It’s Release Day for DARK AWAKENING!

At long last…

To say I’m excited is an understatement. The e-book is available from AmazonBarnes and Noble, Kobo,  and Apple Books. It’s on sale for release week, so if super-sexy, super-powered, and super-twisty urban fantasy is up your alley, grab it! And I’d love to hear what you think of it, here or anywhere, but especially in a review on a retail site. 😀

Bounce, boounce, booounce. BOOOINGGGGGG! I’m off to work. Have a SUPER day, folks!

Is Your Heart on the Back Burner?

No, I’m not talking about grieving or counseling. What is blowing my mind this morning is how easy it is for me to put my writing, which is really freaking important to me and the project of my heart, on the back burner.

I got home from Cincinnati on Tuesday, spent Wednesday picking up the threads of family and financial life, went back to work on Thursday…and BOOM. I worked overtime every day and completely (well, almost) lost of all the creative inspiration that welled up during my two-week “break.”

The books I want to write really aren’t going to write themselves.

A Monday suggestion for anyone out there who puts something they love last on their to-do list: Do it first. Do it now. Don’t do it as a reward for getting all the have-tos done. Do it because it gives the mundane stuff more meaning. You WILL get all of your have-tos done…because you HAVE TO. But you won’t get your want-tos done unless you prioritize them.

Do you put your passion project last on your list? Why?

And if you don’t, do you have any suggestions for how those of us who do can stop? Me, I’m going to go back to writing FIRST thing in the morning. I’M DOING IT.

What’s your goal for this fine Monday?

INTO THE FIRE is free today!

ItF_300Hey, everybody! The first book in my Hot Night series is free today, and I hope you’ll grab it, if you haven’t read it already. If you have read it, please tell your friends that a super-steamy, enemies to lovers e-romance with great snacks is available on all US platforms for the bargain price of zipperoo! I really love that book. Links found here!

What else is going on? I went home to visit my family in Cincinnati. My parents are aging, and it’s both amazing and difficult to watch them care for each other. My kids traveled with me because seeing them delights my parents, and my husband stayed home to work and feed the cats. LOL. Last time, I stayed home, and HE took them to Cinci. We can get more visits in that way!

And…CAKE! I didn’t design either of these, my very creative boss did, and aren’t they summery and CUTE?!

IMG_4127 2


I love them.

And now I’m off to the bakery! Enjoy your day!





Dark Awakening April 2019


It’s been a while! Since December! How can that BE?! Hello, hello, hello. I hope you are well. 🙂

This working full-time thing ain’t no joke, and it wears me out. But I’ve been getting up EARLY to write before work. Every day, although lately I’ve been sidetracked by redesigning my website. It felt stale. And dated. And I wanted one that was scroll-y. Stop by and tell me what you think, if you have a chance. I’m not paying anyone to design it, and my technical skills are about average, but I’m pleased.

The getting up early has been good. Dark Awakening is mostly finished, and it has a lovely cover! My plan WAS to write the next book and then publish them together (or very close) because the end of the book is definitely sequel bait, and I don’t want angry readers. But then I started writing the sequel. And I stalled. The stall is part of my process, but I got to thinking about how long it took me to write Dark Awakening (and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until I was happy with it). I remembered that I’m doing this for fun. I started wondering how long it will REALLY take me to finish Book Two. Then I decided to release Dark Awakening during my birth month, April. Because I love the book, and I love my birthday, and what could be better than that?!

I’ll probably rewrite the blurb to be first person and more fun, but here’s the gist:

Zoe Draden was perfectly happy using her secret talent to grow vegetables for her family’s café. But when her brother is kidnapped by the entity responsible for their unique abilities, she’s forced to trust a dangerous and tempting man who scares her more than their mutual enemy.

Jake Fallon has one goal: protect the Talents. His ability to control minds made that an easy task until Genecorp began hunting them. Now Talents are dying, and the only person who can help is a constant threat to his crucial self-control.

Zoe doesn’t remember what happened when she met Jake, but she’s beginning to suspect he’s keeping a secret. So is she. There’s more to her Talent than meets the eye. In fact, she may be the key to their survival. But she’s got her work cut out for her convincing control-freak Jake he needs her help, especially when they discover the greatest threat lies within…

And YOU are the first to know!

Something you might already know and some things you don’t!

Sometimes I find drawings on the kitchen table when I get home from work. In 2017, let's be as intrepid as this guy!
Sometimes I find drawings on the kitchen table when I get home from work. In 2017, let’s be as intrepid as this guy!

I love going to workshops and re-reading craft books that tell me things I’ve already learned about writing. No, not just writing. Life. Seriously. There are so many parallels between my approach to writing and my approach to life it’s crazy.

For example, yesterday afternoon, as I was walking across the length of the Wegmans parking lot to go to work, enjoying the piercing wind whistling through my unzipped jacket, frosting my ungloved fingers, and playing hell with my un-hatted hair, I was mentally flogging myself for not getting the ONE THING done on my to-do list that means everything to me: writing.

And just like that, I realized why I didn’t finish the scene I’ve already re-written twice. It kind of sucks. I keep going in there and trying to make my people do what needs to be done. In this case, I want the heroine and cohorts to follow the hero on the rescue-the-mother mission. I want the heroine to be afraid to use her power again which will cause something horrible to happen. I want them to get their asses kicked and for something horrible to happen, which will make the heroine following the hero necessary instead of foolhardy. But right now, it isn’t working. And that’s why I don’t want to do it! So, back to the beginning of the scene for me.

Which on some level I already knew but I needed to learn it again. Does that happen to you? Every so often, do you need to be reminded of basic things that keep your world spinning? (That’s the thing you might already know.)

And here are the things you didn’t know until I wrote this: the winners of the Come Again Release Day Celebration are Robyn D (Rafflecopter) and Anita H (blog/FB/Twitter/Instagram)! You two ladies can expect an e-mail from me very soon!

Happy New Year, everyone! Get in there like the heroes you are and keep your worlds spinning. XOXO


This isn’t a post for the people making a ton of money publishing

This is a post for the rest of us. Like it or not, money is often equated with success, and success is often equated with happiness. But it just ain’t so.

So my Middle Kid had an early jazz band practice, and I was listening to Pentatonix sing Hallelujah on the way home. Go buy Hallelujah on iTunes right now. Right now. No, seriously. Or go listen to it on Youtube. I’ll put the link at the bottom. Anyone with an ounce of passion in them needs to hear them sing this tune. All that Catholic schooling aside, I haven’t been a practicing Christian in 20 years, so why does this song resonate with me so hard, even after I’ve listened to it, like, 1000 times since I bought it? (Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen. Your memory is certainly blessing me this year.)

Hallelujah resonates because of the passion, I think. It creates a connection. Between writer/singers and listeners. Between writer and readers. We know it when we hear it/see it. And it grabs us. Which led me to thinking about how hard it is to get that passion onto the page. Sometimes I wish I could physically rub what is in my heart onto the page because it is so much better than what is coming out of my fingers once it passes through my brain. My filter. My internal editor. I write mySELF, my VOICE, out of my words so often it’s become a habit. Gotta make ’em pretty. Gotta make ’em flow. Gotta connect my thoughts. And I’ve had great editors, but sometimes, they took a piece of me out of my work, too, and I let it happen because I didn’t trust mySELF enough to fight for me.

It probably had something to do with deadlines and my desire to pump out three books a year and be “successful.” I don’t have any deadlines now, but I fight the urge to give them to myself in order to be productive. My definition of productive is finishing the book. That’s also my definition of success. But I am fighting so damn hard to change both of those into making the book that lands on the page as rich and passionate as the book in my heart. And that is requiring SO MUCH MORE TIME and THOUGHT and EXPLORATION than I ever imagined. It’s hard to be okay with that when I spent years training myself to think that success=happiness=finishing the book=making money. (Which is why this isn’t a post for writers making big money. Money brings its own inspiration. It just does.)

Writers, I don’t know about you, but when #1k1hr/3 or more books a year/butt in chair/write full-time entered my world, I started feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done. And that feeling made me want to do even less.

Yes, I still want to finish the book, damn right I do (and I bet you do, too). And I want to write another book in the Hot Nights series. And I want to write a womens fic book just because. And feeling like shit isn’t going to get me there. Butt in chair ALL THE TIME isn’t going to get me there because my butt needs other stuff, too. Like yoga. And fruitcake, party mix, au gratin brussels sprouts, and caramels made by me. I need to read. And watch Sherlock. And hang out with my family.


Here are a few of MY new definitions of success, and I invite you add your own in the comments. Comments will automatically enter you in my Come Again Series Giveaway (GC to The Ripped Bodice or, um, my favorite sex toy, new in box OF COURSE).

  1. Write for one single hour OR cross a thing off the list of things that need to get done in the WIP. Progress is progress.
  2. Go to work and do a good job. Listen, some days, that’s all we can do. The day job pays the bills.
  3. Feel good. Make the mental adjustment required to reject negative judgement, within or without, and be fine with the work that is getting done and know that the rest of the work WILL get done. Eventually. It is perfectly okay to go around feeling good about yourself instead of apologizing, downplaying, or self-deprecating.

Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Own yourSELF. Do YOU. And practice believing you are worthy. Not just good enough but valuable. Give yourself permission to feel happy and successful simply because you are breathing and go about your day feeling good.

Writers, connect with the passion you have for yourself, so you can share it. Maybe even on the page. Reject the outside voices telling you your words should be different and write the words in your heart. That’s how you find the good stuff.

Believe it.


Watch the Youtube video of Pentatonix singing HALLELUJAH!

And lest you think it's easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at my daughter's bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I'm still doing me. For now. LOL.
And lest you think it’s easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at Middle Kid’s bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I’m still doing me. For now. LOL.

So Much Gratitude

So, so grateful for pie! Carbs in any form, really...
So, so grateful for pie! Carbs in any form, really…

Thanksgiving Day seems like a good time to thank the people who are supporting me through my writing recovery. A comment appeared on this post from June, reminding me of how much has changed since my last book release (IMPULSE CONTROL, two years ago in January). I’m not exhausted anymore. I’m finally self-publishing. That book that was kicking my ass? Still not done, but I’m enjoying the work. That. Is. Epic. I go to yoga even when I’m busy. The house has new furniture. Sometimes I cook at home, not just at work.

The life-balance is better. It’s a practice!

I didn’t write any acknowledgements pages for the Come Again series (releasing on 11/29!) because it wasn’t part of the process at Samhain Publishing, where the books were first published. I probably could have written acknowledgements, but my editor didn’t ask me for them, and everything was new to me then. I was still learning the ropes, so I wasn’t going to suggest a new way to tie a book together.

Instead of acknowledgements, Samhain did dedications, and mine are a little out of date. Life changes, you know? But I left them as is. Once you give a book to someone, it’s theirs, too, even if it gets a new life in writer-WITSEC. 🙂

I always read the acknowledgement page at the back of a book because it’s a peek behind the curtain into another writer’s life. How do they keep their shit together? Who helps them? Usually a village, I’ve learned. I’m certainly grateful for MY village!

In no particular order (and probably edited after posting because I’ll forget someone), I’d like to thank Samhain Publishing for being the first publishing company to offer me a contract. I loved working with the company, and I’m sad to see it close its doors. Thank you for  everything, Samhain!

Putting your BGF on the cover of a book: priceless!

Much admiration to Amy Gamet, Jennifer Kacey, Natasha Moore, and Molly O’Keefe for successfully self-publishing and making me think I could do it too. And for answering ALL the questions. Amy literally answered a question every day last week. Newbie questions. Basic stuff. And she never gave me the eyeroll emoji! Plus Jennifer let me use her for the cover of BOTTOMS UP. She doesn’t have the heroine’s dreadlocks, but Jenn does have a ton of long, dark, hair. Close enough for me, and I LOVE having her on the cover!

Many muffins and coffees to my writer friends, particularly Jess, Alison, and Barb, who listened to all the same shit for two years and rarely yelled at me, were always encouraging, kept the faith, shot straight when necessary, sat in silence, and chatter, and wrote words with me. Writing books takes faith and hard work…and good company or you start to think you’re nuts. We can’t all be nuts AT THE SAME TIME, right? Meh. We’re nice nuts.

All the REST of the coffee to my work friends at Wegmans. Non-writing work is good, and you guys are the best.

Always thanks to my husband, Ben, because he’s gonna love me no matter what. He really is.

Thank you, my readers, blog commenters, FB friends. Thank you for reaching out. For being there. For sharing your lives. I see you. I see your posts, and when you are struggling, I dedicate my yoga practice to your healing. Which might sound odd, but it’s my purest form of spiritual positivity, and I send it winging to you through the universe we share, roughly twice a week. 🙂

Blessing upon your houses. My gratitude abounds, today and every day.

So…my American friends, what is your contribution to the feast today?! My brother and sister in-law are hosting, and I made pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato rolls, and a loaf of sourdough bread. Ben is making potato skins for an appetizer. What’s your favorite can’t-live-without Thanksgiving dish?

My Worst Kept Secret

Book One
Book 1

Book Two
Book 2

Book Three
Book 3

Book 3.5
Book 3.5

Book 4
Book 4





I’m Miranda Baker. Well…my pen name is Miranda Baker.

My real name is Amanda Usen…but Baker is my “maiden” name, and Miranda is close enough to Amanda that if someone calls to me at a conference, I’ll turn around. That’s why I picked it. Since I was teaching high school SAT prep classes when these books were published, I thought it best to keep my kinky imagination camouflaged under another name. I also thought I could write enough books to fuel two careers…bwahahaha! If you’ve been following the blog, you know how that ended. A big, fat, burnout. And then some phoenix action

Sadly, Samhain Publishing, the lovely company who bought all my Miranda Baker e-books, is closing its doors, and I got the rights back to the books. I’d intended to self-publish the books as soon as I got them back, but it seemed like such a HUGE undertaking. I procrastinated until Molly O’Keefe, a wonderful author-friend, basically grabbed me by the cheeks and said I was being silly for wasting time, G*d bless her. She also gave me the name of her formatter and her cover artist, just to light a little fire under me. I really love that woman. I think she’s a Jedi because I’m pretty sure I filed the paperwork for Balancing Act Press the next day. 🙂

I’ll write more about my adventures in self-publishing very soon (for those considering the plunge). It’s been a wild ride, but not nearly as difficult as I imagined.

It’s easier to market books that are similar, but I didn’t know that when I wrote these stories. Therefore I ended up with m/f BDSM in BOTTOMS UP, f/f and m/f sex toy experimentation in SOLOPLAY, a bisexual empath in HOOK UP, f/f/m menage in TOP STUDENT, and f/f BDSM in GIRL TROUBLE. LOL. What do they have in common? My voice, my sense of humor, and my rather liberal approach to sexuality! I love these stories, and I’m so excited to share them. They’re fun, super-sexy, a little edgy, and very romantic. Blurbs, excerpts, and pre-order links can be found on my Books page. The books will release on 11/29/2016!

(And for those of you who know me in “real” life, why yes, that is my gorgeous friend Jennifer Kacey on the cover of BOTTOMS UP! I’m so delighted she let me use one of her fabulous photos. How cool is that?!)

So…are you shocked by this revelation? How secret was my “secret”? 😀

Where did Monday go?

The winner of the $15 gift card is bn100, so expect an e-mail from me! 🙂 Happy fall and thanks for reading!

img_1964Five weeks of class down, and five to go. So far, so good. Holding up just fine. My adventures in sourdough continue. I made a Rosemary Olive Oil loaf that was, hands down, the best bread I ever made in my life. I guess all I needed was twenty years of experience to make it all work. LOL. I’ve got a loaf of Country White Sourdough fermenting in the fridge right now. Not sure where or how I’m going to bake it, though. I go straight from the bakery kitchen to the school kitchen tomorrow. I wonder if they would be amused at Wegmans if I brought my loaf to work and baked it off?

This is a bowl scraper!

Another adventure: I used Fiverr to get a logo made for the swag I’m ordering for Wild Wicked Weekend in February. I’m going to put it on bowl scrapers, unless someone has a better idea. Readers, would you rather have a bowl scraper (it’s like a spatula without a handle, used for getting things like batter out of bowls), an actual silicone spatula, or a flexible cutting mat? Help a girl out, would you please?

I have some super fun news soon, but first I have to get through my students’ baking practicals and start the next class. And middle kid’s bat mitzvah planning. And finish this book, I suppose, but who am I kidding? It’s the book that never ends! It just goes on and on, my friends…

But I’m kind of loving it, so I guess we’ll keep each other company for a while longer. OH! (I should probably admit I talked my husband into meeting me for tacos after the first night of cooking practicals. And I drank a thing that I think was mostly tequila with a little elder flower thrown in. Last time I had elder flower was at a Sourcebooks party at an RWA conference, and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on the party bus home. SQUIRREL! Are any of you looking for a Silver Fox romance?14479661_10208576601786370_9012974339823973637_n

There is sex after forty. We know that. My friend Natasha Moore (who helped me get my first book contract by giving me great writing advice) is writing some sexy, heartwarming, really wonderful romances featuring mature characters. The first one CHOOSE ME just came out. I’ve always loved her writing, and she really nails down the emotions. Check out the link to see if it might be up your book alley.

And…I love silver foxes. RAWR.

I hope y’all are having a great week. Happy hump day!






Be the Happy Ruler of Your Pile of Scattered Poop

I was so excited the other day, I posted this on FB.

I’ve been writing this book for-fucking-ever. No, really. And I got to a point where I could see the end. I couldn’t believe it. The whole reason I wanted to write the book was because I wanted to end it in a certain way, and I’m at 60K, and it’s time to write the end. I was elated, and THEN…

I stalled.

Because I can’t write the end until I edit the parts I just rushed through. I’ve lost the thread. I don’t know who my characters are or what they want in those hurriedly-written scenes. This is my process: I write and write, and then I figure out what I’ve written until I can write again. Of course it took me a couple of days of beating myself up for not making any progress to realize this. And, as my friend and fellow writer Jessica Topper pointed out, this is just my process with this book, but whatever. This is why I decided to finish the damn book before I did anything with it, so I could take all the time I wanted to make it fun.

Ceasing being hard on myself for not meeting my own wildly unrealistic expectations is more difficult than finishing the book. I can finish the book. I know I can. But can I do it without making myself and everyone around me miserable? THAT is the question. Because the real accomplishment is living each moment of a very busy day/week/month with kindness, caring, and humor.

Which is what I decided, oh…a year and a half ago and forgot. AGAIN. Oh, wait, make that two years because I wrote this in July of 2014. *Head kitchen table*

Don’t you wish you could have an epiphany and make it stick? I do. I swear I’ve been learning the same thing over and over every five minutes for years. I kind of thought I’d have my shit together by now, but NOPE. Nope, nope, nope.

What the hell…maybe nobody does.

I’ve been pondering the fact that I tend to put myself down first in order to beat everybody else to the punch. Whether it’s a new cake I’ve designed at work, a finished manuscript, a lesson plan, a list of completed tasks, or WHATEVER, I’ll point out what’s wrong with it instead of what’s right. I ignore the good stuff and take to heart all the criticism. My inner child believes I do this because nothing SHE ever did was good enough. She suggests it’s a form of self-protection. Judge thyself harshly, and the judgement of others will hurt less. 

It doesn’t work.

Guess what? All judgement is not created equal. Critics have their own issues and inner-children driving them to behave badly. It’s possible, even likely, that their opinion has nothing to do with you. So you shouldn’t let it ruin your day or send you into a shame spiral of self-loathing. Because their opinion doesn’t matter. You know why?

Here’s the tricky part: you aren’t trying to please them. Not really. You’re trying to please yourself, and if you’ve already decided you suck, then you can’t ever do a good enough job because you will always find your flaws. Vicious cycle. I know I’m not the first one to say these things, but I’m living them. Maybe you are, too.

If so, I offer you this: You are not one thing. You are many things. Some of them are AMAZING and some of them are flawed. The flaws are FINE. They make you likable and approachable. It’s okay. No one sees you like you see yourself. They see the good stuff before the bad. Crazy, right? It’s true. Try it. Reject the voice inside telling you you’re not good enough. CHOOSE to be happy with yourself and your work.

It might feel like the most subversive and daring thing you’ve ever done. It might make you cry. You might have to do it over and over. You might even have gray hair and still be doing it. You might despair of ever getting your shit together and keeping it together. But none of that shit matters. It never did. Be the happy ruler of your pile of scattered poop and go forth spreading kindness, caring, and good humor…to yourself…and then the WOOOOOORRRRRLD!

(And yes, in case you are wondering, the song “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with meeeeee…” is running through my head right now. It’s a nice break from “Cool Rider” from Grease 2.)

All commenters will be entered into my fall giveaway of a gift card to Amazon, B&N, or The Ripped Bodice, so let’s talk about the things that hold us back and how we jump, tunnel, fly, and run around, under, over, and through them.