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 For those of you who don’t know, the RITAs are for published authors, and Golden Heart entries are unpublished.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!

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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!

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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 thekarens.com.

Buy now at Ellora’s Cave or Amazon!

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Kissy-Kissy Edition

Last week you got my tragic blind date story. Didja like that? Yeah…good story.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I have a little love story for you. It’s much nicer than the blind-dates-are-hazardous-to-your-health story, I swear. It even comes equipped with a happily ever whatever.

Ready?

In the spring of 1999, Margaret, a spinster from Illinois, went on a business trip to California. Not much of a hook, I know, but get this… She wasn’t supposed to go to that meeting that year. One of her co-workers was scheduled for the trip, but had to bow out. That’s when fate stepped in.

Dun-dun-dun!

Margaret’s business card was pulled from a hat, and she was awarded a trip to yet another conference. Oh, yippee skippee. In the fall of 1999, our heroine boarded a plane bound for Washington, D.C. Over six hundred miles away, a dark eyed man from Little Rock, Arkansas took off in the same direction, and…

Their gazes met across a stuffy conference room in rural Virginia…

They flirted….

There may have been adult beverages consumed…

And a game of Pictionary… (Uh, yeah, that’s what the kids call it these days.)

Some attendees claimed they spotted a couple kissing on the roof…

(Wait. What? You thought Pictionary was code for kissing? No, it’s charades with paper. Kissing is kissing. Sheesh. Have I taught you nothing? Read more smutty books!)

And our heroine said, “Oh, shit.”

True story.

By the end of the week, Margaret knew she had met THE ONE, but she wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it.  

Falling hard and fast for a stranger seven hundred miles away from home was not part of her plan. It was supposed to be a harmless flirtation. Some laughs, a few stolen kisses, a little excitement to break up the monotony of eight hours of seminars each day over the course of five long days.

But, he was so sweet. How could any spinster resist those big, bittersweet chocolate eyes? And the drawl! Not the twangy, annoying kind, but the soft, slow slurring of syllables that was just enough to make a northern girl melt into a puddle of goo….

Margaret knew right away she was in trouble. She also knew that resistance was futile.

On their wedding day, her hairdresser stood her up, but her groom didn’t.

And they lived happily ever after – so long as he continues to provide Route 44 Diet Cokes, crack her up daily, and say sweet things in that slow, southern drawl.

The End

Now it’s your turn to tell me a love story. It can be your love for Nutella or the nut job you married. Either works. Ready? Go!

Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it’s a sweet one!

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Monday Mayhem – Meet Maggie and Tom!!!!

Just in case you haven’t heard me shout it from the rooftops…It’s release day for COMMITMENT!!!

All digital formats are now available – trade paperback coming later this week.

The ebook is only $3.99 at the TMP Bookstore, Amazon, B&N, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords . Whew! That was a lot of links. I hope I got them all right.

Okay! Let’s talk about Maggie and Tom…

We first met these two in Contentment,  but their story is not truly a sequel. Commitment runs concurrent to Contentment. That’s a fancy way of saying, the timelines overlap. If you’ve read Contentment, you know what’s going on with these two, but you don’t really know how they got there or how it will turn out for them. Well, now you know…

Author true confession #1: I did not read Paramour or Contentment after they were released.

I mean I never sat down (or in my case, crawled into the tub) and read them like I book I just picked up. It’s not that I don’t love the stories or the characters. If you had any idea how real these people are to me, you’d call the men in the white coats. It’s just that by the time a book gets to market, I’ve been through it at least 6 times since I turned it in to my editor. After a while, the words begin to blur.

True confession #2: The first draft of this book took  me a total of 9 months to complete. Getting to the point where I could type ‘The End’ almost killed me.

Those of you who were around when I was writing Commitment know. It was so frustrating. I loved the characters. I loved the story they had to tell. I knew exactly where it was going to go and how I wanted to get them there, but something kept holding me back. I simply could not force the words from my fingertips. Thankfully, I have one of those painfully honest friends who pointed out a few areas she thought I could improve. In other words, she gave me all the reasons why she hated my book. I didn’t agree with her, but the feedback lit a fire under me. I went back in to make a few changes, determined to prove her wrong. Voila! It all clicked. For that, my painfully honest friend will receive extra kisses of gratitude.

True confession #3: I adore Tom and Maggie.

These two crack me up. Their story is much more light-hearted than the one I hung on poor Sean and Tracy. There’s nothing I love more than two snarky people in lust. Or love. Or both. LOVE these two together. I love the steam that rises between them. I think of all the couples I have ever written, Tom and Maggie are the most evenly matched in tone and temperment. That makes their tug-of-war more fun to watch.

True confession #4: I started reading Commitment on my Kindle last night.

I didn’t mean to, honest. I opened the file to re-read the dedication (because I couldn’t remember what I wrote) and thee next thing I knew, Mr. Man was snoring away and I was five chapters in.

True confession #5: In a roundabout way, I may have dedicated this book to myself.

Want to know how?

Buy the book. 

Happy Monday to you all, my friends. I hope your mayhem is marvelous. 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Begin as you mean to go on…

Did you hear? It’s a new year. Yep, 2012 slipped in while I was sleeping. Sneaky little bugger. Oh well, I’m glad it’s here at last. Not that 2011 didn’t treat me right. I think we can all agree that it did. Even in the end, 2011 kept giving and giving. It was incredible!

Contentment was named Most Memorable Story of 2011 by Another Look Book Reviews, and Paramour made a couple of end of year polls, and was ranked #3 in Top 25 books or series of 2011 by Heather Brewer at Everybody Needs A Little Romance. I’m still a little flabbergasted. The past couple of years have been a whirlwind—of the very best kind.

And now, a fresh new year. It’s hard to believe 2012 is here already. So much to do, so many things to look forward to already! What’s my plan of attack? I will begin as I mean to go on—head-first, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, and watch out, here she comes!

There’s tons of good stuff coming our way this year, so here’s a quick rundown from my little corner of the world:

Week of January 23: Commitment from Turquoise Morning Press

 I got cover art – wanna see?

 

Isn’t it pretty? I cannot wait for you to spend a little time with Maggie and Tom. These two are fun, sexy, and oh-so-delicious together. And they’ll be available soon! Squee!

Week of April 23: Spring Chickens from the Wild Rose Press

Oh my goodness, Lynne and Bram. I hope you fall for them as hard as I did. I loved writing this book. I love that this hero and heroine aren’t exactly spring chickens. I love that they fell in love, despite the fact that they can’t see each other clearly when they get up close and personal. Who says presbyopia can’t be sexy?  Certainly not me.

Week of June 4: Inamorata from Turquoise Morning Press

He’s baaaaack! The sexiest ghost ever to be stuck in a 60s-era light fixture is back. I’m editing now and preparing to send this baby off to my editor, but I can tell you that a new family has moved into the Stafford house, and Frank DeLuca seems destined for a new love. That is, if he can let go of the past and learn to trust in the promise of eternity.

(Cover art to come)

Whew! Pretty cool, huh? Well, that’s not all. I’ve been huddling with my editor and publisher about the possibility of finishing out the Long Distance Love series. That’s right; there will be more Jack and Ellie to come! The plan is to combine all of the published stories with five or six new short stories to round the series out and bring them full circle. I’m working on them now, and I can’t help looking at this for inspiration:

I love that cover. It’s sooooo them. Anyhoo – stay tuned for details.

That’s what I have on the docket for now. I plan to start chasing the plot bunnies running around in my head, and hopefully will have a new novel or two completed in this brand-spanking-new year. Perhaps I’m being a little ambitious, but I don’t see the point in aiming low.

Whatever happens, I’m excited for 2012. How about you?

What are you looking forward to in the coming months? Any goals or plans you care to share?  Happy Monday, my friends. Thank you for making 2011 a banner year for me. I wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2012.

Now go out there are kick some ass!

 

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