Write What You Know… Like Concussions


Most people know I’m a figure skating coach, but before that I was (obviously) a figure skater. This means that every now and again I had an injury to contend with. Like that time I slipped off the back of my blade, flipped in the air and hit the back of my head. Boom! Instant concussion. (Not that I actually remember any of that, heh.)

At the time I didn’t know I was gaining a unique experience that I would one day write about. For starters, my memory of that day is, shall we say, wonky. Also, weird parts of my body went numb, like my tongue and the tips of my fingers. I heard myself talk without first having the usual mental cue to do it. I had partial-blindness that took about an hour to clear up. And I felt like I was a detached observer, somehow present but also not really a part of the world around me.

Trying to put this into words is tough, but I wanted to do the concussed character justice when such a situation came up in my latest WIP. In HOUSE OF PAYNE: TWIST, my heroine has a loss of consciousness, which pretty much always means concussion. I’ll confess, I get Hulk-smashy when I read about characters who get knocked-the-hell-out, yet they’re dandy-fine with no lasting effects once they come to. I didn’t want that for my MC, Angel, because that just doesn’t happen. Like, ever.

What does happen, however, can be excellent fodder for setting up a romance! :) How can that be, you ask? Well…

Even a mild to moderate concussion like I had takes days to recover from. That means no driving (so someone has to drive you). No using a stove or oven that you might forget about, which requires someone to feed you. Yeah, you have the unromantic problems of headache and/or neck pain, nausea and dizziness, but you have to be constantly supervised because while your decision-making process has good comedic value, it simply cannot be trusted. (Example: I tried to wash my slippers in the kitchen sink. To this day, I don’t know why it was so freaking important to have clean slippers RIGHT THEN, or that they should be washed RIGHT THERE, rather than the laundry room.) So basically you need someone with you 24/7. My heroine Angel just happens to have a pushy, opinionated, tattooed hottie volunteering to play babysitter.

With that much alone-time, something is bound to happen, right? *wink*

I’m trudging my way through the first-draft of TWIST, so most of it isn’t ready to share (edits, dontcha know 😉 ). But I feel pretty confident in sharing the scene where Angel first comes to in the ER. This moment in the book borrows heavily from my own (sketchy) memory of my time on a gurney, so hopefully this is a more realistic version of a romance heroine emerging from a loss of consciousness. Hope you like it! :)

Excerpt from HOUSE OF PAYNE: TWIST (Tentative release date: 5/25/15):

Angel kept her eyes closed, and not just because she feared they might eject from their sockets if she didn’t. Keeping her eyes shut was the only way she could hide, and she needed to hide now that she recognized that voice. Twist. Going off on one of his rampages, as usual. Now he didn’t like the lighting. Man, it was always something with that guy. Knowing him, it’d probably get twisted around so that the lack of whatever lighting he was pissed off about would somehow be her fault.

Maybe that was how he got the name Twist. He had a talent for twisting everything around.

Ugh. She couldn’t just lie there listening to a voice that made her hurt. She had to get away from it.

That thought automatically had her reaching around for her purse, only to come up empty. That was strange. Hadn’t she had it with her? She frowned when she discovered what may have been thin sheets beneath her oddly unresponsive fingertips.



Wasn’t she in the parking lot?

No, that wasn’t right. She was lying down, and she wouldn’t lie down in the parking lot, for crying out loud. It was too dirty, for one thing. She’d never let her hair get parking lot-dirty. Ew.

Something’s wrong.

She cracked her eyes open and couldn’t stifle a whimper at the glare of the overhead fluorescent lights stabbing into her brain. Ow. Light hurt.

Not good.

Also on the not-good list was that she didn’t recognize her surroundings. Small room. Walls an unappetizing Dijon mustard yellow. A curtained sliding glass door left partially open. Heavy-duty railings on either side of the narrow bed on which she was lying, with a bunch of push buttons embedded into it.

She stared at those buttons for what seemed like a long time before the unfamiliar image finally clicked into place. Aha. She knew what this was. It was a hospital bed. So that meant… something.

But what?

She was in a hospital bed.



And also not good.

Gingerly she ran her tongue over her teeth, then moved all her fingers and toes. Other than a weirdly detached numbness in everything that moved, she seemed to be in one piece. She had a headache so intense it hurt all the way to the roots of her hair, but that certainly didn’t warrant a hospital stay.

What the hell was she doing in a hospital?

“The motion sensor lights didn’t come on,” came Scout’s tightly controlled voice. “Payne’s got a call into the security company, so I’m sure that whatever went wrong with the system will be fixed by the time we open tomorrow.”

“Fat lot of good that does now, with Angel getting her fucking head caved in. Five steps from the door, and she could’ve been raped or killed, and no one would’ve seen a thing. If I hadn’t been there to chase that sonofabitch away, who the fuck knows what would have happened to her?”

Wait. Wait.


Had Twist, her mortal enemy, saved her?

Oh, no.


Currently out in the HOUSE OF PAYNE series is Scout’s story, for only $0.99. Take a look!

 photo House of Payne Scout for CRC_600 pixels wide_zps4tsai7yh.jpg

There’s no doubt that Scout Upton earned her nickname. From the time she was an orphan bouncing from foster home to foster home like an unwanted stray, she’s had an uncanny ability to scout out trouble. Now an integral part of House Of Payne’s dominance in the world of ink, her “trouble” alarm triggers every time world-renowned fashion photographer, Ivar Fournier, comes around.

Former model-turned-photographer, Ivar is notorious for making or breaking supermodels, both on camera and off. But when it comes to Scout, he can’t get a foot in the door. She doesn’t buy his charm or his story of wanting to spotlight body art for his next exhibit. Maybe because that’s exactly what it is—a story. Despite being born in a world of privilege, there’s a terrible darkness behind his practiced smile, and it all stems from a past he needs to understand. Scout holds the key to that mysterious past, and if he has to break her apart to get it, that’s exactly what he’ll do.

95,000 words

***This is the second book of the House Of Payne series, but each book can be read as a standalone. Not intended for readers under the age of 18 due to adult language and sexual content***




Write What You Know… Like Concussions — 3 Comments

  1. Heh – my hubs hit his head badly once (also fell on ice, also the back of his head, no ice skates) and he has the same trigger. Always growls at movies when people are running around after head injuries.:-)

  2. Well, I’ve never had a concussion, but one of my babies almost knocked me out with an uppercut with her head. Things did turn black. So when I see normal Nelly take an uppercut and another and another and remain standing…

  3. I knew concussions were bad, but I didn’t know the details. Very scary stuff. But interesting fodder for your book. Loved the excerpt, Stacy. Good luck with your editing.

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