Tag Archive | Contemporary Romance

Happy 2014!

Since I did a wrapping-up-the-old-year-building-goals-for-the-new-year blog post around this time last year, I thought it would be fun to look at my goals from last year and see what kind of progress I made on them.

1. Finish and Edit Works in Progress

So at the beginning of 2013, I had wrapped up revisions on Waking the Dead and it was on its way to submission by my fabulous agent, Natalia Aponte. That left me with another novel (first in a paranormal romance series) that needed an extra 20K words added to bring it to a commercially viable length. I also had a stand alone contemporary romantic comedy novel half written, and the the second book in a series half written.

That was a $^%#-ton of stuff to finish!

So how’d I do?

Well… not to shabby, as it turns out. The paranormal romance (working title Nixies in Dixie) got its extra 20K words, part of which contained a new subplot with a new character who will get his own book in the series. It placed second in MCRW’s 2013 PITCH Contest, and it is currently under submission by my other wonderful agent, Victoria Lea.

My rom com (working title Going Dutch) is finished and under submission as well. I’d like to thank my darling Dutch husband for the 13 years worth of material on which I built the banter in the story and for answering all of my annoying questions about Dutch-isms, aviation, and for the continued exploration of our fascinating cultural differences. I’ll give a shout out to my mother-in-law for reading it and correcting the Dutch language and usage parts.

Yes, you read that right. I sent my risqué novel to my mother-in-law to read. That’s one of the really cool things about the Dutch. They’re probably the least uptight people on the planet, and they have an incomparable sense of humor and the ability to laugh at almost anything, including themselves.

Alas, I didn’t quite finish up the second book in the paranormal romance series, but I did manage an extra 20K. Hey, it’s progress! I also went through three rounds of edits for my debut novella, Red Shoes for Lab Blues, and it was well worth it for the experience and the end product. Lyrical Press published it in May 2013 and as of the end of December, I met the personal sales goal I’d set for myself. I’m looking forward to selling more in 2014 as Lyrical joins forces with Kensington Publishing (see below).

2. Learn All I Can About Marketing and Promotions

Through contacts in my author networks and a few unexpected but VERY welcomed reviews (thanks, Booknatics!) , I was able to get hands-on experience promoting the novella through blog interviews, tours, and conferences. I was fortunate enough to win free admission to the 2013 Killer Nashville Conference through The Killer Nashville 2013 Investigator’s Sweepstakes. HUGE thanks to Logan Masterson for sponsoring the sweepstakes. Look for his debut, Ravencroft Springs, coming from Pro Se Productions 2014! I was lucky enough to catch a preview when we traded work for critiques, and let me tell you, this guy’s writing will give you chills.

I’m very pleased to have a second shot at marketing the novella, this time with the power of Kensington Publishing Corporation. Lyrical Press became an imprint of Kensington in 2014, and I look forward to a re-release and the opportunity to build a broader readership for Red Shoes and future work.

3. Give Back

Probably one of the most rewarding parts of this journey has been encouraging other authors and watching them begin their own journeys. One of my cyberpals made her first sale at the end of the year. To my great delight, she told me that my encouragement was one of the factors that made her decide to write and submit original material. How cool is that? I get to be a mentor, too! And…one of my crit partners is working on her first novel. Look out, world – she’s got a great story in the making and I cannot WAIT to see what she does with it.

I am so pleased to report that my cyberpal, M.Q. Barber, published Playing the Game: Neighborly Affection Book 1 with Lyrical Press (follow the link to read my interview with her) and she’s gearing up for the next installments in the series. Like me, she’s waiting for re-release from Kensington, and I have no doubt she’ll find wild success! After all, she didn’t make the top reads of 2013 Lists at Red Hot Books AND Satin Sheets Romance for nothing!

My critique partner, friend, and all-around fabulous writer Sophia Jones published three great stories this year: The Phantom and the Psychic, The Pharaoh and the Curator, and Desert Dreams (follow the link to read my interview with her). She’s geared up to share more of Shaylene and Derek’s adventures with a follow-up, Desert Desires. She’s promised me (okay, all of her readers, but I know she’s really writing it for me) a pirate story and I’m cashing in on that promise in 2014 – you hear me, lady?

I’ve been able to give back through my MCRW chapter by serving as a Melody of Love Contest judge – this is one of my FAVORITE ways to give back. I got my start with contests, and the valuable and constructive feedback I received have made me a better writer. I hope I’ve been able to do the same as a first round judge. I’ve also had the opportunity to beta and crit for some of my MCRW sisters and I’m hoping to see their work on my Kindle and/or in my hands this year – I’m looking at you, Adventure Girl (and thanks for the feedback on Going Dutch)! Look for Jody Wallace’s Witch Interrupted in February 2014. I got to beta that one and I LOVED it even more than the first in the series, Pack and Coven (and I loved that one a lot)!

I’ll have the opportunity to give back to many of my fellow Aponte Literary authors. Look for Debbie Herbert, Ariel Swan, Brynn Chapman, M.V. Freeman, Tanisha Jones, D.T. Krippene, Eileen Charbonneau, and Juliene Osborne-McKnight on my blog soon. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know these authors and their work and look forward to sharing with my readers!

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I’m counting 2013 as a success, and I think I’ll keep the same goals for 2014. Well, I’ll add a wish for more fangirl dream moments like the one I had meeting Jeaniene Frost at the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon.

Squee!!!

So that’s my year in review and my hopes and aspirations for the coming year.

What are yours?

Welcome Mae Clair!

I am pleased as punch to welcome wonderful and talented author Mae Clair to my blog. Mae is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I’m delighted she agreed to stop by to talk about her new release, Twelfth Sun. Now it’s no secret that I love a hot geek hero, and Dr. Elijah Cross fits the bill. Even better, heroine Reagan Cassidy is a bit older than Elijah, which is rather refreshing in a sea of older-man-bags-hot-young-thang titles. Elijah is no mere boy-toy, and both of the primary characters possess depth and plenty of heart. Throw in a maritime mystery and a scavenger hunt hosted by an eccentric and curiously absent host, and you’ve got yourself a page-turner!

 
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The hunky young PhD knows all about seduction, but what does he know about love?

Reagan Cassidy is settled in her life. She has a thriving interior design firm, an upscale condo, two cats, and a goldfish. As a favor to her uncle, she agrees to team up with his marine archeologist friend to validate and retrieve a nineteenth-century journal, reputedly that of a passenger aboard the doomed schooner Twelfth Sun. Finding a hunky twenty-five-year-old coming out of the shower in her hotel room wasn’t part of the deal, but it’s hard to complain…

Dr. Elijah Cross is cocky and he knows it. He enjoys trading barbs with the lovely Reagan. Barbs, and some innuendo. He can tell she’d rather get back home to her business than stick around for the extended treasure hunt they’ve been talked into, but he’s fine with the situation. At least, until the “clues” start getting personal.

Reagan finds Dr. Gorgeous is as skilled in matters of the heart as he is behind the lectern. Throw in a series of clues which mean more to Elijah than he’ll explain, several odd-ball competitors out to win the journal, a saboteur, and a lavish seaside mansion, and Reagan has enough trouble keeping her head straight, let alone her heart.

WARNING: Younger man, older woman, nautical riddles and romance.

Mae, let’s start with your heroine, Reagan. She’s on a mission to retrieve the logbook from a passenger aboard the nineteenth century ship, Twelfth Sun, detailing her disastrous final voyage. She wants the journal for her uncle, and expects assistance from a stuffy old academic-type marine archaeologist. Imagine her surprise (and ours) when a gorgeous twenty-something shows up instead. Reagan has more than a little trouble taking him seriously at first. And she certainly isn’t in the market for any romantic entanglements. So what is it about Elijah, aside from his good looks and sometimes-charming-often-cocky manner, that appeals to her?

D.B., thanks so much for having me as your guest today and for that fab intro! *blush*  It’s great to be here, and I love your insight into my characters! Reagan definitely didn’t expect Dr. Elijah Cross to turn out to be….well, Elijah…but because of the promise she made to her uncle, she’s stuck working with him. At first she’s irritated by his cavalier attitude, but it’d that façade that eventually makes her look deeper. She’s intrigued by the contrasts she sees in him – one moment confident and in control, the next charmingly awkward at a social function. And there’s no doubt Elijah’s persistence plays a part too. He doesn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Oh he is most definitely persistent! Speaking of Elijah, I LOVE how authentic and well rounded you made his character. With his genius I.Q., he was thrust into the world of adults at an early age and is intellectually mature, yet you still give him that boyish charm expected from twenty-something males. He’s a bit socially awkward, but doesn’t fall into those over-used geek stereotypes; he can maintain complete focus on the task of interpreting clues, yet he’ll still take a plunge into cold ocean waters on a dare (and in order to impress a lady). How did you balance all of these complex character traits (which you did very well, by the way)?

Thanks for that lovely compliment! J Elijah was fun to write. I always love to explore what makes a character tick and Elijah was a proverbial fish out of water for most of his life (genius kid thrust into an adult world). I didn’t want him coming across brooding or reserved so I had to find a way to balance his intellect. I wanted him to be a character the reader could relate to. Maybe that was out of the question with his academic background, but most could relate to his insecurity at social gatherings or his quirky addiction to grape soda. And hey, any twenty-five-year-old is going to jump when challenged on a dare. Genius or not, some things never change, LOL.

Point well-taken, and any male between the ages of four and sixty+ is would most likely jump on a dare. Though she’s thoroughly modern and confident, Reagan struggles a bit with the age gap. This is a reflection of what is, IMHO, an unfair double standard in romantic fiction and our society as a whole. I definitely appreciated the fact that your story bucks this convention, as well as the cougar female and boy-toy younger male stereotypes. What inspired this pairing for you?

I heart star-crossed romances that buck impossible odds. Age gaps between the hero and heroine naturally have a built-in problem meter to overcome, so it makes a great launching point. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, believing in love at first sight and love overcoming all obstacles. Because of the stigma often associated with an older woman and younger man, it was the perfect set-up for what I wanted to accomplish. It created great conflict, especially for the first half of the novel while Reagan struggles with her attraction to Elijah.

Naturally I was a sucker for the romance, star-crossed and otherwise, but I also very much enjoyed the rivalry/bromance between Elijah and his rival, Brody Simpson. How important is it for you to round out your side characters?

Extremely. Side characters play a key part in every manuscript I write. My hero and heroine always take center stage but I like to delve into other relationships. It adds to the complexity of the plot which is important to me.

Any hints about what’s next from the Pen of Mae Clair?

That’s so cute! J I have a couple of projects in the works. I just finished the first draft of a romantic adventure novella, tentatively titled Solstice Island. It will be included in an anthology with several other authors and offered as a free read on Amazon. We hope to pub the end of the year or early in 2014.

I’ve also completed a romantic mystery called Eclipse Lake that revolves around two estranged brothers, a free-spirited photographer who falls hard for one, and a fifteen-year-old unsolved missing person’s case. If all goes according to plan, I’ll probably publish that in April or May of 2014.

You’ve been busy (adds to my TBR list)! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I always ask that question of my author guests because I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

I tread water most days. Honestly, sometimes I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight. My husband knows that Sunday afternoon is my day for writing. It’s a set commitment, so barring an emergency (or the occasional rare Sunday when I goof off), I spend 5-6 hours glued to my computer. I write blog posts in the evenings during the week (I work full-time) and occasionally even manage to grab an hour or two for my WIP of the moment. For now it’s working, but I look forward to the day when I can retire and devote more hours to writing!

Oh, I can definitely relate! Desert island – three must-have books?

The Bible. It’s got unrequited love, lust, murder, patricide, matricide, sibling rivalry, betrayal, forgiveness, uprisings and redemption!

The Terror by Dan Simmons. A masterful blend of history, myth, mystery, grisly horror and romance. And at over 900 pages for the paperback copy, it’s guaranteed to entertain for a while. J

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts, because I’d want a good romance and Caleb Hawkins is probably my favorite romantic hero (though Phillip Quinn in Nora’s Inner Harbor is a close second) J

Mae ClairThank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Mae please visit her website www.MaeClair.com  Twelfth Sun is available now from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iTunes. You can also connect with Mae onTwitter (@MaeClair1), her Facebook Author Page, and on Goodreads.

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, anartist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars. She snagged the tail of a comet, hitched a ride, and discovered her writer’s Muse on the journey.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with conflict, romance and elements of mystery. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about writing, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Welcome Lynn Cahoon!

Lyrical girls!I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Lynn Cahoon to my blog. Lynn is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I recently had the great fortune of meeting her in person at my favorite Nashville bookstore, Mysteries & More Booksellers. What a treat!

Today, she’ll be telling us about her new release, Temporary Roommates, a smokin’ hot contemporary romance from Passion In Print. The story features a dedicated nurse, a busy doc, and the apartment they agree to share – just for convenience, of course.

Yeah, right.

Blurb:

TemporaryRoomatecover_frontAnnie Baxter has her dream job.  Now, all she needs is a cheap apartment close to the hospital.  Troy Saunders knows his life as an intern is all about the long hours. He doesn’t have time to play doctor to some Nurse Barbie.  So when his sister finds a great apartment walking distance to work and next to the best running paths in the city, he’s sold. Two leasing agents, two prospective renters, one apartment.  Can they co-exist without fireworks?

Lynn, tell us a little about Annie and Troy. Aside from the physical, what drives their attraction and what makes them hesitate to act on it?

Both Troy and Annie have strong future driven goals.  They can see the finish line and don’t want anything, or anyone, to get in the way of what needs to be done. For Troy, his grandmother’s death from cancer set his mind to work for a cure. Annie got left at the altar by her high school sweetheart. An action she blesses him for because it forced her to look at what she wanted out of life, besides the white picket fence. 

This determination fuels the desire for each other, even though both deny wanting more than just a friendship. Maybe it’s the idea of forbidden fruit as much as karma that keeps throwing them in each other’s line of sight.

Sounds like they both get a lesson in work-life balance, which I’m sure a LOT of us can relate to. And three cheers for Troy – nothing like a hot guy with noble goals. Since cancer research is my day job, he’s definitely my kind of hero. Speaking of, I commend you on winning your battle with breast cancer. Congratulations on being a five-year survivor and kicking cancer’s ass! Did your personal experience with nurses, doctors, and hospitals influence this story?

Of course! I spent so much time at the hospital and in the general area, I almost considered moving closer.  At first though, thinking about the story allowed me to think about anything else than the treatment.  As far as kicking cancer’s ass, I’d rather not crow about that. I’m a bit superstitious. Let’s just say I’m doing good now and I have a full head of hair.

I have to tell a husband story here. The guy is a true romantic. One Sunday, I was taking a nap (which I did a lot during the chemo summer.)  I’d just started to lose my hair. A noise woke me and I went into our bathroom to find he’d taken the buzz shears to his shoulder length hair. He’d fully committed too. He ran those puppies right through the middle of his head, no turning back.  He wore the buzz cut all summer.

Even now, that memory makes me smile.   

Understood, and I’m so delighted hear that you found your real life hero. What a wonderful husband! Can you give us any hints about what is to come in this series?

Temporary Roommates (A Central West End Story) will be followed by a sequel, continuing Annie and Troy’s story.  And, there’s at least one unattached friend, Sasha, who needs her own story.  I’m not sure about Matt though.  I don’t know if I can rehabilitate him into anything close to hero status. But it might be fun to try.

I’ll be releasing Marriage Not Included in May with Soul Mate and the second in The Council series with Lyrical –Return of the Fae July 1st.  So there is lots to read from me while you’re waiting for the second in the Central West End series. And of course, there’s always The Bull Rider series 🙂

You are one busy writer! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

Just do it?  Nike has a point here.  I work 40+ hours a week, commute another 8 hours, and try to fit in a work out. I’m a firm believer in baby steps. Writing 250 words a day is better than none and you have a page.  Write 500 words twice a day, and you have 7000 words in a week or 28000 words in a month. Two months and you have a nice category length book to revise, edit and shop.  Four months and you have a full length book.

My bad habit is all or nothing at times.  So I have to remember to take time for me, even if I haven’t made word count for the week.   As you know, once you’re published, more time gets stolen away from you for promo, edits, publisher requests, etc.  Only you can write your story, so make sure you focus on that first. The rest can fit in around the big stuff.

Sounds like you have the right attitude, and I like the idea about baby steps – those 250-500 word count days really do add up! Desert Island – three must-have books?

The Stand by Stephen King – Anything I haven’t read from Harlan Coben – Illusions by Richard Bach (author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull).  It’s a little book, but punches a wallop as far as story. Wait, I just realized these are all male authors.  Let’s add Jayne Ann Krantz and her Arcane Society series to the mix.  So Four – because I’m getting a boxed set.  Maybe I can do that with Harlan’s books too. ???

Yes, I like to bend the rules, why do you ask?

Thank you for inviting me. I’m so blessed to have met so many wonderful authors and readers, on line and in person.

Oh man, Stephen King’s The Stand is definitely one of my all time favorites and one I’d bring along to the beach. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Lynn, please visit her website. Temporary Roommates is available now from Passion In Print , Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

Welcome Calisa Rhose!

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I am tickled pink to welcome the lovely and talented Calisa Rhose for my first blog interview evah!

And I’m thrilled to be your first to interview on your lovely blog, DB! Thank you for having me today for the official kickoff party tour for Risk Factors, which released March 4th!

Calisa is not only a sister author with Lyrical Press, she is now a content and acquiring editor for Lyrical Press. Today, she’ll be telling us about her upcoming release, Risk Factors, a contemporary romance that features veterinarian Vivian Dane, a heroine who has something to prove, and Connor McKay, an EMT and dedicated father who is afraid to risk his heart and his daughter for the sake of attraction.

Calisa, you have a penchant for wounded heroes, like Sam Callahan from Home (Wild Rose Press Publishing) and Connor in Risk Factors. Can you tell us a bit about Connor’s history and why he’s afraid to fall for Vivian?

Oh, Connor. As a small child he was abandoned by his biological mother and later on his young wife walked out on him a their infant daughter Janna. Other than his adopted mother and father, everyone he’d known growing up left him, so naturally he’s a little relationship shy. Vivian is not an easy woman to ignore, however. LOL

Thanks goodness for strong heroines! Vivian must not only win over Connor, but she has to prove worthy of the most important lady in his life, his daughter Janna. Applause for taking on the issue of single parenthood in romantic fiction! How do you balance Connor’s role as father with his role as romantic hero?

 Oy- he was not happy with me. He had to make some difficult decisions or risk losing both women. For instance, when Janna approves his date with the doctor, he has to work not to mess it up or risk hurting his daughter. Can he? I’ll let you read the book to find out how he manages.

Looking forward to reading all about their journey. Your love of horses and Oklahoma roots no doubt influenced character development for Vivian. Can you tell us what inspired EMT and paramedic Connor?

My roots definitely helped shape Viv. As for Connor, First Responders are H.O.T. That was pretty much it for me. I chose his particular line off rescue because originally there was going to be a forest fire and I needed a hero who could get in and out of a fire zone to save people and a helicopter allowed for that. The fire didn’t happen in the end, but his career stayed.

I’m glad the career choice stuck. There is something so very appealing about men who risk their lives in order to save others. Between writing, being an editor, and a wife/mother/grandmother, you wear a lot of hats! How do you find balance?

Hahaha Balance? You missed care-giver for my elderly father in-law. J My hubby spends a lot of time cooking. Bless his heart! I’m lucky he loves to cook because we’d both starve if he didn’t. I don’t think about food much when I’m working. Being a mother is the easy part as all three of our daughters are out on their own with their families. We are raising the oldest granddaughter right now, though. She’s a fun almost-8-year-old who refers to my writing as “sitting on the couch, doing nothing” (don’t I wish!) and she aspires to be just like me! LOL

Oh goodness, my almost-8-year-old has accused me of the same thing! Congratulations on becoming a Lyrical Press editor. Can you tell us what you’re looking for in submissions and authors?

You sneaky girl! LOL Thank you, Dana. As is with most editors, I want a love story I can get lost in, craft that shows the author knows their business with tight writing and unique plots. Specifically I like to see contemporary, suspense or paranormal stories with heart. I’m not into blood and gore or erotic or demonic, so sweet to steamy, sensual stories can find a home with me. What do I look for in authors? Someone who isn’t afraid to write outside the box, who is willing to work with their editor and build a solid relationship and will delve into the process of editing fearlessly.

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Calisa, please visit her website. Risk Factors will be available March 4, 2013, from Lyrical Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

BLURB:

Love, like life, is not without risk.

Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps. Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for. Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again. Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?

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EXCERPT:

Viv’s smile and throaty laughter burrowed deeper by the second, mutating into hot want that seemed to draw him to her at every opportunity. But her invitation shook him back to level ground. Dinner. With her. Vivian Dane, the woman who seemed to freely access his dreams lately, was asking him out.

Her voice fell to a low smoky grade that slid like satin over him, tightening around his chest, making it hard to breathe.

He wanted to kiss her.

Period.

There was something about her in the lab coat he couldn’t put his finger on. She appeared

so fragile and delicate in pink that matched her lips…china doll perfect. Kissable.

He opened his mouth to refuse. He couldn’t afford to get close to anyone, wouldn’t risk Janna. He knew his daughter already liked the vet, had said so. If he got involved and it all nosedived south, he couldn’t stand to have Janna hurt. Even if she didn’t know it, Viv was their veterinarian now and he’d have to see her, Jelly Bean would notice the tension–

“Connor?”

“I’d like that.”

I’ve enjoyed this so much, DB! I’d like to invite everyone to join my party to a few blogs and help me celebrate Risk Factors’ release. Here’s the link to follow my tour and the more you comment, the better chance you’ll have to win either a GC or a rose rock from me and a PDF copy of RF and maybe even some swag. I’ll select a winner at the end of the tour, so be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you!