mice. men. whatever.

Sometimes plans go awry. Mice and men and all that. Earlier this year I published a short story, Abbot, to introduce my new romantic adventure series, Avenging VIII. Then I wrote the first book, Elder. Then I sent Elder to my developmental editor. Then I got the bad news. There were parts that did not work. Enough parts that I needed to step away and rethink the story.

This story, remember, was written DURING A PANDEMIC. Yes, we’re all writing during a pandemic. But I’m also still writing with grief as my constant. It’s not easy but things are getting better and as of today, I’m honing in on the end of a different book that will be coming to you in early September… as long as my editors say it’s okay. I have high hopes. Higher than last time.

Here are two brief teasers. First of all, PLEASE enjoy the size of this man’s hands. (You’ll get to see the rest of him on the full cover.) Then enjoy the brief excerpt.


Inside the entrance to Keller’s, on either side of the restaurant’s front door, sat two antique-white oval side tables that had once belonged to May Wise.

One held the original cigar box long ago retired from Two Owls Café. On the other sat the fat ceramic owl Kaylie Keller had found in a flea market before her return to Hope Springs.

May had been her foster mother, the cigar box the lunch spot’s original cash register, the owl symbolic of the wisdom instilled in her while living in the Wise home.

Two Owls was now a bed-and-breakfast, the spot perfect for those in need of a Texas Hill Country retreat. Rustic pergolas strung with tiny white lights invited visitors to relax and enjoy the property’s wildflower meadow. The shaded areas, accessed by winding pebbled walks, offered gliders, swings, and ornamental fire pits circled by clusters of chairs.

Kaylie co-owned both operations: the bed-and-breakfast with her father, and the restaurant—a roomy log cabin with a covered front porch and a fireplace crafted of river stone—with her sister-in-law-to-be, Thea Clark. The wedding was fast approaching.

Thea split her time between the family restaurant and her original business, Bread and Bean. She was also involved with Butters Bakery, as were all the women who lived with her. Because Thea was still the driving force behind the house on Dragon Fire Hill.

The past year had seen new developments there too. Especially for Frannie Charles.

After twelve months spent living inside Thea’s safety net, Frannie and her boys had finally moved out of the shelter. They’d only been in their new place for two weeks and were still adjusting to the change. It was a good change, the adjustments a day-to-day challenge, but that was fine with Frannie. Because for the first time in her entire life, she felt as if she belonged.

Hope Springs had become home.

Here is what I have learned about writing with grief, knowing everyone’s healing process is different. 1) Walt hated it when I wasn’t writing. HATED it. He told me more than once that he fell in love with my words. We met online and I sent him a copy of Call Me. He read it and told me I could not put a treehouse in the type of tree I’d put it in; I changed that when I re-released the book, heh. He would be thrilled at the book’s second life, but not having that personal fire under my heels is a serious impediment to my forward motion. Serious.

The other is 2) Bird by Bird. Just do it. Five words at a time. Ten words. A whole paragraph. A whole page. This is how a book gets written, through grief or not. It doesn’t get written by arguing on Next Door or getting embroiled in nonsense on social media. Sure it’s fun to visit with friends but scrolling through a feed for an hour? That’s an hour of no words being written. Some authors easily make that time and balance and can split their focus. I have a really hard time doing so. Until I’ve got a better handle on writing in a new world where I don’t have my sounding board in the next room, I really have to limit distractions. I haven’t been very good at putting that into practice.

I’m going to do better because after Frannie’s story, I HAVE PLANS!!!

the origin of a series

bishop :: avenging viii :: alison kent

Once upon a time, in 2016 to be exact, I read a thriller that blew me away. It had everything I wanted in a book, including great sexual tension, an indestructible hero, twists and turns and amazing action. I thought for a couple of years about how I could do the same thing in romantic suspense.

Obviously, a romance requires a different focus, less military verisimilitude… or so in the case of what I wanted to write. I played with concepts, wrote words on three different stories as I tried to get to know these guys: Who were they? Where had they come from? How had they ended up working together off the grid to right wrongs no matter what it took, or how many laws they broke?

Enter Kris Hack of Temys Designs.

I was on Facebook one day and she had posted a premade cover. I did not need another premade cover, yet I returned again and again and finally bought it. Then I thought about Bishop Riggs, one of the dudes I’d been writing about, and this cover was one-hundred percent him.

I continued to write, going back and forth, uncertain, so I asked Kris about making this a series. She did two more covers and they were great but I sat on them for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was doing.

I needed a series name and went through three or four before settling on the Avenging VIII. But the VIII needed to mean something. As did the titles… all of which will be explained within the series itself.

Over the next year, I worked on other things but kept coming back to this idea and the covers. I had a few story nuggets but needed more: Who was behind the team? What was their mission and their end goal? How was I going to live up to my original idea inspired by the book I’d read? I probably wrote eight books worth of brainstorming notes to pull this together.

It also required eight covers (though there are actually nine books because I went back and added Abbot as a prequel short story; and Kris doesn’t know it yet but there will be a tenth, too!) 

I finally decided what was off with the two additional covers, discussed it with Kris, then left her to design. Each cover that arrived in Messenger got me more excited. I’ve honestly not had this much fun writing anything in ages. And that one premade cover was the glue that made it all work!

Check out the Avenging VIII here. ABBOT and ELDER are available now for preorder.

The Sweetest Taboo AT LAST

Earlier this month, I hit PUBLISH on my *last reverted backlist title. Save for my three books with Berkley Heat (Dalton Gang) and my five books with Montlake Romance (Hope Springs) I now control the rights to **everything I’ve written … that everything being a total of ***59 novels, novellas, and short stories.


You can now get THE SWEETEST TABOO at the following retailers:



Apple: https://apple.co/2NnLZuF
Kindle: https://amzn.to/2WXD5IY
Kobo: http://bit.ly/36rIZGy
Nook: http://bit.ly/34faalM


This was my fourth book for Harlequin Blaze and launched the Men To Do series. It was published in 2002 so I went back in and gave the characters updated tech and switched out some pop culture references. For the most part, though, it’s still the book I wrote SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. It’s so hard to believe it’s been that long!!

It’s been my bestselling book for Harlequin and apparently the Germans love it as it’s been reprinted there three times I think, and with some pretty steamy covers!

*I do have rights back to The Icing on the Cake but am not sure if I’m going to republish that one in digital. Should I?

**Not The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance or This Time Next Year or the online reads I wrote for Harlequin.

***I swear it’s 60. What am I forgetting?

some things take forever

And one of those things would be finishing up the reissue of my Girl Gear series originally published by Harlequin Blaze. But at long last the *six books are again available! Life has been a bit of an upside-down world for the past couple of years so this has taken longer than it should have. But it is what it is so ONWARD!!! And could these new covers look any more amazing as a set? I love them SO much!

(Thanks to Daqri at Covers by Combs for all the beauty!)

You can get the full series at the following retailers:

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2OvBlUM
**Apple: https://apple.co/2ASdzur
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2AUDoKg
Nook: http://bit.ly/2LZFor4


*I discovered a couple of legacy typos in Indiscreet even after reading it through so I’m in the process of getting those corrected and new editions published as we speak.

**Apparently, Apple hasn’t yet published Striptease but I’ll get on that.

october 31

October 31st. The date. Not the holiday. Three years ago on this date, 10/31/2015, I turned in final proofs on RITE OF WRONGS, my procedural thriller. That book was the last one I finished.

Yes. You read that right.

Oh, Walt and I wrote ICEFALL, had our agent shop that, then published it ourselves in 2017. (It’s currently unavailable as I get ready to relaunch the series with book two.) But that had been an ongoing project for years. As far as my solo writing career, I have not published a new book… wait, no. I have not FINISHED a new book for three years. Until now. THREE YEARS.

To. The. Day.

That’s especially telling when you realize my first published book was released in 1993 and I’ve managed to write around 60 of the things. Apparently, it took twenty-two years for me to forget how to write. Or to burnout. Which is what happened. Sure, I continued to write. A lot. No, I mean, A LOT. I’ve got thousands of words on dozens of unfinished projects sitting in Google Drive. Romance. Suspense. Young adult post-apocalyptic. Women’s fiction. Science fiction. I tried everything to get back my mojo.

I still don’t know where it went. I think it was a combination of pure exhaustion and trying to keep up with the changes in the industry. I self-published my first backlist books in 2010 when the options pretty much were Smashwords and KDP. I kept up with what was going on as the indie world exploded, but I was under contract to Berkley and to Apub which ate up all of my time. I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities. My brain’s plate didn’t have room for more.

When I was in a position to write exactly what I wanted without a gatekeeper to tell me it wouldn’t fit in their lineup for whatever reason, I couldn’t do it. One would think the freedom would make it that much easier. One might be right in other cases.

Not in mine

And, yeah. I tried every trick anyone could think to offer. Most of which I’d already tried on my own. I’m an old hand at this gig, remember? Actually, a VERY old hand, ha. August of this year marked my quarter-century anniversary as a published author. That’s a LONG time.

Now I can only hope (heh, hope) the release of HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS signals an opening of the floodgates and that more words will come rushing out because there is no way I’m going to get a real job. I’m no longer qualified to do anything. This is all I’ve known for that quarter century. At least I’ve already got enough ideas worked out to keep me busy for another!

I hope (heh, hope) you enjoy HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS and the trip down memory lane through the Hope Springs series. You can get a copy at Amazon or read it for free (along with the entire series) in Kindle Unlimited.

(I included a bit about the writing process and what I went through during this one and losing Walt in a note to my readers. )



I’ve been writing in Google Docs for a while now. I started in WordPerfect for DOS, moved to Word for Windows, migrated to Scrivener and loved it, but have settled now on Google Docs. I still dictate. I still use pen and paper, though not as often these days because my eyesight requires I use a Sharpie and that means I need different paper than the billion notebooks I have.


I started using Google Docs when writing Icefall with Walt. It was the easiest way to write together because we could do it live. He did most of the drafting and I would come behind and edit him. Other times he’d get stuck on something and I’d fix it while he waited, me in my office, he in his. He’d either grumble or yell, “Thanks,” depending on what changes I’d made. Lots of times he’d fix my fix to one that was better suited to his voice, to what he was trying to say even. Editing on the fly. Perfect. It was a lot of fun watching him, literally, grow into his writing self. Icefall was his first book, though he’d been writing lengthy blog posts for years, and he was a story guy from the very beginning.


As I do every day, this morning I pulled up My Drive in Google and went to my Books folder. It was sorted upside down which put two subfolders I hadn’t thought of in ages at the top of the queue. Both started with S. Curious, I opened one then the other and read the pages I’d written.


One of the projects was Walt’s idea. As always with Walt’s ideas, it was a good one but I couldn’t quite get a handle on it at the time. Reading through all these months later, a year or more really, I loved it. The narrator came alive on the page and surprised me. I’d let it slide because she didn’t feel right. And because I needed to do some research to figure her out.


The second was the same. That one needed to be plotted before I could dive in due to some intertwined storylines and some historical backstory details. In my chapter, my female protagonist was twenty-six and in my notes she was thirty-eight, so yeah. That one needs some work, too, but it sucked me in since I’d forgotten most of it. I read it as a reader, anticipating.


Funny part of this was that in both ideas there was a throwaway character named Bingo. No clue why because the name means nothing to me but now I’m thinking I’ll put a Bingo in all my books just for fun! My own personal Easter egg, and maybe readers who see this will laugh. In fact, I think I’m going to go all out and add a dog named Bingo to the book I’m working on now.  I’ve got the perfect spot to put him, the perfect role for him to play! And dogs always make books better!

word scraps

Today I’m going to scrap everything I wrote yesterday. I rarely do this. I can count on one hand the number of times in my career I’ve scrapped more than a paragraph or two. Maybe during final revisions, sure, but not while writing. I don’t draft. I never have. I write clean copy down to the sentence level because it’s just how my brain is wired. At the end of a writing day, I’m able to count my words because they’re net. I add and subtract throughout the day, going back to edit and reword and rework. I can’t move forward if something in the moment isn’t right because THAT MOMENT is the ONLY MOMENT that idea is alive.

But not only am I scrapping everything I wrote yesterday, I’m scrapping everything I’ve written on this idea so far. It’s not much so this isn’t terribly painful, ha. The problem is I revisited an old idea and what I’d been doing with it… eight (maybe?) years ago doesn’t work with what I want to do now. I’m using the characters and the world but the protagonist’s goal is completely different because she is completely different. She’s no longer a member of a military force but is an independent contractor, so to speak. The hero is pretty much the same but his story has also changed and for the better. There’s actually CONFLICT now where before there was not.

I’m horrible about conflict. I hate it in real life so tend to balk at putting it in my books. I never have BIG DRAMATIC black moments because I have a hard time pulling them off believably. I have an equally hard time buying into so many I read because they seem manufactured rather than growing out of who the characters are and what they want. I don’t like coincidences. Or conflict that can be solved with an honest adult conversation. Walt was always so good at helping me with this because he could propose a situation that actually made sense to me.

Last night, for example, I realized I was going to have to destroy something the hero had built and I just cringed at the idea of all that destruction. In fiction. Which is make-believe. So you see my problem, ha. But I’m going to do it because it works for this new story direction. I’m pretty excited about this story, in fact… sadly a bit more so than the one I’d decided to write this month. And this is where I diverge from more common writing sense: sticking with one project rather than hopping back and forth between several. That’s what I’ve been doing.

And I’m okay with that because I don’t have a contracted deadline with a publisher. I only have the deadline I’ve self-imposed for my five-year career plan, and that’s still in play. Hopping between stories means the word count will accumulate on several books and then all of a sudden they’ll be done and ready to release! Probably not the optimal way to manage a career but with all I’ve been through the last year, I’m lucky there are any words at all going on the page. I’m not going to mess with whatever muse is bringing them up from my basement.

Yeah. That’s what it looks like down there.


I’ve been food obsessed lately. Eating, yes, but just having everything I could possibly want within reach. I love having a fridge or freezer full of dinner choices. Walt always preferred to make a daily run to the store for fresh. We butted heads over this for years. When I was cooking, I won and vice versa. But having my own grocery store in my own house makes me happy.

Then there’s the thing where my eye doctor has me on medication that has my appetite in overdrive. Add that to the fact that I’m scrambling around like a madwoman up in here with construction and writing and grieving and running the household… Yeah, I’m doing a lot of eating my feelings.

When I was a kid, my mom would put in a pot roast with carrots and potatoes every Sunday morning before church. We’d get home and the house would smell amazing. On Saturdays, she’d often cook hamburgers, and with the hamburgers we’d have Ranch Style beans which to this day I love. My dad would dish his up on top of crushed potato chips, something I’ve been doing of late though my chips are a jalapeno queso flavor and I add a hefty serving of Rotel dip on top. Sometimes I’ll eat a bowl of chips, beans, and queso for dinner and call it a night. And no I don’t want to think about the salt content. It’s the meds at work. And the need for comfort food.

I’ve been thinking, too, about French fries. Those from local fast food joints: McDonald’s, Burger King, Sonic, Jack in the Box… who has fresh cut, curly, bacon & cheese covered wedges. I’ve been thinking about those from diners that are crinkle cut and drip grease and crunch in your mouth. About meaty steak fries with a coating of flavor and cornstarch. I’ve also been thinking about potato skins and loaded baked potatoes. One of my favorite dinners is a big fat baked potato covered with butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, black olives, red onion, chopped jalapenos, and chili. I love all of these. Fast food. Gourmet. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for. Also gravy or ketchup or ranch dressing. Tots, even. Hash browns.

I’ve been thinking about potatoes because of several recent discussions I’ve read in writing groups about books, the quality vs quantity issue related to the author’s writing speed/production schedule… the fast food vs the gourmet when it comes to entertainment preferences. And these arguments or discussions or whatever just make me smile because of potatoes.

Is there really a bad potato to be had? Even boiled red ones with salt, pepper, and butter can be amazing if that’s what I’m in the mood for. It doesn’t matter how long the potatoes have taken to cook or how much work went into peeling, shredding, browning, etc., any more than it matters how long the book took to write. Not if it fits what I want at that particular time. I may want to sink into a big beautifully wordsmithed literary tome one day and rush through a nonstop thriller the next or make my way through a romance so thick with tension my heart pounds madly.

Potato. PotAHto. Just GET IN MAH BELLY!!



busy with new pages. writing.

I may not have Hope for the Holidays written before Christmas. This isn’t for lack of working but because of newly onset migraines interfering with my work, and post-Hurricane Harvey construction going on all around me.

It’s really hard to work in all the noise. Plus there’s the very boisterous and needy foster dog who’s young and energetic and doesn’t understand how to be lazy and do nothing but lay around in my office while I’m at my desk.

I’m taking December off. Not from writing but from the Internet. Social media. Blogging. I’m going to do my new words first thing every morning. That’s the only way Hope for the Holidays will get written whether now or later.

And if it turns out to be later it might also be a longer book than a novella, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it? Would you mind reading a holiday story in the spring? Or even in the summer? A bit of Christmas in July, perhaps?

Enjoy the holiday season, and I’ll see you again in January!