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Check in from RWA 2017 Orlando

Welcome from RWA Nationals Conference in hot, sunny, hot Orlando, FL.  Here are some images to enjoy from Wednesday, the “pre-conference” day.

Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

I attended the Day of YA, hosted by YA-RWA. Our keynote speaker was Jennifer L. Armentrout, who gave a lovely, moving, personal talk on how each author should define success her own way and celebrate each milestone along our writer’s journey. She encouraged us not to get so mired in the trappings of the publishing biz that we lose our love of writing.

 

 

Damon Suede

 

Damon Suede presented a master class on “Star Turns: making protagonists shine.” It was one of the best writing craft classes that I have ever taken. In only 2 hours, he had me excited about new ideas to try for character development. I skipped the rest of the afternoon (mostly) to return to my hotel room and apply some of his techniques. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Damon, do it!

 

 

Goody Room at RWA in Orlando

Goody Room

 

RWA has two rooms for picking up Stuff We All Get. The Swag Room requires a ticket for a one-time walk-through. It has the serious swag, like books and water bottles. The Goody Room is open and has bookmarks, booklets, chocolate kisses, etc.

 

 

 

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

 

Sabrina Jeffries and I are holding our awards for Booksellers Best, sponsored by Greater Detroit RWA. When she accepted her award, Sabrina told us that this book, The Study of Seduction, was the first time she’d based a hero on her husband.  It’s her “love letter to him.”

 

 

 

Rubies’ Reunion

 

And, as always, the Rubies had their annual reunion at the conference. Eight years later, we’re still going strong!  I’ll close with a shot of everyone at the reunion. (Click the image to see all of us.)

Are you attending RWA 2017? Leave a comment and tell us about the highlights or most memorable aspects of your conference so far. 

 

 

 

Stretch Your Wings: Top Ten Tips for Introverts at Conferences

Before I began attending writers’ conferences, I thought of myself as an extrovert.

Dressed for battle in gray wool and white silk, I fearlessly strode into my first conference ready to conquer the romance-writing world. I’d thought of writing as a profession, and by that time, I was awfully good at being professional. I was ready to kick ass and take names on my way to the top.

But instead of businesspeople giving each other firm handshakes and exchanging business cards, I saw women running into each others’ arms and huddling in tight little groups, dishing gossip and reminiscing like long-lost friends.

Which they were, of course. They weren’t competitors. They weren’t colleagues.

They were friends.

Panic tightened my throat as my stomach lurched. I realized my error, for this wasn’t a work conference.

This was high school!

Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Susannah Erwin!!

**Today is Memorial Day. May we all take some time today to remember the many Americans who’ve sacrificed their lives in service to our country.**


 

The Rubies have a busy week ahead—we’re welcoming not one, but THREE Rebelle guests. Today we’re featuring 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Susannah Erwin, whose manuscript JOB OPENING: BILLIONAIRE’S WIFE is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance!

An eager lover of storytelling in any and all forms, Susannah Erwin has a bachelor’s degree in film and an MBA in entertainment management. Her employers included major Hollywood studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very spoiled cat. Her novel Job Opening: Billionaire’s Wife is a 2017 Golden Heart® nominee for Contemporary Romance: Short. Susannah’s chapter “Grounded” won the fourth round of the 2015 Avon FanLit competition and can be found in the novella A Duke to Remember. Her short story “The Santa Shack Up” is available in the anthology Holiday Ever After, published by LARA RWA.

Here’s a blurb for JOB OPENING: BILLIONAIRE’S WIFE:

He’s about to make his riskiest business acquisition yet: a wife.

Business is a game Luke Dallas plays to win. When the acquisition of his tech company hits a snag, jeopardizing his employees’ futures, Luke will do anything to move the deal forward – including getting married. When he bumps into Danica Novak, an executive recruiter in urgent need of a job, he thinks he’s found the perfect solution. She’ll recruit a wife for him. After all, marriage is just like business: a negotiation between two parties who have a mutual investment in a future outcome.

Danica believes Luke has taken momentary leave of his senses, but her brother’s medical bills make the money he offers very attractive.  Almost as attractive as he is, if it weren’t for the Mr. Roboto reputation he seems to have fully earned. She’ll find him three candidates, earn her bonus, and start her own search firm.

Neither of them added love into their calculations.

Sounds like a delightful book!! Seriously, there should be more job openings like that.

Susannah’s going to answer some interview questions today, and since hers is a billionaire story, why don’t we all settle into chaise lounges by the infinity pool while the cabana boys serve us mai tais. (Oh, is that the sound of a helicopter coming in to the private landing pad? Must be George Clooney coming to join us, as he often does. Leave him a chair, ladies, and get out the tanning oil.)

No Contest: How to Save RWA’s Writing Contest Circuit

Ten years ago, every romance writer I knew entered writing contests. It was the way you lowered your wheels to the ground, tested out the road, and saw how far you could go.

There was a typical pattern:

  1. You’d polish three-chapters-and-a-synopsis and toss it into a couple of local chapter contests to see if it floated or sank. This was a decent way to judge your commercial appeal and get feedback (taken with a grain of salt). Finaling regularly meant you could achieve a certain venerability on the contest circuit (like our own Kelly Fitzpatrick, for example!).
  2. Once you owned the local circuit, you’d aim for a highly competitive contest with an associated multi-day conference, like the Golden Leaf, or with a glamorous awards ceremony at RWA Nationals, like the Daphne and the Royal Ascot. Attending one of these conferences or ceremonies as a finalist was a huge networking opportunity! (Still is, honestly). 
  3. You’d shoot for the Golden Heart. Entering was expensive, but the rewards were automatic: agents would actually call you to see if you needed representation, you could attend terrifying swanky parties with Rita finalists and industry pros at Nationals. Best of all, you could count on a solid six months of glory within the romance-writing community. 

There used to be online leaderboards showing who’d earned the most finals and wins that year. Remember those? Heady days, my friends. Heady days!

Now? Just try to find a contest leaderboard. 

Go ahead; look. I tried, I failed, and frankly, I doubt any exist, because I don’t think enough people care about contests these days to keep track of who’s finaling.

Don’t be a Lone Wolf…

Or “why writers need other writers”

When I first started writing a book, I did it for fun. Most people thought I was crazy because most people think writing is work…not fun. But on those hazy, can’t-exactly-remember-because-I-was-a-tired-mama afternoons, I would put down the infant, drag out an ancient laptop and enter a fantasy world where characters did amusing things and drank lots of tea. Three years later after I typed the end, I realized I didn’t know what to do next.

I took to the internet and found…RWA.

I was titillated at the thought of belonging to an organization of writers, specifically romance writers. It was beyond comprehension that I could join and be part of something like RWA. After a few months, I researched chapters and found that the NOLA STARS chapter was IN MY TOWN! The rest is history…

So why am I telling you this? Because I kinda have a bug up my butt here lately about the attitude toward RWA specifically, and it bugs me that the perception is there’s enough information online that writers don’t need other writers. It bugs me that people say, “I get nothing out of RWA” which is something I’ve heard all too often this past month. It irritates me that people say this, yet they put forth ZERO effort to make our local chapter (or national association) better in any way. They want ROI without investment (other than dues).

Maybe I’m stepping on toes. And if so, I apologize. But I find a great deal of value in belonging to RWA. I’m a romance writer. It’s an organization for romance writers. It costs around $8 a month. They don’t ensure I’m successful but they provide many of the tools I need to grow and be successful. RWA isn’t a magic pill, but it brought me here. To this blog. With these incredible women. And that, for me, is enough for me to shell out my annual dues.

<stepping off soap box>

But this isn’t about RWA, it’s about not going it alone. And why you shouldn’t go it alone as a writer.

Over the years, I’ve learned that writing is a solitary profession. Only I can create my story. I must sit and pound out words that form sentences that form pages that make a book. It’s on me. But at the same time, I NEED other writers.

Why? Why do I need other writers?

Because this industry is tough as….well, you fill in that blank. And other writers give me something that no one else in my world can. They give me understanding, an ear, advice, a kick in the pants, a shoulder to cry on, and they do that because they understand. Because they are me. Since I joined my local chapter, I’ve had enormous support. Three ladies met with me every week to critique, give advice, eat chips and salsa. At conferences, I met my critique partner and other writers who did things like introduce me to their agent, editor or ask me to write a book with them. I’ve met friends and business associates who have helped my career whether it was to give me a word of encouragement, share a post or buy my book (and love it). I have installed around me mentors, critique partners, brainstorming buddies and true friends who know my struggle. They give me validation and knock me down a peg or two when I get too big for my britches. In other words, they complete me as a writer.

Okay, so maybe you don’t belong to RWA. You belong to another writing group. Cool. Maybe you don’t belong to a writing group but you have a critique group. Or maybe you have writer friends who meet you at a chalet in the mountains to do a writing retreat.

Good.

Because that’s good for you. You need to belong to something and you need to give something back. It’s like a balance thing in the universe. You give. You get. Universal truth, or at least I think it is.  SO this post isn’t a how-to, it’s a should-do. If you don’t belong to a writing group or partnership, do something about that. RWA has resources and so do other writing groups. Get out there and be part of something. Judge contests, sign up to volunteer, make a lunch date with other writers. Don’t be a lone wolf. Because lone wolves are lonely. And probably hungry (since wolves hunt in packs). And probably have short life spans (I’m only guessing because I’m not a scientist).

So here we go, right here on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood you can be part of something. I mean, we’re writers and this is a platform, so let’s use it. What’s been bugging you? Are you having trouble with your WIP? Need some brainstorming help? Title suggestions?

Lay it on us…

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist McCall Hoyle!

Today we’re welcoming one of the YA Mermaids, McCall Hoyle, who won a Golden Heart® two years ago, and whose manuscript THE OTHER CHEEK is a 2016 nominee in the Young Adult Romance category.

mccallMcCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. Her first novel, THE THING WITH FEATHERS, won the YA category in 2014. It releases in September 2017 from Blink/HarperCollins. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.

Here’s a blurb for THE OTHER CHEEK:

Seventeen-year-old Hartley Downs used to be pretty. She used to know where she belonged—at the top of the honor roll, at the top of the homecoming court podium, at the top of the cheerleading pyramid. When a grizzly bear attacks her on a camping trip out west, she loses more than her looks. She loses her identity.

A year later, all she wants is her old face back. But that’s going to be a challenge. The reconstructive surgery comes with risks, and her father has enrolled her in a confidence-building-summer camp. Chase Simpson, her team captain, is a fierce competitor and refuses to let Hartley fade into the forest.

In order to survive this summer-camp-from-hell and convince her father she’s capable of making her own decisions, Hartley must learn to take risks, trust others, and tap into her own inner strength. Only then will she have a chance at facing the world with both cheeks forward.

Oh, fabulous!! What a great issue for your book to focus on—especially in this media-driven, appearance-obsessed age! This could be an important book for a lot of young people.

Speaking of experiences that help us find our inner strength, McCall’s here with us today to share her take on why RWA is so empowering for writers.

Readers, grab yourself some s’mores and gather round the campfire…no grizzly bears nearby, I promise!

Take it away, McCall!

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WHY I INVITE RANDOM STRANGERS TO GRW AND RWA®:

Well, in all honesty, I don’t invite just any random stranger. I invite the ones who voice even the tiniest interest in writing—in any genre. I’ve invited book sellers, librarians, friends of my nineteen-year-old daughter who are avid readers, and maybe my drycleaner.

Why?

2015 M &M

GRW Peeps–Brenda Davis, Sia Huff, Tami Brothers, Tammy Schubert, and McCall

I guess I need to return the favor, spread the love that was shared with me. I first heard of RWA® in Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE. I don’t have the book handy, but if I remember correctly, she suggests anyone with an interest in writing join RWA® for the plethora of resources the organization provides. I would take her advice one step farther and suggest anyone interested in writing seek out a local chapter and move heaven and earth to attend regular meetings. If that absolutely won’t work, find an online chapter.

When an acquaintance, Sia Huff, who is now a dear friend, invited me to attend a GRW meeting years ago, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t join right away. I didn’t feel like a real writer at the time, but that’s a story for another day.

Since that first meeting I’ve learned a lot about myself, about other writers, and about RWA®. I’ll try to distill what I’ve learned here:

  1. McCall and Amy DeLuca

    McCall and Amy DeLuca

     Writers need writing resources to perfect their crafts. We need materials and access to other writers. We’re responsible for our own educations. We can’t do this without lessons, texts, and teachers. RWA® and GRW have provided me with opportunities to learn under greats such as Michael Hauge, Margie Lawson, Laura Baker, and Robin Perini. I met my beautiful and all-around wonderful critique partner, Amy DeLuca, at my first Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolia Conference. I’ve had the opportunity to learn alongside her and many others because of the connections I’ve made at RWA.

2. Writers need wise business counsel. We need information and materials about querying, about agents and editors, about self-publishing, and yuck—taxes. The vast majority of what I’ve learned about the business of writing, I’ve learned from articles in RWA®’s ROMANCE WRITERS REPORT, from conferences, and from other writers I’ve met through RWA® and GRW. 

The 2014 Dreamweavers

The 2014 Dreamweavers

3. Writers need emotional support. We tend to feel things strongly—the highs and lows. I could fill pages with people who have encouraged and mentored me along the way. I’ve got a fairly decent list of people who’ve given me a swift kick in the behind when I needed it too. Of course, there’s my critique partner Amy who is also one of my 2014 Golden Heart® Dreamweaver Sisters. The Dreamweavers are my go-to for pretty much everything writing or mental health related. There are my new 2016 Golden Heart® Mermaid Sisters. We’re currently bonding over dress and pin selections and food and travel plans. But then there are so many people who had no connection to me at all but helped anyway. Like Maureen Hardegree who critiqued for me early on at the GRW Gin Ellis Workshop. Like Sally Kilpatrick who answers random email questions despite her hectic writing and family life. Like her critique partner Tanya Michaels who answers questions and shares cabs with people like me who couldn’t find their way around rural Georgia much less New York City. Like Missy Tippens who welcomed me at her table of published authors when I showed up at a meeting and had nowhere to sit. I also run into her every year in the airport on my way to Nationals. She and her family are always warm and welcome faces. Did I mention I kind of have a phobia about traveling alone? Truly, I could go on and on. These women are all multi-published authors who helped me when I was clueless. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that these women are not the exception when it comes to our great organization. They are the norm.

And that’s why I invite random strangers who show an interest in writing, no matter how small, to visit and join GRW and RWA®.

Do you have a local chapter? Which one? What’s your favorite thing about your chapter?

******************************************

Where to find McCall on social media:

Website http://mccallhoyle.com

Twitter   @McCallHoyle

Instagram @McCallHoyleBooks

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/McCallHoyleBooks/

Live Blogging the 2015 Golden Heart / Rita Announcements!!!!

free red balloon imageLET THE ANNOUNCEMENTS BEGIN…

It’s time for our annual live blogging event of the 2015 Golden Heart/Rita announcements! If you entered RWA®’s Golden Heart or RITA contest, then you’re likely hovering over your phone today as you await THE CALL. So why not hang out with all the other hopefuls (many of the Rubies included) who are also waiting on pins and needles?

From past experience, we know that the internet will be abuzz today with happy news. We’ll be updating our list here as announcements come in from various sources. Come spread the joy and keep hope alive by celebrating the announcements of those who did receive a call today.

Good luck to all who entered and thank you to all for coming to celebrate with us.

FOR THE FINALISTS: If RWA® has notified you that you’re a finalist, please post your news in the comments below, and include the following info:

The word FINALIST in all caps / your CATEGORY also in all caps. Also, please give us your book title and the name you want listed if writing under a pseudonym.

If you’re a RITA finalist, we’ll also need the publisher and your editor’s name, if any. (Let us know if you’re Indie!)

***************************************************

Now, let’s get this party started!

2015 RITA FINALISTS:

Best First Book

A Bollywood Affair
by Sonali Dev
Kensington Publishing
Martin Biro, editor

The Dress Thief
by Natalie Meg Evans
Quercus Publishing
Kathryn Taussig, editor

Fake
by Beck Nicholas
Harlequin, TEEN
Annabel Blay, editor

Mind Sweeper
by AE Jones
Self-published
Faith Freewoman, editor

The Smuggler Wore Silk
by Alyssa Alexander
Penguin Group USA, Berkley
Julie Mianecki, editor

Purely Professional
by Elia Winters
Harlequin, Carina Press
Kerri Buckley, editor

Run To You
by Clara Kensie
Harlequin, TEEN
Natashya Wilson, editor 

For Such a Time
by Kate Breslin
Baker Publishing, Bethany House
Raela Schoenherr, editor

To Scotland with Love
by Patience Griffin
New American Library, Signet
Tracy Bernstein, editor

Contemporary Romance: Long

showThe Sweetest September
by Liz Talley
Harlequin, Superromance
Megan Long and Wanda Ottewell, editors

It’s in His Kiss
by Jill Shalvis
Grand Central Publishing
Leah Hultenschmidt and Alex Logan, editors

Baby, It’s You
by Jane Graves
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Michele Bidelshach, editor

The Best Medicine
by Tracy Brogan
Amazon Publishing, Montlake Romance
Kelli Martin, editor

Fever Pitch
by Heidi Cullinan
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Sasha Knight, editor

The Vixen and the Vet
by Kate Regnery
Self-published
Chris Belden and Melissa Demeo, editors

Slow Tango with a Prince
by Nicole Burnham
Self-published
Valerie Susan Hayward, editor

Somebody Like You
by Beth Vogt
Simon & Schuster, Howard Books
Jessica Wong, editor

The Place I Belong
by Nancy Herkness
Amazon Publishing, Montlake Romance
JoVon Sotak, editor

To Scotland with Love
by Patience Griffin
New American Library, Signet
Tracy Bernstein, editor

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

Carolina Man
by Virginia Kantra
Penguin Publishing Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Cindy Hwang, editor

Her Cowboy Hero
by Tanya Michaels
Harlequin, American Romance
Johanna Raisanen, editor

Worth the Fall
by Caitie Quinn
Self-published
Jenn Harris, editor

Her Kind of Trouble
by Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin, Superromance
Wanda Ottewell, editor 

Starting with June
by Emilie Rose
Harlequin, Superromance
Wanda Ottewell and Karen Reid, editors

Reforming the Playboy
by Inara Scott
Entangled Publishing, Indulgence
Alethea Spiridon Hopson, editor

Love with a Perfect Cowboy
by Lori Wilde
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Lucia Macro, editor

Once a Family
by Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin, Superromance
Paula Eykelhof, editor

Her Temporary Hero
by Jennifer Apodaca
Entangled Publishing, Indulgence
Kate Fall and Alethea Spiridon Hopson, editors

One in a Million
by Jill Shalvis
Grand Central Publishing
Leah Hultenschmidt and Alex Logan, editors

Contemporary Romance: Short

A Bride for the Blacksheep Brother
by Emily McKay
Harlequin, Desire
Charles Griemsman, editor

The Bachelor Doctor’s Bride
by Caro Carson
Harlequin, Special Edition
Gail Chasan, editor

Enemies with Benefits
by Louisa George
Harlequin Mills & Boon, Modern Tempted/KISS
Flo Nicoll, editor

Her Unforgettable Royal Lover
by Merline Lovelace
Harlequin, Desire
Gail Chasan, editor

A Texas Rescue Christmas
by Caro Carson
Harlequin, Special Edition
Gail Chasan, editor

What the Greek Can’t Resist
by Maya Blake
Harlequin Mills & Boon, Presents
Suzanne Clarke, editor

Yours Forever
by Farrah Rochon
Harlequin, Kimani Romance
Tara Gavin, editor 

Bad Girl
by Julie Miller
Harlequin, Intrigue NOIR
Allison Lyons, editor

The Headmaster
by Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin, E-Shivers
Danielle Padula, editor

Blueprint for a Kiss
by Nancy Warren
Self-published
Trish Milburn, editor

Erotic Romance

Call Me Saffron
by Talia Surova
Self-published

Wanted
by J. Kenner
Random House, Ballantine Bantam Dell
Shauna Summers, editor

Purely Professional
by Elia Winters
Harlequin, Carina Press
Kerri Buckley, editor

Bonds of Denial
by Lynda Aicher
Harlequin, Carina Press
Rhonda Helms, editor 

The Saint
by Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin, Mira
Susan Swinwood, editor

Historical Romance: Long

Fool Me Twice
by Meredith Duran
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Lauren McKenna, editor

Douglas: Lord of Heartache
by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

A Place Called Harmony
by Jodi Thomas
Penguin Group USA, Berkley
Wendy McCurdy, editor

Worth: Lord of Reckoning
by Grace Burrowes
Self-published

Where the Horses Run
by Kaki Warner
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Wendy McCurdy, editor

Historical Romance: Short

Darling Beast
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central Publishing
Leah Hultenschmidt, editor

 Romancing the Duke
by Tessa Dare
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Tessa Woodward, editor

The Gentleman Rogue
by Margaret McPhee
Harlequin Mills & Boon, Historical
Pippa Roscoe, editor

The Bells of Times Square
by Amy Lane
Riptide Publishing
Sarah Frantz Lyons, editor

The Cowboy’s Reluctant Bride
by Debra Cowan
Harlequin, Historical
Rachel Burkot, editor

In Bed with a Rogue
by Samantha Grace
Sourcebooks
Cat Clyne, editor

Inspirational Romance

Hope at Dawn
by Stacy Henrie
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Lauren Plude, editor

Deceived
by Irene Hannon
Baker Publishing Group, Revell
Jennifer Leep, editor

The Widow’s Suitor
by Rose Ross Zediker
Harlequin, Heartsong Presents
Kathy Davis, editor

Huckleberry Summer
by Jennifer Beckstrand
Kensington Publishing
John Scognamiglio, editor

For Such a Time
by Kate Breslin
Baker Publishing Group, Bethany House
Raela Schoenherr, editor 

Paranormal Romance

Be Careful What You Kiss For
by Jane Lynne Daniels
Boroughs Publishing Group
Jill Limber, editor

The Darkest Touch
by Gena Showalter
Harlequin, HQN
Emily Ohanjanians, editor

Forged By Desire
by Bec McMaster
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Mary Altman, editor

Mind Sweeper
by AE Jones
Self-published
Faith Freewoman, editor

My Lady, My Lord
by Katherine Ashe
Self-published
Martha Trachtenberg, editor

Evernight
by Kristen Callihan
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Alex Logan, editor

Burn for Me
by Cynthia Eden
Kensington Publishing, Brava
Esi Sogah, editor

Bitter Spirits
by Jenn Bennett
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Leis Pedersen, editor

Romance Novella

Pushing the Line
by Kimberly Kincaid
Self-published
Curtis Brown Digital, editor

The Last Wicked Scoundrel
by Lorraine Heath
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Impulse
May Chen, editor

Kiss and Tell
by Grace Burrowes
Self-published

His Road Home
by Anna Richland
Harlequin, Carina Press
Rhonda Helms, editor

“A Love Letter to the Editor”
by Robin Lee Hatcher
in Four Weddings & a Kiss
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Traci Depree and Ami McConnell, editors

“A Yorkshire Christmas”
by Kate Hewitt
in All I Want For Christmas
Tule Publishing Group, LLC
Sinclair Sawhney, editor

“Will You Be My Wi-Fi?”
by Caroline Linden
in At the Billionaire’s Wedding
Self-published, The Lady Authors
Martha Trachtenberg, editor

10 Rules to Sex Up a Blind Date
by Heidi Rice
Harlequin, Cosmo Red-Hot Reads
Bryony Green, editor 

“A Game of Brides”
by Megan Crane
in Love Me True
Tule Publishing Group, LLC
Lilian Darcy, editor

Her Best Laid Plans
by Cara McKenna
Harlequin, Cosmo Red-Hot Reads
Malle Vallik, editor 

Romantic Suspense

Concealed in Death
by J. D. Robb
Penguin Group USA, G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Leslie Gelbman, editor

Into the Shadows
by Carolyn Crane
Self-published
Deb Nemeth and my fabulous critique partners, editors

You’re Not Safe
by Mary Burton
Kensington Publishing, Zebra
John Scognamiglio, editor

Midnight Action
by Elle Kennedy
New American Library, Signet
Laura Fazio, editor

Honor Reclaimed
by Tonya Burrows
Entangled Publishing, Select
Heather Howland, editor

Forged in Ash
by Trish McCallan
Amazon Publishing, Montlake Romance
Charlotte Hersher and JoVon Sotak, editors

Lock and Load
by Kimberley Troutte
Self-published
Kimberley Troutte, editor

Grave Danger
by Katy Lee
Harlequin, Love Inspired Suspense
Emily Rodmell, editor

Young Adult Romance

Boys Like You
by Juliana Stone
Sourcebooks, Fire
Leah Hultenschmidt and Aubrey Poole, editors

Plus One
by Elizabeth Fama
Macmillan, Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Simon Boughton, editor

Run To You
by Clara Kensie
Harlequin, TEEN
Natashya Wilson, editor

Some Boys
by Patty Blount
Sourcebooks, Fire
Aubrey Poole, editor

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2015 GOLDEN HEART FINALISTS

Contemporary Romance

Jen Gilroy, PORT FAIRLIGHT SUMMER

Kelly Farmer, PUPPY LOVE 

 Susan J. Bickford, THE HOUSE OF D’INNOCENZI

Jennifer Brodie, MACE, MEN, AND MARGARITAS

Priscilla Kissinger, HIS PERFECT PARTNER

Jo Anne Banker, HOMECOMING

Alice Faris, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO TALKING DIRTY

Arianna James, CAUGHT ON FILM 

Kimberly Buckner, CALL ME MRS. WHITLOCK 

Kelly Siskind, CHASING CRAZY

 

Erotic Romance

Elle Mason, SORTING OUT THE KINKS

Michele Arris, A DEAL FOR LOVE

Caroline Bradley, INDULGE MY FANTASY

 

Historical Romance

Laurie Benson,  A PROPER SCANDAL

Sara Leyton, THE REUNION

Kim Turner, SAWYER’S ROSE

 Marnee Blake, A DANGEROUS CHEMISTRY

Ellen Lindseth, A QUESTION OF LOYALTY

Renee Ann Miller, NEVER DARE A WICKED EARL

E K Barnes, RESCUING MR. GRACEY

Kimberly Bell, A CONVENIENT ENGAGEMENT

Lori Sanders Foley, DRAGON’S LAIR

Paranormal Romance

 Melanie McCarthy, UNDERCOVER ENCHANTER

Pamela Kopfler, BETTER DEAD

Kristal Hollis, HOWLIN’ HEARTS

Nancy Coiner, THE MAGICAL LIBRARIAN OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA

Heather Leonard, MAGIC CITY

Kimberly MacCarron, MAPPING FATE

Jeanne Oates Estridge, DEMONS DON’T

Maria Powers, COYOTE WALKS

Tara Sheets, STONE HUNTER 

 

Romantic Suspense

Sharon Wray, EVERY UNWORTHY THING

Sharon Wray, HOPE CRAVES AN EXECUTION 

Bronwyn McAvoy, DECEPTION ISLAND

Arlene McFarlane, MURDER, CURLERS, AND CREAM

Jessica Darago, SCANDAL

Tracy Poole, A SHOT WORTH TAKING

 

Short Contemporary Romance

Mia Sosa, AT HER SERVICE

Mary Oldham, A NIGHT AT THE ROSEMONT

Debra Moser, WAITING FOR MEGGIE

Alexa Rowan, WINNING HER OVER

Seana Kelly, WELCOME HOME, KATIE GALLAGHER

 

Young Adult Romance

Stephanie Winkelhake, OUR SOULS TO KEEP

Stephanie Winkelhake, WHEN I WAKE

Diana Munoz Stewart, MIND TRAVELER

T L Sumner, THE CULLODEN IMMORTALS

Julie Glover, SHARING HUNTER

Mary Sullivan, THE JADE QUEST

 

CONGRATS TO ALL THE NEW FINALISTS!!! Please join us here tomorrow for our annual Welcome party!!!

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Ellen Lindseth!

Hard to believe, but today we’re welcoming the last of our 2014 Golden Heart Finalist guests!! (Well, conference IS next week.) Ellen Lindseth, who finaled in the Historical Romance category with her book A SOLDIER’S SERENADE, is here to share some wonderful thoughts about what turned her into a writer.

But first some background: After years spent digging through dusty tomes on classical Greek and Roman societies, and writing such scintillating fare as “An Examination of the Economic Rivalry between the Minoans and the Mycenaeans during the Late Bronze Age I (ca. 1600-1400 BC),” Ellen decided to move on to a more modern era, namely the World War II years. When not listening to the best of Glenn Miller and watching gems of the Silver Screen, like Casablanca and The Best Years of Our Lives, or flying around the country with her husband in their Beech Bonanza, she likes to relax at home in Plymouth, MN with her three rescued cats and a bearded dragon.

Here’s a blurb for her Golden Heart book, A SOLDIER’S SERENADE, which is the first in a trio of WWII romances set in 1942 United States:

Phoebe Jennings, a spirited young songwriter, is on her way out of Minnesota when she meets Captain Will Mathison, an enigmatic army officer with a musical past and a dark secret. Stranded by a series of wartime snafus in the same town where he works, she starts to fall for him while he helps her with her career. When Will’s secret comes to light, endangering them both, Phoebe is forced to choose whether to leave and follow her dreams of success or obey the longings of her heart.

Ellen has two more complete historicals as well, and she was willing to share the blurbs for them as well:

A Question of Loyalty (Book 2 of the Homeland series): 

Sophia Younan, a young Turkish woman alone in wartime America, is on a quest to find her missing father and twin brother. When she starts asking questions of the wrong people, Jason Krieg, a top researcher for the O.S.S., is ordered to stop her. As far as the U.S. government knows, Sophia Younan is not only the daughter of a lead scientist on a U.S. weapons project, she is also dead. Desperate to prove her identity, Sophia agrees to accompany Jason to Washington D.C. where secrets and lies soon surround them in an ever thickening web. Against the odds, they fall for one another, leading them both to question what they know of loyalty . . . and love.

Seducing the Enemy (Book 3 of the Homeland series):

Meredith Bennett Mathison, a beautiful but naive socialite, is in deep trouble. Accused of aiding the enemy in a time of war, she is given the chance to clear her name if she can recover some stolen weapon plans before they are smuggled out of the U.S. The only catch is the plans are in the hands of a rich sociopath who would rather have his hands all over Meredith. A sexy and highly-trained Army sergeant is brought into help her, and soon Meredith finds she is risking far more than her life on this mission . . . she may also be risking her heart.

Wow! Fabulous scenarios, Ellen! I’m so glad WWII Romance is on an up-swell these days–what an era for adventure and sacrifice and genuine passion!! Thanks so much for sharing.

Ellen’s sharing something else as well today: a sweet prize for one lucky commenter! Leave a comment today and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a $15 gift certificate to your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s.

Take it away, Ellen!

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Ellen_Lindseth_Author_Photo_(1)It Takes a Village

Unlike many authors, I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a writer. For a while I thought I would be a world-class equestrian, despite not owning a horse. And then there was the summer I spent in our local pool seeing how far I could swim underwater, hoping to become an underwater demolition expert, otherwise known as a frogman, or more recently as a Navy SEAL. Never mind that I have always been on the diminutive side, with bad eyesight, and well … female. Even in college I majored in Classics with vague aspirations of being an archeologist. Instead I ended up in business and eventually got my MBA in Accounting.

So how did I ever get started in this profession? One word: Shanna, one of my all-time favorite romances written by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which I also read at the tender age of thirteen. Talk about an eye-opener! To this day I wonder what my very straight-laced mother was thinking when she let me buy that book. Maybe she didn’t know what was in it. Maybe she hoped it would relieve her of having to explain the birds and bees to me. All I know is I loved that book in all of its overwritten glory. Despite having the attention span of a caffeinated flea (did I mention I’m slightly ADD?), I didn’t skip, I didn’t skim, I read every word of that book, from cover to cover. Multiple times.

In fact, I read all of Kathleen’s books, and to this day I thank the literary gods that no one said she couldn’t write romances set during the Civil War, or in the Caribbean, or in the court of the Russian tsar. Near as I could tell, she wrote in any darn period she felt like, and the romance world was richer for it. I’d like to think if she was still alive and writing today, she would have written one in the Roaring Twenties or even one set in the World War II era.

Which brings me around to that day, maybe ten years ago, when I wanted to read a particular story, starring one particular hero (a wounded, but noble WWII army officer who finds love and redemption in the arms of a spirited songwriter), and I couldn’t find it in the library, nor in a book store. So naturally I decided to write it. That story became A SOLDIER’S SERENADE, a finalist in this year’s Historical category of the Golden Heart.

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Jillian Lark!

Today we’re welcoming the second to last of our guests from the class of 2014 Golden Heart Finalists: Jillian Lark, whose book MUCH ADO ABOUT SCANDAL is nominated in the Historical Romance category.

Jillian’s passion for the past, England, and writing began at age eight when her family moved to a late Victorian era home near London. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education, minored in English, and studied writing and British history.

After living in two foreign countries and eleven U.S. states, Jillian now resides in Texas. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is a fervent Anglophile, occasional traveler, and reluctant wrangler of dust bunnies. She sometimes finds missing people. Just don’t ask where her lost keys, eyeglasses, and forks are.

MUCH ADO ABOUT SCANDAL (Book 1 in the Mischief in Mayfair series), also placed second in the 2013 Maggie Award for Excellence and Rebecca contests. Here’s the blurb:

Lady Selborne has found the man she wishes to marry. Unfortunately he’s not her husband. Lord Selborne has found the life he always wanted. Unfortunately he is not free to live it.

The estranged couple decides to end their arranged marriage the only honorable way allowed by Victorian law. One of them has to die – a faux death.

To avoid suspicion Lord and Lady Selborne must convince Society they are a loving couple. That is, if they can agree who should be the “victim” and protect their hearts from a painful past and unexpected desire.

I’m chuckling with delight just hearing about it! And, luckily for her future readers, Jillian’s working on the second book in the series, INVENTING LORD REMINGTON (which she describes as “Remington Steele for the Victorian age”): To save her late father’s company, a woman creates an imaginary husband. When a con artist assumes her fake husband’s identity, she must risk her reputation, the family business, and her heart.

I can’t wait!

Today, Jillian’s here to talk with us about a topic very much at the forefront of my mind: what to do if you’re NOT going to be joining the rest of the Romance writing world at RWA Nationals next week.

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Take it away, Jillian!!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi, everyone! Rubies, love your sisterhood and this blog. I met my CP Lia and won a 25-page critique from the fabulous Darynda Jones during the 2012 Make-It-Golden contest. I’m thrilled to give back today by discussing a seldom-mentioned topic.

 

 

 

               The Not-Going-to-Conference Blues

Before RWA®14 begins next week, even non-attendees who vow to resist will be tempted by all the pre-conference social media about “the dress,” shoes, packing, and survival tips. That’s when the not-going-to-conference blues worsen. Believe me I know. For the past two years I’ve had to cancel plans to attend my first national conference. I didn’t even get a t-shirt printed with “My friends went to RWA®13 and all I got was this HVAC system.”

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Sarah Andre!

Today we’re welcoming the lovely Sarah Andre, 2014 Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense with her book SECRETS THAT KILL.

Sarah lives in Houston with her husband and two naughty Pomeranians. She writes romantic suspense, is represented by a fabulous agent, and was also a finalist in the 2011 Golden Heart®. Weird Fact: Last year she went to see Blue Man Group, and out of thousands in the audience, they hauled her up on stage for the “Twinkie Act.” (If you’ve seen the show you’ll know the humiliation she faced!) J

Here’s a blurb for SECRETS THAT KILL:

The disinherited son of a Chicago billionaire returns home for a mysterious announcement only to encounter betrayal, discover the horrific truth behind a family secret, and get arrested for murder. Unfortunately, the only person he can turn to is his long, lost love, whose neighborhood is targeted for demolition by his development company.

Sarah’s here today to talk with us about the powerful imagery of love songs. She’s also going to be giving away a gift card worth $25 to your choice of Starbucks, Amazon, or iTunes! So be sure to join the conversation in the comments below!

Take it away, Sarah!

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Andre013ERomance Language in Lyrics

I listen to music constantly because subtext, symbolism and analogy in lyrics captivate me. Like great authors, songwriters develop a distinctive, unforgettable ‘voice’. And some of the best can twist words so intriguingly that I can’t help pressing ‘repeat’ on my iPod fourteen times in a row. (OK, not that many, but many.) Here’s an example of lyrics that leave me in awe. Kristian Leontiou of One EskimO’s sings in mystified sorrow: “One day it just snowed, I guess, and they closed the road into your heart.” Wow.

Or R.E.M.s song “The Ascent of Man” (written by Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe,)I’m a cactus trying to be a canoe. On the surface it’s a bizarre line, but the more you list the differences between the two nouns, the more profound and brilliant that lyric becomes.

As writers we’re taught to cut, revise and be succinct. Well, sometimes repetition really nails a point. Take Neil Young’s classic song: “Old Man.” He could have said, “I don’t care what you think of me,” because that’s his frank message. But the unique repetition of words really hammers his point home: It doesn’t mean that much to me to mean that much to you. Ouch.

But let’s talk romantic lyrics! Tracy Chapman’s “Smoke and Ashes” describes an Alpha-hottie-heartbreaker in street-cool terminology: …I heard talk about the trail you left of broken hearts. About the sea of tears too wide to cross. But your bad press has never turned me off. So I burned a path to figure out how to get me some of what you got.

And yeah, she ends up hurt, just like all the others. A beautifully written song. Or the line written and sung by Stevie Nicks in Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara:” Said you’d give me light, but you never told me ‘bout the pyre. A powerful arrow straight to the heart.

The reigning master of creative lyrics, IMO, is John Mayer. The paparazzi often exploit his dating/breaking up, but his adventures in relationships have given him exquisitely written descriptions of love or pain. “City Love” is about that flawless time in a new relationship, and he compares his giddy love as: It’s the kind of thing you only see in scented, glossy magazines. Get it? The Photoshopped, impossibly adorable ad of a “picture-perfect” couple laughing and holding hands. A charming image for new love.

In “Assassin,” John unapologetically tells us he uses women and leaves, but this time he’s met his match. I’m an assassin and I had a job to do, little did I know that girl was an assassin too…suddenly I’m in over my head and I can hardly breathe.

His very public breakups can be summed up in just the song titles! “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” “Heartbreak Warfare,” “Half of my Heart,” “Split Screen Sadness” are some of the most outstanding stories of agony I’ve ever listened to. “Come Back to Bed” is about a late night fight and she’s run sobbing down the hall. He begs for her return: And I won’t sleep through this. I survive on the breath you are finished with. A master of lyrical pain.

Del Amitri’s lyricist, Justin Currie, uses both literal and figurative imagery in “Driving with the Brakes on.” (Again, title is as creative as the descriptive troubled relationship.) They’re on the road somewhere, having fought earlier. She’s driving and giving him the silent treatment. And he’s realizing that his love for her gives her all the power and control. Literally and figuratively: But she’s got the wheel and I have nothing except what I have on.

And finally, my favorite song of all time, “Secret Garden,” written by rock and roll god, Bruce Springsteen. Too spectacular to choose just one line, so download it and listen closely. There is not one misplaced or misguided word in his tribute to the mystery that makes up a woman. His raspy voice lends quiet reverence and regret—no man will ever figure out the inner female soul. Even the achingly soft, fade-to-black sax riff by the late Clarence Clemmons is like typing the last period on your own romance novel. (Seriously. Download the song now!)

Is there a lyric you love that uses imagery or symbolism? Please share the band, song and songwriter (only a line or two tops, please!) One commenter will receive a $25 gift card to your choice of Starbucks, Amazon or iTunes.

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Connect with Sarah:

View her website at www.SarahAndre.com, Facebook: www.Facebook.com/SarahAndreWriter or Twitter: @SarahRSWriter. She is a member of the romantic suspense blog: www.KissandThrill.com.

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