An unexpected conversation with author Carol Shaughnessy at DragonCon propelled Harper Michaels into finishing “ the damn thing.” She ended up releasing eight books (eight!) in a year! In this Steam Scenes episode, Harper and I talk about outing ourselves to our friends and family about our steamy romance writing, how we are still terrified when we release a book, and how to redeem irredeemable characters. Plus I read a steam bit from her novel Chasing You (check it out on Amazon).
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Harper Michaels was born and raised in South Georgia. She grew up in the real South dirt, roads and rattlesnake territory. It was nowhere near the fancy pants city of Atlanta where she lives now. By day she's a health care worker and Mama to two rambunctious little ones who love running her ragged by night. She's an avid romance reader who enjoys naughty scenes and bad but secretly sweet book boyfriends. She's married to the love of her life who puts all of those book boyfriends to shame. She loves coffee, rom coms and anything with a happy ending. I guess that's why she writes romance. Welcome to sands Harper. I'm so happy you're here.
Hey, oh, how are you? I'm okay. How
are you doing?
Good. So, okay, so my gosh, I feel like I have so much to talk to you about. But I guess I want to start with you know, you work in healthcare. That's kind of like the day job. How long have you been writing
have been writing forever now actually publishing only I only started Father's Day of last year. So that was what June 20 of 2021 was my first book release. Okay.
Okay, so that was so that's it's only been a year. You're quite prolific.
It's only been a year. Yeah. The titles
out Tell me. Tell me how that happened.
I don't have a lot of readers yet. But I have a lot of time. I'm trying to get my name out there. Um, no, I've been writing forever. So there was a lot in my brain. You know, waiting to let loose I guess. I had a lot of half written stories. Um, but I went to Dragon Con, which in case you have, I don't know if you've ever heard of Jack.
I do know Dragon Con. Yes, I
do. Yes. But it was. It's in Atlanta every year. And my husband and I had tried to go every year. And there was a midnight. Basically, like little meeting of Romance Writers, erotica, routers, oh, my God, they had they had a whole, there's like four or five of them that were talking to groups. So they were in one of the rooms there. And my husband was like, you know, you really want to be a romance router. This is what you want to do. I've read your routing, you're good. Why don't we go? And we can ask these routers some questions. And so it was like midnight, and you know, everybody's dressed as like a brewery or whatever you love. I fucking love them. Love them so much. I never dress up, but I absolutely love them. I just like watching people. But um, no, I went to the erotica panel. And I met a wonderful writer. Her name is Carol Shaughnessy, but she is a great writer. And I ended up talking to her afterwards. And she gave me the best piece of advice I've ever had, which was just finished the damn thing. So she Yeah. Like I said, you know, I've got all these half written things. And I've never, you know, never finished anything. And I just, you know, I know I can do it, but I just, I just can't. She was like, it doesn't matter if it sucks, just finish the damn thing. So we've stayed in constant contact. And she actually edited the book for me and everything. And helped me figure out how to get it up on Kindle, because I had no clue what I was doing at all. Um, so she was a great resource. So then I started going to the Georgia romance router, meeting space, basically. And that was helpful too. And then it kind of just evolved from there where I actually, you know, got my first one out. And then once I got my first one out, I was like, this isn't so bad. So then I just started finishing store.
So So you had like all of these books, but they were all in like various stages of finished on your computer.
They were basically in various stages, or like just notes that were written down God. So they were all like, Okay, I've got this idea. It sounds great. Maybe one day I'll do something with it. And then I, you know, my dad passed away in 2020. And one of my things when he passed away was, you know, there was a lot of things he didn't get to do, or dreams he didn't get to realize. And I was like, You know what, I've, I've got to finish this. I mean, I'm 40 I was 40. When I released my first book, I was like, I've got if I want to do this, I got to do this. Yeah, so I knew not everybody would approve, because I'm from a very traditional Southern family, so I knew that they would not approve, but it was just something I had to do.
Oh my God, so many questions. Okay. So first of all, is this why you hide? Is this why you sort of don't want you're like you have this is your pen name, you sort of are kind of like, you know, I don't want my identity known. And I assumed it was for the job, but is it because of your family? Or do they know?
Um, so it's a little bit of both. So yes, job wise, I don't think they'd have a problem with it. But you never know. You never know.
But yeah, tell me about it. Yeah.
As far as family goes, some of them know, some of them do not know. I recently outed myself to my cousin's. So that's been interesting. They, they're not disapproving. My mother has a hard time with it. She knows. But she does not like it. Which is very funny, because, you know, one of one of the things we're talking about is how, you know, how I got started in romance genre is I used to steal her romance novels when I was little so yeah, I mean, they're all Harlequin. So yeah, I mean, maybe not as much as what I would read right nowadays.
Well, I mean, clearly, you want to look into the erotica conference. So
yeah. I'm not sure. But, ya know, she, um, she. I love her mother's death, but she's very old southern style. Cursing is just hurts her ears. And she, she said she tried to make it through the first chapter of my book, but she couldn't because I said the F word too much. And so she's a little, you know, it's hard for her. So I hide it for her too, because I know how she feels about it. She's just a proper southern lady.
She's not your target audience.
I love her dearly, but she's not my target target audience and that's okay. That's okay. You know, it's funny, because my dad would have had no problem with it. He would have thought it was funny. And really, yeah, he would have been like, oh, look what my daughter does, you know, but but my mom is just, she's definitely more traditional. Got me. She's always been that way. So Well, first of all, I
am so sorry about the loss of your dad. I lost my mom and 2018 I think we're 2017. Now I can't even remember. But you know, it's it's so funny how, you know, when something happens to a parent. And in my case, you know, it was my mom got a diagnosis of like, basically early onset dementia to fix disease, and it's super rare. And it's genetic. And I would when she got that diagnosis, I was like, Well, fuck yeah. 5050. And then I started thinking, well, what would I regret? And I was like, oh, because, you know, you I went to school for writing I was, that's what I wanted to do. And then just got paralyzed with fear about actually, like putting myself out there and failing. And, you know, and I finally was like, you know, what, you need to just do this. Yeah, you just need to do this thing.
It's so hard to put yourself out there. And it like, every comment when you first start is like, it's just killer. And I still, like, on the daily have doubts and fears about it. But it's like, you know, I mean, I don't want to get to that point. You know, with my dad. There were so many things he didn't get to do because he was scared. He had a lot of anxiety. He was had a lot of ton of social anxiety. And so there was just a lot of things he didn't get to do. He was a really funny, man. But you didn't know that. Unless you really knew him like I did. So, you know, like, I wish more people have gotten to see that. So it's like, I wanted to get that part of myself out that I don't normally get out, you know, and I was like, I just gotta jump in. Because if I don't, I'm never gonna do it. I'm curious. What
what what are you like, I know, like, I know what I'm scared of, which is like everything like I'm terrified every time I put a new book out like Absolutely. And I'm kind of curious what do you think it is that scaring you?
Um, well, I've always been a people pleaser, like always. So you know, I was the peacemaker, the people pleaser in my family. So I never wanted to rock the boat. Yeah, or you know, and I feel like I'm the little, you know, my books aren't like, you know, 50 Shades of Grey, but, but you know, they, they rock my little boat. So, you know, it was just the loss of the, you know, you don't have a mask to hide behind, I guess. So to say like, you know, these, to me, my characters are based off of some of the things, some some of the really some bad things I went through, and some very good things I went through. So to show that is very scary. I mean, it's just, it's really scary. Yeah, I
think there's a level whenever you write, and I don't think that people quite get this. There's a level of vulnerability, because maybe it's not necessarily, oh, I'm writing about my life, right? Like, it might not be that specific, but, but you do have to mine moments from your life in order to in like, make the character journey richer. So like, you know, if my character is experiencing loss, I have to figure out what it was like, when I was experiencing loss and what that means, what that meant to me, How would my character respond the same? Would they respond differently? Like, there's, like, I think there's like, and I think that a lot of people like sort of look at actors and and sort of understand that that's what they're doing. And that's why people always treat actors, like they're very, very fragile. And I don't, and I don't think that people really understand that. That's a lot of what being a writer is to
know, it's a lot of putting yourself out there. And some of the stuff that I go into it is very personal. And I've had people ask me, you know, did that happen to you or whatever. And I'm just like, I don't I don't like to go into it too much. Maybe that's why I like hiding my identity too. Because it's, it's very personal stuff. I mean, there's one of my characters. I mean, all my characters are between 18. And like, 30, you know, right. So it's that time period in my life when I was very scared of everything. Like I I was desperately searching for love anywhere. I could find it. God bless me. And I went through some horrible breakups and some, you know, got dumped by a fiancee. I mean, horrible. Um, yeah, so I use those. So that, you know, I don't go bonkers. But it's funny, because my tech just she always says, she always she pushed me to write my first book. And she She's so funny. She's laughing at me now. But like, he push, she pushed me to write my first book, because I would always they're all younger than me at work. And I would always tell them stories of like, what I did in my 20s, and like, how crazy things got. And they're like, Yeah, you need to write a book. Write and write my books.
Yeah. Well, that is something that I wanted to talk to you about was that, you know, you do you you write very young, so it's 18, I wasn't sure how young your characters went,
they never go under 18. Because that's just a lot. I don't want to cross. But, you know, that's a hard time in life for a girl 18 to 20s, my 20s I was searching for something. And it was the 20s were tough. And so I like to go back to that time period of like, just kind of graduating high school, kind of figuring out who you are, what you want, what you want. And a guy Oh, God, I didn't know. I wanted mysterious and sexy and they all turned out to be crazy. So, you know, it's kind of figuring out who you are and what you want. So that's why I like to write that stage.
Okay, I'm always very curious, because mine sort of run all over, you know, yeah, younger, to, you know, older. And I'm starting to lean towards older just because I kind of like writing the characters that have that sort of wealth of experience. You know, but I can see the appeal of writing younger too. And it's just, it's sort of interesting to see reader reactions.
Yeah, it is. And I mean, I had somebody the other day that was saying, you know, they just can't imagine they can't write younger characters because they can't go back to that time in their lives. And I guess it's just easy for me to slip back into that, you know, I'm in a settled, happy place now. And to go back to that place, it's kind of like looking back on a journey. You know, and it's, it's like how did I get here? Why went through all this stuff? off. And, and I, you know my characters to go through their own little journeys and that's kind of, you know, by the end of the book, I mean, I live happily ever after. So me know that's just the way it is. But by the end of the book, I try to make it where it's a somewhat realistic happily ever after and the you know, there's there's bumps, but overall, you know, they're happy just like in any marriage there are books,
right every relationship there was there are bumps, nothing is perfect. No, no, yeah, it's just so funny because I think like when I write young, there's always like the Amazon review or the god forbid Goodreads review, I can't even go into reads anymore. That sort of like, you know, oh my god, that person, you know, that character was so stupid. And it's like, wow, she's, Oh, yeah. She's gonna be stupid.
I had one review that tore me apart on a book because they said that the characters were just very immature. And that yes, if she had, you know, if the reader the reviewer was in her early 20s, then yeah, she would have liked the book. And I was like, Well, my characters are in their freakin early 20s. So what do you want me to do? I mean, we all do dumb things. We do really dumb
things at 40.
I mean, it, you know, I'm somehow still here and kicking butt god, I've done some dumb things. And it's like, yeah, I don't I don't know. I that review kind of it bothered me. But then I was like, Well, you know, yeah, she's right. They did. They did dumb things. Because
I have I have a review on my last book, which I think your mom probably wrote it because it was like such a, there are too many F words in this book. I'm like, lady, you picked up a rock star romance. Gonna be on the page. But you know, but But you know, then then when you're writing older, and because you're not going to experience this because you write younger, but when you're writing older, and like my older characters have been through things. And so they're a little bit tough skinned. They're jaded. They're, they're a little hard to love. Right? Yeah. And it's so funny. It's because I kind of feel like, you know, the alpha hero is kind of an you write a great, you write the Alpha hero, and you know, they're kind of given, they're given a lot of forgiveness. But if you write a woman who is a little hard to is not as likable, it's like, really, you have to work really hard. You did make sure that she's, she's likable, too. She's not she's not forgiven as much I feel like
No, and that's it chasing you the one that that we'll talk about the same. You know, Sam is she can be kind of a bitch, but she's very headstrong, and I like headstrong women and, and I don't think there's anything wrong with being a bitch. Sometimes. I mean, we are in this funny because like you said, a guy would not be called that it would just be, oh, he's being assertive, he's being you know, and it's, but when we take charge, it's a different, it's a different thing. And, you know, I'm, I'm the boss at work, but sometimes I do have that part of me that's like, you know, that Southern woman that's like, oh, I don't want to speak up. Because, you know, then they might think that I'm being a bitch. And so it's the, it's the same thing. And that's why, you know, I say, my tagline is, you know, strong women. You know, real? What is it real troubles, you know, finding love, real struggles, finding love, because these women are strong, AF, you know, as they go through these struggles, they find their way through. And all these struggles make them stronger. And I believe that's true, you know, all the all the shit that we go through when we're younger. It just builds us up. And it you know, sucks that we have to go through it, but we you come out a lot stronger. Right? Could I have written these books? 15 years ago? No, I would have been terrified. Like I said, I've been terrified all these years to release books.
That's okay. So I want to backtrack for a second. Because, you know, I think this brings up a really good point. So you've been you said, You've written like your whole life, and but you ended up in health care. So I'm sort of curious where that like, Where were you writing and how come you didn't continue that through college and sort of like, you know, I mean, because I always wrote and I ended up on a career path of journalism. So you know, my day job does encompass a lot of writing.
Oh, well, so I was when I was younger. You know, we didn't have a lot of money. I grew up in a trailer in South Georgia. We did not have Not very much. And, um, but I was really good at school. And I, my mom would always say, you know, you're going to be a doctor, this is what you're gonna do, you're gonna be a doctor. And, um, I, you know, I got to college, and I was pre med. And I was still writing, you know, I've always written when I could, I'm not one of those people that like, you know, I write, but I don't write like every day, but I, you know, I still was writing a lot. And I remember sitting, when I was about to go to college, and the, the counselor that was going through our, you know, my courses was like, he's like, you know, you made like, you had like a poor, perfect score on your verbal and your LSAT. He's like, and I was like, and I was like, yeah, and he was like, and your math was good, but it wasn't, like, great. And I was like, yeah, he's like, are you sure that you want to go into the MB pre med and not do like, English or something like that? And I was, like, in the back of my head, I was like, that'd be great. But how am I going to make money to feed my family? Right? Like, no, this is the way I'm going. This is it. So I just I, you know, kind of, kind of just kept going down that path that was set out for me. And, you know, ultimately, I didn't become an MD I became a different kind of doctor. But um, you know, it's, it was just what I thought I had to be and it and I don't hate it. I don't hate it isn't my dream job? No, I'll be honest about that. Is it something I'm passionate about? Not every day. I love my patients. I love getting to talk to people from different facets of life. They inspire to my characters be honest. Right? Of course. So you know, it's, it's, if I could go back, would I do it differently? I don't know. Maybe. But ultimately, I got here.
I feel like you have like this great body of knowledge to read a really great thriller, thriller. Like I'm kind of obsessed with writing a thriller right now. I do not know why. But I kind of feel like you're about like, I'm always sort of kicking myself, like when I go into forensics. Bar, you know,
I have thought about it. I have really thought about it. Because there are a lot of there's a lot of ways to kill people with drugs. And I was like, I don't Yeah, I would love to write a theory thriller. I would love it. It's just a matter of sitting down and really figuring that out. Because I'm so used to I'll read this romance. So that's why that's all right. But yeah, I would love to write a good thriller, because that's, yeah, that's amazing.
So you Oh, so you're a romance reader first. So you always, you always knew it was going to be romance. That's, that's where that's your genre. That's where you're gonna write. It took me a minute. It took me a minute. That's why I was laughing that you went to Dragon Con because I have started when I started writing, it was urban fantasy. And it was like, I was like, I really wanted to do drugs. And I never made but then I decided to transition to romance. I wanted to give like romance a try. Because you know, I enjoyed it. I read it. I read that in urban fantasy. I read a lot of paranormal romance. I was like, Well, let me get pregnant to try. And I actually really, really enjoy that.
Yeah, it's I mean, I've kind of been all over the place with it. I mean, when I started, so I started stealing mom's harlequins when I was like 12. And then, you know, I went through a whole VC Andrews state. Oh, of course, if you remember VC, and yeah, I'm just weird to think that you read that at like 13 years of age. And you're like, why? I can't I know.
Amazon would not let that book be advertised on the platform. No, that is such, like so taboo, and we were just like, what apps?
Yeah, yeah. So I went through a vampire phase, werewolves, paranormal. I've done paranormal. And I eat I had did read thrillers for a while I read a lot of Stephen King back in the day. Everything from Stephen King, and you know, and then but romance was just my ultimate what I went back to and right now, like, I read at least a book or two and I just, but it's usually the short, the shorter novels, okay. Because that's what you know, I can't go to bed without finishing a book. It's really a it's a bad fall. I still can't i can't i Just can't sleep without it, I have to go to the end.
I'm a slow reader. I'm a slow reader. And so yeah, I'm like such a slow reader
horribly fast. Like I last year, I think I read about 500 books on my Kindle like, Whoa, yeah, like, I'm a horribly fast reader. And it's bad because you'd like, but then you just devour. And I guess that's why I've been running so much just because like, I know how much I devour. So I'm like, I want to finish the series for these people. But
it's me, I need like, a week, like, I need a week to finish a book. And that's like, and that's like me focus, like on that book, you know, sometimes I'll have like, 10 books going, and I'll be like, I'll go here, and then we'll go here. And, you know, I think I have a little add like that, where I just don't really like, you know, zoom in and focus. But I'm also very slow. And that's actually why I sort of shied away from writing novels. When I was writing I was wanted to, I was like, Well, you know, you're going to be a playwright, or you're going to write for film and TV. And, you know, you're not smart enough, you're not, quote unquote, smart enough to actually write a novel that was sort of,
I still don't feel smart enough to write it. Oh, my
God. Like a medical program?
No, but it's a different kind of smart. You know, it is, it's just a totally different. I mean, you know, I still I feel like, maybe if I'd gotten more education in college a little bit with, like, if I had went into English, sometimes I have to think of stupid things like what's another synonym for lien, this person has leaned 50 times.
In other words, those are crutch words, and we all use them. You know, it's so funny, you know, working in journalism, and sort of, you know, I worked in journalism for a while, and then I transitioned to PR for 20 years. And I started working with journalists who are waiting. And this was sort of like, you know, blogs had just started to come out. And I was started working with journalists who were writing for these major, major publications, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and they were starting to write on their own blogs. And when I read the writing that they were putting on those blogs that didn't have an editor. And I was just like, wait, wait, wait, you write for the New York Times. And that's when I realized it's actually the editor. Like, it's really the editor, it has a huge hand in helping shape and work through the story and also help with like, identifying crutch words, I just had my last book, edit. I'm just in the middle of edits on my last book, right now, I just got them back. And she was like, so let's think of another word. And I'm like, yeah, and now I'm back to journalism. And, you know, we just had a, you know, a Slack note from, from my editor, the whole editorial team had a Slack note that was like, oh, you know, we have to be careful for repeated words. I just picked this up in this, you know, and so and so story, and, you know, none of us caught it on the on the pass throughs. But, you know, whatever. It was like something like, I think we use vibe one too many times. But it's like, you know, every writer has those crutch words. And for whatever reason, it's just in our head, like, I'll use odd words, three times, and like one page, just because for whatever reason, the word is in my head. Yeah, you know, it's funny
how you do that. And then you go back and you're like, What the hell did I get obsessed with that word? Yeah.
Cuz it's like, it's not one of my crutch words.
I just kept doing
is just suddenly that words gonna appear five times in one page, and then it'll never show up again. No, and
then I remember Carol telling me with my first book, she was like, You made everybody blonde? Why? Why the hell are all your side characters? I was like, I don't know. I, you know, I didn't think about it. So, so many things Carol taught me from that first book, I've came back and like thought about because she would always, you know, she would always write in the side of it, like, Okay, we're here again, let's, let's, you know, let's change it up a little bit, you know, so she was very good about that. Which she's been writing a lot herself lately. So haven't I've been using different editors, but um, I love the way that she would get on to me about that, like, you know, you gotta change it up a little bit. This is the 50 It's time you use this not gonna work. And then even even like the, you know, the anatomy words sometimes with the COC and you know, like, I like I said caulk and that graph like five times yeah,
you know what, that's tough though. That's really really tough is finding hard finding new ways to write sacks. Yeah, you know, and I know you're writing your writing leans a little bit more erotic. That was one of the things that I was sort of noticing. Like, you're you really do go there with the with the words you don't shy away from them. It's like it's really like, and I thought that that was like really, really interesting. But you also write bully code. got like that what I wish I kind of wasn't expecting for some reason.
Yeah, well, it's only I mean, I will say the bullied theme is kind of, well, it's not only this book, it's in all my books. I was like, Wait a minute. No, don't do that. But yes, I do. I do. But it's not always, you know what I write a lot of like, I'm falling for you my first book. There are bullies, but there's a lot of girl bullies deals with a lot of girl hate. So I deal with girl hate and in all those books, because mainly because I dealt with it, you know, they're girls or they're not nice to each other, sometimes, especially at 1819 when we're all trying to figure it out. But I wrote, you know, this chasing you. He wasn't so much of a bully, he was just going through a tough time. We'll say that, okay. But, um, he kind of came out that way. But, uh, I mean, his father just died. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna give him a little pass on a little bit. Kind of
the way it is, though, with people with kids that are the bullies. It's actually their bullying because either they're being bullied at home or they have some sort of like something is going on with them. That is causing them to lash out at other people because it gives them a sense of power when they really feel powerless.
Yeah, it to me, there's always something behind that. And I don't think I understood that when I was younger. Oh, nobody. Nobody. Yes, no, but like, in my first book, there's a character named Marissa. That's a really big bitch and a big bully to the main character. And, you know, it turns out that, you know, her mom was really verbally abusive, they're at home. She's a big soap opera actress and she just got kicked off the soap opera so she's, she's pissy you know? And so she's really putting the Marisa through a lot. So that's why Marissa is kind of taking it out on everybody else. And I you know, a lot of times, that's what it is, there's just so there's so much we don't know going on at home. And you know, we never realize it until we're, we're older. And, and, you know, I know that like when I was in high school in college, I didn't tell people what was going on at home. Like if there were difficulties, I wasn't walking around and saying anything, you know, so there's traits you get from that and you just don't realize it until you're older. Yeah, so, but yeah, I um, I do buy Boy Scout somewhat unless it goes too far. Unless it's just like, God he's an asshole and he's there's no recovering him from his ass wholeness. So, I mean, I love there's some new adult authors that that I really love that have written some really good ones I'm trying to think
of Yeah, I was gonna say can you call it it's so funny because like we're totally having the conversation that I was gonna have we been busy, you know, but it's like I'm because I don't read bully. And, and I try and I don't know that I've, I've tried a few times, and maybe I just haven't found the right author for me, you know, to sort of keep me engaged with the bully stuff.
There's, so there's a few authors. I know. I think it's Penelope ward. Or Penelope Douglas. God, there's so many finales. Yeah, it's Penelope deke.
Read Penelope Ward stuff. She does a lot of billionaire. I like her
to layout Penelope Douglas. Yeah, I got 20 title. That's okay. You're doing fine.
No, the Douglas she writes a lot of bully romance and it to me, it's very good. I like it. Her characters are redeemable. They've got to be redeemable. I've read some where it was just...God, they're so evil. They're not redeemable. And, you know, sometimes you just can't go back from things that you know you read in the last chapter. Like you can't suddenly make the guy a good guy. So yeah, there's there's some good bully romances out there. But you do have to cross there's that fine line between bully and just masochistic sadist.
Because, yeah, you know, because it's sort of fascinating. But there are people who love that and like, you know,
I know, I know, there are
you know, yeah, because that it is cathartic or, you know, or whatever it is. I'm also sort of like slightly obsessed with mafia.
Mafia is big. Yeah.
Which I'm sort of like I have yet to read one that I love, which is leading me to sort of like, come up with I kind of want to write a mafia, because I'm sort of like,
you should. It's hard to write a good mafia romance, but because you have to make the mafia guy not be so awful that you can't fall in love with them. Yeah. You know, you still gotta be able to fall in love with your with your main guy.
Right, right and like how do you and how do you balance that? Like that's that's the trick, you know, like I tend towards writing you know, I mean they're not really cinnamon rolls but they're you know, they're beta heroes They're good guys ultimately who are who maybe have done some like shitty things, but not so but not irredeemably shitty, right? Like, it's more like, Oh, I didn't really think that that was such a big deal, but I guess it is so do
the guys in real life
but and like I said, I tend to go more on like that sort of women's journey. Like I really write. For women I write books about for women, and I'm really not, it's almost like the romance is integral because he's helping her discover, you know, discover herself and find her way
know, and that's what I like to the guy should be not the whole journey. He should just be like an offshoot of the journey. He's
the guide, right? Like, to me, the guide,
he's the one that that helps her make it through the journey. But she's ultimately No, he's not the journey. And that that's what I try to get to my books is like, there's other problems that the heroine is dealing with that are not that she has to conquer on her own. Right. So like, I always try to make the main character kind of kick ass by herself at some point. Like, she stored up that confidence in herself where she can do the kickass scenes. And, you know, maybe that's because I have way more confidence in myself at 40 at this point in the journey than I did at you know, 2025 Right. You know, when I had no idea what I was doing. I'm not that I'm, like, so smart now, but I still, I still do a lot of dumb things on a daily basis. But, you know, oh my God.
Don't we all like, right? I mean, like I said, I still haven't figured out Tik Tok. So we both, we both are like tick tock resistant. I think it's absolutely hilarious.
I mean, I really want to get there one day, but like I said, I've got a youngin right now that's here with me to explain it to me, I start yelling, and she's like, 28 are you like 28? Yes, yeah.
I, you know, I understand, like, I understand the theory behind her code. I understand, like, Do you know what I mean? But ultimately, I'm like, I don't really, I you know, I think I feel like when I have to go on social media, and I'm not having a conversation with somebody, like I'm great with the podcast, I can. I love talking to other authors and having these one this one on one time and like really digging deep, but like to go to on tick tock and like, talk to my phone. But like, I'm just like, I just I'm like, I don't know what to say.
Nobody's the same thing as like, I am not a selfie person. I do not like selfies, like you will never see me just post a selfie. Like, I have to have something in the photo with me, be it one of my kids, my husband something. I just don't see the point. I just I don't know if it's just my generation or I just don't get it. I just I just don't post really like myself on video. So video, just is gonna be my face. I've already told her this. She's She's my face. I'm not.
We need to we need actors to play the role of us on our tickets.
Okay, I am I gonna give it away. If I sort of mentioned the, the hair would cheer. Okay, I'm just gonna say it the wigs. The wigs, which I thought was actually a great idea, because I was kind of like, there's a little bit like of an identity masking by putting wigs on and I was like, Oh, I kind of liked that.
No, I was gonna put my like, I bought a pink wig, a blue wig, and maybe a green one. I don't know about a few different I went so far as to order these things off Amazon. And then I was going to pair them with my glasses and yeah, do my tic TOCs. But then I just could never get up the nerve to do it. But I still maybe I need to do that one day
because I kind of think that that's genius because like I hate myself on video. I've gotten more comfortable with self selfies because I can filter the fuck out of them. And do selfies where I'm just like, you know, and I know the angle and I can sort of like do she The angle and do all that and then filter and I'm just like, Okay, I feel better about that. Whereas my partner like when he takes a picture of me, I'm always like, what do you see when you look at me? Because you take the worst fucking pictures of me ever?
No, see, we're opposite My husband loves photography, and he's good at it. So anytime there there is like a photograph that needs to be taken. He's taking it because I hate I cannot take good pictures. I'm alive. And like, even with the selfies just goes teach me how to take a proper selfie. Because she's like, You don't know how to take a selfie? And I was like, What the hell do you mean? It's just you just take a picture yourself? She's like, No, you have to tilt it. And you have to have the I'm like, Ah,
it's gotta be above your head. You look younger.
And I'm like, it's just a picture of me to do this.
But no, apparently, yes. You have to do it above your head. And that's why they have the selfie sticks. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But no, I know, apart from Michaels will never have a selfie stick. There will be no selfie sticks.
Alright, I have a question for you. So since you came from that sort of traditional, Deep South, bless your heart, we're not going to talk about sex, we're not going to use salty language, we're not going to how comfortable were you writing your first steamy scene?
a little uncomfortable. Okay, I'm not gonna lie. But I read so much that at that point, I was like, let's just go for it, you know, but but you do have to, I will say it's like, I have to go it is a little bit of a process. I sometimes I skip my sex scenes until the until I know like, I'm going to be alone, okay to be, you know, sitting somewhere comfortable, and I can get my head straight. And, you know, you don't want your kids playing in the background. It's just not a conducive environment, thinking about any of that. So, you know, and then, of course, if my husband's next to me, he's gonna be like, what's writing about? What can you can you tell me like, I hate that shit. He does that with my books. He's like, just read it. Tell me what you're reading? And I'm like, No, we're not going there. Like, I can't read it to you. So yeah, I have to. It's not like a whole process. But I definitely have to, like, be in the mood to do it. Like if I'm pissed off about something or I had a shitty day at work, or, you know, I'm not going to do it. But
there's no anger stalks being like sort of typed out, you know,
now usually not because I mean, I don't know. So my scenes are a little bit. See, it's hard for me to even think there that steamy because I don't feel steamy when I'm writing them. It's just, it's weird when you go back and read your own writing. And you're like, how did I write? Yeah, did
it come? Yeah. Yeah. I'm like, wait, wait, I wrote. Yeah.
And I do that a lot. Like a lot of things. I'll go back and read and I'll be like, I don't know where that came from. But something took over. And there it is, you know, but uh, yeah, my steamy scenes are a little bit like that. It's like, I don't really remember what happened in them. But I know that they got the job done.
I mean, you know, sort of going back and thinking about the first one that you wrote, like, were you you are always going to like, open door. You're never closed the door. You are never going to rate you just knew you were gonna know. I don't
like to read sweet books. Oh, six. Yeah. That's not why that's not real life. Yeah, no, it is true. Love you have sex. I mean, let's not sugarcoat it. It's just, it's, you know, I mean, I want my characters to be somewhat realistic. And, you know, as much as my mom would love to think that her daughter's got married and Virgin, you know, it's not it's not the way real life.
Yeah. And it's so funny because people think that's not the way real life is like, starting in like the 80s or 90s. Or maybe, but truthfully, that's not the way real life is like through the history of time.
It's always been that way. I mean, yeah, I remember asking my mom because my mom was always pushing the gotta hope she doesn't listen to this. She might. But anyway, she is. She was always pushing the you know, you don't have sex. So married. Yeah. That was really pushed on us and you Then I remember I asked her one time if she did. And I remember she got furious at me. And she would just not answer the question. And I was like, huh, I was like, you know, because this whole time, it's just been pushed to me that that's just not something you do before you get married. Right? And then she, yeah, she did not want to answer that question. Which I totally get. I mean, I totally get it's the same as me saying, Hey, did you smoke pot in the 70s? I mean, like, yeah, you probably did. We're not gonna go there. You gotta separate that. As a mom and daughter, it's fine. She doesn't have to tell me about that. I don't want to think about her doing that.
Yeah, we don't want to know what our parents are doing. We really don't. I came out of nowhere. It was literal. The literal stork dropped me off down the chimney? Like yeah, and no, I don't. So, so. So how did you sort of I mean, was there a, like, any, like, a hurdle you needed to get over? And how did you get over it? Or was it just about the process of just writing?
To write the CDC? Yeah, yeah. Um, I guess I needed to get to the point, like I said, when my dad passed away, is when I finally said, you know, like, cuz, because my dad had social, so much social anxiety, he never could put himself out there. Like, you know, a lot of things couldn't be said, or, or he couldn't do a lot of things. Because he was always so anxious, he was always so fearful. And I was like, I'm not going to let the fear of something keep me from doing it. And it's like, there is there's a lot of fear. And this is putting those sex scenes out and being very intimate with your characters and, and kind of going through that process. And I, you know, after he passed, I was kind of like, there's nothing stopping me from writing what I love to read, because ultimately, it's what I love to read. You know, it, you know, I love reading about love, and, and, you know, sex is part of that. So, it was just, really the hurdle was just my own self consciousness, you know, like, just kind of like, okay, well, just get over it and write it. And like I said, I don't know where those things come from sometimes, like alternate personality, it is alternate personality. It's a different side of me, you know, so it's not the one that everybody gets to see, I guess.
So let's read your steamy scene. This is from your latest release your April release. By the time this goes out. I don't know how, you know, how if you might release another book, and this is chasing you? And I'm curious, why why did you pick this particular scene?
Well, okay, so I thought of this thing before I knew what the book was really going to be. Because I had Sam and my first book, same as the here when I left a name, girls guys names, but whatever. But anyway, so she, she's the heroine. And I've introduced, I've already introduced both of these characters. And I kind of really liked the idea of, like, you know, how you always have the unattainable crush, that you you know, like, in high school, I always had an unattainable crush, I was scared to death to talk to guys in high school. So Sam, is how I wished I would have been in high school. And I guess that's why I like it so much is because she's just like, she just puts herself out there, you know, and she really tight kind of takes charge in the scene and kind of gets the revenge that she's always wanted, which is what I've always wanted to do, like, you know, some of those guys that never noticed me. I mean, I've been nice if, you know, if I could get back out on that way. No, but so, I mean, beause, the sweet guy, ultimately. But it's kind of her way of saying, hey, you know, you could have had this.
Well, and this is from like chapter seven, chapter eight. So this is kind of early on in the book. So it's clear that these two have had a history together.
Right. And basically, the history is she was I don't know if you're a band geek, but I was a band geek. So she was being geek. He was the star football player. He wasn't exactly an asshole to her except for, you know, one time there's one time and it gets explained later in the book why he was here. But she always like she had such a huge crush on him that it basically crushed her in high school when he you know, said certain words to her. So this is kind of her way of getting back at him and and getting her own fun to write because she gets her own fun.
Oh, she Oh, she's Yes. Well, we're going in. So I picked instead of like sort of like sometimes I pick little bits out and talk about I actually just picked two really long bet so let's just okay, no need to settle in for a minute.
All right, sounds good.
I brace myself over her and give her a wild kiss. She bites my lip and I moan you little minx. I kiss my way down her body again, pausing to fondling, kiss her breasts again. I keep going down the gentle slope of her stomach until I can inhale the sweet scent of her pussy. God she smells good. Can I ask as I hooked my thumb's into the sides of her panties, please bow her thighs brushed together and she lifts her hips. I can't help but nuzzle the inside of her thighs as she lays bare to me her scent. I swear Sam smells like her own special brand of candy. She spreads her thighs apart and I get my first look at her pretty pink pussy. She blessings with wetness so wet and so mine. The noise she makes us half scream half moan when I look her slipped. I keep looking and tasting while she pulls up my hair for hips grind against my face as she reaches the peak of her orgasm. Come sweet girl. I lick and finger her at the same time. And she falls apart as I suck on her clit she comes along and hard and I'm there for every second of it. Your mom probably should stop
now I'm blushing.
She tugs my hair again almost painfully. Good thing I'm not balding, or I or I would I wouldn't have any hair left after her grip. though. I'm done. Her voice is seated. And I gaze up at her beautiful face. Her cheeks are flushed and that long silky black hair of hers is wild. I know I just like looking at you down at looking at you down there. She glances away from me and blushes. There is no way I'm pretty down there. Maybe you're beautiful down there. Most Beautiful pussy ever. I pull myself up her body and lean down to kiss her so that she can taste herself. We Park breathing hard. It's your turn bow. I traced the side of her face with my finger. I don't need anything else to happen tonight. Sam, I just want to be with you. You coming apart beneath me was more than enough. She glances down at the erection still probing the inside of her thigh. I think your COC would beg to differ. He'll be fine. I want this. I want this to be more than tonight. Sam will have other chances to do more. Her eyes flashed with something fierce that I don't recognize regret hurt. I'm not sure. Turn over bow and let me play. Her bossy tone turns me on even more, which I didn't think was possible. I rolled over taking her with me. She sits on top of me with her legs on either side of my waist. I can feel the the slickness of her arousal against me. I can't help but picture her writing me. She leans down to whisper in my ear. Do you mind if I do something? I waggle my eyebrows something kinky. She giggles and our whole face lights up. God she's so beautiful. Oh, little. Okay. It's gonna be a big reveal. This is this is actually like, where I actually did want to talk about bully because we have like this sort of, you know, this sort of unexpected, but it really surprised me, I was not expecting where this goes next. Like, I was totally like, whoa, and I just was like I am so here for it. And it's so funny. Like, it kind of reminded me the the last episode that aired was with me and Michelle and she writes BDSM mafia, and, and, and she wrote this leg doorstop of a book. It's an omnibus, it's like, you know, a full book from the female main characters point of view, full book from the hero's main point of view. And, and you needed to read both to really understand the nuances of the relationship and this kind of reminded me of that were like, You need both. You need to see where both of the characters are to really understand, you know, sort of the the relationship dynamics, which I thought was super interesting,
right? Yeah, it's yeah, like I said up on this scene before I do actually it's funny because Nisha, you know, my PR girl she was I was like, Yeah, I really want this to happen. This be kind of how the book starts and she's like sales great to be let's go with this. So I knew I wanted her to get her get her somehow you know, because I, you know, I, I wouldn't say I was a nerd in high school, but I was definitely not a popular girl. And I love to read. And I was, you know, top of my class straight A's, and I was just obsessed with school. And I never got the guy, you know, I really never got the guy. And that's okay, because I got my guy, and then, but it would just be funny to see those guys years later, you know, and kind of have my way with them.
I mean, I guess what sort of I find fascinating about this is like, I remember, I mean, I ultimately ended up going to an all girls private school, so I was spared a lot of the high school bullshit. But I did spend middle school and one year of high school in public school, and I, and I think back to the boys that were all like, super popular, and all the girls wanted to date them. And like, they grow up. They they really grew up to be losers.
Yeah, most of the time they do. Naughty 9% of the time.
Yeah. And really unattractive. And like,
Oh, yes. Yes. You know,
and the guys that took a little bit longer to mature and everything, like by the time they're like, 2829, they're hot.
Yes, no, it's very true. And it's funny, because my so my husband and I have been friends. We were friends when we were 18. We were not. He was not my love interest at all. did not think of him that way at all. So it took a long time. It was a long journey to figure that one out. But uh, yeah, I, the guys that I had crushes on back then I would probably be like, now Yeah, but you know, Bo is kind of, he's, he's kind of the dream guy. And the fact that, you know, he was kind of that popular guy in high school, but he has a soul. And he has, he has deep thoughts. And he has, you know, he's a good guy underneath it all. And, you know, not all those guys where it's hard to maintain your head when you have that level of popularity in high school, I think sometimes, and you kind of become an asshole. But he never became a true asshole. She kind of interpreted things that way. And there is a misunderstanding that you found out about later in the book. And so that's, it's kind of what my dream got would be, I guess, oh, every time I read a guy character, he's like, you know, the kind of guy you know, I dream about but I mean, I try to include, you know, the real life stuff, too. Right? It's just, you don't want to make the gas. So over the top fantasy doesn't seem real, but a true
very, very true. Okay, I'm gonna do the next section, which now we're in Sam's point of view, and this was awesome. Like, this is going to be there's gonna be a little bit yeah, this is this is a long one. Okay. Yeah, it's basically the whole chapter. I'm trying my best to stop shaking. I didn't mean to let everything go this far. I didn't mean to let him go down on me. I didn't mean to orgasm. What the hell am I doing? I glanced down at the tie in my hands. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. My body is still turned on and ready for him. I want him more than I want my next breath. But I block out those feelings I have to bow doesn't remember. He doesn't know that there's more to it than just some silly teasing about my height, but I can never forget. I can never forget what he or Laurie said when they thought no one was nearby. They laughed at me. To them. I was just some nerdy little Asian girl with a crush on the star football player. Just like my parents. They made me feel small and insignificant. It's the same way I want Bo to feel now. A voice in the back of my head tells me that maybe both changed. Maybe he isn't the same person and that I'm not either. You okay, Sam? Like I said we don't have to do anything. His concern voice breaks through the fog of my thoughts. I paced on a wicked smile. Yep. All good. Will you see what I've got in store for you? It was back on the bed. Do your worst pretty girl. I crawl back on top of him and trace the muscles of his chest with my finger. God he's handsome. Those trickling blue eyes and the small dimples when he grins like he is now and he's big. Everywhere. Let's see your hands. He holds his hands out to me. I start wrapping the tie around his wrists. Did you know I was a Girl Scout I asked Caudalie or at least as hottie as you can be naked and sitting on a man's chest. Really? Boasson chuckles It's hard for me to picture you comfortable in the great outdoors. Oh honey, I was the best. Especially at knots. I winked at him and I like put his hands up over as hard. Luckily the headboard is decorative and has a swirling pattern with brass that is perfect for wrapping the tie around. Little Samantha Washington has a kink for bondage who knew? Do you mind I oust huskily Nope, you can be fully charged as you can probably feel against your ass. I like his heat clean gays takes in my naked form sitting atop him. My breasts are small, and I've always been self conscious about it. But the way he looked and sucked at them, he didn't seem to mind their size at all. The way he's looking at them now, since he doesn't find them too small. I give him a quick kiss on his lips and then secure the knot. Is it okay not painful. He tugs lightly. Nope, I'm good baby. Do your worst. Oh, I will I smoked back at him. I want to continue. I want to kiss my way down his body like he did to me. I want to taste him and lick his manhood like a lollipop. Instead, I pat his chest and swing my legs over his waist. This has been fun. I hop off the bed and bow watches through narrowed eyes. What are you doing? I grabbed my bra and stuffed it in my purse. I wiggle into my dress and look back at the bed. Oh, I'm leaving. I pick up my purse and pull my phone out of it. What do you mean you're leaving? he growls I shrug my shoulders. This was fun. I grin at least I had my fun anyway. Sorry, we didn't get around to yours. I give his wrath of the deflating caca glance I turn around Samantha Washington Get your ass back here. He howls in rage I turn around and wag my finger. Now bow. You don't want someone to come and catch you in this condition. I looked down at my phone of course it's getting late and this is technically Ronnie and Sawyer is room so they'll help you out of your predicament. Soon. Ronnie gave me a kid of the room earlier so I could change before the wedding. I'm not a monster. I know. There'll be back soon. I have my hand on the doorknob when his husky voice stops me in my tracks. Why are you doing this Sam? Is this still about something dumb I did in high school. Flashes of his hurtful casual words back then raced through my brain. I close my eyes. I meet his enraged gaze when I swing back around. You did more than just something dumb in high school. Revenge is nice, but it's more than that. I want you to feel as small as you made me feel that day. He wrinkles his forehead and confusion. Sam, I swear I don't know what you're talking about. I tilt my head. I know you don't. And that's kind of sad. I sigh But what it is, but it is what it is. Have a nice night. Sorry, Ronnie will be seeing in your birthday suit. Sorry, I might kick your ass for that. I twist the doorknob. He yells My name one more time this time I freeze but I don't turn around. There's nothing more to say about. Oh, there's lots more Sam, this isn't over and not by a longshot. I grimace it never really started. Like, everyone's revenge fantasy, like, you know, humiliate the person. It's done something to humiliate us, you know,
get your own while you're at it.
Okay, I'm totally solidly on her side at this point, even though I don't know the full story, right? Like, more compassion for her, you know, than him and his predicament. And, you know, but you know, I think what we had talked about earlier with, like, how readers sort of react to this, there does seem to be more forgiveness that comes down on the male side than the female main character side, you know? Oh, for sure. Yeah. How did they get like, I'm sort of like really curious, like, how do they get over this? Like, this is like a, this is like humiliating, and it's,
it's humiliating, but I think he's got the ego to withstand it. And that's what it comes down to. And it's, it's, they, you know, there's later scenes where he you know, he kind of gets why she did what she did, and he's He's genuinely sorry for some things that he did in the past. You know, it's all about growing up and how much you change. Okay. And he, he gets it. I mean, yeah, it's shitty, and it's kind of humiliating, but, you know, he, he said some dumb things when he was younger. He gets the maybe he deserves this a little bit. Okay. Yeah, it's, I mean, you know, they work it out solo thing. Oh, my God. Well, they both get theirs in the end, you know, they're both happy. Okay, and,
you know, but in terms of like, redemption for the readers, I like how is there something that you have to like, you have to make sure to do I mean, obviously, forgiveness between the characters is like that sort of first step. But I do know, sometimes, you know, there's that Well, I would have never forgiven bla bla bla, right, like, so how do you kind of, you know, that redemption?
I think you have to get them to see the other character in a vulnerable moment that kind of explains their actions, which Bo kind of sees Sam's vulnerability, like really in the next chapter to like, what she's gone through with her family. And it kind of puts things in perspective. for him as to why she would need the revenge on her part and why she feels the way she does. You know, like I said, we all have a story in our background that explains our actions. You just got to get down to it when I think once he understands her motivations and, and why she, you know, why she is the way she is, then, you know, he kind of he sees her vulnerability in that and he falls in love with that vulnerability that she doesn't just show to everyone. So yeah, that's, that's kind of where the next few chapters go is kind of saying, okay, you know, this is what fam is the way that she is. And, like, go from there.
Excellent. Cool. Well, that was pretty awesome. I love that. I don't think that I've had a bully romance on Yeah. Which is sort of interesting. I think that might be my first. Oh, cool. Yeah, I was just so I do want to touch briefly because you have this, um, this, I guess, initiative called the new romance cafe. Yeah, I was hoping you could like, just give me a little bit of give us a little bit of info on that. Okay,
I'll try. I'm not one of the organizers of it. The new romance Cafe has been around, I think, as the new romance cafe for about a year and a half, two years. It is a group of authors actually found through Facebook. And you can, you could just join the new romance cafe, but they have anthologies that they put out for charities. And so they'll put an open call for submissions. And so I did the first. Let's see, the first one that was released that I did was the Ukraine one that was released in March, it's March. So that basically, there's how God the Ukraine anthology, we ended up with probably over 100 authors, like it was just a massive amount of romance authors. That kind of all gave, you know, a short story for the for the anthology, and then we released it, and basically all the proceeds go to Save the Children for Ukraine. Oh, so I was just looking at the totals and it looks like Andy wood, which is one of the organizers, she said that they had donated over $7,000 and twice already. Wow. Yeah, it's made. It's really done well. So that that was the first one I did we have a breast cancer. One coming out in July. That's a friends to lovers theme. Oh, cool. And so have her friends to love her story in there, which is kind of adapted for my own story, since they fall in love with at a wedding like I did with my husband. And so that will go towards breast cancer research. We do have a winter contemporary romance coming out that is for profit. So they do we do some for profit. Most are for charity got. Um, but yeah, so it's just I think for the breast cancer one, there'll be about 20 to 25 authors, just with our short stories, and it's, it's great. I love doing it. It's been a way to meet authors, because you know, I'm fairly new at this. And so basically, I just met my you know, my information and and they let me be a part of it. So I'm very, very lucky that I've gotten to do that. That's super cool. Now, how long are the like, how
long are the are the stories that are in there?
So for Ukraine, because we had so many it was, I think three to 5000 words. And then for for the winter contemporary, the stories are going to be longer. So they're going to be like 15 to 30,000 words.
Okay, because three to five short.
Yeah, three to five is short. It was Yeah, I have to get used to like,
Yeah, I'm not sure it's really hard to write that. Yeah, it is. It's really hard to write that short. Yeah.
But yeah, so but yeah, I think for July for the friends to leverage it was also three to five but yeah, I had to really, I have to think about those when I do it short and how to kind of have to cut to the chase. I really do.
Yeah, so Harper, apart from Tik Tok, where can readers where do you hang out on the internet? Where can readers find you?
I'm on Instagram author, Harper Michaels, that Instagram was where I first kind of like got a little bit of a Audience it's easier for me to use.
Yeah, I prefer Instagram. Yeah.
And then, of course I have my facebook page author Harper Michaels, too, that's also on there and then I am. I'm on Tik Tok. I have, I have. So what I do like to do, I'm not good at creating videos myself, but I do like to make little trailers for my books. Oh, those so those are on there. Okay, so they're on tick tock, so Arthur Harper Michaels, and then hopefully Jess will be putting some page blips on there later, are trying to figure out how to do it now. I'm planning on changing my covers to a little bit sexier so we're gonna have those released probably the next few months too. Because I was told that sex sells when you know, so
yeah, yeah, yeah, you need the you need the hot dude on the cover. A little man chest
and blue. Oh, man. I know. I went to author sounding in Tampa last weekend. And yeah, that was the advice I got from the other author. Yeah, I need to so I'm going to try to put couples need to recover shut off
about Yeah, yeah. Well, Harper, thank you so much for for joining us and all that. The contact details the the links and all that will be in the show notes so people can find you easily. Yes. Thank
you so much. It was enjoyed this fun.
It was super fun. It was really great to talk to you.
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