Steam and Simmer, Part Three: Sexual Tension

The recap:

I taught a class at LDStorymakers 2016 called, “Steam and Simmer: Writing Sexual Tension without Crossing the Line.” People asked for notes from the class or for me to post my power point for download, but I thought it might be better for me to convert my power point into something a little more coherent (considering they would not also be able to download me to explain it). 

To see Part One and my thoughts on “the line,” go here. WARNING: that post is more of a theoretical discussion about whether or not it’s okay for LDS writers to include sex in fiction and not so much practical writing advice. For that, keep reading this post.

To see Part Two, which contains a few thoughts on romantic tension, go here.

Now let’s talk about what you all came here looking for: how to write sexual tension.

First, remember that attraction has nothing to do with how objectively beautiful someone is. Novels are filled to the brim with people who are so pretty they don’t know what to do with themselves, and I think it’s a little silly. Your characters don’t have to be insanely beautiful people for their relationship to  sizzle. Attraction is nothing more than how desirable one character finds another, regardless of popular opinion.

Now, let’s get down to it.

The basic building blocks of sexual tension consist of two things. First, your characters must notice each other (observation). Then they have to be affected by what they’ve noticed.

Human beings center our orbits on the things we desire. We live our normal lives, but we’re always aware of The Thing We Want Desperately. We think about it, daydream, try to accidentally run into it at its work, etc. The desire for that thing colors our thoughts, actions, and interactions with other people. Characters who desire each other should be hyper-aware of their love interest at all times, especially when he or she is present. Make sure when your characters are noticing each other that they aren’t just seeing–use all the senses. And if you’re intertwining your romantic tension well, you’ll also have them notice non-physical things like talent and intellect.

The other half of making observations is reacting. Unless you’re depicting a relationship that’s purely physical, make sure your characters react emotionally to each other as well as physically. It takes both types of reactions to build good sexual tension.

In class, I used examples from contemporary romance novels to show you what I mean when I say observation/reaction. Because I’m not sure what the rules are, I don’t know what or if I can share of other peoples’ works of fiction on the internet. So you’re stuck with mine. Sorry! Here’s a notice/reaction moment from my book, Soul of Smoke.

“Rhys!” He still didn’t turn. Kai marched over and inserted herself between him and the wall.

Mistake. She knew it as soon as he looked down, his surprised, electric gaze locking first on her eyes, then her lips. The scant inches of air between their bodies grew so hot Kai expected it to spark and steam. Her breath caught. This close, he took up the world. 

In that example we see Kai, my female MC, notice that Rhys, my male MC noticing her (which is totally a legit thing when you write sexual tension). She also observes how close they are. Then she reacts, first physically with a hitch in her breathing (yes, yes, it’s a cliche, but this was my first book) then emotionally with the feeling that he takes up the world.

This is one of several observation/reaction moments in this scene. Which brings me to one of my main points. Sexual tension isn’t a complex construct, it’s as simple as stacking these moments on top of each other and steadily raising the stakes. And by that I don’t mean you have to get more explicit. I’ve been told this is a pretty steamy scene, and you know what? They barely touch. That’s another important thing about sexual tension. It comes from the things characters DON’T do, not what they do. I’ll talk about this more later, but doing can often diminish sexual tension.

Now let’s talk about the stages of physical intimacy.


Author Linda Howard has talked about 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy (CONTENT WARNING), but because I was teaching at LDStorymakers, I wanted to keep the discussion at PG-13 or lower. So I compressed Linda Howard’s 12 stages into my own eight stages.

1. Eye to eye/eye to body

The characters see each other. They start to notice things about each other. Keep in mind that what they notice is important and reveals a lot about their character. Do they see a smile, or mile long legs?

2. Voice to voice

The characters speak to each other.

3. Platonic touch

This includes hand to hand or hand to arm. It’s the completely non-sexual way you’d touch pretty much any other human being on the planet.

4. Flirtatious touch/Intimate platonic touch

This includes putting an arm around the shoulders, touching the waist, touching the small of the back, and a woman putting her hand on a man’s chest. We do touch our friends this way, but generally only the ones we’re very close with. This is can also be a confusing stage for characters–they might not be sure if their love interest has their arm draped around them because they like them or because they like them.

5. Romantic touch

This includes a hand to the face or back of the neck. Unless you’re a parent wiping food off of your kid (or, as was pointed out in class, you’re slapping someone), we don’t touch other people’s faces often. It’s a very intimate act. Generally if there’s face touching it’s closely followed by…

6. Kissing

In my opinion, this covers everything from a peck to hardcore making out. As long as hands aren’t wandering anywhere normally covered by underwear, you’re still in stage 6.

7. Sexual touch

This is the wandering hands (and/or mouths) stage. It’s pretty broad, but I’ll spare you the details, as this is a post aimed at LDS authors. Most adults are well aware of the goings-on of this stage.

8. Sex


So, how do you go about applying these things?

Pace your story according to the stage you want your characters to reach. If you’re writing a clean romance that builds up to a kiss, your characters are going to spend a lot of the book really wanting to touch but not touching. Clean romance is about 98% not touching. But if you build up the tension right with your observation/reaction building blocks, well-rounded characters, and a well-intertwined romantic plot, people will be just as satisfied by the kiss at the end as they are by other books that go a lot further.

Basically, choose the stage you want to get to and spend the book putting the characters through what I’ll call “the Cycle of Almosts,” increasing the magnitude of their observations and reactions over the course of the book.


  1. Give your characters a taste of what they could have.
  2. Allow life/plot/a person (including the characters themselves) to interrupt.
  3. The taste has left them addicted. Their resistance to the romance drops and/or their desire for each other increases.
  4. Give them a little more.
  5. Interrupt them again.
  6. Desire increases again. Emotions deepen.
  7. Repeat indefinitely, raising the magnitude of the interactions and romantic/character stakes as the story goes on.

Or, more simply:

Cycle of almosts

This is the cycle that makes readers go

baby book reading interested lesson

And authors go

smiling smirk grinch smiley

Remember, once characters–and readers–get what they’re after, much of the sexual tension disappears. Generally speaking, the longer you make your characters wait (within reason) the more satisfying the payoff is for readers.

Every time your romantically involved characters have a moment, let them move up a stage or show that they’ve become more emotionally invested. The quicksand of love has sucked them a little deeper and they’re finding it harder and harder to escape.

You can extend readers’ tolerance of tension by sprinkling little micro-payoffs throughout the story–say a scene where the characters hold hands or have a moment of romantic connection. In other words, a scene where the MOMENT in the cycle above is allowed to play out. Never enough to satisfy, just enough to whet readers’ appetites and give them hope.

Just beware of making readers wait too long. If you do, payoff can feel anticlimactic. Tension can be overdone.

Well, that pretty much covers the things I talked about in my class except the different heat levels of romance, a concept thoroughly and humorously covered here (CONTENT WARNING). If you attended the class, this is the article I adapted examples from. There’s also a less humorous but just as informative article here with a slightly different take on heat levels. They’re useful if you plan to write contemporary adult romance, but I don’t know that you’d need them otherwise.

There were things I came across in my research that I didn’t have time to share in class, like a more detailed breakdown of the romantic plot and a hard look at the meet-cute (the scene in which the love interests meet for the first time). I think I’ll call that last bit Part Four and post it sometime soon. Until then, thanks for reading! I hope it was helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at

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Steam and Simmer, Part Two: Romantic Tension

The recap:

I taught a class at LDStorymakers 2016 called, “Steam and Simmer: Writing Sexual Tension without Crossing the Line.” People asked for notes from the class or for me to post my power point for download, but I thought it might be better for me to convert my power point into something a little more coherent (considering they would not also be able to download me to explain it). 

To see Part One and my thoughts on “the line,” go here. WARNING: that post is more of a theoretical discussion about whether or not it’s okay for LDS writers to include sex in fiction and not so much practical writing advice. For that, keep reading this post.

In this post, I’m going to briefly address the difference between romantic and sexual tension, then sort of broadly address romance. Don’t worry, the nitty-gritty of sexual tension is coming soon, but they’re so intertwined I couldn’t leave romance out completely.

Okay, so let’s talk about the difference between romantic and sexual tension. Here’s how I see it.

Romantic tension is any tension that comes from the emotions/emotional conflict between your romantically involved characters.

Sexual tension is any tension that comes from these characters’ physical interactions.


So let’s look just a little bit at how to build romantic tension. I’m not going to go too in-depth, but here are just a couple of important things I mentioned in class that I think you should keep in mind when you’re writing:

1. Well-rounded characters are the foundation of every good romance.

You can do a Google search and find a ton of articles about developing characters or go to the library and check out multiple books on the topic, so I’m not going to address how it’s done here. I’m just going to give you a few thoughts about character in relation to romance.

First, readers must be able to emotionally invest in your characters. If they aren’t invested, they won’t care about anything that happens to them–including whether or not they end up with their soul mate.

Second, both romantically involved characters (or three, if you have a love triangle) should be well-rounded as individuals. Their strengths and weaknesses should complement each other, and they should each have a strong arc that intertwines with the romantic plot at key intervals.

For example, these characters I just now made up. This situation would come later in the book, after the characters are basically in love with each other and ready to commit. Also, sorry if it’s cliché. It wasn’t part of my original presentation and I made it up as I went along.

Sophia’s mother has worn down her self-esteem for years. Then she meets James. James helps build Sophia up, and Sophia, through her relationship with James and her own efforts, starts to understand her true value. Finally, she stands up to her mother. But it goes badly and her mom embarrasses by making a scene at huge family dinner. Broken down and in desperate need of reassurances, Sophia gets in her car and heads for James’s house, struggling to see the road through her tears…

James is on the run from a sordid past. He left it behind, but doesn’t think he can be the man his parents wanted him so desperately to be (they died within a year of each other two years ago, never knowing he was turning his life around). Sophia has brought life to a life he thought was dark forever. After last night, when they hiked up to a waterfall and took a midnight swim, James has decided he’s in love with her. He’s going to tell her after her family dinner. Someone knocks on the door. Thinking it’s Sophia, he answers. Instead, Jill barges in. She’s on the run from the police for murdering a couple in a robbery gone wrong. The police are closing in on her, and she’s found James after two, long years, she’s got a gun, and her clothes are covered in blood…

Sophia arrives at James’s house and knocks on the door. He answers, looking guilty and stressed. He tries to keep her out. It hurts. She needs him, but he won’t stop being elusive. Finally, grasping at the bruised remains of her new-found confidence, Sophia shoves her way in. A gorgeous woman comes out of the bathroom. Her hair is wet, and she’s wearing James’s shirt and nothing else. 

James panics. If Jill knows how he feels for Sophia, she might take her hostage. Putting on his best sneer, he gets rid of Sophia as quickly as possible by shutting her down with a few perfectly-placed insults.  Saying the terrible things he says makes him sick to his stomach. When he sees Jill reach for her gun, he grabs Sophia by the arm and physically pushes her out of his house. She stumbles, but he slams the door on her. He turns to face Jill, who looks disgusted and tells him that she knew from the moment she walked in that he’s the same scumbag he was two years before.

So here we have the characters’ pasts (Sophia’s terrible mother and James’s shady, potentially criminal activities) and weaknesses (Sophia’s self-esteem and James’s conviction that he can’t be a good person) come into conflict with the romance right when they were about to live happily ever after. Hopefully this will have readers freaking out and flipping pages. Because now, even though we all know that romances generally end in happily ever after, we have no idea how these two are going to get there. All of these things would build tension on their own, but by intertwining them, the urgency readers feel becomes more than the sum of its parts.

Look to good contemporary romance writers for more examples of this, even if you’re writing romance as a subplot, because this is something they do all the time.

2. Build a nice, high wall between your characters.

The more insurmountable the obstacle that keeps the characters apart, the greater the tension.

I’ve noticed that walls–like all conflicts–come in two types: internal and external.

Let’s expand on the example above and talk about internal walls. Let’s say that Sophia met James when her outgoing best friend, Emma, convinced her to sign up for sky diving class. James is the instructor. He thinks Sophia is cute and flirts with her, but because Sophia’s self-esteem is so low, she’s convinced that guys only flirt with her to mock her. She shuts him down. For the duration of the story, Sofia’s low self-esteem is a wall they have to climb if they’re ever going to be together.

Other examples of internal walls include situations like an MC’s parents constantly divorcing, causing her not to believe in love. Or a main character who has been controlled by his mother for years, and now he’s paranoid that his girlfriend is trying to do the same.

Internal walls are fairly common in Contemporary Romance, but I know a lot of us write romance as a subplot in novels where the main genre is fantasy, sci-fi, historical, suspense, etc. When you have “romance plus” (meaning romance plus another genre) the “wall” is often external. For example, in Romeo and Juliet (which, okay, was a contemporary when it was written), the wall is their families’ blood feud. In Twilight, the wall is that Bella smells delicious and Edward wants to eat her. In The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, the wall is that the ruler of the MC’s city has killed her best friend, and she has sworn to kill him in revenge (that’s a pretty dang awesome wall, isn’t it? Highly recommend that book to anyone who likes YA fantasy).

The best walls force the characters not only to overcome differences, but to dig deep and fundamentally change who they are for the better. They force the characters to search their soul, examine everything they thought they knew, get rid of deep-seated biases, or forgive hurt so deep that forgiveness itself is gut-wrenchingly painful. A good wall doesn’t just cause tension, it drives change and results in an emotionally satisfying arc for each of the characters.

So much more could be said about romance, but that’s what I’ve got for now. Your homework? Look at your story and ask yourself three things.

  1. Are my characters complete people outside of the romantic plot?
  2. Does their personal growth intersect with the romance in meaningful ways?
  3. Is my wall high enough to drive both romantic tension and character growth?

Thanks for reading! For Part Three: Sexual Tension, go here!

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Steam and Simmer, Part One: The Line


Last Friday at LDStorymakers I taught a class called, “Steam and Simmer: Writing Sexual Tension without Crossing the Line.” The topic was so popular and the room so small that they asked me to teach it again on Saturday. But the only time they had an open room just happened to be the same time Brandon Sanderson was teaching his plotting class. By virtue of the fact that he’s a genius, Brandon Sanderson happens to be a much stronger draw than I am. So I’m guessing several people who missed my class the first day missed it again because they were there (or unconscious in a corner somewhere, as it was the last hour of the conference and most of us were running on fumes).

People were asking for notes from the class, but I thought it might be better for me to convert my power point into something a little more coherent (considering they would not also be able to download me to explain it) and post it here.

Let’s get into it.

To accurately discuss the topic of “How to Write Sexual Tension without Crossing the Line”, I strongly feel the need to address the question of “the line.” What is it? Where is it?

Since this is a sensitive topic and has less to do with constructive writing advice and more to do with a theological discussion, I’m not linking it directly to any Storymakers sites. However, it was in my presentation, so I wanted to include it here.

I’m going to kick this off by reminding you all that I taught this class at LDStorymakers, which is a conference begun by and still largely attended by LDS (Mormon) authors (though all are welcome). The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think of sex as a supremely sacred act, and as such, it should only be shared with one’s spouse. So when I talk about “the line,” that’s where I’m coming from. A place where sex is sacred and where the portrayal of it can be a sensitive issue. After all, no matter how out there I seem the more conservative members of my faith, I am LDS.

So, what and where where is “the line?”

“What?” is easy. The line is the place where it becomes inappropriate to portray the physical goings on between two people.

“Where?” is a little more complex. A lot of us, including me, wrestle with what is and isn’t appropriate to include in a novel, let alone show.

First, consider your audience. What age group are you writing for? Who, specifically? Is your audience LDS or are you writing for a mainstream market? Covenant Communications and Deseret Book have extremely strict guidelines about what sort of physical intimacy they will and will not include in the books they publish. Mainstream publishers, not so much.

Also, you shouldn’t labor under the assumption that people will know you’re writing clean novels because you write YA. Plenty of YA novels include explicit sexual situations.

Second, consider your comfort zone. Remember, you write for you. Sometimes agents (not mine, she’s wonderful) and publishers try to push authors into including more explicit material than they’re comfortable with. Don’t give in.

Conversely, sometimes readers can be a little judgmental, especially when they find out an author is LDS. Some people in the church confuse “sacred” with “dirty.” But this way of thinking has its own pitfalls. I have more than a few friends who’ve had difficult times in their marriages because no one ever told them it’s okay to enjoy sex and that they should. Some people are so focused on preventing sex before marriage that no one got around to telling them how great it can be after. Some of these same friends happened to read a book with a sex scene that was so beautiful and spiritually moving that it vastly improved their marriage. To me, that says books that include sex scenes are not smut across the board. You may or may not agree.

Which brings me to my final thought on the location of “the line.” It’s highly personal and varies widely. Certain consideration must be given to the artistic expression of real-life relationships (which may include sex) because writing fiction is art and we want to portray things as genuinely as we can. However, don’t make excuses to go against the morals by which you live. What you write comes down to you and God. If you’re conflicted, pray about it. When you get your answer, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. In my opinion, the only wrong thing you can do in this situation is judge someone else’s morality by your personal line.

Now, onto more practical advice. Later tonight I plan to compile a post on the difference between sexual and romantic tension and then give some broad advice about writing romance. Following that, I’ll put up a post about sexual tension on a micro level (within the scene itself) and then on a macro-level. Then possibly some thoughts on how romantic and sexual tension can intertwine. As I put up more posts, I’ll put links on the bottom for easy navigation. I hope you enjoy!

Part Two: Romantic Tension

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It’s Been Awhile

Hey guys.

A few new things have happened since, you know, December. Mostly I’ve just been hanging out, parenting, and writing. I did start this thing where I assign myself a specific room of my house to clean for each day of the week. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to block the sight of my living room from people who show up at my front door unexpectedly. So that’s nice.

If you missed it, I also hung my shingle as a developmental editor/writing teacher/consultant. I have ambitions to make a career out of it (or half a career, since I do love writing my own books), and I’ve heard I’m pretty good, so if you’re interested, check it out here.

In other news, I attended the LDStorymakers writing conference this weekend. YAY! It is without a doubt my absolute favorite weekend of the year. This was the first time I’ve gone as a published author, and some awesome things happened. First, I got to teach. Second, I got to hang out for writers with three days straight and see friends I only get to see once a year at this conference. Third, I got to meet my amazing agent, Marlene Stringer, for the first time ever! And I got to meet more of the talented authors she represents! It was really fun.

Also, Truth of Embers was a finalist in the Adult Spec Fic category of the Whitney Awards! The coolest thing about that was that I was competing directly against authors like Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells. I ultimately lost to Dan Wells (I’d shake my fist at him, but I’d rather stay on his good side), but just being in the mix was an honor and I’m grateful.

On Friday, I taught a class called, “Steam and Simmer: Writing Sexual Tension without Crossing the Line.” The topic was so popular and the room so small that they asked me to teach it again on Saturday. But the only time they had an open room just happened to be the same time Brandon Sanderson was teaching his plotting class. By virtue of the fact that he’s a genius, Brandon Sanderson happens to be a much stronger draw than I am. So I’m guessing several people who missed my class the first day missed it again because they were there (or unconscious in a corner somewhere, as it was the last hour of the conference and most of us were running on fumes).

People were asking for notes from the class, but I thought it might be better for me to convert my power point into something a little more coherent (considering they would not also be able to download me to explain it) and post it here.

Since I’m not looking to make this The Longest Blog Post Ever, I thought I’d split the class into a mini-series of posts relating to the topics I covered in class. So, for the next few days, that’s what I’m going to focus on.

I hope you enjoy!



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I consider myself a fantasy writer. But secretly, all the wars, politics, power struggles, heartache, and death in my stories mostly exist so that my characters have adequate circumstances to overcome before they fall in love.

love disney romantic dinner lady and the tramp

Mmm. I would share spaghetti with you, fictional men that I make up in my own head.

And also learn things about themselves. That’s important, too.


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The End

Today was the day, guys. Today, I sent off the last version of the manuscript of Truth of Embers I get to see before it’s all formatted and finalized. About time, too, since the book is supposed to come out on December 14th!

It’s been kind of a crazy year. When I told my agent that I could handle writing two books in a year (plus editing both of them AND the first book) I had no idea how hard it was going to be–mostly due to the fact that I’m also the full-time mother of three kids. I think books one and two turned out all right. Let’s all cross our fingers for book three, which I had less time with due to editing both books one and two while I was supposed to be writing it. Still, I think I nailed the ending. I like it, anyway.

…more or less.

I love these characters. Yeah, they’re imaginary, but they’ve become so real to me. I’m so excited for the print version of Soul of Smoke to come out this December. Also, I found out that Shadow of Flame is slated for print in February 2016. At the moment, both books are only going to be available through Harlequin’s subscription program and I *think* directly from their website–so you won’t be able to get it on Amazon. I get a whole box of each though, so stay tuned for giveaways! I’m not sure yet if Truth of Embers will make it to print, but I’ll keep you updated on that, as well.

Anyway, I wanted to say more, but my brain is kind of fried. Today Soul of Smoke and Shadow of Flame are Kindle Daily Deals ($0.99 each for a few more hours!) and I feel like I’ve spent most of my day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram trying to tell people about it.


Oh! Another thing. My friends and I are hosting a critique partner matchmaking event. Here’s a post–an updated version of one I wrote last year–telling you why you need a CP even if your sister/spouse/friend is an English major. That’s also something I worked on today. If you’re a writer without a CP, you should definitely check it out!

Here’s a question for you guys: now that the Dragonsworn trilogy is out there (or will be, in December), do you have any questions? Would you like to see more of that world? Short stories? Deleted scenes? More information? I’m always looking for material for blog posts, so I’d be happy to talk about any of that! In the meantime, I suppose I’m on to my next project, which is set in an enchanted forest. I’m pretty excited.

forest fog nature sky tree

Goodbye for now, dragon friends. May the wind carry you well.

Drogon dragon

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First ever Soul of Smoke fanart!

SO. I don’t know how many of you know this, but secretly one of the reasons I was so excited to get a book was that I suck as an artist and was hoping some awesome arty person would come along and love my books enough to create fanart. Because fanart is AMAZING.

I was messaging my friend, the amazing LT Elliot, about my dreams (she’s one of my favorite readers, a fantastic writer, and an amazing critique partner). She went quiet for a while and then messaged me THIS GLORIOUS THING. You might not get it if you haven’t read Soul of Smoke (What are you thinking? Here’s the link. You’re welcome.), but if you have, it’s hilarious.


Laura's dragon comic

Thanks LT!!

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How I Write Books

The story of my process told mostly in gifs.

First draft

Immediately veer off of outline. Write events, plot, dialogue. Things are out of order or don’t make sense. Drop/don’t develop minor plot threads. Overall, though, the story is there, even if it’s skeletal. Think, “Hey, I’ve got this.”

skeleton animated GIF

Second draft

Shove in ALL the backstory and do any major plot overhauling. Stuff in details and setting until draft is bloated and lumpy. Nothing flows. Think, “I hate everything because I suck.”

food animated GIF

This is both my draft and me.

Third draft

Pick apart the prose, smooth transitions so scenes work together. Add depth to emotion. Think, “This book is flawed, but I like it.”

supernatural animated GIF

I know what I’m doing. *hysterical laugh*

Fourth draft

Polish and add tiny details. Decide I need to go over it like five more times. Procrastinate because of burn out and barely have time to go over it once. Think, “This book is ONLY flaws.”

frustrated animated GIF

*incoherent weeping*

Finally, editors are like:

reaction animated GIF


Send in manuscript. Cry because I’ve survived writing another book.

Clean house. Color and binge-watch TV. Willfully forget I ever decided to be a writer in the first place. Attempt to tweet/Instagram/blog about book so as not to utterly disappoint agent.


Hide from the world.

Also: almost throw up every time someone posts a review. Obsessively check Goodreads for new ratings. Hate and love the story by turns. Make a decision.

Supernatural Spn animated GIF

Come across shiny idea.

other animated GIF


Immediately start new book.

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Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is…



dance animated GIF

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. If you still want a chance to win the books, my friend Charlie and I are doing another giveaway today on Twitter! All you have to do is retweet this tweet and you’re entered. Good luck!

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Shadow of Flame Release Date and a Giveaway!

I can’t believe it’s already time for book two! Would you like to own Soul of Smoke AND Shadow of Flame for free? I thought so. Keep reading.
Shadow of Flame Final

If you haven’t heard of the books, here’s the back cover for book one, Soul of Smoke:

On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons–actual freaking dragons–battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.
As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human–especially such a compelling one–is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.
Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys’s life–a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.

The books are technically published as adult, but they’ve got a pretty strong YA flavor. I think the series will probably appeal most to people who are fans of YA fantasy with lots of romance. Aside from that, they’re pretty clean. Shadow of Flame is the second book in the trilogy and the story is more or less continuous (though I did try to write them so people starting with books two and three wouldn’t get lost). If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely check out Soul of Smoke first!

And now, the reason you’re all here. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away a copy of both Soul of Smoke and Shadow of Flame for free!


game of thrones animated GIF

And when they don’t look like grownup versions of those guys, they look like this:

thor animated GIF

Wut? Hello. Fantasy + romance is just as good as peanut butter + chocolate.

A few things you should know:

  1. THESE ARE EBOOKS. You need a computer, smartphone, or tablet with ebook-reading software to read them.

That’s all. I’d love to give away real books, but I don’t have any yet. As soon as I get some, I’ll give away those, too.

How to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog about your favorite fictional dragon.
  2. Follow me on Twitter.
  3. Follow me on Instagram.
  4. Like my Facebook author page.
  5. Retweet this tweet.
  6. Share this Facebook post.

ONCE YOU’VE DONE THAT,  COME BACK AND LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT ON THE BLOG FOR EACH ONE. You can do all of that stuff and get a ton of entries. I know that isn’t convenient, but I think that will be the easiest way to keep track of things on my end.

I’ll use a random number generator to choose a winner. That person can email me at (make sure you include your preferred file format for the ebooks).

This contest will run until tomorrow, September 15th, at 9am Mountain Time. I know that’s short, but I’m planning on doing a more soon!

Good luck!

If you think entering contests is too much of a hassle and you just want to buy the books (they’re only $3.49, after all) check out the links here.

Thanks for stopping by!

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