YOU FIRST Book Birthday!

You First, my fifth novel, releases today!

Find it on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo for $2.99.

I’m so excited to share the love story of Meredith and Gray. (If you’ve read Leave a Mark, you’ll recognize Meredith Ryan as one of Dr. Lee Hawthorne’s patients from Chapter Sixteen.) If you read it, please consider posting a review!


Driven. Private. Insanely talented.

Gray Blakewood is the most successful crime writer under the age of thirty—and he has a secret that could cost him his life.

He just wants to finish his latest novel before his world unravels, and the last thing he needs is a beautiful distraction.

Meredith Ryan, his new personal assistant, has seen more than her fair share of hard knocks. And, still, she’s the sweetest person he’s ever met.

She deserves a lifetime of happiness—which he can’t offer.

But he can’t seem to stay away.



Leave a Mark Playlist

Okay, so this may be the most unusual playlist ever assembled. This is largely due to the fact that Dr. Lee Hawthorne has both a jukebox and a sense of humor, so why can’t we mix Simon and Garfunkel with a little Pitbull? The Wurlitzer, naturally, only holds 45s, so most of the songs that come up in the novel are much older than Lee and Wren, but I can see Wren punching “Under Pressure” and Lee following with the confidence of Sam and Dave and whimsy of The Police. Lee and Wren both love antiques, after all, so why wouldn’t they share a love of old music? And with as many self-doubts as Wren carries, who else but Hozier would she have on her playlist? The list ends with Diana Krall’s version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” for obvious reasons. (Make sure you read the Epilogue.) Click the image to listen.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 7.50.01 PM

“Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel

“Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)” by Pitbull feat. T-Pain

“Under Pressure” by Queen & David Bowie

“I Thank You” by Sam and Dave

“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police

“Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” by Marvin Gaye

“From Eden” by Hozier

“Like Real People Do” by Hozier

“It Will Come Back” by Hozier

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Diana Krall

Leave a Mark Cover

Thanks to Jena Brignola at Blue Tulip Publishing, I have the perfect cover for Leave a Mark. This one releases on April 28, and I could not be more excited about it!Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00050]

Teaser Tuesday: Butterfly Ginger

Here’s a peek from Chapter Eight in Butterfly Ginger.butterfly ginger cover

As they passed the stairs on the way to the kitchen, Blythe chewed her lip. When would they go up there? Would it happen right away? How much would it hurt?

“Where are your parents?” she asked, unable to stop the rush of fears that crowded into her head.

“In St. Francesville, visiting Nana Grace — Richland’s mother,” Nate said, taking down two glasses from the cabinet. “They’ll be back tonight.”

Tonight. By then, everything would be different. Would this change them? Her palms felt like dishrags, and she tried to dry them on her shorts.

“Blythe…?” Nate was staring at her. He stood at the open fridge door, and Blythe realized she had missed something.

“Huh? What?”

“I asked if you wanted sweet or unsweet.” His voice was even, but as he studied her, the look of confident ease faded to one of concern.

“Oh… sweet, I guess… or unsweet,” she stammered. “It doesn’t matter.”

Nate shut the fridge door and crossed to her in two strides.

“Stop it,” he said, taking both her hands.

“Stop what?” she said, understanding him all too well but feeling damned ridiculous.

“Stop pretending that you’re okay when you’re not,” he said gently. He squeezed her hands and drew a long, slow breath as though he could breathe for her. “We don’t have to do this today, Blythe.”

“Yes, we do!”

The startled look he gave her must have matched her own.

Where did that come from?

“We do?” he asked, clearly teasing her. “I’m pretty sure it’s optional, Blythe, but if there’s some rule I don’t know about —”

Her index finger jabbed his ribs.

“Don’t joke,” she said, masking her embarrassment with irritation. It wasn’t his fault she was such a mess, but Blythe didn’t know what else to do. How could she screw this up any worse?

“Hey, hey,” Nate whispered, dropping his humor and pulling her against him. “I’m sorry. I just want you to relax. You look miserable, and that’s the last thing I want.”

His brown eyes, the color of warmth, searched hers, and Blythe finally remembered what it was like to be with him. She had thought and obsessed and stressed so much about what they would do, she had forgotten what it meant to be with Nate. Thinking had wound her tight with worry, but being with Nate always settled her like nothing else.

She breathed.

“I’m sorry,” she said, holding his gaze, circling her arms around him and squeezing back. “I’m too much in my head.”

“You seemed far away. I didn’t like it,” he told her. Nate swallowed and appeared to weigh his words. “I want you with me when you’re with me. There will be enough distance once school starts.”

It always came back to this. Time was running out for them. It was why she felt like they had to make the most of this one day alone.

“You’re right,” she conceded. “It doesn’t have to happen today, but, Nate, I want it to. When we go away to school, I don’t just want to be your girlfriend. I want to be your…”

Blythe lost her nerve. She couldn’t say the word out loud.

A wicked smile crept over Nate’s mouth.

“My pen pal?”

“Nate!” She giggled in spite of herself, and Nate trapped her arms with his so that she couldn’t swat him. His lips found her neck, and he teased her between kisses.

“My Facebook friend?” he breathed, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, even as she laughed and wanted to kick him all at once.

“Mmm… I love you,” Nate whispered, his breath tickling against her skin. “Would you be my lover?”

The word on his lips made her knees weak. How come he could say it and she couldn’t? And when he did, it sounded perfect. Not cheesy. Not strange. But intimate. A secret just for them.

“I love you,” she whispered back, drowning in his heat. She stretched up and pressed her lips to his neck, tasting a hint of salt and the crisp bite of grass. Even after a shower, Nate smelled like fresh air and green grass, as though he were made of it.

“Is that a yes?” he asked, smiling against her skin.


Christmas in 200 Words

(I wrote this last year for my office party’s short-short story contest, and I won $100 for it! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!)


Erin said goodnight to the last customers. It was 10:55 the night before Christmas Eve, and the rush of last-minute shoppers had kept her busy. Now, she would wipe down the remaining tables and lock up.

He wasn’t coming.

Of course, he isn’t coming. Male customers flirted.  That’s what they did.  

Erin shook her head to clear the foolish thoughts.  Erin Parish was lucky; she had more than most: a home of her own and a successful coffee shop.  Business at Parish Perks had boomed from the start.  She didn’t need Luke and his devil-may-care-curls and teasing smile.

Still, it had felt good the first day he’d come in, ordered two peppermint lattes, and handed one to her.

The next day, he’d swiped her Sharpee, leaving his number on the cup.  She’d laughed, but ignored him.

This morning the note had read, “Go out with me tonight?”

“I work ‘til 11.  Sorry,” she’d said.

“We could get a drink.  I’ll be here before you close.”

But so much for that, she thought, rolling her eyes.

The bell on the door jangled, and Erin turned.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, clutching a green bundle. “It took forever to find mistletoe.”


Butterfly Ginger’s Playlist

It’s 2008 when Nate and Blythe meet the summer before their freshman year. After life drives them apart, six years pass before they see each other again, so their playlist reflects some of that passage of time. These are all the songs that are referenced—or hinted at—in the novel, and several of them are Lila’s songs. Lila, Nate’s autistic mother, is a lover of jazz, and the scenes when she responds to music are some of my favorites. If you—like one of my awesome editors—have never heard Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5,” please take five and listen to it. But if I had to pick a favorite on this list, it would be “Mansard Roof” by Vampire Weekend. One of my former students (that’s you, Amanda Rabalais) introduced me to this band, and I’m so glad she did. I listened to their debut album over and over as I built Nate’s character. Check out Butterfly Ginger’s playlist on Spotify.


“Sometimes in the Fall” by Phoenix

“If It Kills Me” by Jason Mraz

“Mansard Roof” by Vampire Weekend

“Take 5” by Dave Brubeck

“Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend

“Secret Smile” by Semisonic

“Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” by Louis Armstrong

“Where Flamingos Fly” by Gil Evans

“Come On, Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

“R U Mine?” Arctic Monkeys

“Come Together” Wolff & Clark Expedition

“What Is This Thing Called Love?” Wolff & Clark Expedition

“Wake Up” Arcade Fire



I am really excited for this one! I am absolutely in love with this cover. The design team at Blue Tulip Publishing did a great job of capturing Nate and Blythe. The release date is Nov. 3. Here’s a blurb so you know what’s in store:

Some first loves deserve a second chance.butterfly ginger cover

The summer before freshman year, Nate Bradley and Blythe Barnes meet and fall hard.  Blythe has the bluest eyes Nate’s ever seen; she smells like butterfly ginger blossoms, and she makes him feel at home in his own skin.

For Blythe, meeting Nate is like finding her best friend–one she wants to climb on top of and kiss forever.

Even with plans to attend college in different cities, they’re convinced that nothing can tear them apart—until everything does.  

Now, six years later, life in South Louisiana is giving them the chance to put the pieces back together.

Butterfly Ginger, Stephanie Fournet’s third novel, is a romance for anyone who believes that true love is made to last.


Are You Free Today? LEGACY Is

Legacy is a free Kindle download today. Check out the excerpt below and fall in love with Wes and Corinne.

“You are not moving in with me,” she said with more force than conviction.

“Does the front bedroom have a full closet?” Wes asked, craning his neck towards the hallway as though he hadn’t heard her.

“Wes. Listen to me. You are not moving in.” But she could already see him drawing up the space in his mind, picturing himself in it. Worse still, she could picture him in it. Leaving sweaty clothes in the bathroom. Air boxing to hip-hop. Talking about carbo-loading and drafting and bonking. In her face. Every day.


Wes got to his feet and headed for the hallway to explore, and Corinne shot off the couch, intercepting him.
“Stop!” she told him, raising her open palm between them. “You are not going any further.” She hated the way her voice wavered, not in fear, but in weakness.

“It’s just the one bathroom, right?” Wes asked, peering into the hallway with the hint of a frown. Then he shrugged. “I don’t think that’ll be too big of a problem. I mean, I’m at work by 5 a.m. three days a week, and I can always shower at the gym…”

Corinne wondered when she had become so powerless. Was it the moment Michael died or in the months since?

“WES CLARKSON, YOU ARE NOT MOVING IN WITH ME!” Corinne shouted in his face. Except for the slightest squinting around his eyes, Wes did not flinch, did not react at all. Then he turned his gaze back on her and smiled that infuriating smile.

“Corinne, how much money do you have?” He spoke softly, too softly following her outburst. It made her by contrast seem out of control. She felt herself scrambling to wrest some of it back. There was no way she’d be out-maneuvered by Wes Clarkson.

“I have enough,” she lied. Without meaning to, she crossed her arms over her chest, realized too late that it made her look defensive, and dropped them again.

“How much, Corinne?” Wes’s eyes pinned her in place, keeping her from looking away. She drew a silent breath and braced herself to stare him down. What was he hiding behind that smile? The smile was real, she knew, not a put on, but what did it mean?

Corinne let herself forget about mounting a defense and hiding her weaknesses and tried to see into his instead. His eyes were a dark brown—with absurdly feminine lashes, and up close, Corinne could see the typography of his irises, a craggy landscape of ebony and mocha. If she were painting them, they’d be caramel, purple, and black. With a hint of indigo because now she saw what lived behind the smile: a sadness so inky and deep that it threatened to soak up all of the other colors.

Corinne broke her gaze and found herself answering his question.

“I have about three thousand,” she muttered, suddenly disoriented and half-forgetting the crux of the argument.
Wes startled her then by clapping his hands onto her shoulders, trapping her before him and forcing her to meet his eyes again.

“That won’t even last you through June. Hear me out,” he said. “I’ll move in and cover rent and groceries—”
“Wes, I can’t—”

He stopped her with a little shake at her shoulders.

“Listen! Rent and groceries for six months. You’ll still pay utilities and all your other expenses, but for six months you can afford that.”

She couldn’t argue with that. She could afford utilities and other bills for six months and more.


“And in six months, you might be painting again; you might be ready to move. Who knows?” He shook his head at the uncertainty and pressed on. “Whatever you decide, you won’t be broke, and you won’t be homeless…It’ll buy you some time.”

His hands were heavy on her shoulders, almost enough to make her knees give. She felt the tug of inevitability suck at her feet. What would she do if she refused him? She hadn’t wanted to think about it, despite Morgan’s hounding, but the problem wouldn’t just go away.

“What about your apartment?” Her voice shook, and when she heard it, she realized that her whole body was trembling.

“The lease is up at the end of next month.” Wes sounded matter-of-fact. Fully committed.

“What about all your furniture? It can’t all fit in here with our things…” It was going to happen if she didn’t shut it down right now. Was staying in the house that important? Was holding onto Buck?

“I can put some of it in storage,” Wes said, shrugging, like he’d already considered the possibility.

Could she live with him? Wes? With the partying on Friday nights? The whoring around? The stupid, stupid arm shaving? He drove her crazy! And could she live with knowing that she was in his debt?

“Wes, it’s too much. I can’t allow you to do it.”

Another little shake.

“Corinne, I owe you $8,000. It’s not too much. It’s just right.”

“But, Wes—”

His hands became vices on her shoulders, and his voice dropped an octave.

“He was my best friend, Corinne,” Wes grunted. “He. Was. My. Best. Friend.”

Their eyes locked again, and it seemed that everything had become indigo. Any fight Corinne had left seeped right out of her.

LEGACY is a Free Download Today

New Legacy

Click here to find it on Amazon.

How to Write a Novel in 42 Years

(Author’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of FACE Magazine. Since it’s publication, I have released my second and third novels, Legacy and Butterfly Ginger, and I am finishing my fourth manuscript.)

I recently achieved a lifelong dream.

Since I was seven years old, I’ve wanted to be a novelist. I used to fill notebooks, long-hand, with chapter after chapter. At 12, I graduated to a used IBM Selectric and blissfully clickety-clacked away my afternoons–when I probably should have been studying.

In college, I majored in journalism because my father figured that was the only way writers earned paychecks. Even at graduation, I knew that I didn’t want the life of a reporter. (Do they even have lives?!?) So this meant that I was destined for grad school–this time in English.

Did this lead to a book deal? The Bestseller’s List? A window in Barnes & Noble? Nope. It led me to the classroom. A wonderful place, to be sure, but not the promised land. But when I wasn’t grading, drafting lesson plans, or trying to navigate the minefield that is middle and high school education, I wrote.

It was my secret. A shameful secret. Because I never finished what I started; I never shared what I was writing, and I never would be published. The longer this went on, the worse it became. My self doubts only bred to the point where I wouldn’t even discuss what I was writing with my husband. And this might have gone on for the rest of my life, had it not been for the creation of one magnificent modern marvel.

The ebook.

If writing is my passion, reading is my addiction. What could be better than to carry a library in my purse? One that was full of $3 books that I could download in under a minute!

My Kindle delighted me as a reader, but it liberated me as a writer. I mean, didn’t we all discover with Fifty Shades of Grey that you don’t need a Ph. D. in literature to write a book? The more ebooks I read, the more my confidence grew. I’d finish ebook after ebook thinking, Well, even I can do better than that.

So, finally, at 42, I wrote and published my first novel.Fall Semester by Stephanie Fournet

But it wasn’t just the promise of an eventual ebook that gave me what I needed to succeed at last. I followed a few simple rules that I had not honored in my earlier attempts: rules that I think would serve any writer who–for whatever reason–has not managed to finish that first book.

Rule #1: Write Every Single Day. (I said the rules were “simple,” not “easy.”) Let’s face it: most of us have day jobs. Jobs that we love, perhaps, but they don’t leave us with unlimited time to crank out that novel. We have to make time, and that happens only when you commit to writing each day–even if you only manage a few sentences before collapsing onto the pillow. I started my novel on December 26, 2012, and I wrote every single day for seven months. I wrote after work. I wrote before bed. I wrote on days when I was sick, the day I ran my first marathon, and even on vacation. For me, this was the most sacred rule because if I couldn’t quit, I couldn’t quit. I’m still obeying it.

Rule #2: Talk About the Book. Sometimes, this is harder than it sounds. Writing is deeply personal, and people can be so careless and dismissive. That said, you need to talk about things that are important to you, and your book surely is. The good news is that it’ll be important to people who care about you, too. You don’t have to discuss plot, character, or theme if you’re not ready, but you should own that you’re doing something that is precious to you. The encouragement that my friends and family gave me was well worth the emotional risk.

Rule #3: Let Others Read It. A few people is all you need. If you have three or four beta readers whose opinions you trust and who will get back to you in a timely manner, their feedback will make you aware of problem areas early on and let you know when you’ve nailed it. My husband was always a few chapters behind me, and in addition to catching most of my typos, he let me know when the idea I wanted to convey wasn’t resonating. Plus, it felt great when he’d finish a chapter and say, “That was really good. Send me the next one.”

Rule #4: Write What Is Ready: When Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight, she started with the iconic meadow scene, which is halfway into the novel, and wrote from there to the end, adding the beginning last. With Fall Semester, I wrote Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 12 first, and I wrote the epilogue before the last two chapters because I knew what was going to happen in those scenes. Which brings me to my next rule…

Rule #5: Not Knowing Is Okay: There is nothing wrong with starting a chapter or a scene without knowing how it will end. Allow the wellspring of creativity inside you a little room to do its thing. The story will come together if you keep writing. This sense of detached curiosity allowed me to surprise myself as I wrote, and it made the whole endeavor so much more fun.

Rule #6: Go Back: As you write, cycle back to the beginning or to other parts you have written. What took you days to write will only take you minutes or hours to read, and you’ll be able to see if your characters stay true to themselves and if the pacing is right. Moreover, what thrilled you to write should still be thrilling, even after the fifth or sixth read. If it’s not, you’ll know that revision is necessary.

Rule #7: Live in the Now: The most important part about writing your book is the actual writing. It is not necessary–or helpful–while writing to worry about what comes after you’ve finished. Sometimes I would catch myself wondering what certain people would think about my story or my style once I published. Creativity spooks easily, and you have to respect it. There’s no sense in creating problems before they exist. For now, just write.

I may not have the book deal or the window at Barnes & Noble–yet, but I do have the novel, a novel that I am proud to claim. And I know that if I stick to the rules I’ve made for myself, before too long, I’ll have more.