Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Courtney Maguire!

We’re excited to welcome another newly minted Omega to the blog, Courtney Maguire. Her manuscript, WOUNDED MARTYR, is a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short category.

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.

Her debut novel, WOUNDED MARTYR, is a 2019 RWA Golden Heart Finalist and a CRW Stiletto Contest Finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short category.

Here’s a blurb for WOUNDED MARTYR:

Ice is an a**hole, but he’s working on it. He’s two years sober, no small feat when you front a heavy metal band facing waning popularity and dismal ticket sales. But, the pieces of a life torn apart by alcoholism are finally coming back together. His band, Wounded Martyr, has written a great album with the potential to launch them back into relevancy. And Ricky, probably the biggest, most important piece, has finally forgiven him for the wreck he made of their relationship. There’s only one problem.


It was to be expected. As his best friend and bandmate for almost twenty years, it’s only natural they should find each other in the loneliness of the road. Ricky knows about their one night together, but he doesn’t know that Ice can’t stop thinking about it, about his long body and whiskey-flavored lips, and the guilt of it has him on the brink of backslide. Now that Wounded Martyr is poised for a long tour, Ice must find a way to resist temptation or risk blowing their last chance and destroying his relationship with the two most important men in his life.

Wounded Martyr is scheduled for publication in December 2019 through Nine Star Press.

Ice sounds yummy. Wounded rock star hero with an attitude? I am SO in! I’m also thrilled that Courtney’s joined us today to talk about the call, Texas, her writing process and her incredibly fun hobby.

Welcome Courtney!! 


Tell us a little about your Golden Heart finaling book and the process of writing it.

WOUNDED MARTYR follows heavy metal vocalist and recovering alcoholic, Ice, as he struggles to repair the relationships damaged by his addiction and keep his band together. I pulled from my own experience as a professional fangirl and sometimes-roadie to portray the not-so-glamorous side of the music business. The characters in this book are an amalgamation of every musician I’ve spent time with. The tired older rocker hanging onto the dream by his fingernails. The dispassionate type that runs the band like a business. The party animal who embodies the sex, drugs, rock and roll lifestyle. I wanted to create something gritty and real with an underlying thread of hope even in the darkest moments.

What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist? (If you’ve finaled before, is it any different this time?) What’s the best thing about being a GH finalist? Has anything happened yet that you didn’t expect?

Getting that call from RWA was a surreal experience. I entered the Golden Heart contest kind of on a whim and completely convinced I had no chance in winning. When announcement day came, I’d all but forgotten about it. I saw a tweet about it and thought, “Oh, yeah! That’s today!” When I started seeing finalist announcements, I took that as a sign I didn’t win and went about my day. Then, sitting at my desk at work, my cell phone rang. My heart jumped into my throat and I thought, “No way.” I grabbed up my phone and ran outside to answer. A freight train was passing at the time (so Texas, I know) and I almost couldn’t hear the lady on the other end. Wounded Martyr was a finalist! I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.

Where do you live, and how has that shaped you as a person? Does it have any impact on what you write, or how you write?

I have lived in Austin, Texas since 2001. Live Music Capital of the World. Austin is an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and creative city. I am constantly surrounded by great artists and academics that challenge me in every way. Seriously, you can have a deep conversation about nuclear physics with your barista. It’s insane. It’s intimidating. I love it. If I’m struggling with character development, all I have to do is look outside. Conversations in grocery lines are story gold.

Hobbies? Favorite thing to do other than write?

I am a board game enthusiast. They are a unique and special brand of interactive storytelling. I have a regular group that meets up at least once a week at the local board game shop, Emerald Tavern, and I’ve also recently taken over some leadership responsibilities for an LGBT-focused gaming meetup group.

What is your writing process like? (Where and when do you write? How do you find time to write and/or how do you balance writing and the rest of your life? Do you have a regular writing schedule? Plotter or pantser? What do your first drafts look like? Revision process? Any hot tips? Do you NaNo?)

I am a pantser all the way. I usually have a pretty good idea of where I’m going, but the journey is largely a surprise, which means my first drafts are a hot mess. Underdeveloped secondary characters, subplots that go nowhere, inconsistent character development. I use my first draft the way planners would use an outline. It’s a dumping ground for ideas, many of which will ultimately be cut. I call it ‘vomiting on the page.’ Once it’s all out, though, I have a much better handle on the characters and themes and can tighten things up pretty quickly. By draft two, I’m seeking beta reads and I usually have a pretty solid MS by draft three.

Do you have a new Work-In-Progress? Care to share what it’s about (or what any other completed manuscripts are about? Do you have a tag line for your work overall?)?

I am currently pounding away on an MS I hope to have query ready by Nationals called Drive (working title; I’m not in love with it). It centers around a mechanic named Redmond in a conservative East Texas town who is struggling with his sexuality. He meets Victor, a poised, confident gay man, and their relationship gives him the strength and courage to take control of his life in a world that seems against him.

What’s the best tip you can give other writers?

Read voraciously. Be open to all viewpoints, even if you don’t share them. Be bold. Steal time, even if it’s ten minutes. Listen, listen, listen. Don’t give up.

What’s your definition of love? (Perfect relationship? What’s the biggest difficulty, in your opinion, in relationships?)

There are so many different kinds of love and they look different for every person and every relationship. For me, it’s sitting on the couch watching a movie, not saying anything, but just being together. It’s swooning over the same book or sharing a great meal. It’s losing your ass at a board game but still feeling like you’ve won. It’s friendship amplified.

What would you like to see more of in the Romance genre?

Different takes on the traditional HEA. I sometimes grow frustrated at the wine-and-roses perfect ending with marriage proposals and traditional families. Just like love looks different for everyone, so does HEA. Sometimes, HEA just means ending in a better place than you started. As diversity in romance grows, I think we’ll see the definition of HEA grow with it.

Courtney has a question today for readers: What does love look like to you? What is your perfect HEA?

Courtney – thanks so much for joining us today! Wishing you all the best in New York and we’re thrilled you could be our guest.

You can find Courtney on social media at:

Twitter: @PretentiousAho

Insta: @CourtneyMaguireWrites




23 responses to “Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Courtney Maguire!”

  1. Becke Turner says:

    Welcome Omega Sister,

    Your rockstar story sounds like a winner to me. I’m not sure what type of boardgames you like, but I was intrigued by the story angle.

    HEA: I’ve been married over 40 years so I can attest that love changes as we age. I enjoy the companionship, the shared history, the acceptance of one another’s flaws. We are a WIP. My DH acknowledges that fact. He also always has my back.

    What it is not. Big shows, internal and external. Sometimes we create so much noise, we don’t hear I love you.

  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Thanks for joining us on the blog today!

    I like your definition of love. Friendship amplified. I’d add–in terms of the perfect HEA–that you’ve learned to live with each other’s imperfections and that you’ve developed a unique bond strong enough to withstand a lot.

    • Courtney Maguire says:

      Living with imperfections is important. So many people make the mistake of thinking they can fix someone instead of loving them as they are–warts and all!

      • Addison Fox says:

        So so true. I think that’s one of my most favorite things about romance novels. They aren’t books about “fixing” anyone – they’re about finding love through the other person – exactly as they are.


  3. Welcome, Courtney, and congrats on your final! I completely agree that HEAs come in all shapes and sizes. For me, I think it’s about finding that person that fires you up intellectually, so my perfect HEA is probably a rousing debate! 😉 Good luck in New York! I’ll be cheering for you!

    • Courtney Maguire says:

      oh, yes! I always say you should surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and challenge you, so I am right with you on this one.

  4. Tracy Brody says:

    Congratulations, on the GH and publishing deal, Courtney! I’d play board games with you but we’ll be too busy in NYC for that. 😉

    I agree with alternate HEAs. Love takes time versus a proposal after a few weeks and marriage isn’t for everyone. I currently end with the happy for now and as the series progresses, you’ll see couples marry. Sometimes with it being the guy pushing for it not the woman who has to be married. 😉

    Look forward to seeing you in NY!

  5. I can’t wait to read this story.

    I’ve spent an unfortunate chunk of time sitting in basements and garages, listening to various cover tunes being played, with various levels of competency.

    • Courtney Maguire says:

      lord, I can relate. Living in Austin, everyone fancies themselves a musician. It’s great, but you also get disillusioned with the whole thing very quickly. I’m just not that impressed anymore when people use ‘I’m in a band’ as a pickup line. 😛

    • Addison Fox says:

      I’m with you, Janet – I can’t wait for Courtney’s book to come out!!!!


  6. Gwynne Jackson says:

    I love your writing and I love your stories and I’m so glad to learn even more about you here. Also I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned but you have my all-time favorite Twitter handle. Here’s to writing forever, to alternate HEAs, and to the widening scope of works in the romance world. So glad you’re a part of it.

    • Courtney Maguire says:

      Thank you so much, Gwynne! I really appreciate all the help and advice you’ve given me!

  7. Fenley Grant says:


    I love how you incorporated your real-life observations into your work. And, yes, standing in a check out line is amazing book fodder. I love the premise of your book and can’t wait to see it in publication. Congrats on the upcoming release!

    As for HEA, I’m with Becke. My personal HEA is a WIP. We’ve been married for 23 years, it’s wonderful, but we continuously work at it. Fortunately, we share a similar sense of humor, which gets you through the tougher times and the disagreements.

    My books end on a HEA, but sometimes it’s a happy-for-now. I write paranormal and urban fantasy, so even the happy has a bit of a dark side.

    I’m excited to meet you in NYC, my fellow Omega. It’s getting close!

    • Courtney Maguire says:

      I am very pro HFN endings. They have always felt more grounded and real to me. It also leaves a convenient opening to add to the story 😛

  8. Addison Fox says:

    Courtney – I’m thrilled you could join us today at the RSS!!! Wishing you every good thing in New York in a few weeks and congratulations again on the sale!!


  9. Elisa Beatty says:

    Wonderful to have you here today, Courtney!! I love your approach to the happy ending–that it doesn’t have to end with traditional marriage or a conventional life.

    Ice sounds fascinating, and I love that you’re bringing a music industry insider view to the story!! Definitely putting this one on my list!!

    See you in NYC!!

  10. Alice says:

    Ha your twitter handle rocks! As does your story. <3 I also agree that as more voices join the fold HEA will become more multifaceted to reflect the many ways of expressing and finding love.

  11. Your book sounds great, Courtney. Can’t wait for you to get it out. And congratulations on being a Golden Heart Finalist.

    I’m another Omega with a long term romantic WIP. We’ve been married for 33 years. It does change over time. But one thing that doesn’t, he always has my back. And I have his.

  12. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Hi Courtney, Omega sister and fellow pantser! Apologies for getting to your post so late. Many congrats on your GH final and sale of your book. Wounded Martyr sounds fannntastttic — an insta-buy for me when it’s released!


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