Monday Mayhem – So, this happened…

So, this happened this week: 15 Best Romance Novels of 2018 (So far)

No, seriously. Click on the link. That really happened. Look at me…right smack dab between Ms. Beverly Jenkins and the fabulous Alyssa Cole! Okay, LOVE GAME is, but I wrote it and it was named one of the 15 best of the year so far by BookPage!

THRILLED!

And this is happening this coming week:

Yep. I’m hanging out with the cool kids these days. The best part is, I’ll get to hang out with this cool kid for most of the week:

So, yeah, things are happening. I’ll report back when something else happens. In the meantime…go read a book!

Oh! And only 3 weeks until A RING FOR ROSIE (Play Dates #3) releases!

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Monday Mayhem – That whirring noise you hear…

Is me winding down from a fabulous weekend in the Chicago area.

I attended the 2018 Chicago North RWA Spring Fling. I am home now. Exhausted and exhilarated. There’s nothing like spending time with other writers to recharge the creative juices.

The big advantage to attending a conference in Chicago is the fact that I can combine it with family and friends time.

I got to visit with my niece and her boys, where I met my new (ish) great-nephew, I had time to hang out with my sister one-on-one, and had pizza with my brother and his family (where I had my butt kicked playing Sequence for Kids).

I also got to spend an evening with some of my sorority sisters – some of whom I hadn’t seen in mumblemumblemumble years. 

The best part, as always, was having the chance to catch up with my life-long besties. From cooing over prom dresses and repeatedly apologizing to Jen’s daughter for being…us…to sweet, gorgeous young Mike, who had no idea what he was getting served when the hostess seated this party of four.

I’m home now. The laundry had to be piled up whilst Sally and I got reacquainted with an epic nap, but there’s always tomorrow.

Oh! And I finished the first draft on my latest work in progress before I left, so if you are looking for me, I’ll be in the revision cave for the next couple of months.

Thanks to all of my hardworking members of the CNRWA chapter for putting on such a great conference. See you in 2020!

And go, Cubs, go!

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Monday Mayhem – An Open Window

Thanks so much for all the positive feedback and social media support for my new release, PLAY FOR KEEPS!

And, if you have already reviewed, THANK YOU! If you have not, please consider posting a review on Amazon.com when you are done reading. Not only do reviews help other readers decide if they want to give a book a shot, but they help authors gain visibility within the Amazon algorithms.

I admit was a little nervous about this book, because I knew Millie might be a bit much for some people. She doesn’t fit the traditional romance heroine mold, but I love her, and I’m glad readers are connecting with her.

So…this week I stepped off into a new adventure. My position at the day job was downsized, and Friday was my last day in the office.

As many of you know, I thrive on structure, so adjusting to this new phase may be a challenge for me, but I think I am up for it.

I have drawn up a schedule.

In Excel.

There may be wrapped text, merged cells, mixed borders, and color coding.

My resume is spiffed up and I am sending it out into the world. In the meantime, I am going to focus on wrapping up my WIP, a sort of Nashville-meets-A Star is Born story, and outlining a new series for proposal.

I’ve started exercising again, and I’m still meditating. All in all, I’m trying to take things slow and let what is meant to happen…happen.

I’m also preparing for the Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling. There will be a multi-author book signing at the Double Tree hotel in Oak Brook, IL, Saturday, April 21. Join us!

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Monday Mayhem – Millie Time!

PLAY FOR KEEPS releases tomorrow and I am super-excited!

I have to admit, I love the heroine in this book. Millie talks tough, but she has a lot of heart. She knows who she is, and accepts and loves herself, but she struggles to let others in. Ty Ransom is a steady, determined man, and it’s a darn good thing. He’s going to have to put on a full court press to convince Millie that he’s playing for keeps.

And I have some BIG NEWS regarding this release!

Amazon editors have chosen PLAY FOR KEEPS as one of the best books of  April! This is a huge honor, and I’m keeping some pret-ty swanky company on that list. Check it out here.

LOVE GAME is still available in stores, so if you haven’t started the series, grab both books and get in the game! And keep the Spotted in the Wild pictures coming! I love seeing them!

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Monday Mayhem – Maggie’s a bad girl

I’m loving all the LOVE GAME sightings you’ve been sharing to my Facebook page. Thanks so much, and keep them coming!

This week, I’m shifting gears slightly to talk about my upcoming release EASY BAKE LOVIN’.

This book is the second in the Play Dates series, featuring hot single dads. In case you missed it, book #1, PLAY DATES, is on sale right now for 99¢, so grab a copy now!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google ~ Kensington ~ Kobo

EASY BAKE LOVIN’ was one of those books that was just a joy to write. I could see each character so clearly, hear their voices in my head, and best of all…I got to indulge my adolescent love of naughty word play in making up the names of all the treats Georgie sells in her adults-only bakery.

I can’t list the menu here, because I try to keep this blog PG-13 rated, but I giggled. Jewels giggled when critiquing it. Marci giggled through each round of edits. I hope you’ll giggle too.

After all, reading is a pleasure, and not one anyone needs to feel guilty about indulging. Pre-order now, or make a date to pick up Georgie and Mike’s story on March 6, 2018!

A straight-laced single dad just may discover he has a sweet tooth…
 
Mike Simmons had it all—until his perfect wife turned his perfectly ordered life upside down by leaving him and their two children. Now Mike’s struggling with the chaos of juggling his career as a security consultant with being a divorced single dad. It’s no surprise he’s not entirely comfortable with the anatomically correct treats their new client, Getta Piece Bakery, offers. And he doesn’t mind letting the client know it.

Free-spirited and spunky, baker extraordinaire Georgie Walters is about as far from a soccer mom type as you can get. She owes a lot of her success to the bachelorettes who have a special appreciation for her creations. But as Mike stands in her tiny shop nervous, but clearly intrigued, Georgie has to admit the guy is beautiful when he’s wound up tight. In fact, she finds she can’t resist getting a rise out of him. When she hires him to take care of her security needs—she gets so much more in the bargain. Now, her challenge is to teach him to look beyond the candy coating to all the warmth she has inside . . .

Preorder at: Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google ~ Kensington ~ Kobo

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Monday Mayhem – Overwhelmed, Overjoyed, Over the Moon

Is it possible that anyone missed this?

It’s been a fairly surreal week.

LOVE GAME was my 35th release, but my first to be available in brick and mortar stores. It was also the first time I took a release day off work. I spent the morning, spamming you all online, registering to attend RWA in Denver, and generally making sure my links and such were working. Then Fodder and I went out for lunch and to hunt it down in the wild.

I admit I got a little misty when I saw it. I still get a little keyed up thinking about it. Don’t tell him I told you, but Fodder did too.

 

The release was accompanied by some of the most AMAZING reviews. I have to admit that in recent years I have become one of those authors…the ones who beg for reviews (because we need them to sell books), but try not to read them. Because while the bad ones are indubitably soul-crushing, even the best review can get into an author’s head.

 

I have to admit, I’ve been reading those I come across on LOVE GAME, and I am thrilled to know that it’s connecting with readers.

I’ll post some links here because these are a thrill for me.

Publishers Weekly (Starred)

Dear Author (Recommended Read)

Romantically Inclined (A modern read…)

Guilty Pleasures (Purest Delight!)

That’s What I’m Talking About (A – Loved it!)

So, yeah, it’s been a great week.

It’s also been an awful week.

The second week of February always is for me. Friday, February 9, 2018 was the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Sunday, February 11th was the 2nd anniversary of mom’s.

So yeah, there’s been some Kleenex expenditure, but despite the racier aspects of my writing, I think my parents (inveterate bookworms themselves) would have been proud to see a book I produced on the shelf.

But THANK YOU. I hope I’ve made you proud, too. I appreciate your support, your enthusiasm, and the steadfast encouragement.

Without you, I’d just be tossing words out there into the void. With you, I am seeing my dreams come true one by one.

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Monday Mayhem – Alllllllmost….

So, tomorrow is the big day for LOVE GAME. Remember to look for it at your favorite book store or superstore. If you don’t see it on the shelf, do me a favor and ask for it, okay? Thanks!

In celebration of the big release, I wanted to share an excerpt with you and the inspiration for that particular scene. Are you ready for this?

****

Kate yanked open her front door and almost dropped her beloved Tea-Rex mug as she stared bleary-eyed at the surprise addition to her front porch. An oversized shoe box sat on her “Come back after basketball season” doormat.

She toed the mystery box, then glanced from left to right, making sure no one lurked in the shrubs waiting to snap a picture of her bending over in stretched-loose gym shorts and a faded T-shirt. The warm mug curled close to her chest, she squatted and flipped the lid off the box with one finger. Breath caught in her lungs, and she blinked in surprise.

The shoes nestled in the folds of tissue paper were a swirl of outlandishly obnoxious neon colors. So bright, mere humans would need a pinhole projector to view them properly. She fell in love on sight.

“Come to me, my pretties,” she whispered, setting her tea aside to draw the box closer. The tissue crinkled as she pushed it back. “Where did you come from, huh? Shoe fairies?” She touched one neon-orange lace and sighed. “Are you looking for a good home?” She peeked at the label on the box. “Look at that. Just my size.”

Caffeine and nowhere-to-be-seen newspaper forgotten, she lowered the lid, gathered the box in her arms, and carried the precious foundlings inside.

Perched on the edge of the sofa, she stared at the prize in her lap. Her heart thrummed against her breastbone, and a giddy, bubbly rush of anticipation simmered in her veins. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had given her a present, much less one this heart-trippingly perfect. She bit down on the tip of her tongue as she tossed the lid aside. A girly laugh of delight rushed past her lips the second she caught a glimpse of the shoes in the light.

Hooking her fingers under the laces, she plucked them from their tissue nest. The box fell to the floor unheeded as she gave the shoes an impetuous little hug. She knew it was silly but didn’t really care. Let other women swoon over toothpick-heeled Jimmy Choos. She was a pushover for leather and mesh uppers with gel-filled insoles.

Setting one shoe aside, she gathered the tips of the laces to line them up. Her greedy gaze cataloged the number of eyelets and mapped the exact route she’d take through the tongue flap. It wasn’t until she reached for the second shoe that she noticed the words inked inside the box lid. The thick, bold slashes of black magic marker seemed harsh and sharply incongruous with the colorful gift.

Dinner? D

She stared at the message, the pricey shoe dangling from her fingertips and her heart lodged in her throat.

Danny.

She shook her head hard. No. It couldn’t be.

Or could it?

****

Some women collect ceramic figurines, others handbags…Kate Snyder collects shoes. Athletic shoes, to be precise. This particular character quirk was inspired by the quirkiest character I know, Julie Doner.

In celebration of the release of LOVE GAME, Julie agreed to a photoshoot. Here’s a glimpse at this author’s inspiration:

Pick up a copy of LOVE GAME tomorrow and get the whole story on Kate’s seduction by shoe. If you want to order online, here are some handy-dandy links!

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

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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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