Writers Can Change Their Minds

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The writing process is a curious thing. It often makes no sense, even to a writer. We create characters, fall in love wit them, and follow their journey–agonizing over every detail until The End.

The Awakenings series was the first one I ever wrote. As such, it means the most. I cut my teeth on those characters, developed and honed my writing skills, and I learned so much. Ten years later, and I’ve definitely improved as a writer. That’s good news. I’d hope that ten years spent doing anything would make me better at it.

As I went through the process of revamping my stories for re-release when the series rights returned to me, I found myself re-envisioning the stories. First, I rewrote Samantha’s story. I never felt she got a fair shake from me, so I re-wrote her story. I didn’t just revise the original–I gave her a whole new experience. The result is a much better book.

While that was going on, I hadn’t planned to revise Hanging On all that much. I’d planned to add scenes and update others, but as I worked on it, I began to think about my original vision for Sophia’s story. She’s a Domme, but market forces at the time forced me to make her give that up. I felt that Sophia deserved a better story as much as Samantha did. And so I’ve been writing Sophia a completely new story. Due to my dedication to putting out great stories, Samantha’s story, Owning Up, will be 2nd in the series, and Sophia’s story (not yet titled) will be 3rd.

Look for Owning Up (Awakenings 2) in April and Hanging On (with possibly a different title) in June.

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Letting Go Release Day!

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Letting Go (Awakenings 1) Author’s Cut

Placing my hands on either side of his face, I maneuvered him in position for a kiss. “Do you really have so many dark secrets?”

“A few.”

An Impulsive Proposal…

The terms of Sabrina’s grandfather’s will require for her to be married in order to gain her inheritance. In a moment of weakness, she proposes to a handsome stranger at work. She needs someone to play a part, and she’s willing to sleep with him to sweeten the deal.

A Promise of Passion…

With a failed marriage haunting him and something to prove, Jonas Spencer jumps at the chance to have sex with a beautiful, intelligent woman for a whole year. It would be fun, and he could use some fun in his life—as long as she lives by his rules. He is a Dominant, after all.

A Powerful Desire…

No man has ever satisfied Sabrina in bed, but Jonas is willing to peel away her carefully constructed façade. Layer by layer, he reveals the depths of her passion. As Sabrina falls in love with Jonas, she forces him to confront his dark secrets.

Can she help him let go of the past, or will he use it to throw away the future?

I think he was hoping to scare me, and he did a little. I held his gaze, searching for hate, anger, or malice, but I saw only his need. I’d never been able to deny him, and I wanted this as much as he did, maybe more because I was in love with him and I desperately wanted him to be in love with me.

Fall in love with Sabrina and Jonas

This Author’s Cut version is over 1/4 longer. It features revised and additional scenes, including an expanded ending and a bonus short story at the end. Letting Go is one of those books you’ll read over and over again! This book brought so many great authors and wonderful readers into my life, including Lydia Michaels and Allyson Young, who co-wrote a foreword for this edition.

I thought breaking a heart was a faster thing, a momentary process. I didn’t know it kept breaking.

Praise for the original Letting Go:

“WOW! That’s the first thing that comes to mind now that I’ve read Letting Go by Michele Zurlo. Ms. Zurlo has penned an awesome story of both romance and love with submission and domination in a tale to beat all odds. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a romance full of hot sex!” –Dark Diva Reviews

“Michele Zurlo has penned a dynamic tale that I was completely captivated with, high praise for Letting Go.” –SensualReads.com

This book is a MUST READ! I could not put it down. The author has created characters with surprisingly great depth to them… fully-formed characters for our enjoyment. I loved that this book did not take the regular character development / plot outline route of standard erotic romance / bdsm books.” –Amazon reviewer “EJ”

I love this book! It was so raw and honest reading about a woman who was so realistic and giving in her love. I started reading with little expectation, but ended thinking about this book for the rest of the week.” –Amazon reviewer “KindeAddict”

Buy Links

Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M7XJ8CL

Universal book link to All Other Distributors: https://www.books2read.com/u/brGDe7

Favorite Movies of All Time

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I’m not sure these are my favorite movies, but I watch them over and over. Yes, I point out their flaws:

I hate musicals so we’ll start there:
Singing In The Rain–I’m a huge Debbie Reynolds fan. Always have been. It was my destiny because Debbie is my first name. (Michele is middle, but I think it’s a better-sounding name, so that’s what I use.)

Auntie Mame–Not sure why I like this movie, but every time it’s on, I can’t turn it off. It contains some of my favorite quotes, like, “Life is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death” and “Live, live, live.” I guess I like that it’s very positive and life-affirming, especially in the face of tragedy and hardship. I had it on my DVR, but then I got rid of Directv when I switched to streaming services, so now it’s gone. Yeah, I could buy the DVD, but then I wouldn’t get the joy of squee-ing whenever it comes on TV.

Action-Adventure:
The Long Kiss Goodnight–Geena Davis is simply stunning as a strong woman who will take no shit from anybody. She protects her family and friends, kills the bad guys, and gets her man.

The Crow–I watched this 100 times as I hand-made a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt for my dad, so it has sentimental value and a freaking awesome soundtrack. The images shows blocks from the current GFG I’m making (all sewn by hand because I am not comfortable with a sewing machine.) This one has a coral reef theme, so the colors are all bright. The first one I made, years ago, had garden colors with a green path. This one will have an aqua-blue path.

Comedy:

What’s Up Doc?–My wife introduced me to this one. I’m not a Streisand fan, so I avoid movies where she sings. I loved the comedy in this one, as well as how they all end up in court. It reminds me of The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer or Seems Like Old Times, both excellent movies.

Overboard–At the core, this movie is sick and sadistic, but I write a lot of sadism, so perhaps it follows that I’m okay with a movie about an amnesiac who is kidnapped by someone who wronged her and made to believe she’s his wife. The movie ONLY works because Kurt and Goldie are together in real life. I did not bother to see the remake.

If these movies seem old, it’s probably because 1) I don’t watch many movies anymore and 2) I’m not good at remembering names of movies and Wife isn’t awake for me to say, “What’s the one with the car chase?” and have her know exactly what I’m talking about.

What movies do you love and watch over and over?

Characters I’d Name a Baby After

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This is the perfect spot to share some of my all-time favorite characters with you.

  1. Sabrina from Letting Go (Awakenings 1). This is the second heroine I created–the first is in an unpublished book that will never see the light of day–and I named her a name I wanted for myself. I also liked it as a baby name, buy my significant other hated it, and she can’t control what I name a character. Sabrina is smart, driven, and emotionally strong. She’s searching for something more in her life, and she embraces the journey of life. I love that about her.
  2. Samantha Carter from Stargate: SG-1. She inspired Samantha Spencer who appeared as a supporting character in Letting Go, and she’s the heroine of Owning Up (Awakenings 3) which won’t be out until June 2019. Dr. Samantha Carter is a scientist who is great at computers, engineering, and all sorts of physics. She can math like nobody’s business. (Yeah, I used “math” as a verb. I’m creative with words, not numbers.) My character is an artist, not a scientist, but she’s sensitive and caring like Major Carter.
  3. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. She’s a beloved character for a reason. I’d name a dog Atticus. I read this book as a teen, and I liked it. I read it again as an adult, and I loved it.
  4. Darcy from Re/Bound (Doms of the FBI 1). Darcy is also another name I wanted that my SO rejected. She’s also strong (I prefer strong and intelligent heroines, so that’s what I write.) Life has dealt her a fistful of tragedy, but she won’t let it break her. I’d like to think I’d react with the same resiliency, though I wouldn’t wish her life on any baby.
  5. Jolinar, also from SG-1. This is the name of the Tok’ra symbiote who was briefly melded with Samantha Carter. Jolinar is a derivation of the name of Thor’s hammer from Norse mythology. We threw this name around when I was pregnant with twins, but ultimately we gave that name to our cat. Jolo was feral when we got her, but toward the end, she turned into a sweet kitty who liked to roll around the floor while we sang to her.
  6. Patrick from Auntie Mame. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I hate musicals, so that’s saying something. Watching him grow as a person throughout the movie always tugs at my heartstrings. If one of my kids had turned out to be a boy (I had twin girls,) I would have considered Patrick. Knowing me, I would have called him Trick for short.
  7. Westley from The Princess Bride. It shortens to Wes, which I like, or West, which I’d do because it’s unique. Westley was always calm in the face of anything. In the book, which I also loved, he spent years studying to master his crafts. The book also goes into great detail about the backstory of Inigo and Fezzik, so I highly recommend reading it, especially if you love the movie.

Here is the part where I burst bubbles. I don’t believe in naming kids after anybody. I caved when my wife wanted to give her grandmother’s name as one of the girls’ middle name, but that’s it. The girls each have names we liked and considered strong (and also weren’t names my students had) but that weren’t ones other people we knew had. Names are powerful, and I think everybody deserves a blank slate to fill in for themselves. I know lots of people disagree and like to name kids, particularly sons, after other people. To each their own.

Favorite Things to do in Winter

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Living in Michigan, winter vacillates from cold to freezing to “holy shit, it hurts to breathe” and then we’ll get a day in the 40’s to remind us that spring will eventually return. I’m not a fan of being cold, so much of my winter time is spent inside. To me, this is the perfect time to corral my kids and spend some quality time with them.

People who love the snow go snowboarding, skiing, or ice skating. I lack things like balance and athleticism, so I avoid those things. I have a pond behind my house that’s perfect for skating. If it’s not too cold (in the 20’s is okay) I like sledding or “ice skating” on my shoes. In this first picture, it’s after the first snowfall, and the pond isn’t yet frozen. It’s up to 12-feet deep, so it freezes relatively quickly. (It’s frozen now, but it’s -10 and windy, so I’m not going outside to snap a more recent picture.

Off the lower patio, which is covered in snow (look for the grid pattern that’s the same as the upper patio,) the yard drops a little more than a story. When the pond is frozen, we can sled down the hill and onto the pond. After a few trials to tamp down the snow, you can get up quite a lot of speed, especially if you go to the right, where the pond stretches for a ways. (It’s a huge body of water, but there’s a lake across the street that hosts at least 6 subdivisions, so this is called a pond.) Here’s a summer picture to compare. That’s the lower patio and the view to the right, including the beach. We sled to the left of the maple in the foreground, and with enough weight, we can make it halfway across the pond on a sled.

As I said above, my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family. We have teenage twins who are growing up too fast. This winter, we’ve played Telestrations. It’s fun to play the original way, but we’ve combined it with our Cards Against Humanity set, so we’re illustrating things like “Three dicks at once” and “micropenis” and “not reciprocating oral sex.” We laugh so hard that it hurts. I highly recommend it, which is why I’ve embedded a link in the name of the game above. We also play trivia games a lot. It’s a house of nerds and geeks. One of the coolest things about game nights is the fact that my kids talk to me in a low pressure situation–no schoolwork is mentioned–and the dumb things that end up on the illustration cards trigger some great conversation topics that I never would have thought to bring up. Plus, it’s nice to just laugh with the people you love.

I also do a lot of writing. This winter, I’ve written about 90K words. I finished up a draft of Owning Up (Awakenings 3) that’s 124K words and I’m about 50K in on Doms of the FBI 8 (untitled). I’ve also prepared Letting Go for re-release. (Details below.)

An Impulsive Proposal…

The terms of Sabrina’s grandfather’s will require for her to be married in order to gain her inheritance. In a moment of weakness, she proposes to a handsome stranger at work. She needs someone to play a part, and she’s willing to sleep with him to sweeten the deal.

A Promise of Passion…

With a failed marriage haunting him and something to prove, Jonas Spencer jumps at the chance to have sex with a beautiful, intelligent woman for a whole year. It would be fun, and he could use some fun in his life—as long as she lives by his rules. He is a Dominant, after all.

A Powerful Desire…

No man has ever satisfied Sabrina in bed, but Jonas is willing to peel away her carefully constructed façade. Layer by layer, he reveals the depths of her passion. As Sabrina falls in love with Jonas, she forces him to confront his dark secrets.

Can she help him let go of the past, or will he use it to throw away the future?

Pre-Order Today!

Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M7XJ8CL

Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/brGDe7

Buy now from Michele’s Indie Store: https://payhip.com/b/1w6G

Come Meet Me in 2019

I went to my first convention a couple of years ago, and I met some amazing people. I’m very introverted, so this was huge for me. Though I enjoyed it, I wasn’t sure I had it in me to do it again. Until I met Lydia Michaels. I’m pretty sure she’s a force of nature, because before I knew it, I found myself on the roster for TWO conventions in 2019.

The first is SaSS, also known as the Sexy and Sassy Signing. This shindig is being hosted by Amy Marie, one of my street team buddies at Read Between the Wines. It’s in Charlotte, NC on July 11-14. It’ll be my first time in NC since I was about ten years old. And I’m struggling to say “CHAR-lit” and not “Char-LOTTE” because I’m a Michigander and that’s the name of a city outside Lansing. Anyway, pronunciation issues aside, I’m really excited to be part of this event. It’s the 5th Annual event, and it’s huge.

To join our FB group, use this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/390057791146512/

If you want to attend, ticket are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sass19-racy-readers-weekend-affair-tickets-46768193927?aff=affiliate1

Tickets are $15-75, depending on how long you want to stay and what you want to get done.

As if THAT wasn’t enough, Lydia HERSELF is throwing her first ever reader’s convention, the East Coast Author’s Conference. Even though this is during the school year, I’ll be taking time away from my lovely students to attend. (Don’t worry–I have something like 75 sick days saved up.)

On October 4-6, 2019, I’ll be at the East Coast Author’s Conference as a sponsoring author. Though I’m there as a signing author, I half think I’m really there to meet authors I’m going to embarrass myself fangirling over, LOL.

This one also has a FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EastCoastAuthorConvention/

Schedule: https://www.eastcoastauthorcon.com/schedule-2019/

I’m co-hosting Naughty Night with the Authors on Friday night with Pam Godwin, Lydia Michaels, and Amy Marie.

You can purchase tickets here: https://www.eastcoastauthorcon.com/tickets/

Extra fun: If you’re going to either of these conventions (even just the Saturday signing) you can pre-order my books. This means I buy them from Amazon, autograph them, and then I bring them to the signing to deliver them to you! Great times. Here is the LINK PRE-ORDER PRINT BOOKS.

 

 

Awakenings is Back!

You’ve been waiting for a long, long time for this, and now the wait is finally (almost) over! The Awakenings series returns, and it’s even better than you remember! Here’s the scoop:

Valentine’s Day brings Sabrina and Jonas back to you. With added scenes from his POV, he’s even more intense and volatile. I’ve cleaned up some scenes, added in their trip to Europe and Australia, and extended the ending. It has over 30K more words, and it brings you deeper into the love story than ever before. It’s an Author’s Cut because, for this, I went back to my original manuscript so that it was truer to my original vision (before I had to change it to fit a publisher’s guidelines. Yeah–I’m an indie rebel now!)

Pre-Order Link for Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M7XJ8CL

Pre-Order Link for all other outlets: https://books2read.com/u/brGDe7

If you have previously purchased this title, it won’t update with the changes because it’s being put out by a different publisher (me.) However, I promise it’s worth the price!

In the Coming Months–

April 11 brings Hanging On, Sophia and Drew’s love story. This one has also been updated to reflect my original vision with an Author’s Cut version. Some of the original content has been altered or removed, and some additional content has been added. I added more chapters from Drew’s POV, and we get to know his family a little better.

This story has always held a special place in my heart because I’ve known too many people who’ve gone through what Sophia went through. When I see her happy ending, it gives me hope for all my loved ones still searching for theirs.

Lastly, Owning Up (Awakenings 3) is coming at you in June 2019. I don’t have firm dates for this one. You might be thinking–hey, wasn’t Two Masters for Samantha next?–and you’d be right. I’ve significantly changed that story. There were elements of it that never sat right with me, and this was my chance to give Samantha the love story she deserved. About 30% of the story is the same, and 70% is completely new. It’s a longer, deeper, better story guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings, frustrate you, and make you need a cold shower or a hot partner with some frequency, LOL.

Cover Reveal–Letting Go and Hanging On

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After years of waiting, it’s finally happening. The rights to the Awakenings series are reverting to me, and I’ll be able to publish them again. This series launched my career, and it’s very special to me. More information coming soon, but I’m planning to launch Letting Go on February 14, 2019 and Hanging On in April 2019.

Here are the covers, made with love by Pyroclastic.

Yep, that’s a foreword by Lydia Michaels and Allyson Young!

I hope you’re as excited for the return of some of my greatest titles as I am!

Those People Who Sit Outside the Polls

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I voted today. I’ve voted in every primary and election since I turned 18–except one. (I missed a special millage vote that happened in May one year. May elections are rare in these parts, and the postcard from the school asking for the tax increase came two days after the special election. I still feel bad about missing it.)

Voting is not only a privilege, but a civic responsibility. If you don’t vote, I question whether you deserve citizenship. (I also an in favor of automatic registration and removing impediments that interfere with people finding time to vote. The system should work FOR people.)

Every time I vote, there are people standing outside that 100-yard perimeter handing out pamphlets for candidates. I’ve done this myself, mostly in school board elections and when Wife ran for Township Supervisor.

Today, there was a “pro-life” advocate. Normally I’d ignore those people, but today the pair of women got under my skin. Two white, over-50 women who, from the way they were dressed, do not have the slightest clue what it’s like to scramble for a meal, stood there, smiling and making snide comments. (My main issue with “pro-life” people is that they abandon the child/family as soon as the kid is born. Also, my cousin’s wife was forced to carry a dead fetus from the 7th to the 9th month because of a ban on late-term abortions. Put yourself in her shoes for a day and let that horror sink in.)

In their “discussion” as Wife and I left, they made negative comments about candidates who were not vehemently “pro-life”–and then they started bitching about the gays being allowed to marry.

I did not punch anyone.

I did turn around and say, wide-eyed, “Oh, no! Not the gays!” I would have said more, but Wife pulled me away. Seriously–they’re upset about marriage equality. I spent the next two hours fuming. I hate that I let these bigots get under my skin. Hate it.

And that is my voting adventure for today.

Workout 2018: Working Out is a Hoax

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About 18 months ago, I started gaining weight rapidly, like a half pound a day. I’d gain 2-3 pounds, and then it would plateau long enough to give me time to come to terms with it. My eating and exercise habits hadn’t changed. Then I’d gain more. Eventually, I was up about 15 pounds. That may not seem like a lot, but I’m short, so everything shows up.

Last November, I made a point of recording a workout diary. Since this a blind blog (no readers,) these posts are mostly for me. I’d actually been working out since October, when my doctor diagnosed me with low blood pressure. It turned out that low blood pressure was just as bad as high blood pressure. Now that I’m wearing compression socks (and making some bold fashion statements,) I have energy, my hair isn’t falling out, my oral health is better, and my heart isn’t doing weird things anymore. Oh, and I don’t swell up, get nauseous, or pass out when I’m physically active. That’s always a bonus.

Despite doing some serious aerobics and weight training faithfully for months, I lost no weight. Yes, I moderated my diet. I ate three small meals a day, and I had two small snacks (like an apple or piece of Dove chocolate. I’ve never been a big eater. My wife openly worried for my  health because she didn’t think I was eating enough.

I felt good. My ass tightened up. My weight stayed the same.

Desperate, I even utilized my accidental fall-back plan. Years ago, at my peak weight, I lost 30 pounds by taking Claritin-D. It’s not a diet med, but it speeds up my metabolism and takes away my appetite. Also, I don’t sleep, so I found I could only take half of one.

It didn’t help.

Fast forward to the past two weeks. Since summer vacation has started, I’ve been going for walks outside instead of hitting the gym, and I’ve been binge-watching House and The Closer like a boss. And I cut my Claritin-D intake down to a quarter tablet, mostly because I like to sleep, and yet I have the snotty allergies.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lost 6 pounds. It’s mostly fat. I can tell because my fat areas are thinner. Like magic, the weight is melting off. Eating healthy and working out didn’t help, but walking my dog and having popcorn for dinner while watching Brenda Lee close another case did the trick.

Or was it just hormones? I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to get back into some of my nicer work clothes this fall.