Monday, September 30, 2013

GOOD Tour Begins!

I have been waiting waiting waiting for this week! I'm so excited that Good is on tour. I hope you all will take a few minutes out of your schedule today to stop by these amazing blogs. Show them some love. Also, I've got a bunch of stuff happening along with this week-long tour. Scroll down to check out the giveaway and contest. Yep. I'm running my first contest. Details below :)

September 30th
Book Crush Review – Review and Excerpt
I Love Indie Books – Review and Playlist
Bookhooking – Review and Excerpt
Love N Books – Review
Novel Seduction – Review and Excerpt
Romantic Book Affairs – Review and Excerpt
Find Mark Connelly Book Cover Contest

Fans, I need your help! I cannot find a picture of the perfect Mark Connelly to go on my cover of BETTER. I've given up and am handing the matter over to you. Here's the deal: find me a picture of Mark and you may win a signed copy of both GOOD and BETTER. Oh yeah, and you'll be acknowledged on the copyright page of BETTER, too!

The Rules:
1. ONE submission per person. Email me THE LINK to your perfect pic at (I gotta know where to purchase it)
2. The pic must be a stock photo with a model release (pics on sites like and have model releases. They actually say it.).

*Contest will run from 9/30 – 10/21.  Make sure you get your submissions in before 12 A. M. on 10/21.*
He's out there. I know it. Now someone find him for me!

Note: I reserve the right to cancel this contest at any time if I stumble across the perfect pic. I don't think that's gonna happen, though.
GOOD Blog Tour Giveaway

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Bookslapped!

The lovely Rachel, Jessica, and Abbie over at Bookslapped are featuring me today. I hope you all take a few minutes to go check out their blog. It's a great little feature packed with all kinds of goodies including a fun interview (hope I make you laugh), review, soundtrack, and giveaway. Go! Read!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Summertime Girls

Cover Photo

I am totally digging this super cute banner Tamsyn over at The Secret Book Brat made for our Good Facebook support group. Yeah, it's kinda turned into an "unofficial" street team of sorts. And if you're a fan of my work, you're more than welcome to join. We'd love to have you. I just finished an exclusive giveaway with these gals because, well, they're sweet, supportive, and wanna help me be successful. They're my Summertime Girls <3

You wanna be a Summertime Girl? Hit me up:

Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I'm old school. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Cliffhanger Conundrum

I recently read a short review of Good expressing appreciation for a book in a series that doesn't leave off on a major cliffhanger. Now, that's debatable. As I've discussed before, we all have different definitions of "cliffhanger." For some, it's the ending point right at a major event. For others, it's any unanswered question, even if that question is, "What color shirt was she wearing?"

But another interesting thing was pointed out in this review: the reviewer lamented a trend she's seeing in contemporary fiction where authors write what she calls "half stories" with the intention of leaving the reader hanging and subsequently compelled to buy the next one. It's not even sneaky. We can call it what it is: a smart business move . . . or is it? It is a business move to insure some cash flow for the next book, but is it smart? How about this: Is it respectful? Does it honor the author/reader relationship? Or does it take advantage of it?

When I set out to write Good, my initial intent was to put the entire story into one book. I like stand-alones. I like writing them. I like reading them. But as I wrote (and saw my word count climbing higher and higher), I realized there was no way I could tell Cadence's and Mark's story in one book. So I made the decision to split the story into two books, ever mindful of my audience. I made sure to end the book on a note I felt gave closure to Book 1 of the series. The reviewer pointed this out as well. She explained that while there definitely needed to be a sequel, she felt the first book was a complete story in itself. And I appreciate that because I never make writing or business decisions with the intentions of taking advantage of my readers and their trust in me. It's wrong, and it pisses me off when other writers do that.

That being said, I do fear we're living in a reading culture that despises cliffhangers so much that it scares authors into writing contrived stories. They fear the repercussions of a story that does not end the way the mass market expects. And my editor wrote a fabulous piece on the subject that warrants a few minutes of your time to read and absorb. Yeah, there will be those authors who take advantage of cliffhangers, but for the rest of us, we understand when they are necessary, and we're respectful of giving you, the reader, a REAL story. Not something silly and contrived. Not something that may warm your heart, but that you'll forget about the next day. My fans know I've got no time for that. I never write a story to convince you of anything I believe, but I sure as hell want to give you stories to make you think.

So remember: I cannot speak for other authors when it comes to cliffhangers (and HEAs, too), but for me, I will always be respectful of you as a reader--your heart, your intelligence, your time. In return, please trust me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Facebook 3000 Likes Giveaway and an excerpt from BETTER

Month-long giveaway to say "thank you" to all my fans! I love connecting with you on FB. Thank you for reading my work and sharing your thoughts with me. <3

Okay, folks. This is the last excerpt I'll be posting for a while. If I plan to get this thing finished in a timely manner, then I have to exit the real world and immerse myself in Cadence's and Mark's. I don't even know where this chapter will appear in the book yet, and just like the last excerpt, this one is neither finished nor edited.
Chapter ? playing house
Mark strolled through the apartment observing the little messes here and there: Clothes flung over the living room furniture. Stacks of unorganized papers on the floor and tables. Glasses with half-finished soda sitting in random spots. He peeked into the bathroom and groaned. Toiletries. Everywhere. He’d forgotten about women’s toiletries, or maybe it was just that Andy kept hers organized and generally out of sight. Not Cadence. There were bottles all over the place, crowding the sink, stacked on top of the toilet tank, lining the ledge of the garden tub.
“What the hell?” he said to himself. He rubbed his face, then set to work clearing the countertop.
Cadence popped into the bathroom and scanned the sink.
“Where’s my brush?” she asked.
“I put it away.”
“Oh. Thanks. I was gonna do that,” she said, opening the top drawer. She searched around. “Where?”
“The other drawer,” Mark replied, eyeing her.
She pushed the drawer in, and he caught it before it shut fully. He pulled it back out.
“Umm, those nail clippers belong in that basket. See? You moved them while you were looking for your brush.” He paused. “And you didn’t put them back.”
Cadence looked up at him. “Seriously?”
“Yeah. Seriously.”
She made a dramatic show of picking up the clippers and holding them up to his face before dropping them in the appropriate basket. “Better?”
“Almost,” Mark replied. Shouldn’t have given me an opening, he thought. “Where do these things go?” He waved his hand over her toiletries.
“Right where they are.”
“No. There’s not enough room for all these bottles on the sink.”
“Then I guess they can go under the sink.”
“So why aren’t you putting them under the sink?” he asked.
“Because I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Cadence replied testily. “And there’s not much room under there anyway.”
“There’s plenty,” Mark said. "And why do you need three hairsprays?"
"They're different strengths, okay? I don't expect you to understand. And you don't need to worry about it anyway. If I want three hairsprays, I can have three hairsprays!"
He had no response for the hairsprays, so he grabbed Cadence’s hand instead and pulled her into the living room. “I don’t get this.”
“Get what?”
“This,” he said, waving his hands around. “Look at this place.”
“I’ve been working a lot this week, Mark. I was planning on cleaning tomorrow.”
“You’re not getting it, Cadence,” Mark replied. He paused and took a deep breath. And then he walked over to an end table. He picked up a glass. “I love you, okay? Now explain to me what this is.”
Cadence bristled. “A glass.”
“Uh huh. And where does it go?”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“I’m not trying to be an asshole. I’m trying to understand why you can’t ever finish a glass of whatever you put in it, take it to the sink, and rinse it out.”
“Are we seriously gonna do this?”
Mark held out the glass to her. “Please look at this glass, Cadence. You fill it up to the brim, you drink half, and then you just set it wherever. I need to understand why you do this because it’s driving me crazy.”
“So what? I’m a slob?”
Mark blinked.
“What the hell?!”
“I didn’t say ‘slob’. You did. And I don’t think you’re a slob. I do think you’re messy, though.”
“Because I don’t have my stuff in nice neat places like you? I’m not freaking OCD, okay? Get off my back about it.”
“I don’t need you to be OCD, Cadence. I need you to rinse your fucking glasses out.”
“What. The. Fuck? Did you just say ‘fuck’ to me?”
“I can’t live like this. Shit. Everywhere. I mean, what’s a bra doing in the dining room?”
“You took it off me!” Cadence shouted.
Mark thought for a moment. “Oh wait. Okay, yeah. You’re right. Forget the bra. But what about that stack of shit over there?”
“That ‘shit’ is my clothes. And I don’t have any place to put them!”
“I have closets, Cadence.”
“In the guest bedroom! I don’t wanna hang my clothes there!”
“Please give me more than that,” Mark said.
“Because if I hang them there it’s like I’m only here temporarily!” Cadence said.
Cadence walked over to Mark.
“Give me that,” she snapped, snatching the glass from his hand. She walked to the kitchen.
He stood in the living room listening as she washed all the dirty dishes. When the water stopped running, he waited for her to emerge. But she didn’t, so he went to her.
She was squatting on the floor wiping the cabinet fronts.
“Cadence, what are you doing?” Mark asked. He couldn’t hide the grin and was glad she wasn’t looking at him.
“What does it look like? I’m cleaning,” she said. She continued scrubbing as she watched him in her periphery. He walked to her and knelt beside her.
“You don’t have to do that,” he said gently. He reached for the dishrag, and she reared back. Apparently the argument wasn’t over.
“I’m sick to death of feeling like this isn’t my house!” she screamed. She stood up and threw the dirty dishrag at him. It smacked him in the forehead.
“I know I’m unorganized, okay? I know my clothes are everywhere! I realize I always pour too much in my glasses! I don’t mean to! I don’t know how to live in your ultra clean, orderly apartment, Mark! Okay? And frankly, I think it’s a little weird. You being so clean. Like, fucking chill the fuck out and just put something where it doesn’t belong!”
She stormed out of the kitchen. Mark hesitated, tossing the dishrag in the sink before following her.
He found her in the bathroom throwing bottles under the sink.
“This is your house, too,” he said.
“No, it’s not.”
“It is, Cadence.”
She paused and looked him in the face. “This has never been my house. This is your house with your sink and your bed and your towels and your plates and your glasses and your closets and—”
“It’s true! I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know where my stuff’s supposed to go.”
“Don’t do that. You know you don’t mean it.”
“I do. I mean it. And I’m sorry for getting pissed about the glasses. I am.”
Cadence shrugged. She sat silent for a moment, battling what she knew she needed to do. He was right about the glasses. She knew it. But she was pissed off and didn’t want to concede.
“I’m sorry I leave glasses lying around!” she snapped.
Mark burst out laughing.
“What?” she demanded.
“That was the worst-sounding apology ever,” he said.
“You’re right. It was. And I’m not sorry. Not yet anyway.” She threw another bottle under the sink.
“You don’t have to apologize,” Mark replied. He grabbed her hands. “Stop. Just stop, please. And listen to me. You’re right. I haven’t made room for you here. And I’m sorry for that. You shouldn’t have to use the guest bedroom closet. You’re not a guest. You’re my girlfriend, and you live with me now, and that makes all of this yours.”
Cadence nodded. “But it still doesn't feel that way.”
Mark thought for a moment. “I know. But I have an idea.”
copyright S. Walden, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Good Lord, she's seventeen?!!

There are two wrong things with that post title. Can you guess what they are?

*pausing to let you guess what they are . . . *

Yep. I mentioned the Lord and I made my heroine seventeen: apparently big no-no’s when you decide to write a book about a student/teacher romance.

I find it interesting that this book (out of every other book I’ve written so far) has been so polarizing. I mean, I wrote a gang rape scene in Going Under. The whole premise of that book was about a girl so guilt-ridden that she concocts an asinine plan to set herself up as a “rape victim” for revenge. I put “rape victim” in quotations because you cannot actually set yourself up to be raped. Rape is something which occurs completely out of the victim’s control. Nevertheless, that was Going Under, and no one attacked my character for it. My editor was scared to death for me. She sat on pins and needles during its debut, thinking that book would end my writing career. It didn’t. It put me on the map.

Before that I wrote Hoodie. Yeah. A little white girl put on the persona of an 18-year-old black boy, spoke through him, acted like him, and used the “n” word prolifically throughout the story. No one attacked my character for that. Only one snarky comment about how I must have learned everything about black culture through rap videos. This person had no idea that I grew up with two black best friends, but whatevs. My point? No anger. (Well, except over the ending.) Oh, and I almost forgot: Anton was a legal adult when he had sex with Emma, who was still seventeen.

But a love story set in high school? How dare I write such a thing!! Am I the first to write a student/teacher love story set in high school? No. Am I the first to write a love story with a heroine who starts out at seventeen and a hero who is much older? No. Am I the first to infuse spirituality in a story like this? Maybe. I know that’s a bone of contention: I must have an agenda, I’m shoving Christianity down people’s throats. Cadence is doing none of those things in the story. She’s grappling with her private faith, and the reader gets to hear that. I made her Christianity an important part of her personal identity on purpose. I wanted my story to be layered. I didn’t want Good to be all about “What if we get caught?!” That’s exciting, but that’s been done. A lot. I wanted a heroine who not only worries about getting caught, but worries about what a relationship like that will do to her soul. I wanted her to struggle with her faith, to question it, because that’s how readers can see her growth.

And as far as the age thing goes, I made sure to do two things:

  1.      Set my story in Georgia, where the age of consent is sixteen.
  2.      Make Cadence eighteen when they have sex for the first time.

I’m not a completely self-destructive author, but those above-mentioned caveats seem to make no difference with a story like this. I wonder had I tagged this story “erotica” if the sentiments would be different. I bet they would. I bet everything about the story would be okay. Well, except for the Christianity part. That doesn’t quite “fit” in the erotica genre. OR, I could have set this story in college where Cadence is still eighteen and Mark still twenty-eight, and that would have been fine as well. I wonder, are college freshmen so very different from high school seniors?

I have to make a choice as an author: write from the heart or write what I know will sell. Sometimes authors can do both, but that’s a lucky coincidence. I could have taken the easy way out and set this story in college. I could have started Cadence out at eighteen. I could have told the story from alternating points of view so that the reader knows everything about Mark’s motives from Book 1 in the series. I did none of those things because that wasn’t the story. It would have been wrong. And it would have made me a hack. A liar.

So there you have it. That’s the story. Readers don’t have to like it. They don’t have to like Cadence, her faith, her man. They don’t have to like me. (But they cannot call me a “Sex Pervert” on Amazon reviews.) My hope, however, is that readers like themselves—enough to read this story in the context and spirit in which it’s intended. It’s a fictional story of a young girl who falls in love with an older man. A girl who grapples with her faith. A girl who grows and changes and experiences. A girl who questions what it means to be good.