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12 Titles in 12 Months [Part Two]

April 5, 2016 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as ,

First of all, Happy Birthday to me.

It’s time for an update into my fun challenge, 12 TITLES IN 12 MONTHS. I think now that I am entering the second quarter of this challenge, people don’t think I’m insane or nuts after all.

I have to admit, I’ve had a few moments when I thought I had bitten off more than I could handle. Those thoughts were really looming a couple of weeks ago when I hit a little road block. Seems my mind went blank. I couldn’t come up with a good idea. I pulled out a few first chapters I had for some possible stories and even old drafts from completed books. I figured I had a few thousand words lying around that didn’t make the cut for the book.

[Writer Tip: Never discard good chapters that don’t work. Just because they don’t work with that book, doesn’t mean they are good. (Thanks Kitty Bucholtz for the ides.) Keep them and use them, re-work them and use as a short story, novelette or novella. Make them perma free. This way you’ll always have a freebie you can use to gain readers. That’s what I did with the discarded chapters from “What My Friends Don’t Know.” Those six chapters became a free prequel.]

I went to work on those drafts, but nothing worked. I thought if I re-read them, they would get my juices flowing. Nothing. Then I got a revelation. I had rewritten book two in The Alex series and remembered there was this great part I omitted because it was too long. I went digging through my old drafts and found it, but it didn’t work as a stand alone story, not like the chapters from book one. However, when I read them, they gave birth to an idea. Around the same time, I had this great two lines replaying in my mind, but when I tried to turn them into a story, nothing clicked. Let me take that back. I wrote about eight hundred words and trashed them. It was too difficult and felt forced. But when I took those two lines and mixed them with my other idea, it clicked. YES! I had my story.

When I started this challenge, I had it in my mind to do three full-length novels, one poetry book, about six novellas, a boxset and one short story. I had been asked to contribute a short story to a boxset, but I had to back out. If things had worked out, that would have been my one short story. Now I was short a title.

I revisited my production schedule and without thinking added another novella. I think at that moment my writer conscious went into shock. I did little research on story lengths. Let me clarify something. I like seeing my work in print. I knew from having done a few things with Createspace, there’s a page minimum for a print project. So I discovered that if I got creative with my formatting, I could have a nice little print book. Voila! I went back to my production schedule and changed some of those novellas to short stories. But a really cool thing happened, as I started writing, they words flowed and my cute little short stories turned into novelettes. YEAH! So now, my production schedule doesn’t look as daunting. It’s a nice mix of novelettes, novellas and full-length novels. So far, I haven’t written a short story per se, but I still have three titles that have yet to be born.

A cool thing about this challenge is that I get to experiment with genres. I have always wanted to try writing a RomCom [Romantic Comedy] or something with a little snarky humor. I got a little nervous about my RomCom, when I had my mother read it and a few pages in she said, “I don’t get it.” I was offended, because I thought it was funny. I immediately took it as criticism instead of what it really was, the truth. So I went back to the drawing board and rewrote the beginning. I have to admit I like it better. Is it funny? I think it is, but only time and readers with verify that fact. Hey, worse case scenario, it’s not funny and I learn from my mistake. Best case scenario, it turns out to be funny and possibly the beginning of a new series. I hope it’s well received because I have an idea about what happened next.
Here’s a sneak at the second quarter releases:

Length: Novella
Status: Completed
Release Date: April or May
I haven’t decided if I’m going to release this one in April or May. This novella is in response to requests from readers wanting know what happened to Kyla’s lover Eric. Instead of telling the story of what happened to him, I thought it would be more interesting to tell you how he met his wife and his mistress.
Sales Outlets: eBook – KDP Select *
Print – Amazon, Createspace, B&N and my website
Marketing Campaign: Posting on my blog and social media outlets [Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest], blast to my mailing list, GoodReads Giveaway and a possibly a Cover Release Blast tour. And miscellaneous blogs.

Length: Novelette
Status: Completed
Release Date: April or May
I haven’t decided if I’m going to release this one in April or May. This little story happened during my writing block. It’s also my first attempt at a RomCom [Romantic Comedy]. I like the characters and hope this does well, because I see a second and possibly third tome with this group…especially the Nana character.
Sales Outlets: eBook – KDP Select *
Print – Amazon, Createspace, B&N and my website
Marketing Campaign: Posting on my blog and social media outlets [Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest], blast to my mailing list, GoodReads Giveaway and a possibly a Cover Release Blast tour. And miscellaneous blogs.

Length: Novelette
Status: Almost Complete
Release Date: June or July I haven’t decided if I’m going to release this one in June or July. Because the second book in The Alex Series has a wedding and June is a big wedding season. It might be best to market based around that season. This story is the result of two ideas. The deleted pages from The Alex Chronicles Book Two and those two lines I mentioned earlier. I really should have titled it “The Rollercoaster.” This story is started out one way and then made a dip and then did a wrap around. Because I’m a Pantser, I not quite sure where it’s going to end. I hope it ends where I want it to. If it doesn’t, then I’ll take that ending and use it for another story. However, I’m not sure about the title.
Sales Outlets: eBook – KDP Select *
Print – Amazon, Createspace, B&N and my website
Marketing Campaign: Posting on my blog and social media outlets [Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest], blast to my mailing list, GoodReads Giveaway and a possibly a Cover Release Blast tour. And miscellaneous blogs.

On a side note, I love my covers. I’ve been taking a marketing course for my other business and keeping the word “Branding” at the forefront of my creative mind. Which can be both a blessing and a challenge. Because I want to be known as a writer of Steamy Christian Fiction, it means I have to always be cognizant of my brand or style. I want to push the envelope while not crossing the line. For me, that means every project I do has to fall in line with the look I’ve established.

I’m sure you noticed the asterisk [*] next to Sales Outlets. Let me explain. This is a huge undertaking. With that said, I didn’t plan the marketing, in detail. I planned the concept, but forgot to plan the marketing. Originally, I was going to make all of the titles available in every outlet. Problem with that is also what led me to do this, no one knew me and I have a small readership. When I started this, I had about 114 people on my reader list. So there really wasn’t a need to do a pre-order. Although I did offer pre-order with my January release. I got less than 10. Hey, it’s better than nothing. From that I learned, it was best to wait until I had a better readership before offering another pre-order.

But I did test out something I had been hearing. It’s sort of like that line from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they’ll come.” [Writer Tip: If you write it, they’ll buy it…hopefully.] I had been reading on a lot blogs and podcasts that even if you do minimal marketing, and have a nice sized inventory, not only is it possible for you to make some sales, it could also produce sales with your other books. [The other reason or main reason I’m doing this challenge, I wanted to build up my inventory. More inventory equals more sales.]

Last week, I released The Good Girl Part Deux. I was in a hurry to get the book up by the end of the month and forgot to book an ad. However, I had just participated in the Romance Readers SPRING FLING Massive Ebook Giveaway. This event generated a lot of free downloads of my perma free book, The Alex Chronicles: Girlfriends & Secrets sending me to the #2 spot in one of my categories. It also produced a huge boost to my mailing list. So once The Good Girl Part Deux, was live, I sent an email to everyone on my mailing list thanking them for taking this writing journey with me. [Thanks for the email idea DeAnna Cameron]. Then I sent another email to my email list as well as a post to my blog list, offering them first dibs at The Good Girl Part Deux. Not only did those two things produced decent first day sales for GGPart Deux, it also produced sales for my other ebooks.

So for the duration of this project, I’ve elected to put all the titles in KDP Select. Towards the end of the year, I’ll figure out a more detailed marketing strategy for the following year. Unless of course, this one proves to be the best route for me.

As for how the writing is going? I am three titles away from having every month covered. Praise God!!! Every morning in my prayer time, I thank God for the words, because I really haven’t got a clue what those last three stories are going to be.

I’ll check in with you next month with my progress.

Tracy Reed


Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

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February 5, 2016 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as ,

I’ve been so exhausted, that I haven’t had the energy to write. Thank God for mothers. My mother sent me an email she received and it’s adorable. It made me wish I had done something similar.

Who remembers the day they received their first book proof? More specifically, who remembers the emotions they experienced the day they received their first book proof? I remember sort of camping out at home waiting on a call from the UPS Store, saying the package had arrived.

The day my life changed, my mom and dad were out running errands when I got the call, saying package had arrived. I called my mom and asked her to pick up the package for me.

When she got home and handed me the package, it was like Christmas and my birthday at the same time. Then I opened it and I was instantly deflated because the cover was horrible. My disappointment was short lived and quickly replaced with excitement, because it was my baby…my first book. The tangible proof that I was an author.

This post by NICKI KOZIARZ, resonated with me, because it was a reminded me of everything I experienced when I received my first book proof. I hope this story brings back or reminds you how it felt the first time you saw your hard work come to life.

Here’s the link.  Nicki Koziarz [It’s a sweet story.]


Tracy Reed
Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys  

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January 5, 2016 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,

Happy New Year.  I thought that title would capture your attention.

I ended 2015 on a high. YEAH!! Not to sound preachy, but my getting a BookBub ad, truly was a blessing from God.  I was hoping to share the details, but the ad didn’t end until January first and I’m still sorting through the “tails” or results.  I’m truly amazed at the effect a BookBub ad can have for an author.  I hope to be able to share the details with you next month.

Back to that extremely long and strange title.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions or Intention Lists or Promises.  I tried to be diligent in creating a list, but failed to follow through beyond making the list.  What does that say about me?  I have my hands full with my daily To Do List.  It’s funny, a vast majority of people spend the last week of the old year or the first week of the new year, scripting these elaborate lists.  For those that are dedicated to this ritual and sticking to the lists, I say congratulations.

As it is, I’m wondering if I over shot the rainbow when I made my production schedule for 2016.  We are only five days into the new year and I’m already starting to second guess my ability to complete the schedule.

See, I decided to finally be pragmatic and craft a detailed chart of my proposed titles for 2016.  When I made the chart a few months ago, it seemed logical that I would be able to put a title out every month.  What the crap was I thinking?  And to make things worse, I scheduled January’s title to release two days before going out of town.  I have been so tempted to push the release date, but if I do, my entire production schedule gets shattered.  So, I “m going to muddle through and hope to stay on track.

In spite of me not having a sacred New Year’s Resolution List, there are a few things I hope to get accomplished this year.The Good Girl

  1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Grow my hair out about 3-4 inches
  3. Not freak out if I have to push something back on my To Do List or Production Schedule

That third thing on my list is huge and is full of innuendo and really only makes sense to me.  Hey, it’s the first of the year and I’m allowed to be a little deep, strange or still high from sugar.  Smile.  Besides, I think my daily To Do List, would be a little jealous if it wasn’t the center of attention.

Since I don’t have a Resolution, Intention, Promise or Whatever List, I want to share something I read on Heather Clawson’s HabituallyChic.luxury blog.

It’s a list of 45 Life Lessons by Regina Brett, the New York Times bestselling author of God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.  I highlighted the ones I really like and might add to my DAILY To Do List.


45 Life Lessons:

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
  9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  12. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  14. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  15. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  16. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  17.  It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  19. Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  23.  No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  25. Forgive everyone everything.
  26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  27. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  29. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  30. Believe in miracles.
  31. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  32. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  33. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  34. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  35. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  36. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  37.  Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  40.  The best is yet to come.
  41.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  42. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  43. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

If I was going to make a New Year’s Resolution, Intention, Promise, Goal or Whatever list, it might look a little like this one.

Here’s hoping you plan your year wisely and don’t over shoot the rainbow, but shoot higher than you did last year.

Happy 2016!!!!!

Tracy Reed
Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

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November 5, 2015 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as ,

I have come to a crossroads with a set of characters and I can’t believe the angst I’m feeling or maybe it’s heart break?

Let me explain.

This past summer, I had the privilege of being in my first box set. YEAH! My contribution to the Fling box set was The Good Girl novella. I wrote this book knowing there would be more to the story. However, I didn’t expect to become as attached to the characters as I am. That fondness is supposed to be reserved for my characters in The Alex Chronicles. After all, we’ve been together for years…that’s not an exaggeration. [Read my previous posts for details on that series. And for the record, The Alex Chronicles is still my baby.]

Gabriella and Phillippe, my heroine and protagonist from The Good Girl, are infants compared to Alexandra [Alex] and Moses, the stars of The Alex Chronicles series. Alex and Moses and I have been through a lot. That’s not an exaggeration. I wrote three books, well four if you count the prequel that can testify to the longevity of our relationship.

When it came time to cause havoc between Alex and Moses, I had no problem doing it…yes, I cried inside when he…okay, I can’t tell you anymore because it might spoil it for you. But it was a difficult breakup. However, the possibility of Gabriella and Phillippe breaking up, is causing me great consternation and I don’t know why.

The difference in this proposed breakup might have something to do with the fact that I don’t know what will happen next. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a pantser. Maybe if I was a plotter, I’d feel different. In that respect, I’m like my readers, excited about the surprise outcome, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Wondering if an HEA will exist for these two. If or when you read part two, an HEA seems inevitable. I think a breakup would be a shock to some readers and a given to others. Either way. I need a major shake up, otherwise the series will become a two hit wonder.

To prepare myself for the inevitable, I’ve started a new playlist complete with sad love songs. I’ve got some wine and popcorn, even reading books with devastating, heartbroken heroines, to get me in the right frame of mind. So far, I just can’t bring myself to break Gabriella and Phillippe up. I could write the breakup, but what if they don’t find their way back to each other. Yes, it would open the door to another book or would it? Another strike against being a pantser…know it all characters. It’s all Gabriella and Phillippe’s fault. Why can’t they be like Alex and Moses. Those two made it perfectly clear how their relationship was going to play out from the moment they met.

I’ve trusted Gabriella and Phillippe through two books. I have to admit, I was surprised at the story they told in Part Two. Trust is the key word here. I have to trust my ability to tell a story that will engage my readers, yet not be boring or predictable. Talk about a challenge. Like Carrie Underwood said, “Jesus take the wheel.”

In my quest to over think, I came up with a few reasons why they would breakup.
Have Phillippe realize he really can’t deal with a non sexual relationship. Which makes him look like the typical self-absorbed Alpha Billionaire in training with a slight French accent.

Then there’s the shocker that she doesn’t want to get married and she just considers this a great first love. Sounds good, but makes her look like a gold-digging whore, I mean tramp.

Or, I could go with the classic, she loses her virginity to him, gets pregnant and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her or the baby. This would paint her as a naive single mother, with an uncertain future and a whole lot of anger.

Last but not least, a dreaded family secret preventing him from continuing the relationship. Problem with that one is it makes him look a little weak and that goes against the image I’ve created of him.

I would love to see a HEA, but these characters may not. Unlike Alex and Moses, I broke them up a couple of times. Oh crap! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but I didn’t tell you how their story plays out. I’ll just say this, I have a playlist loaded with sad love songs.

I also don’t think this angst would be such a big deal if the book hadn’t been as successful as it has. I’ll rephrase that. I hoped it would do well, but this is a surprise blessing. Yes, I called my book that’s packed with a few steamy innuendoes and a blessing.

About a month before the free promotion, while it was still at regular price, it got to #167 without any promotion. When I did my first KDP Five Free Days, it made it all the way to #2 in one of my categories on Amazon. I stopped trying to figure out why it’s being received so well. And to be honest, I don’t care. I’m just grateful and thankful to God that it is doing well. This little book, is a great gateway to my other books.

Back to my problem, how to deal with my broken heart. Sunday or maybe it was late Saturday night. Anyway, I really started feeling a sense of loss towards this book. Sunday I picked up The Good Girl Part Two and started on the revisions and the more I read, the clearer it became that I needed to do something drastic. I kicked around ideas, all of which caused me more grief than relief. It was well around one in the morning when I gave up fighting. prayed and went to sleep.

Later, when I woke up, during my prayer time, I got a revelation for a possible plot idea. I’m not going to share it, in case those two bossy characters decide they want to go in another direction. I will say this, it will be emotionally painful to write, however, I think it’s going to lead to the perfect next step.

Funny thing, long before the dread of the breakup popped up, another scene began to bounce around my head…and it’s good. At least I think it is. Only problem, once I write it, I think that’s when the real heart break will come, because it will be the end of Gabriella and Phillippe’s story as I see it. As writers you know a series never really ends, it just gives birth to a another baby.

So I have a few questions for you. How do you handle the breakup of your characters? Do you find it difficult to breakup your characters perfect relationship? Is the road to HEA easy or painful for you?

Tracy Reed

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September 5, 2015 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,

Part Two: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My First Book..sort of

I’m about to launch the prequel to my first born, The Alex Chronicles…Girlfriends & Secrets. I talked about this little novelette last month in my post, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My First Book. You can sort of say this is part two to that post.

As I mentioned last month, this is the first book I wrote. When I wrote the book, I had aspirations of book tours, radio interviews and a fantasy of being on The View. Hey, if you don’t dream big, you’ll never get any where.

However, after I wrote the first three books in the series, it seemed the entire dynamic of the romance genre shifted. I credit or blame Fifty Shades of Grey. The protagonists or heroes were no longer just good looking men. They were now these incredible, super sexy males. Really, have you ever really seen a man with thighs that could bust a watermelon…that’s a line from one of my upcoming books. Or what about a man with hair like flaxen gold and a behind so tight a quarter could bounce off of it. I’ve been to the gym okay, I’ve been to a gym and around construction sites and I’ve yet to see a behind that tight. Take that back, I did see the season finale of “Ballers” and got a good look at The Rock’s behind. Not to mention John Cena in “Trainwreck”, I think that tight-quarter-bouncing behind title could legitimately be applied to both of them.

As I was saying, the dynamic had changed. When I wrote the first draft of The Alex Chronicles, my protagonist was my version of very handsome. Did you catch that phrase, my version. See one of the things that tripped me up about the new descriptions in romance fiction, was taste. Every one has their version of what’s hot, sexy, handsome, unattractive [I didn’t want to say ugly], cute, and the list goes on. This was a dilemma for me. What I liked physically, didn’t always match up with what some of my readers liked.

I’ve read a lot of books the past couple of years. compared to the past, I’m breaking my own reading records. Apart from being very tall, most of the protagonists had large…body parts and mesmerizing eyes, but it was their character that stood out. No matter how roguish, devious, freaking, sadistic, crazy or stupid, they are, deep down, they all have big hearts. And very, very, very, big wallets.

I had dinner with a friend and told her, I had to re-write The Alex Chronicles, because the protagonist wasn’t rich enough. Let me clarify. When I wrote him, it was with the intention that he was rich. Well in the new romance world, it wasn’t good enough for him to just be rich or a millionaire, he needed to be a billionaire. And he has to have a private plane, luxury yacht, mansion and penthouse apartment on top of his own building…is the new normal. When did this happen? And to make it worse, I saw a book that was touting the word Trillionaire. Come on people, let me catch up.

Which brings me to my series. When it was first written, the heroine’s ex-husband was a decent level millionaire, but her new love interest was richer than the ex. When I did the rewrite, I made it a point not to mention how much he’s worth. Instead, I elude to it by the gifts and things he does for her. Welcome to the new contemporary romance protagonist. Is it even possible that such a man exists? I choose to believe that somewhere there’s a woman living out one of my books. I’m open to living out my own romance novel. If anyone knows a tall dark chocolate billionaire in search of a petite curvy mocha wife, send him my way. Really, who better to live out one of my books then me.

So what’s The Alex Chronicles about? It’s the story of five best friends and a pact they made in college. It seems kind of childish that five grown women would still be beholden to something so silly. That’s what one of their boyfriends said later in the series. But it’s something that worked for them…when they were in college. Now that they’re adults and dealing with the day to day things of life, it’s not so easy.

The Alex Chronicles: Girlfriends & Secrets will be out in October. It’s also my first perma free book. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, “I’m glad have a free book.” I’ve been waiting for this opportunity. Offering this book free, is my major marketing step for this series. I’ll keep you posted on how my first born does. In the meantime, here’s the first chapter in the prequel:

who are we…

MY NAME IS ALEXANDRA SIMONE Miller and I am a fashion addict. Isn’t that how they make you introduce yourself at those addiction anonymous support group meetings? At least that’s what I’ve heard. I tried kicking the fashion habit, but it’s a little difficult when there are so many talented dealers, I mean designers tempting me. I know somewhere there has to be a support group for people like me. I think it meets at Neiman’s or Barneys. I heard a rumor that if you’re really bad they sentence you to aversion therapy at Bergdorf’s…I wish. 

So the last thing a person like me should do is own a boutique. Fashion is a drug and not only am I a junkie, I’m also a dealer and the base of my operation is my boutique, “Alex Simone”.
Alex Simone is my baby. It’s a place where women come to escape and fantasize. We encourage women to try things on, because that usually leads to buying. Shopping at one of my boutiques is like playing “dress up” in the ultimate fantasy closet, complete with designer ready-to-wear and vintage couture. 
Not only am I a fashion addict, I’m also a borderline workaholic. I say borderline, because I do manage to eek out time to spend with my friends. 
My girlfriends are like family. People always ask how we met. I think that’s the one thing we haven’t been able to agree on. 
Let’s see. Taylor is my cousin on my dad’s side. She and I have always been close. She’s really more like an older sister. I think we have shared secrets none of the other girls know about. But there’s that one thing that happened in Paris. I think I didn’t tell her because I knew she would have been disappointed in me. 
Anyway…she was going to school in Atlanta and she said I’d like it. Not only because it was crawling with good looking guys, but because it had a great liberal arts program. To be honest, I needed to get out of the city. A dose of Southern living was a welcome change. So I applied and got in. That’s where I met Chloe. 
Chloe was a typical rich girl on the verge of being cut off. School in the south was the last straw. She and Taylor were roommates. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to put them together. Then again, it was probably for the best.
When I went for my college tour, the two of them had me running around town. I don’t think I got more than twenty hours of sleep the entire week, but I had a good time. These two had the hook up for everything. 
When I got there in the fall, a new dorm was open courtesy of Chloe’s parents. The rooms were all suites. A few strings were pulled and I was assigned to Taylor and Chloe’s suite. I was immediately accepted into their social circle. Heck, they practically ran the social scene on campus. To this day, I never knew how they managed to get hooked up with every club in town, without getting busted.
The year after I got there, I met this girl named Dionne in Humanities class. We started talking and it turned out, she was from California. She kept saying I reminded her of her roommate, Kendell. When I finally met Kendell, I was shocked at how much we looked alike. We played a little game of Twenty Questions and discovered the reason we looked so much alike was because we were related.
Kendell is my cousin on my mother’s side. Her father and my mother are half siblings. We share our grandfather’s eyes, smile, skin color and height. When I first saw her, I thought I was looking at myself minus the upstairs endowment from my grandmother. My mother and Kendell’s father have the same father. My Grandfather Cyrus had a roaming eye along with some other things. He was married to my Grandmother while he played house with Kendell’s grandmother. He fathered a total of nine children, my mother and her three sisters, and Uncle Chester and his four brothers.
I think we’ve managed to stay friends as long as we have because we’re so different. It’s like we balance each other out. 
Oh, yeah, I was talking about secrets and being impulsive. Of my group, I’m considered the rational one. I don’t see how I got that label. My friends say it’s because I’m a planner and would never do anything impulsive. That’s just not true. I do a lot of impulsive things, they just don’t know about them. 
There was one impulsive thing I was going to do, but circumstances prevented it from happening. I’m not using my planning habit as an excuse, but as a legitimate reason why that impulsive event didn’t take place. The impulsive incident involved my fiancé, Jonathan. 
Jonathan and I had been together off and on for ten years. If you ask my friends, they’d say more off than on. And as much as I don’t want to agree with them, they’re right. 
I met Jonathan in college when I returned from my Paris internship to complete the second half of my senior year. I was hesitant to get involved with him, because his best friend and I had history. However, he won me over with his charm and we started dating. 
By the time we graduated, he had proposed…the first time. Much too soon. We barely knew each other. I moved back to Los Angeles. He followed me to California and took a job in Los Angeles so we could work on our relationship. We agreed to table the marriage question until later.
The magazine I interned for in Paris offered me a Junior Fashion Editor position in their Los Angeles office, but I turned it down. I know it sounds foolish, but there were things going on in my personal life that made me re-think what I wanted to do with my life.
I had come into a large sum of money, and decided to open a boutique. I love what I do. It’s taken me a while to gain the respect of the local fashion community, but it was well worth the hard work, and a huge step of faith.
Alex Simone is a place for women with curves, or real women. We stock most sizes, but we are known as the go to store for curvy women who love designer clothes. We’re not a plus size store per se, but in Southern California, a store that stocks anything over a size twelve is considered plus size. We just make it a point to offer designer clothing for women in a larger range of sizes. Curves, sensuality, and confidence are our business, and we know how to handle all three. 
Back to me and Jonathan. Things were going great with us. We had just gotten back together again. I say again, because, we broke up a lot. I know I sound like a fool, but I’m not. I had put a lot of time into that relationship and I wasn’t about to just walk away just because he had a little slip while we were apart. If only it had been a slip. 

Turns out, all those times he was proposing to me, he had a side piece in Long Beach. He’d tapped that piece so much he slipped up one night and forgot to suit up. So when he wanted to get back together he confessed. Like the idiot head I was, I took him back. He even introduced me to his side piece and their son. 
Here I was saving myself, and he was out tapping anything with a pulse. I didn’t tell my girlfriends that Jonathan and I were engaged. I just told them we were back together. They all said they were shocked that I took him back. They didn’t understand that I saw something in him they didn’t.
This time was different. We went engagement ring shopping and were making wedding plans. Jonathan agreed to counseling, and I was even warming up to the idea of marriage and being a step mother. I still wasn’t happy about having his side piece, I mean ex-side piece, in our lives, but she came with the kid. 
The last time he proposed, we didn’t tell anyone. Instead, he gave me an ultimatum, “Marry me when I return from my conference in two weeks. If you back out, it’s over for good.” I still hear those words replaying in my head, followed by a sharp chill in my bones. 
I knew my friends didn’t approve of my marrying Jonathan, so I decided to do something impulsive. I packed a bag and bought a first class ticket to Milan to surprise my fiancé. Oh man, it’s been over ten years, and it’s still difficult to tell this story. I knew he’d be in Milan another week for the conference. My plan was to surprise him and elope after his conference, and then do something small with our family and friends when we returned. 
The day before I was to leave to surprise Jonathan, I got a phone call from one of his friends who was attending the conference. Jonathan had had a massive heart attack and died. I was devastated. My girlfriends rallied and helped me, despite their feelings about Jonathan.
Instead of planning a wedding, I planned his funeral. 
I never told anyone, not even my mother, that I was planning to surprise him and elope. I still have the plane ticket. I don’t know why, but I keep it in my bag. If I had married him when he first asked, he wouldn’t have been alone. It hurts me to know he died alone. I should have been there. 
I have been trying to heal, and my girlfriends keep telling me it’s time to move on. I have in a way. It’s been over ten years and there have been a few men, but nothing serious. 
Bless my friend, Dionne. She’s made it her mission to find someone for me. I really wish she’d stop trying, because she’s not good at it. I was dating this very handsome media consultant named Quentin Burke. On paper we were perfect for each other, but I think it was poor timing and no chemistry. Those two things and that meddling mother of his, were the reason we broke up. I think we lasted about six months. We’re still friends. In fact, he’s my publicist. 
I introduced him to Dionne. The sparks flew and a few months later, they were married. Ever since I planted a good man into her life, she feels the need to do the same for me. I really wish she’d stop, but she won’t. After her last little matchmaking effort, I threatened to cancel our friendship.
She invited me to dinner with her and Quentin and left out one very important detail. When I arrived, Quentin met me at the door with a glass of wine. 
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” 
I didn’t understand what he meant. I took the glass, stepped inside and sitting on the sofa talking to Dionne was a shiny yellow brother with a pony tail hanging down his back. Dionne looked up and noticed I was heading out the door. She jumped up, walked over and pulled me over to the sofa and introduced me to my “date”. 
When he stood up, it was even worse. He was wearing a powder blue suit, navy blue shirt with the buttons undone to reveal his Mr. T gold chain collection sitting on a bed of tight black curls. I don’t like hairy men. I turned the glass up finishing the fine red wine in one gulp. This definitely would have been a good time to start drinking hard liquor. Saying I was a little pissed with Dionne would have been like calling a broken leg a sprain. 
I looked at Dionne wondering what she could have been thinking. I looked down at my “date’s” feet, and staring back at me were light blue patent leather brogues and matching socks. I didn’t know what to think, but I knew what to say. I just didn’t want to say it out loud. 
“Excuse me.” I put my empty glass on the table and hurried down to the powder room. “Okay God, I know Dionne meant well, but…really…what was she thinking?” I let out a sigh, touched up my lipstick and took that long walk out to the worst blind date of my life. 
“Are you all right Alex?” Dionne asked. 
I couldn’t believe she stood there with a smile on her face asking me if I was all right? Of course I wasn’t all right! I stood staring at one of my best friends, wondering at what point did she think setting me up with a black Smurf was a good idea. 
“I’m…” Quentin handed me another glass of wine. “Thank you.” 
“Sorry, it’s not something stronger,” Quentin whispered. 
“So am I.” I turned up the glass and gulped half in one swallow. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.” 
During dinner, Eddie the black Smurf sat sneering at me like I was a piece of cornbread he wanted to slop up with some greens. I looked across the table at this person my friend set me up with, and wondered how much longer I would have to endure this fiasco. Watching him eat was almost as disturbing as looking at him in that light blue suit. I closed my eyes and pretended I was someplace else. 
In my mind, I was on a remote island with a hot, sexy, dark chocolate man. He was feeding me strawberries, the juice running down the side of my mouth He gently caught the sweet juice with his soft, full lips. If Dionne was going to fix me up, why couldn’t it have been with the man in my fantasy, instead of Eddie the black Smurf? When I opened my eyes, Eddie the Smurf, was still talking incessantly about his ex-wife and his massive alimony payments. 
My phone rang, breaking the spell of my fantasy. I jumped up and ran into the kitchen to answer the call. Once in the kitchen, I turned the ringer off. It wasn’t a real call, but my “911 dating emergency call”. 
When I was in the powder room earlier, I had set a “911 dating alert.” That’s when you set the alarm on your phone to ring at a certain time. Once you pick up “the call” you become an Academy Award winning actress, and recite your escape monologue. My cousin Taylor hipped me to that little trick, and over the years I got very good at using it. So tonight, when I saw the black Smurf, I knew what I had to do. 
“Okay…no, I understand…uh huh…I’ll be right there.” I went back into the dining room, made my apologies and left. 
Before Dionne got with Quentin, she dated… let’s just say… she always managed to…she’s a sweet heart, but…it seemed she was always dating someone else’s Boaz. Like the guy who only wore Los Angeles Lakers attire. He didn’t care if it was basketball season or not. And when the occasion called for something a little “more dressy”, he broke out his favorite purple suit and accessorized it with a white and yellow striped shirt and Lakers tie. I caught a glimpse of the jacket lining once. Inside he had the entire Lakers starting line-up hand painted on the lining. I had one word for him and it wasn’t “Fantastic”. It was “Fanatical”. Dionne thought he was the one…her Boaz. That’s if Boaz was a basketball fanatic and a tacky dresser. His idea of a romantic night out was to take her to his favorite sports bar, “Nothin’ But Net” for happy hour. They got along great until she disagreed with him over the Lakers draft choice. He dropped her like a long distance three pointer… “swish”. 
She’s my girl, but I couldn’t take another day listening to her blame herself for her relationship falling apart. So, I arranged a little impromptu meeting between her and Quentin at the store. They hit it off ,and now three years later she’s trying to do the same thing for me.


If my girlfriends knew about my plans to elope with Jonathan they wouldn’t be too surprised.

However, if they knew my other secret, they’d be pissed and would stop speaking to me. It’s my secret, and I’d be pissed if one of my best friends had kept something like that hidden from me for over twenty years. 
What’s my secret? All I’ll say is, I have the power to destroy one of the wealthiest families on the West Coast. That power could also cost me my life. But if pushed, that’s a risk I might be willing to take.

The Alex Chronicles Series will be starting in October

Tracy Reed


Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

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