. "I'm not sure I'm able to write that sort of thing."

"What, sex?"

"Well, yeah." My stories are more along the lines of clean romances. You know, the ones full of self-discovery, small towns, and a new-old love that turns into a happily ever after. There are a few kisses, but they barely register on the steamy scale.

Jamie leans forward. "Look, I get it. It's not your usual kind of story writing, but you're an amazing writer, Dana. You have the potential to be able to cross genres seamlessly. It's a lot like your stories. The only difference is the sex."

Not just sex—lots of sex. And dirty talk. And euphemisms for penises that make you cringe.

I take a long look at her and can tell it hasn't been a good day. Her messy fire-red hair is wrapped up in an even messier bun with pieces flying in every direction. It always looks worse at the end of the day—even more so when it's a bad day. I concede with a sigh. "What exactly do you need for this story?"

She puts her glasses back on and opens a file. "The Juliet Oliver stories run between forty- and fifty-thousand words, give or take." She skims down the page with her finger. "There's always a strong female main character, but her job varies, as do the suitors. There are usually no specifics to go by for what kind of protagonist and love interest."

I lean back in my chair and think it over. The requirements don't sound too difficult. I could probably throw together a story easily enough. The hardest part will be the sex scenes. I've never written one before, not even for fun. Not that I'm unfamiliar with lady porn—I have read a few—but reading it and writing it are completely different matters.

I open my mouth to speak, but Jamie cuts me off. "There's just one catch."


"We already released a synopsis."

"Oh. What is it?" She hands me the paper and when I read it my eyes widen. Apparently, there are more expectations than she hinted at. Given the specifics mentioned in the synopsis, there's very little wiggle room. Maybe I could manage, given enough time. "When's the deadline?"

"Two weeks."

"Two weeks?" I squeak. "Write forty- to fifty-thousand words in two weeks?" Even National Novel Writing Month doesn't expect this much from writers.

She shrugs. "Give or take."

I would have to be crazy to accept this assignment, even if broadening my horizons does sound somewhat intriguing. Since I'm between projects, it's the perfect mental change of scenery. But two weeks? I don't think I can pull it off.

However, the way Jamie looks at me now makes me realize exactly how desperate they are. If I say no, her hair's going to be far worse tomorrow. Nobody wants to witness that.

There may be only one way to make the decision. I ask, "What do I get if I say yes?"

"We'll pay you double your usual advance."

Without hesitation, I say, "I'll do it."


"I can't do it." I rest my forehead on the bar and groan. It's the following Friday night and my best friend, Ivy, just yanked me from the confines of my apartment. "I can't believe I told her I could. I'm going to call her and tell her I can't." I sit up in my seat and pull out my phone. The sooner I tell her, the better.

Ivy grabs the phone from my hands and shoves it back in my purse. "Don't you dare give up now! You'll do fine. You're Dana Darling, master of the written word."

I laugh. "I don't know about that." I've been at it for exactly one week, writing day and night. I have the bulk of the story written...but no sex scenes. I've hit a block. The first writer's block I've had in a long time. I'm too afraid to keep going. "I'm not sure if I'm qualified."

"You're an exceptional writer, of course you're qualified."

I shake my head. "No, not that. I know I can write; I just don't know how to write those scenes." The plot involves my protagonist, Melodie, getting lessons on sex from her brother's best friend, Michael. The banter is easy enough to throw together, but when they're about to get down to business, I freeze like a deer in headlights.

"What scenes?" I give her a look and she smirks. "Oh, those scenes." She brushes me off. "All you have to do is go by your own experience and you'll be golden."

I cringe. "I don't have a lot of experience in that regard." My actual firsthand sexual knowledge is extremely limited. I may be twenty-three, but I've only had two serious boyfriends, both of whom weren't remarkable or imaginative in the bedroom. The majority of what I know about sex comes from the few romance novels I've read in my life. Even the pile of Juliet Oliver paperbacks piled on my desk haven't really helped.

Ivy tucks a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear. "You've had sex though, so you know how it works."

"This story calls for several scenes involving varying positions."


I close my eyes and let out a breath. I whisper, "I've only ever done...one position."

Her jaw drops and a choked sound comes from her throat. "Get out! You...you haven't even been on top?"

I give a shy shrug. "Never had the opportunity."

"What do you mean 'opportunity'? You just climb on top."

"Oh good God." Sometimes I forget how bold Ivy is until she comes right out and states it so plainly.

"Are you blushing?" I shake my head no, but touch my cheek to cover it. She tsks me and says, "Honey, you shouldn't be afraid of stepping outside the box."

"I'm not. I just never had a guy willing to."

"Then you need to find one and get to work."

"You did not just suggest I start hooking up with a guy for research."

"I didn't, but now that you mention it..."

I smack her arm and laugh. "That'll be the day."

"I'm serious."

My smile fades away. "Wait, you are?"

"Yeah, why not? Could be good for you," she says with a shrug.

"I don't do sex with no strings." Not just don't—I can't. I'm not good at separating the two. Sex happens when I feel love, not because I want to have fun. "I don't misbehave."

"You should. Playing it safe is why you're so scared of writing this book. Being 'good' is boring. Predictable."

"I don't want to be boring and predictable."

"Then misbehave," she says with a grin. She snaps her fingers. "I've got it. Find a guy to help guide you through the positions without actually doing the act."

"Like a sex position buddy?" I guess that's not a bad idea exactly, but what guy would be willing to practice sex positions without having sex? "Where do I find one?"

Ivy shrugs. "I just come up with the ideas, not the details. You'll have to figure that part out on your own." She downs the last of her drink. "I gotta jet. We have an early morning flight and need to finish packing before we get to bed." She and her fiancé, Wesley, are visiting his parents in Alabama for a few days. It's the first time they've gone back since the engagement, so Sal and Margaret are very excited to see their future daughter-in-law.

When she stands, she towers over me. Ivy's height is just under six feet, which is nine inches taller than I am. She has to lean down to give me a hug. She gives my arm a quick squeeze with her hand before she lets go. "Hang in there. You'll figure it out."

"Thanks, doll. Have a safe trip."

"Always do."

I wave goodbye to her and turn back to my drink. I'm not going to find my answer at the bottom of another vodka cranberry. I need to get home and stare at a computer screen, praying for the words to come. How am I so inexperienced? Why haven't I bothered to assert myself in the bedroom? I know I can be a bit shy at times, but still. I had a small circle of friends all through college that included Ivy and my first boyfriend, Finn. My relationship with him was nice, but we had little in common outside some classes, mutual friends, and physical attraction. I didn't realize until after it ended that there was no substance to it.

When my phone buzzes, I'm thankful for the distraction. It's Landon, my writer friend. We met at a coffee shop several months back. I was struggling with the words for a scene in my last book and he leaned over from the table next to me and asked if I needed some help. Two lattes later and we became the best of friends. It was a welcome change of pace to have someone in real life to talk with about writing.

"Howdy stranger," I say.

"Hey! I'm glad I caught you. Did you turn in my manuscript?"

About a month ago, he asked me if I could get his latest novel in the hands of a publisher. "Of course I did."


"And, I don't know. Joel said he'd finish reading it this weekend. He did tell me he likes it so far."

"Oh, thank God." The relief in his voice makes me smile. "I was worried it wouldn't meet his expectations."

"You have nothing to worry about. I read it first, remember? Joel trusts my instincts and I have great ones. You'll do just fine Landon Sinclair, most-likely-very-soon-to-be published author."

"I owe you big time, Darling. Like huge."

"You don't owe me anything."

"Nope. I owe you something. Dinner, a gift card, movie tickets. Anything."

Hearing the word "anything" causes me to straighten in my seat. My head swirls with an idea—one I probably shouldn't be thinking. I can't help it though. Ivy put it there. "Anything?"

"Name it and it's yours."

"I wouldn't be so quick to say yes."

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