Pre-Order Heartlines (and Release Date Info)!

The long wait for Heartlines is nearly over! You can now pre-order your copy on Amazon and get the book auto-delivered to your Kindle the moment it is released on Monday, February 15th. I told you it was going to be soon!

One secret marriage. One drunk-in-Vegas marriage. Two divorces. His affairs. Countless fights. The loss of precious life. Finding each other in the darkness… It’s been a tough fifteen years for pop star Nick Hudson and the love of his life, Layla Garrett, but they’ve finally found a way to make it work.

Or have they?

After all Nick and Layla have been through, was there anything else that could threaten to bring them down once and for all? What does Happily Ever After look like for a couple who have never been able to make it work?

Join Nick and Layla for the SIXTH and FINAL (and longest!!) book of THE ROMANCE OF NICK AND LAYLA series.

Heartlines will be available to read for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The sixth and final story in The Romance of Nick and Layla will be available Monday, February 15th exclusively on Amazon.com.

Final Preview of Heartlines (Teaser Tuesday #17)

Teaser Tuesday, preview upcoming releases by Crystal Cierlak

I have been promising you Heartlines, the 6th and final book in The Romance of Nick and Layla series since October, and I’m happy to say that you will not have to wait much longer. Today I’m sharing a final preview from the series-ending book.

A few weeks ago I posted about why it’s taken me so long to write this book, and one of the main reasons is that because it spans the course of about a year in the life of the characters, the book itself is much longer than its predecessors. I’ve been updating you on the word count every few weeks, and here is the final update (though not the final word count).

Series WC N&L

Now, the preview.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

I carried myself to the bar and poured myself another drink before taking it outside to the bungalow’s private pool. A dusky sunset reflected perfectly atop the calm surface of the cerulean pool, and all around me the sounds of Beverly Hills receded into ambient background noise just loud enough to remind me that I was still present in the world. Settling into a metal lounge chair furnished with a plush green and white striped pillow top, I sipped my drink and stared at the sparkling water, trying not to wonder how the hell I’d gotten myself into this mess to begin with.

I wasn’t running away. More like staying away. I couldn’t trust myself to make the drive home, let alone step foot into The Dream Home Nick had built for me and our family. A family that was only just conceived. After hugging Sophia no less than three times – each time with only the most gentle of embraces – I sat in my car reading through emails from Mary at the surrogacy agency and wondering what I should do next.

Now that the embryo transfer was done, there was a ten day wait for confirmation of pregnancy. Ten days which I knew undoubtedly I would be wringing my hands together, wondering if Sophia would have a moment where she suddenly felt pregnant. Just a momentary spark of intuition that would signify the embryo had stuck and she was carrying our child. Ten days felt like a lifetime.

Rather than going home to a world straddling the strange reality of everything The Dream Home represented and the all true reality where Nick breaks promises and leaves me alone to watch a fertility doctor impregnate another woman with our genetic material, I opted for solace and escape.

Twenty minutes later there was a knock on the door.

Wyatt stood on the other side, his white shirt and black jeans a stark contrast against the draped palm leaves and pink flower-lined walkways carved into the grass. Dark ink of a tattoo was just barely visible underneath the slightly diaphanous white cotton on his torso. More ink peaked out beneath short sleeves that banded around his toned and tanned arms. He was the epitome of what a pop star of today looked like, which itself was a stark contrast from when Nick was the It star way back when.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” I said. I didn’t miss how his eyes quickly traveled up and down my body, stopping for a moment on my drink before meeting my eyes again.

“Why aren’t you okay?”

Check back soon for the release announcement. Missed a preview? Catch up with all of the Heartlines previews now! Teaser Tuesday #15, Teaser Tuesday #13, and Teaser Tuesday #12.

Why I Don’t Write About Condoms

Back in the spring of 2014 I was working on Candidate Four, my first real foray into erotic romance. I had read a few other erotic romance novels at the time (namely Fifty Shades of Grey) and one aspect of the genre I made the conscious decision not to include was sexual protection. Condoms. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, I wonder if I will ever have to explain that decision? 

Well… A recent review by a lovely Goodreads reader (any reader who takes the time to leave a review of a book, regardless of if they loved it or hated it, is lovely in my opinion; I appreciate anyone who takes the time!) of Candidate Four included a rather tame complaint that there was never any mention of condoms in the entire book. The reviewer also indicated they would be going on to read the rest of the series, and I imagine the reader will continue to be bothered by the lack of mention of any sexual protection in the series.

Sorry about that.

But I feel like this may be a great opportunity for me to explain why I made the decision not to include condoms in my stories, and it isn’t because I don’t believe in practicing safe sex. I believe in it wholeheartedly. It greatly helps prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and helps control the pet population prevent unwanted pregnancy.

But it’s not sexy to read about.

I find that, as a reader, when two lovers are getting busy and about to do the deed, the ritualistic tearing of the silver foil packet and application of condom takes me momentarily out of the story. In Fifty Shades of Grey (whose every condom was contained within a silver foil packet) – a story whose writing is so abhorrently bad that it’s a wonder I was able to find myself immersed in it at all – the condoms were as effective at taking me out of the scene as that French song was in kicking people out of dreams in Inception. Condoms aren’t sexy. Watching your lover put one on can be a bit tedious. Yes, it can be a great opportunity to admire the penis in all of its erected glory, but the amount of patience and effort required to get that thing on in a timely fashion is almost comical. Is there just enough blood in the brain to manage such a task? How long is too long to put on a condom before the penis starts to lose interest in the task at hand? It can be a bit of a mood killer if things don’t go as planned, and unless that situation is meant to be specifically applied to the story, it isn’t entirely necessary.

There is another reason.

Sex feels better without a condom. Like, shockingly better. TMI ALERT (You didn’t honestly think I was a virgin who wrote erotic romance novels, did you?) Before I was married we used condoms for each and every sexual encounter (because we believe condoms are good). Once we were married, however, there was no longer the need for them. That first time without a condom was a completely different experience from every previous sexual encounter. It was glorious. It was amazing. It was such that I knew I could never go back to sex with a condom.

Part of the fantasy of erotic romance novels is that the women come hard every single time without fail and it is alway the most magical experience with the most earth-shattering orgasms EVER. I mean, Anastasia Steele practically evaporated from endless mind-blowing orgasms. She’s probably imploded to the sub-atomic level by now, or something. Christian Grey’s penis is magic. The rest of him is questionable, as is the taste level of that series on the whole.

But that fantasy is part and parcel of the erotic romance genre, and in order to make my story both relatable and fantastical, I felt it necessary to leave the condom situation up to the imagination of the reader. Whether or not the characters engaging in sex are using protection is entirely up to you and how you associate with condoms.

For what it’s worth, in my head canon the characters are all using protection – men are wearing condoms and women are on birth control. They are responsible participants in the act of sex. It’s just not very glamorous to write or read about. With the exception of where it is integral to the narrative of the story, I have omitted the act of protection entirely, leaving it up to the imagination of the reader instead.

As always, thanks for reading!

Writing in 2016 (WIWW #16)

WIWW

Hello from the past… okay not really, but sort of. I typically write these blog posts on Tuesdays and publish them the next day (hence the name What I’m Writing Wednesday) but as I am writing this is is currently Saturday evening, about half past five in the evening. I’m listening to my Nick and Layla playlist thinking about how close I am to finishing Heartlines (the 6th and final book in the series) and drinking coffee, and realizing that nearly ten days into the new year I have not written a darn thing.

I don’t think I’ve written since before Christmas. At least a week before Christmas.

But I’m not going to dwell on the negativity of that, because I am promising myself a different 2016 than I did 2015. Let me explain.

A little more than a year ago I challenged myself to write and release a book every month (so 12) of 2015, and I did maybe half. Maybe less than half. It’s a lot harder than it sounds and the challenge was a bit too challenging. For 2016 I have set minimal writing goals that I know I can accomplish.

  • Finish Heartlines, and the entire Nick and Layla series
  • Write the 6th Bidden book 
  • Finish writing The Lost Heir (Zoe Thanatos #2)
  • Write at least two new Awakening Rielle stories

That’s it. Totally accomplishable. And I’m not going to beat myself up for not being as prolific as I’d like to be. I want to focus on quality. Last year I started so many new books that I never finished, and didn’t publish a single new story that wasn’t part of another series. I hope to create something new for 2016, but I’m also waiting to see what that’s going to be. What story is going to completely captivate me and push me to write like a fiend.

In the meantime I’m working on my current books, and that start tonight. So join me as I take the rest of the night to chip away at the books I plan on finishing and publishing this year!

5:54pm

I’m sucked into a Spotify hole, searching for new music to put in my book soundtrack playlists. I’ve been rewatching The L Word on Netflix and love a lot of the music they play, so my search has started there. I’ve already added one song to my “Zoe Extra” (songs that haven’t yet been placed into the Zoe soundtrack playlists) playlist.

6:02pm

Okay now I’m just on a public playlist called Kylie Jenner’s Snapcat. And ironically the one song I would know to look for on such a playlist is suspiciously missing.

6:16pm

Stop everything. Clair de Lune is playing (not from the Kylie Jenner playlist, although that would be quite funny).

6:56pm

So I’m writing Heartlines. Right now I’m on a chapter that I mapped out months and months ago, and as I came closer to actually writing the chapter I suddenly felt this hesitance to write it. I have to admit there is a part of me that just wants to get this story told and done, and I wasn’t sure whether this particular chapter added anything to the story.

If you are reading this in the future, after Heartlines has been released, then for reference I am talking about Chapter 14, if you want to reference it.

But I think I’ve found a way around that, and the idea came to me a few moments ago when I was in the shower. I somehow manage to get so many great ideas while I’m occupied in the bathroom, taking a shower or doing other bathroom-related things. Now I’m actually kind of looking forward to writing this chapter!

8:18pm

I’ve been procrastinating. I am 131 words into this chapter. But I did say I was going to be writing all night, didn’t I? I write better in the wee hours of the morning anyway! *presses Play on Spotify playlist*

8:34pm

431 words.

9:25pm

Procrastinating again. The struggle is real.

But I’m also eating homemade mint Oreo ice cream. So there’s that.

1:00am

Okay, I am technically still distracted, but it’s now moved in an appropriate direction: Zoe! I’ve been trying for ages now to create a flow chart of the original family lineages. I have the information in my head and in the book (and I think written down somewhere, probably), but I wanted to create a visual illustration of it. I found a site online where I was able to make what I wanted, but it was somewhat limited and I’ve been searching for an alternative. Then I was looking through stock images for inspiration. And now I’m designing a completely new Zoe site from scratch.

So basically, time well spent!

3:02am

Okay so I’ve surpassed the 1,000 word count for the evening (so far). All is content in the world of Nick and Layla…. for now. Before the end of the chapter it will all fall apart again. Seriously, these two don’t know how to have a normal, boring relationship.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Okay that’s going to do it for this week’s edition of What I’m Writing Wednesday! Be sure to come back on Friday for a look at what I was working on Zoe-wise. It’ll all make more sense then.