In honor of International Kissing Day… 💋

C6218994-4BDE-4FA6-8099-9A4333C20088Have you been reading If Spring Comes? Shew! I tell you what… some of my very favorite smooches take place between those pages. (My favorite fictional ones, of course! 😘)

Here’s a sneak peek…

He took a step forward. Then another. Frustration and something possibly more dangerous defined the angles of his face. Sculpted cheekbones, large espresso eyes, strong straight nose, and his lips … The lips usually delivering bone-headed lines were sensuously full and downright drinkable. “What are you doing?” The words were hers, but the voice belonged to some breathless wanton fool.

He pressed the pads of his fingers over her mouth to silence her. With a slow tender stroke he traced the crest of her lip. The tickly touch shivered down to her toes. A stuttered breath dragged in the cool air wrapped around his warm fingers. And then he ventured south. Which should have frightened her but for some reason, anticipation injected into her veins.

His hard fingers shimmied with the gentlest touch across her jaw. Callused knuckles continued the caress down the side of her neck to her throat. He didn’t speak. His eyes patiently roaming her face. His fingers stirring up goose bumps spreading to regions far beyond the respectable planes he touched.

When he leaned in, she could do nothing but wait. Surprisingly, the thought of his kiss was too exciting, and confusing, to turn away. Closing her eyes, she gave herself over to the inevitable.

Only, his lips didn’t land. They touched just beyond the corner of her mouth, traced the same shivering path over her cheek, down her jaw …

Oh mama … He wasn’t kissing her, but his lips, so soft and molten melted her defenses, and apparently her kneecaps. Heck, all her joints were liquefying under his heated assault. Soon she’d be nothing more than a puddle of longing. The silk pads of his lips continued to work their magic, painting her neck with nothing but the tantalizing skim of his mouth. Without realizing it, she tilted her head back to grant him better access.

He took that as his invitation, and she felt the first kiss press into the hollow of her throat. And then another on her collarbone, and up her neck. Each kiss teasing and tempting until her heart nearly shattered with exertion. She swallowed a whimper, taking with it a heady breath of his sweet and spicy intoxication.

Her head swam, hints of the woman she’d denied for so long escaped into her bloodstream on a needy rush of estrogen. “Are you trying to seduce me?” She couldn’t believe she’d breathed the words because, at the moment, the last thing she wanted him to do was stop.

He ignored her, which was just as well, and placed one last kiss on the sensitive flesh by her ear, before he nipped gently on the lobe. She heard herself gasp, though her voice seemed so far away.

And then, perhaps sensing her knees about to buckle, he steadied her hips, dragging her close until no sliver of space could be found between them. Lifting his face from her neck, she could feel his eyes on her again, as if they could touch her as perfectly as his mouth. She opened her eyes and met his.

Man alive, they were an easy mark. He wanted her. Not shocking since he’d always been clear on that, but more surprising was … she wanted him too.

“No.” He finally answered, and with one word squashed her surge of desire. “I’m not trying to seduce you, Candice. I’m changing the way you see me.”

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The Reader-Maker…

What I’ve learned in my relatively short life as a writer is this simple truth; A writer is first and foremost a reader.

Amy Leigh Simpson

And furthermore, an author is merely a writer who refused to give up. You can study craft books and take writing workshops until you’re cross-eyed and arthritic, but nothing can hone your skills like the relentless reading of fine fiction. The common denominator between us from the novice to the most accomplished of word-weavers is the hopeless love of story.

I realize not all readers become writers. You need a certain kind of delusional/whimsical/masochistic personality to bleed your heart for all to see and willingly submit your tender underbelly to razor sharp criticisms, but the love of story is just that powerful. Compulsive. And so beautifully freeing. You don’t necessarily write because you can. You write because you can’t not.

I can’t imagine who I’d be if I hadn’t re-invented myself as a writer some six years ago. I was not born into this. It was never my plan to follow this dream. I didn’t even like reading—(blasphemy, right?)—until college. But once I caught the bug it all changed for me. Even the way I saw the world, right down to the most minute detail, was a new exploration. It was, and continues to be, incredibly enlightening.

But it all started with a book. Just one beautiful work of fiction that took me away. This book, my “reader-maker” was a compelling and dramatic love story set in ancient Rome about a Jewish slave girl and a Roman aristocrat. The kind of heart-in-your-throat, edge-of-your-seat, sleep-stealing read that tears you to shreds and puts you back together again, the same, and yet… not. The novel by Francine Rivers called A Voice in the Wind is still a favorite. It moved me in the way only the best fiction does. And maybe someday I’ll write something great enough to become someone else’s reader-maker. But for now, I’m just in love.

So what about you? Do you remember your reader-maker?