I didn’t write a lot in 2016.

I spent most of January haunting the hospital after one of my best friends was admitted into the ICU on January 2nd. For the next 27 days, I read the frothiest romances and the most delightfully magical MG novels I could find. And then, when my friend passed away on January 29th, just as we were tentatively making plans for her recovery, I began trying to outrun grief.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel around Spain, France and the U.S. As I did, I began to push myself to do more and see more and live more. I dated more (and was completely infuriated by infuriating boys but also met someone who turned out to be very lovely), I tried to be more social (I clubbing in Nice on my birthday! And didn’t spontaneously combust!) and tried to do all the bookish things I’d never done before: a book launch in NYC! The Brooklyn Book Festival! (Where I spoke to absolutely no one but attended lots of fantastic panels and silently fangirled over a lot of awesome writers, so yay.) I even went to the Baltimore Book Festival, lured by the promise of three days full of smart romance writers saying lots of smart things. (They did not disappoint.) There, I tried to be a little more vocal in my fangirling and ended up being an absolute nerd (Remind me to tell you about the time I told Alisha Rai her hair was pretty and then wandered away, absolutely overcome).

I kept myself busy, and even when I found the time to write, the words wouldn’t always come. So I revised The Infamous Miss Rodriguez, which I’d mostly finished the year before. I fiddled (and still am) with A Time For Desire, the next Arroyo Blanco novel. I started the next Ciudad Real novel, a snippet of which I’ll share below.

I made plans for 2017 and watched as most of them, as well as the world, it seemed like, fell apart.

But I also I visited cities I’d never been in before, and wandered around some old favorites. I read so many amazing books. I watched (not creepily, I promise!) as my books were read and enjoyed. And I met so many lovely people, both online and off, both in the U.S. and here at home (I made a romance-loving friend and we’ve been talking about possibly attending RT next year).

I didn’t get a chance to speak to my friend after she was admitted into the ICU, though I did sneak in once to see her. I didn’t get to say goodbye or make any promises. But for years, we’d been joking that we needed to be less responsible and “good” and a little more wild and daring. I tried my best to do that this year, and even though I had to do it alone, I’d like to think that Gaby approves.

And I’d like to think that 2017 will bring with it more opportunities to continue living as fully as possible, come what may.

And here is a tiny snippet from The Respectable Miss Tolentino, the next book in the Ciudad Real series:

Miss Tolentino’s gaze flickered over him. “Blast, shit and damnation,” she said distinctly. “I don’t see what’s so wicked about a few words.”

She might not, but he could—those few words, coming from her lips, delivered in that crisp voice of hers, made a flame of desire burst instantly to life inside Eduardo. It occurred to him that she adopted that particular tone when she was rattled. Was it the profanity that made her consonants come out clear as the ringing of church bells, or was she as affected by his proximity as he was by hers? Now, there was a delightful thought. He turned it over in his mind for a moment, then stored the thought away carefully until he might examine it more closely. 

“You’re right, Miss Tolentino. What is it that suffragettes say? Deeds, not words? I believe it’s time we turn our efforts towards the execution of some very sinful deeds.”






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