My new release: Ruck Me

As a romance author under the pen name Cd Brennan, I have a new release out today!

Ruck Me: A Play On series short is available now on AMAZON

Only 99cents or FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

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Dependable and hard-working Dave Marsden is the loose-head prop for the Traverse City Blues. A big man with an even bigger heart, Dave doesn’t let the other players’ ribbing bother him about owning the premier flower shop in town. In fact, little in life bothers him…that is until his world collides with Sierra Richards, a teammate’s sister.

Now Dave is questioning everything. Thanks to their fierce physical attraction, his world has gone askew. Could a sexy siren like Sierra really fall in love with a big oaf like him? Sierra challenges Dick’s concept of normal with her slightly criminal attitude. With her computer hacking skills, she constantly pushes the boundaries of the law. And when Sierra’s hacking finally catches up to her, will Dave rescue her from her own misdeeds?

Because there is a right and there is a wrong, right?

Chapter 1

The large wipers swished back and forth across the bus windshield, clunk clunk, hitting the outside edges of the windows with each pass. April 25th and the sky had opened up with a snow-rain mix. Big, wet flakes splatted the windows.

At least they were going to a warmer place for the tournament. All the way down to Nashville, Tennessee for this year’s Nash Bash. Just under eleven hours, and the Traverse City Blues RFC would arrive to sunshine and rugby. A perfect long weekend in Dave Marsden’s book.

Both the men’s and women’s teams, and partners of some, were loading their gear and luggage underneath the bus and then climbing on board. The bus lurched back and forth with the weight of the bags, the rocking motion familiar and comforting somehow to Dave.

The recent introduction of the Lady Blues team with the RFC was good. All good. Just made things a bit crowded on the bus, so Dave had started to ride up front where it was quieter. Usually he sat across from Irish and Gillian, but Irish was gone playing qualification matches for the next World Cup with the Eagles. Lucky bastard. And Gill was now sitting with some of the girls from the Lady Blues team.

Rory was his usual bus buddy, but now Rory sat with his new girl, Grace, also playing with the women’s team. That was cool. More room for him to spread out. Surprisingly, their bus driver, Joe, had music playing tonight over the speakers. Not surprisingly for northern Michigan, it was country, which wasn’t a favorite of Dave’s.

They had about six hours before their first stop, so Dave got out his travel pillow, iPad, and earphones and had just stretched out over one of the front seats when assistant coach, Shaun, came on board and handed Dave a clipboard. “Can you do me a favor and check to make sure we  got everyone?”

Shaun and Coach always followed the bus in Coach’s SUV to carry the extra equipment. That also gave them a vehicle wherever they were going. It also made Dave a bit jealous for the quiet they would get.

Shaun clapped Joe on the shoulder but barely got a response from the burly bus driver. “Just let Joe know when everyone is here. Any extra passengers note at the bottom.”

Without an affirmation from Dave, Shaun skipped down the steps and was gone out the door. Okay then.

He lurched from his seat and made his way down the aisle to the back, working around bodies and gear bags. Some feet were propped up on beer cases like foot rests. Dave leaned around Mitch, who was organizing his stuff in the middle of the aisle, and checked off those already on the bus.

Jake, inside center, very last seat on the bus, headphones already on, a scowl on his face. Check.

TJ, openside flanker, and his girlfriend. Check.

Young Jimmy, tighthead prop. Check.

Champ, the Blues number eight, and his wife. Check.

Kevin, nickname of Keys, fly-half. Check.

Then a large group of Lady Blues: Brittany, Claire, Jordyn, Hillary. Lots of checks.

Gill and Junette. Double check.

Rory and Grace. Double check.

Shano was gone with Irish to the Eagles. New guy Bryce. Check.

Josh and Austin with another gaggle of Lady Blues. Check.

He marked Mitch and his girlfriend as he retraced his steps to the front and then plopped down in his seat behind the driver to wait for the rest. A half dozen more came on board, which Dave noted carefully. Then Damian, or Mouth as everyone called him, came on board with his usual noise and exuberance. “Blues, Blues, Blues,” he chanted, his fist up in the air.

Some responded back, but when he swore at Mitch who was in his way and knocked him upside the head, it stopped the comraderie dead in its tracks. What an asshole. But he was Asshole #2, the second of the Blues’ wings. Dick was Asshole #1, and with Mouth on board, that meant Dick would be coming any moment now…

Yep, the alpha asshole boarded the bus two steps at a time and then stood at the front of the bus, arms raised, and roared like a berserker. As spittle flew from Dick’s mouth, Dave flinched and reared back. Man, that guy had issues. Always seeking attention, always getting into trouble and fights, making fun of others as if he was a bully at school.

Dick did some sort of grind dance, humping some imaginary chick while swatting her ass. Class. Dave shook his head and ticked both assholes off the list. That only left the captain, Del, they were waiting on, and since Dave now was his roomie at the Blues house in town while the old farmhouse he bought was being renovated, he knew Del had left before him to make the bus. So was most likely talking shop with Coach. As captain, he took the Blues seriously, thank God.

Except, who was this?

A beautiful woman stepped up behind Dick and gave him a shove so he stumbled as he twerked. Dave chuckled. Dick righted himself but didn’t move on. She rolled her eyes and waited.

Holy shit. How did Dick get someone like that?

Platinum hair in a bob with a severe angle down to her chin. Her hair glistened with the falling snow. She wore bright red lipstick but very little black on her eyes. She was striking, but looked about as natural in the Blues bus of athletes as a wolverine in the desert. Yeah, that’s what she reminded him of—feisty. Like she could take down Dick with a look. But it still didn’t answer the question—what the hell was she doing with him?

She stood there, a bored expression on her face as Dick gyrated up the aisle to the sound of some twangy chorus. She had on a snug, tan leather jacket with a furred hood, black skinny jeans, and black boots. The hem of her coat hit the curve of her bottom. And what an ass it was. Hoo. Dave took a deep breath and glanced away to gain his composure before he stepped up behind her. “Excuse me?”

She didn’t turn around as she waited behind Dick to settle his backpack under his seat, taking ages longer than it should because he was too busy making jokes and acting the bollocks, as Irish would say, for the other lads.

“Excuse me,” Dave said again.

Still she didn’t turn around. He tapped her on the shoulder. This time, when she did turn, her brows were furrowed over her light blue eyes, almost a gray. “You’re not on the list,” he said to her.

She sneered. “What do you want, big fella?”

“I—” He wanted her. That was what. Everything from her posture to her attitude, from her unnatural color of hair to the red of her lips, everything in her design intrigued him. He opened his mouth, but no words, he was so struck dumb by an immediate infatuation with a woman he’d seen for a minute. His heart was racing, his throat tight.

When he didn’t finish his reply, she pointed with her finger. “I’m with Dick.”

Dave held in a laugh so it sprung out his nose as a snort. Someone so beautiful…so striking…with the Dickmeister? Incomprehensible but, obviously, it was true. “That’s cool. I just need to include your name on the bus roster so we can keep track of everyone traveling with the club.”

At that, she turned to face him and hitched her elbows out to the sides to rest them on the seat backs. “No one needs to keep track of me. I’m an adult.”

Right. “I can see that. I just need a name.” He looked past her to Dick for some help but he was already gabbing with Mouth in the seat behind him.

“We ready to go?” the bus driver yelled.

“One minute,” Dave shouted back.

She tapped his clipboard. “You can call me Cherry.” She puckered, blew him a kiss, and then turned her back on him.

Damn. Straight up spicy hellion. What the hell did she see in Dick? When she got to the Blues’ wing, she nudged him, and without a word to her, still talking a mile a minute to Mouth, Dick let her through to sit by the window.

She set her oversize leather bag on her lap and stared outside. Dave followed her gaze, but there wasn’t much there. It was early evening in the parking lot of Meijers supermarket on a Thursday, cars and people coming in and out.

Dave marked a +1 next to Dick’s name. He wouldn’t forget her when he took attendance when they stopped.

There was a buzz of anticipation building in the bus as they got closer to leaving. They would travel through the night, stopping only once for a late fuel and grab some food. Yet Cherry girl didn’t seem excited at all.

Just then, Del stepped up into the bus. Dave let him pass, and he walked to the third row and stopped right next to Dick. Strategic that was. Del was a smart man. And over the last six months since he’d been living with Del in the Blues House, he’d come to admire the man even more.

“Listen up,” Del roared over the noise.

Dave tapped Joe on the shoulder and asked him to turn down the music a minute. As the noise settled, Del continued, “We have a big tournament day tomorrow so no drinking tonight. And what is my general rule?” He didn’t let them answer. “No sex before a game.” A collective groan went up. Del raised his hand. “That is for the men’s team. I can’t speak for Rory and the Lady Blues.”

“Same,” Rory stated. Didn’t even raise his voice, but by that time Del had commanded everyone’s attention, just like he always did. The charismatic captain of the Blues from New Zealand had something about him that made folk want to listen. And listen good. Even Dickmeister was now staring up at Del with more than admiration in his eyes. A bit of jealousy there, for sure.

Dave stole a glance at Cherry girl, who was looking right at him. Dave jerked his head back to Del, heat moving up his neck into his face. He heard her chuckle but didn’t dare look again. She was probably thinking why a big oaf like him was looking at a woman like her.

I hope you enjoy!!

AMAZON

Also, the first two full-length novels in the Play on Series are on sale for a week. In Touch and In Time are only 99 cents until next Friday!

ALL BOOKS 99cents

Consultation Special

After doing a week of my own rewrites for my second rugby romance coming out in March, I’ve decided to offer a special on my consultations. So  you don’t have to go through that Hell, and Hell it was as I nixed 15 pages of material, I’m offering consultations at $100 instead of the normal $150.

$100 Consultation Special

I’d forgotten what utter crud it is to have to rework whole sections and chapters of a book, but this last one was a doozy. Why? Because I thought I would give pantsing a go. I’ve always been a plotter, but I wanted to get this next book out fast and thought writing as a pantser was the answer. It may work for some, but not me. And not many good authors out there. To really know your characters, to understand their GMC, to know how they feel and how they will speak. And above and beyond that, a strong plot that brings it all together. And don’t forget to close all your conflict threads by the end! Phew! What voice you want for the story, tense to use, subplots, stringing it together for a series… Lots to remember.

Well, that’s what I’m here to help you with. If you book a consultation between now and January 31st, you get all the same goodies of a regular consultation but for $50 less. Check out those goodies HERE

I have available slots as soon as this week, or book your consultation anytime within three months of sign-up.

Start out 2017 with a strong story! Contact me at cdemaagd at gmail.com

Please share!

Carina Press Wants

*Shared from their blog*

What the Carina Press Editors Want–Updated Winter 2017 Edition

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We continue to acquire projects in all subgenres and heat levels of romance, as well as mystery. However, for publication in 2017 and 2018, Carina Press is particularly interested in:

  • Paranormals (and urban fantasy): We continue to be passionate about acquiring paranormal romance. While we’ll consider manuscripts across the genre, here are some things that currently appeal to us in particular: Great sexual tension, super sexy paranormals, male/male protaganists, series featuring shifters (wolves, cats, dragons…we draw the line at hamsters), ongoing series or trilogies, unique twists on old paranormal tropes and elements, band of brother/alpha heroes, paranormal with suspense elements, and stories that delve into clan politics.
  • Cowboys and contemporary Westerns: This is a specific carryover from our previous in-search-of lists, and one that we haven’t seen enough submissions for. We’re looking for cowboys to add to our list! There are so many possibilities here—give it a unique twist, make it a foreign locale. Or it can be high tension, high stakes American-set contemporary cowboy romance.
  • Male/male romance: Though we acquire across LGBTQ, we have the most success with male/male and are most interested in acquiring within that subgenre. Right now we’re especially interested in paranormal, sexy contemporary/erotic, stepbrother romance, romances that tackle unlikely pairings or more “taboo” subjects, suspense/mystery, and science fiction/fantasy series. Additionally, if you’re writing male/male that fits any of our other specific interests below, we want to see it.
  • Sexy, trashy, alpha-alien science fiction romance: We’re looking for the fun, the unusual, the sexy, the silly, and even the over-the-top. Maybe the hero or heroine is an alien—a true alien—maybe it’s set on different worlds, has a Firefly-esque space opera feel, is a caper or heist set in space, or features space pirates or space cowboys. Bring it on!
  • Erotic romance is evergreen on our list and we’re looking for someone who can write a series or trilogy that’s extremely erotic (maybe even filthy—okay, definitely something filthy 😉 ). We’d love to see ménage or more, BDSM that’s not set in a club, or erotic romance that experiments with boundaries.
  • Novellas: We’ll be on the hunt for a lot more short content in 2017. There will be special projects and anthology calls, but we’re looking for authors writing novella-length content (20k-45k) across the romance genres we acquire in. Bring on your shorter length work!

As always, this is not a “current” call, but a reminder: we are always open to diverse protagonists, and have been since we opened years ago. That’s not changed; we’re still open to diversity across race, walks of life, physical challenges, ethnicity and more. Diversity is wide-ranging and we’ve always welcomed that in our submissions and our publications. Here are only a few examples of what we’ve published over the years.

Hot in the City by Jules Court
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Devil’s Slave by Lola Hale
The Devil’s Garden by Jane Kindred
Enforcer’s Price by Sarah Hawthorne
The Companion Contract by Solace Ames
At the Brink by Anna del Mar
Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin
Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake
Hero’s Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley

See here for more thoughts from Angela on diversity from this post.

Also in 2017: We will be doing new anthology, proposal and submission calls. We also have a few special projects coming. Please watch our blog and social media for updates!

Angela James, Editorial Director, and Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, generated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries related to the projects above. Please note that Kerri is out on maternity leave until March 1st, so please do not direct queries to her during this time.
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In addition to the above imprint-specific list, Stephanie Doig, Assistant Editor, is also looking for the following:

  • Smart, witty contemporary romance—sharp dialogue, high on romantic tension but low on angst.
  • Urban fantasy romance with well-built and intricate magical worlds and alpha heroes/heroines butting heads.
  • Paranormal romance featuring fated mates.
  • Scottish historical romances starring swoon-worthy kilted heroes.
  • Contemporary romance featuring STEM heroines—suspense elements welcome but not required.
  • Fantasy with a strong heroine and a slow-burn romance—think Maria Snyder or Amanda Bouchet.
  • Novel-length holiday romances—think The Family Stone!

Our freelance editors are looking for the following, in addition to what’s listed in the imprint-wide selection above:

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Alissa Davis:

  •  Royalty! I’ve been watching The Crown, and now I’m hunting for romances with at least one royal. Can be historical, futuristic, LGBTQ, fantasy romance, etc., as long as it has a sweeping romance, beautiful clothes and high stakes.
  • Male/male in any subgenre and heat level, with conflict not necessarily centered around one character being closeted and the other being out. I’d also love to see male/male forced proximity romances, such as two lawyers who are both up for partner at the same firm, or two college students who keep getting paired up in their art class even though they can’t stand each other.
  • Erotic romance with strong dialogue and scorching sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty. I like very alpha heroes who might push boundaries and heroines who will stand up to them.
  • Futuristic and fantasy romance, especially those with aliens, elves, dragons, etc. I’d particularly like to see more diversity in my fantasy romance submissions.
  • Sexy, edgy contemporary romance. I’d love to see friends-to-lovers featuring roommates, servicemen, coworkers or teammates.
  • Virgin heroes. Enough said.
  • Military romance, male/male or male/female. The hero or heroine can be active military or retired.
  • Romantic suspense with a political twist. I’d love to see heroes and heroines who either have dubious morals or work for people who do, with political tension and high stakes along the lines of House of Cards.
  • Foodie romance where at least part of the story takes place in a restaurant or kitchen and cooking is part of the love language one character uses to express feelings for the other. If you have a food critic/chef romance, please send it my way!

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Deborah Nemeth:
I’m looking for manuscripts with page-turning conflict, especially:

  • #ownvoices mystery and romance.
  • Intense and obsessive characters who are driven by passionate goals, whether it’s to save the whales, steal the crown jewels or defeat the galaxy’s evil overlords.
  • Romances with forbidden love, enemies to lovers, secret agenda, forced proximity, reunion romances, fake engagements and arranged marriages tropes.
  • Mysteries featuring a brilliant sleuth or compelling crime-fighting duo. I’m especially interested in cozies, procedurals and PIs that focus on whodunit and have a strong hook/interesting setting.
  • Romantic suspense with high levels of action and lethally competent heroines.
  • Sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes who fall hard.
  • Historical romances, either witty, erotic or dark, especially Regency.
  • A Bollywood-themed romance or mystery.
  • Con artist protagonists who execute deviously elaborate scams with twists I don’t see coming.
  • Romances with themes of redemption.
  • Stories set in wild landscapes, whether forests, deserts, jungles or mountains.
  • Daredevil protagonists who are adrenaline-rush junkies, such as land-speed record-setters and extreme-sports athletes.

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Rhonda Stapleton:

  • Super-hot romantic comedies (the hotter, the better—lots of delicious laughs and sexytimes!).
  • Mysteries, especially cozy. (Series please! Romance not required, but a romantic subplot is great.)
  • Multicultural romance series of any heat level.
  • Military erotic romances (series are great!).
  • A dark, atmospheric, sexy gothic romance—contemporary preferred, but will also welcome historical.
  • Taboo stories—edgy, pushing the envelope (but still within what we publish).
  • Bad-boy erotic romances. I mean genuine bad boys with redeeming qualities but who may be on the wrong side of the law, etc.
  • Erotic science fiction romance (series preferred) with aliens and/or a rich futuristic setting.
  • Fresh twists on classic romance tropes.

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Lauren Plude:

  • LGBTQ: Male/male and female/female. Contemporary AND historical. All heat levels.
  • PNR: I’m looking for shifters (all kinds) and weres. I like my PNR to have strong world-building and an engaging mythology that can carry a series.
  • Erotic romance: Bring on the taboos—specifically menage and older woman with a younger man. I’d LOVE to see some “hot for teacher” projects. BDSM. Historical erotic is also very welcome. Two thumbs up for heroines unafraid to ask for what they want in the bedroom.
  • Romantic suspense/romantic thriller: I want my electrical bill to skyrocket because I’m sleeping with the lights on. I’m looking for dark psychological romantic thrillers (think Criminal Minds). I’ve got a weakness for FBI agents and complex plotting.
  • Contemporary romance: Billionaires, bad boys, romantic comedy (think a modern Beatrice and Benedick story), and I’d love to see some jet-setting/exotic destination settings.
  • Special call for law enforcement/military heroes: police, FBI, US Marshals, DEA, firefighters, search & rescue, and Navy SEALs.

~
Mackenzie Walton:

  • LGBTQ historical, especially male/male. Dukes, duchesses and ballrooms are fantastic—frankly, I don’t get tired of them—but I’d also be interested in seeing more unusual settings and scenarios.
  • Fun, sexy/erotic contemporaries, especially featuring those daydream/fantasy boyfriends—movie stars, musicians, athletes and the like.
  • Moody, thoughtful paranormals with complex world-building. I love characters who really contemplate what it means to be a paranormal creature in the mundane world.
  • Erotic ménage in any genre, especially male/male/female. A balanced relationship, with all participants of equal importance, is key here, as well as characters who seriously weigh the possible complications of such a relationship.
  • Some tropes I can’t get enough of, in any genre: marriage of convenience, forced proximity, enemies to lovers. Basically, if the couple is annoyed by how much they’re attracted to each other, I’m a big fan.
  • Ugly duckling/Cinderella-type heroines (or heroes for male/male)? Yes, please! I love seeing an under-appreciated wallflower get an HEA, in any genre.
  • Virgin heroes, across the board. Can’t get enough of them.

~
Anne Scott:

  • Great sexual tension in any genre.
  • Competence in heroes and heroines—excelling at their jobs, outmaneuvering the bad guys, creating a magical solution during that black moment.
  • Sense of humor. It doesn’t have to be romantic comedy or laugh-out-loud zingers; something more subtle can work wonders. Angst and serious reads can do really well with an on-point sense of humor.
  • Bourne- or Nikita-type romantic suspense, especially set in unusual locales with diverse characters. Bonus points for laidback or deceptively laidback heroes who are highly competent when the going gets rough, and do not get in the way of the heroine if she’s the one saving the day!
  • Mysteries, where I’d welcome a very slow burn between two sleuths over a series of books.
  • Cowboys and horses. I love it when the reality of the hard work of being a cowboy is brought to the story.
  • High-octane fantasy or science fiction romance with personal stakes, strong world-building and compelling characters.

~
Penny Barber:

  • Heroes and heroines who are busy, involved, impacting communities.
  • Clever, resourceful, sassy heroines who hold their own with alphas.
  • Stories comprising a diverse array of cultures and characters.
  • Outdoorsy stories with camping, hiking, hunting, rafting.
  • Suspenseful story lines that keep inquisitive minds engaged.
  • Seemingly unstoppable villains who are fully fleshed and motivated.
  • People who rise to challenges and keep moving forward.
  • Detective duos who contrast yet complement each other.
  • Stories built around a vintage car club or motor sports organization.
  • Geeks, gamers or hackers snared in a secret intrigue or mystery.
  • Sidekicks and mentors with leap-off-the-page personality.
  • Newly turned beings coming to terms with their transformed reality.

Here’s a handy quick-view chart that gives you a look at which editors are acquiring in specific genres: 

Genre Editors actively acquiring in genre Not acquiring in genre
Erotic romance Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Penny Anne
LGBTQ Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny
Contemporary romance Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny
Paranormal romance Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny
Urban fantasy Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny Rhonda, Alissa
Fantasy romance Alissa, Deb, Anne, Penny Rhonda, Lauren, Mackenzie
Science fiction romance Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Anne, Penny Stephanie, Lauren, Mackenzie
Romantic suspense Rhonda, Alissa,  Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny
Historical romance Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny Angela, Stephanie
Mystery Rhonda, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Anne, Penny Angela, Stephanie, Alissa

 

For further information on our request for taboo, think along the lines of…

  • Dark, erotic thrillers and psychological thrillers.
  • Stories of adultery and betrayal.
  • Characters with unusual sexual kinks.
  • Conflicts involving socially unacceptable pairings.

Examples include: Older woman/younger man and vice versa; step-sibling romance; prison guard and prisoner; student/teacher; mental health professional/patient.

  • Anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Real, unredeemable bad boys and bad girls.
  • Tales of forced seduction and capture fantasies.
  • Stories taking place in unlikely locations (such as prisons and mental health hospitals).

You’re probably wondering what types of things we’ve liked in the past, so here are some examples of books and even a movie example to get your brain firing.

  • The Dark Duet by CJ Roberts
  • Twist Me and Keep Me by Anna Zaires
  • Last Hit by Jen Frederick and Jessica Clare
  • Prisoner by Annika Martin and Sky Warren
  • The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
  • Landslide by NJ Cole
  • Marly’s Choice by Lora Leigh
  • In other media: the work of adult video directors Zalman King (Red Shoe Diaries and 9 ½ Weeks) and Jackie St. James (The Submission of Emma Marx) are good examples on the erotic, dark and edgy side.

Other movies:

  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Basic Instinct & Sliver
  • Memento

Challenge of the Day

Blinking

For some reason blinking is all the rage these days. Lots of characters blinking, even when in the MC POV. First, if it’s in the MC POV, very rarely do we realize our own blinking, unless we blink back tears or blink away dust and that’s okay. But use in the appropriate circumstance.  
Or if it’s the MC observing the blinking on another character, well that’s kind of the same as above. When you are looking at someone, talking to them, how often do you notice their blinking? Very rarely. And what is it supposed to convey? Surprise? Anger? Sadness? Not really. And there are so many other actions that character could do that would impress on the MC better. And therefore the reader. Give us actions and dialogue to convey what the other character is thinking and feeling. 
Blinking gives the reader very little to go on. Get them out of there! So my challenge to you is to gut those blinks from your manuscripts.