Monday Mayhem: Springing Eternal

Today is the day the Romance Writers of America announce the RITA/Golden Heart contest finalists. For those of you who don’t know, the RITAs are for published authors, and Golden Heart entries are unpublished. There are many prestigious and esteemed awards in the romance community, but these two would be the equivalent of the Oscar/Emmy/Tony awards.

Last fall, the staff at Turquoise Morning Press voted to put two of their 2011 titles up for consideration for RITA awards and they chose Grace Greene’s Beach Rental (Best Inspirational Romance & Best First Book categories) and my Contentment (Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category) as TMP’s official submissions.

I couldn’t believe they picked one of my books from all of the titles they published in 2011. I might have had a total Sally Field moment. Maybe. There’s no video, so there’s no proof. As you can imagine, RITA and GH submissions are huge. The chances of being chosen as a finalist are super-slim – particularly for a small press author. But even as I filled out the entry form, I will admit that I was picturing myself as that camel passing through the eye of a needle. Without the hump. And the overbite. And the spitting thing…

I’m realistic enough to know my phone will probably not ring this morning. I’m not just saying that to be self-deprecating. Those of me who know me well know I have a ginormous ego. Huge. At times, monstrous. But I will say it’s also pretty well grounded in reality.

I love my baby, but I’m not so blind that I can’t see its flaws. But still…Maybe….

And there it goes again – springing eternal and all that jazz. I can’t help myself. I came equipped with this tiny little flame, flickering and sputtering deep inside of me. Standard equipment on this model, I guess. It won’t ever be extinguished, not even after the name of the last of the 2012 RITA finalists is posted on the RWA website.

Being an author is all about having hope.

We hope the story idea rattling around in our head is as good as we think it might be.

We hope we’ve chosen the right words to paint a picture, tell the tale, and spin a web so sticky you’ll never want to put the book down.

We hope it touches someone somehow.

Hope is the key ingredient that makes each and every romance (real or fictional) a possibility. It spurs us to press ‘send’ on that agent or editor pitch. Hope keeps us clicking the refresh button multiple times a day. Each time I open a new document, I’m filled with hope, expectation, and the tiny trickle of trepidation that accompanies any risk worth taking.

And if that phone call never comes, that’s okay. There’s always next year, right?

Spoken like a true Cubs fan.

Happy Monday, my friends. What are your hopes for the day, week, month, or year?

ETA: Just wanted to thank you all for your support. Contentment wasn’t chosen as a finalist, but I will have three (!) 2012 releases to choose from when it comes time to submit again. Thanks so much. You all are the best!


Monday Mayhem – It’s me again, Margaret

I’m back! Did you miss me last week? Aren’t The Karens a hoot? Love those girls!

So… Hi! I didn’t really have a topic picked out for today, so I thought I’d play catch up with some bullet points.

1)         Just a little over one month until Spring Chickens is released! I love Lynne. I love Bram. I really love Bram. Ahem. Sorry… Anyway, I can’t wait for you to meet him, uh, them. Need a refresher? Here’s the blurb:

You don’t have to be a spring chicken to fall in love.

The residents of Heartsfield, Arkansas think Lynne Prescott has it all. The wealthy suburban divorcee captures everyone’s attention when she blows into town to dispose of the family farm. But her nosy new neighbors don’t know she ran away from home.

Bram Hatchett’s interest in buying the land adjoining his farm is yesterday’s news, but the handsome widower’s inability to contain his attraction to the land’s beautiful owner quickly becomes fodder for the local gossip mill.

A rickety old porch and a disturbing decrease in the poultry population bring them together—but with wagging tongues and grown children against them, Lynne’s inclination toward flight comes smack against Bram’s aversion to fight. Can they whittle away the secrets of the past in order to scratch out a future together?

Mark your calendars for the week of April 23rd!

2)         Been getting some really awesome reviews on Commitment! Yay! If you do not review the books you read on a site like Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes & Noble, I’m asking that you please consider doing so. Not just my books, but any book. Your thoughts and opinions matter a great deal to authors and readers alike. More and more, I’m seeing more and more places that require a minimum number of public reviews before an author can even pay to advertise on the site. You don’t have to write an essay. Just simply say what you liked or didn’t like about the book. That’s right; you can say you didn’t like it. Honest reviews are always appreciated. Please just remember to be gentle. Authors are like small woodland creatures…

3)         Hey, are you following my photo a day challenge on my Facebook page? It’s been a lot of fun. Stop by, click the ‘like’ button, and check them out! 

4)        Been writing lately, but it’s been more for my close, personal friend, Maggie Wells than for myself. Seems she got a little ambitious with the series planning. Silly Maggie.

4)         Silly Margaret: I decided it was time to shake off the cobwebs and start working out a little harder, so I signed up for a 5K that’s being held at the end of April.  I ran almost two miles yesterday. It was the first time we’ve run the riverfront since last fall. I’d forgotten how different road running can be from the treadmill. I’m hoping I can build enough endurance in the next six weeks to run the whole course.

5)         For anyone in the greater Cincinnati area: I’ll be signing books at the 8th Annual Reader and Author Get Together June 1-2! Details here!

I have a big anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks, but I’ll save that for another post. Yes, I know. I’m such a tease…

So, what about you? What’s fun and exciting in your world? Read anything good lately? Seen any good movies? I require constant entertainment, so please share!


Monday Mayhem – Special Guest Stars!

Today I have a special surprise – I’m turning my blog over to two of my favorite chickas – The Karens!

Not long ago, I met Karen Stivali and Karen Booth on Twitter. In the blink of an eye, we were best friends – braiding hair…finishing sentences…dishing about our hot dates…raiding each other’s closets…. Oh, and they also write fiction.

Fabulously sexy fiction.

Today they are visiting Writings and Ramblings to celebrate the release of their co-authored story, Long Distance Lovers! Woooot! Without further ado, here are The Karens nattering on about one of our favorite subjects – British boys!

*Cranks the Duran Duran and pretends she didn’t just lick a picture of Colin Firth*

Brits, Brits, and more Brits

When did your fascination with British men start? Who was your first Brit crush?

Karen B: I started young—seven or eight years old, playing Beatles 45s for hours at a time on the record player in my dad’s den. It was the 70s. We called a man’s home office a den. My first Brit crush was also my first rock star crush—dreamy, fresh-faced and clever Paul McCartney. In middle school, I had a crush on a boy in a Beatles cover band. I remember thinking that he would have been the perfect guy if he were British. Not a lot of British boys in Minnesota. Dammit.

Karen S: My earliest fascination with British men came from listening to The Beatles. I can remember being no more than five years old, lying on the area rug in my dad’s den while he worked. I’d be alternating between drawing pictures and studying the covers from his collection of Beatles albums. Paul and George were my favorites, especially in the photos from their early mop top days (the scraggly bearded look didn’t do it for me then and still doesn’t all these decades later). I’m guessing it was the combo of British accent and floppy hair that later led to my first celebrity crush, on Davy Jones from The Monkees. I must have been ten by then, and even though the show was in reruns and Davy was more than old enough to be my father, I thought he was the cutest, funniest guy ever. Once again, the accent had worked its magic. Around the same time we moved to England for a while and lived there for several months over the span of a few years. I fell in love with Oxford, the beautiful old buildings, the fluffy down beds, the dessert trolley at tea time. Everything enchanted me, and the local men with their charming voices and witty jokes were no exception. I was hooked.

Karen B: Why am I not surprised we were both obsessed with The Beatles when we were little? Why am I not surprised we both decided to use the term “den”? I’d say we were separated at birth if we didn’t have completely dissimilar appearances.

Why write Brit characters?

Karen B: Write what you love? That’s one excuse. There’s a safe exoticism to the Brits. They’re just different enough. No language barrier, but you have the accent, the irresistible British sense of humor, and those funny things they say like bugger and brilliant. I’m such a goof, a good-looking British guy could tell me I was sixes and sevens and I would still swoon.

Karen S: I write both British and American male leads. The ones who are British are just, for lack of a better word, different. The sense of humor is different. The charm is different. There are things American men can do that seem completely awkward or unnatural coming from a Brit, and vice versa. Also, when I write I “hear” my characters talking in my head. It’s very easy for me to hear my Brit characters because I’m so familiar with the accent. I’d have a very difficult time writing a character with an accent I had less familiarity with, so I stick with what I know. I have a close Aussie friend who keeps insisting I need to write a good Aussie leading man. We’ll see…

What about British snacks? There’s mention of them in the book.

Karen B: In Long-Distance Lovers, Tim has a bit of a sweet tooth and he’s disappointed when he realizes he can’t procure the candy he likes from home. Jenna introduces him to pretzel M&Ms, which he loves, and it’s one of the things they bond over. I get all of my best British treats from Karen S. She sends them to me.

Karen S: One of my favorite things about traveling is having the chance to sample local foods—the produce, the traditional regional specialties, and of course, the candy. There’s always an array of new snack foods to choose from and I love to try them all. I usually return home from trips with a stash of tasty snacks I’ve discovered on my journey, and I miss my favorites when my supply inevitably runs out. Nowadays, with the Internet, it’s fairly easy to order hard to find snacks, but I don’t. Instead I prefer to troll the import aisle at supermarkets or specialty shops. I love the excitement of stumbling upon a favorite treat I can’t normally get locally. And I often buy an extra, to ship to Karen Booth.

Food is also closely linked to memories for me, which is why Tim, the charming British lead in Long-Distance Lovers, needs to experience some quintessential New York treats. One of the things I miss the most from when I lived in New York City is the cannolis. Not just any cannolis, either, the ones from Veniero’s Bakery. Those can’t be found or duplicated anywhere else, so I had to let him enjoy them. And trust me, he really enjoys them.

Long-Distance Lovers

British musician Tim Wentworth trades his London flat for an apartment in NYC so he can record with a promising American band, but he arrives in Manhattan to learn the gig has been canceled. With no job and a two-month stay in the States, he wonders if the trip has been a waste of time, until he meets charming and talented jewelry designer Jenna Bradford.

Unlike the groupies who throw themselves at Tim after shows, Jenna couldn’t be less impressed by his music credentials. Bad experiences have led her to have a strict “no-musicians” policy. But when Tim rescues Jenna from an obnoxious drunk, she bends her rules and they embark on a sensuous courtship filled with steamy, passionate nights and intense, unexpected emotions. While they try to find a way to prolong their time together, a family tragedy forces Tim to return to England. Jenna and Tim must each decide how far they’re willing to go to see if their whirlwind romance can lead to a lifetime of love.


Karen Booth and Karen Stivali are critique partners and co-authors of the new Ellora’s Cave erotic romance, Long-Distance Lovers, out now. Further info at

Buy now at Ellora’s Cave or Amazon!