Monday Mayhem – The calm

It’s the calm before the storm. At least, I’m trying to remain calm. The next three months are going to be a doozy.

I’ve been so focused on LOVE GAME, it’s easy to forget that EASY BAKE LOVIN’ (March 6) and PLAY FOR KEEPS (April 3) are following close behind.

How can you help?

#1 Buy the book. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Publishing is a business, and if these books don’t sell, my publishers have no reason to publish additional titles from me. Even if you don’t read romance, consider buying a copy for a friend, or to donate.

#2 Tell people! Talk about it. Suggest a title to your book club. No amount of paid advertising can match the power of word of mouth.  That’s a fact.

#3 Be a ripple: We are so inundated with images these days, it takes a minimum of seven visual impressions. If you see one of my books mentioned on social media or one of my posts somewhere, please share it with your friends (if you feel comfortable doing so). That’s a ripple.

#4 Review. Customer reviews on Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads are vital for an author. I’m not talking ego gratification. Many authors don’t even look at their reviews because, good or bad, they can impact writing productivity. Why do we ask for them? Because other readers look at them. So do book promotion sites. Some sites won’t allow an author to buy advertising unless they have a minimum number of positive reviews. So, even if it’s just “Hey, I really liked this book.” please  review.

#5 Tell the author. Not just me, but any author whose work you enjoy.  A letter, and email, a facebook post, a tweet – doesn’t matter if you tie note to a carrier pigeon (though I would probably make Fodder remove it from the bird’s leg). Writing is hard. This business can be brutal, and no one is immune. With each book an author places a little piece of their soul on the page. If you like something you read, tell the author. Even the biggest names have bad days. Make someone’s day.

I’m asking for your help. I need your help. Please and thank you.

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Monday Mayhem – Because you’ve gotta have friendssssss

I believe it’s important for every woman to have a close female friends. Wether it’s one, or a dozen, makes no difference. The strength and resilience of female friendships is something I try to incorporate into every story I write.

The friends you can text with random questions concerning bodily functions. Those who will hold you through the worst times and cheer you through the best. I have a few I lose contact with for months or years, but when we do get together, it’s like no time has passed at all. I have some I talk to every day.

I’m lucky enough to have two groups of friends who are integral to my life:

The first is simply known as The Cabinet.

These are my closest advisors. The ones who knew me in those halcyon days before everything we did went digital. We’ve been friends since we were teenagers and will be in each other’s pockets when we go to our graves. They pre-date the husbands and kids, and have outlasted the parents in some cases. Fodder knows better than to even think about contradicting the word of the cabinet.

Smart nieces and nephews know that inviting and/or allowing Aunt Moogie’s rowdy friends to come to the festivities results in more fun and quadruple the presents! Here we all are at my nephew’s wedding + my mother the photo bomber. <3

The other group you’ve heard me mention a number of times, because without them, I would not be a writer. Period. End of story.

They are my Super Cool Party People.

This is an ever expanding group of women drawn together by a common love, and bound together by unwavering support. We are scattered all over the globe and came to each other later in life (for some of us), but that doesn’t make our bond any weaker. My life would truly suck without them.

Love Game is the start of a new series that features three women: Kate Snyder, basketball superstar and all-around champion at life;  Millie Jenkins, the PR spin master who’s better at sorting out other people’s problems that thinking too hard about her own; and Avery Preston, Feminist Literature and Women’s Studies professor who harbors a secret desire.

I hope you’ll get a chance to meet them all. LOVE GAME goes on sale in just two weeks! And, in case you missed my gushing, you can read a couple of great pre-release reviews here and here!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google Play ~ Kobo  ~ Powell’s ~ Books-A-Million ~ The Ripped Bodice

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Monday Mayhem – Quite sporty

This may or may not come as a surprise, but I am a sporty girl. After all, I was raised with a half-court basketball court for a backyard. Remember?

It’s Martin Luther King Day here in the States. A day when people dream big. When I was little, I dreamed of being Dorothy Hamill, and every time the winter Olympics roll around, I get all excited again.

You can bet I’ll be glued to the coverage. Even the curling. Hell, especially the curling.

One of the people who proofed by upcoming release, LOVE GAME, was surprised to discover how much I actually knew about sports. I guess she didn’t know I like to cook chicken while looking sportsy.

Or that I ran over three whole miles without anyone chasing me – not once, but twice!

I was raised a Cubs fan, and a Purdue Boilermaker backer. In the course of my life, I’ve been a Central Catholic H.S. Saint (4-time IHSA state football champs!) and an Illinois State Redbird.

I admit I’m certainly not the most athletic person. I may be a bit…vertically challenged, and now I’m just middle aged and lazy. My friend Julie likes to play ALL the sports.

 

  But even those of us who aren’t stoked to play soccer in a sweaty plastic bubble can be sportsy.

My friend Laurie’s family are all huge Seattle Seahawks fans:

And aside from being a football mom and show-shoer, my pal Michelle sure loves a bull rider bull riding.

Women love sports. I married an Arkansas Razorback fan. He learned to say “Go, Cubs, go!’ and I took on ‘Woo pig! Sooie!’ On my first trip to Arkansas, Fodder offered me a chance to see a musical playing downtown (and you know I love musicals), or a Razorbacks football game.

You should have heard me call those Hogs!

How about you? Are you sporty? Who are your favorites? Did you ever have the dream of being a professional athlete?

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Monday Mayhem – Ramping up!

Gang, we are t-minus 29 days until LOVE GAME is released into the wild, and boy-howdy things are happening. Big things. Wow things.

In case you have somehow managed to miss my spastic whooping, this happened this week:

Yes, Publishers Weekly gave my book a STARRED review! If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.

I admit I cried a little when I read it. Not just because they liked my book, but because they got it. I wanted to write a book where two stubborn, strong-willed people fell in love and neither of them had to make themselves less so they could have more of a relationship.

I’m particularly proud that they caught the strong feminist streak that bonds the three female friends in the book.

Feminist is a word I had to grow into, but now I find it fits me like a glove. Maybe that’s one of the perks of becoming a woman of a certain age. I am so over apologizing for being awesome. Like Kate, Millie, and Avery, I am a strong, accomplished woman with opinions that matter, and a voice that carries. I no longer feel the need to explain or tone down my feminist tendencies.

I just hope the world can handle us.

Both LOVE GAME and PLAY FOR KEEPS are available for pre-order at every outlet imaginable (Target! Walmart!) and will be in stores February 6th and April 3rd. Be watching for a call to action here.

Avery’s story, DOUBLE PLAY, is shaping up nicely!

I’ve started reading for BINGO, have you?

I admit I’m not being very strategic, but since I can’t give myself a prize, I figure I can flit around a bit.

How about you? How is your new year going thus far?

 

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Monday Mayhem – The Gift of Giving Up

This time of year, I’m always focused on what I want to accomplish next year. The list is always fairly lengthy. I won’t get to everything, but I will complete some things. As I get older, I find that accomplishing some things is more than enough. The things I don’t get done will shift to the following year’s list, and life will go on.

Opened personal organizer with a to do list.

Patience is one of life’s great lessons. I haven’t mastered it, but I am learning to embrace it. I’m also learning how to let things go. This year, I plan to carry over my list of anti-resolutions. Remember these?

Stop showing and telling everything to everyone.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Stop worrying about what others think of you.

Stop waiting.

Stop doubting.

Stop being a stranger.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Stop standing in your own way.

Stop feeling guilty.

Stop thinking money creates value.

Stop feeling obligated.

Stop saying yes all the time

Stop thinking everything is a competition.

Stop trying to be like everyone else.

Stop thinking you have to get it right on the first try.

I’ve discovered that the list of things I plan to stop doing is the very definition of a work in progress. Some days I’m better at them than others.

In 2018, I’m giving myself a different kind of gift: permission to give up.

Not writing, or my day job, or anything important. But the time has come for me to put some conscious effort into quitting things that do not make me feel good.

Almost seven years ago, I quit smoking. Now, just because I list that here, don’t think for one minute I didn’t love smoking. I did. I just didn’t like the way smoking made me feel. So, I screwed up my determination and quit.

This year, I plan to give up some other things that don’t make me feel good. The first I plan to attack will be my social media habit.

No, I won’t be disappearing entirely, but I will be limiting the time I spend absorbing other people’s thoughts and opinions.

I will be around to post pictures and chat about life in general, but I’m going to start sticking to topics of polite conversation: the weather, health, and…books.

How about you? Do you plan to be a quitter in 2018? What baggage will you be ditching?

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Monday Mayhem – Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude. I hope you all know how very grateful I am for your support and encouragement. Lord knows, I probably don’t say it often enough, but I am. Writers write the stories they want to tell, but when we connect with at least one other person…that’s golden.

So, in case I haven’t said it lately, THANK YOU.

I appreciate you more than words can say. And I have a lot of words at my disposal. 🙂

This holiday season, I am taking part in the Attitude of Gratitude giveaway sponsored by my beloved Brinda Berry.

Brinda has gathered nearly fifty authors and we are GIVING AWAY books as a way of showing our gratitude for our readers. This is a great way to discover new-to-you authors, so don’t miss out!

<3 Mags

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A special birthday edition COVER REVEAL!

It’s my birthday, and I have something very special to share with you!

No, it’s not cake. But, if I had cake, I’d share it with you. I think this is even better than cake. No, wait, strike that. I can’t say that. But I can say it’s every bit as delicious as cake.

You want a taste?

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

Gah! I can’t wait anymore! Look! Look at the prettiness!

I am so in love with this cover and CANNOT WAIT to share Millie and Ty’s story with you all! Here’s the scoop on PLAY FOR KEEPS:

Mixing business and pleasure is a dangerous game…

Tyrell Ransom, the new men’s basketball coach, is ready to whip his team into shape and start winning some games. But when compromising photos of his soon-to-be-ex-wife with one of his players go viral, everything comes crashing down. With reporters thick on the ground, Ty and his team need some serious damage control―now.

When public relations guru Millie Jenkins arrives in her leopard-print cape to save the day, things reallyheat up… Soon they’re going to have to work double time to keep their white-hot chemistry out of the headlines.

Available April 3, 2018 from Sourcebooks Casablanca

Pre-order your mass market paperback now!
Amazon ~ B&N
Or, ask your local bookseller to order a copy for you!
ISBN #978-1492651529

 

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Monday Mayhem – Life in the Stereozoic Era

As many of you know, Fodder has been collecting and refinishing some 70s-80s-era stereo compenents. Last week, this sweet Sansui setup moved into my office.

We aren’t complete troglodytes. We hooked up a bluetooth hub, which means I can stream my iTunes playlists through my awesome receiver. Say what you want about the new compact speakers, but there’s nothing as resonant as good, old-fashioned woofers and tweeters.

I have to have music on to write. Probably because I grew up in a house that was never quiet. I have a playlist I put on as I write. Some of these songs provide inspiration for certain characters/story lines, others I simply like. Of course, being a romance writer, I named it Sexytimes. He’s a sampling on the songs on the list and some of the books they helped me write:

 

All I Want Is You                   U2 (Play Dates)

All of the Stars                        Ed Sheeran (Love & Rockets)

The Blower’s Daughter         Damien Rice (Flip This Love)

Chasing Cars                           Snow Patrol (Long Distance Love)

Falling Slowly                         Kris Allen (Double Play – WIP)

Just Breathe                            Pearl Jam (Easy Bake Lovin’ – 2018)

More Than This                      Roxy Music (A Bolt From the Blue)

Songbird                                   Eva Cassidy (A Will and A Way)

Turn Me On                             Norah Jones (Going Deep)

Secret Garden                          Bruce Springsteen (Love Game – 2018)

Long Long Time                      Linda Ronstadt (A Ring for Rosie – 2018)

Lilac Wine                                Miley Cyrus (Feel My Love-WIP)

How about you? Can music trigger memories or spark creativity in you?

 

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Monday Mayhem – The definition of…Sanity

The old saying about the definition of insanity really resonates with me. You know the one I mean – it’s usually attributed to Einstein, but no one really knows who said it first. Doesn’t really matter, it’s about as true as a sentiment can be.

I’ve been all over the place this week, trying new things. Some have worked, others are still works in progress, but I’m throwing things out there, hoping something sticks.

 

PLAY DATES has been released into the wild. Thank you all for a) buying it and b) the awesome reviews. They really do help, and I appreciate them all – good and the bad (I admit I tend to skim over the ugly).

There was a big special on SEDUCING STEVE this week. Thank you so much for helping me spread the word about it. It was fun to trot the yummy red-head out again.

I’m knee deep in my next project and loving it so far. I’m dictating most of it, and having a good time simply trying to be a storyteller. I’ll put my writer cap on later, and make it all spiffy. Right now, I’m just going with the flow in hopes of ramping it up in time to hit NaNoWriMo in full stride.

In the meantime, we can all look forward to seeing LOVE GAMES on the shelves in February 2018. Have you pre-ordered your copy(ies)?

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Monday Mayhem – Ooh and Om Edition

First, I want to thank you all for making the release of PLAY DATES so great. I have the best readers in the world!

Second, I want to wish all my Canadian friends a very happy Thanksgiving! I am so very thankful for you. And, I’d totally make you a plate of buttered toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and popcorn…basically my dream Thanksgiving dinner. Peppermint Patty was crazy to complain!

Third, I have a milestone to share. This week, I will celebrate a year of daily meditation. Despite my use of the Om (It Is, Will Be, or To Become) in this post’s title, I don’t chant when I meditate – at least not verbally. But, I have found that a quick 10 minute time out has made a huge difference in my life.

And believe me, I was a skeptic.

Though I always enjoyed the quiet time at the end of the yoga class, I’ve always viewed meditation as something too mystical – or worse, granola-y – for me to take seriously. But this time last year, I was stuck in a job I despised, feeling anxious about my writing, and generally tense and miserable. In other words, I was desperate.

I read an article that mentioned Calm.com and their free phone app. The article mentioned how grounded the program was in using meditation as a means to improve everyday life, not some far-fetched spiritual journey. I decided to give it a shot, and here’s what I discovered:

One breath, in and out. I could handle that. And all I had to do was concentrate on taking each breath as it came. By learning to do that, I learned to tackle my worries and stressors one at a time.

  • I left that miserable job for one that pays far less, and I don’t regret it one bit.
  • I spent time examining the motivation behind my writing and exploring the core themes of the stories I want to tell.
  • I discovered that no matter how busy I am, a 10-15 minute post-dinner puppy snuggle makes even the worst day a thousand times better.
  • And, I realized that there is absolutely nothing selfish or wrong about taking a few minutes out of the day to focus on myself and my state of mind.

I think the best we can do is to try to tune out the noise around us for a few minutes and focus inward. And when I do, I ask myself these questions:

  • Have I done everything I can do to make a difference?
  • Was I kind to someone today? Helpful? Accepting?
  • Did I make someone smile?
  • Did I ask for any help I might need?

Now, you may think the last one doesn’t fit, but I’d argue it absolutely does. I believe that we all want to contribute, even if it’s in the completion of a simple task. By asking for help, you are giving someone the opportunity to answer those first three questions affirmatively. So ultimately, by asking you are giving.

So, go into the world, give of yourselves and accept help from others. And, at the end of the day, remember to give yourself a break. We’re all going about this the same way – one breath in, one breath out.

Disclaimer: This may not work for everyone. Meditation makes Sally anxious.

 

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