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Posts tagged with: 2019 Golden Heart Finalists

Congratulations, Omegas!

Today’s the day!  The end of an era.  The final Golden Heart Awards ceremony will be held today at 12:15pm Eastern and if you want to follow along at home, you can stream the ceremony at rwa.org

Congratulations to all the Omegas!  Enjoy this moment!  You earned it!  And here’s wishing you an incredible conference filled with lots of opportunities and fabulous memories whether you take home the golden necklace or not.  We’ll all be cheering for you!

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Alexis De Girolami!!

We’ve got another Omega on the blog today: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Alexis De Girolami, whose manuscript PAGE SIX is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance!

Alexis De Girolami is a video game developer by day and a romance writer by… later in the day. At night, she sleeps. She’s penned romance since writing some impressively gratuitous fanfiction in middle school and has never looked back. When she’s not writing or making games, Alexis can usually be found in Seattle, singing overly-enthusiastic karaoke or cuddling her objectively perfect pup Pepper. She likes to write about funny, badass heroines who might not have it all figured out and the complicated men who love them.

Here’s a blurb for PAGE SIX:

Fresh off the high of her first Academy Award win, screenwriter Daniela Hendrix feels like an imposter. Unable to write a word of dialogue that she doesn’t want to instantly light on fire, her manager encourages her to pursue a project with lower expectations—and less risk of arson. So when A-List action star Damian Rivers approaches her with a secret film proposal, Dani is relieved to feel inspiration for the first time in months. But faced with the actor’s high-profile lifestyle and their budding attraction, Dani finds her quiet existence—and her professional reputation—at risk.

Damian is through working on action films. Stuck in an airtight studio contract but eager to shed his stuntman persona, he’s on the hunt for a screenwriter who can bring his new drama to life. But when he meets quirky writer Dani, he finds himself intrigued by more than her fresh perspective. When she agrees to discuss his film, gossip about their relationship reaches the studio and a fake romance becomes the most plausible story to keep their partnership under wraps. With pressure from the studio looming, and the paparazzi hot on their tails, the line between real and fake starts to blur—and one slip up could cost them both their careers.

Oh, this set-up is just luscious!!! The “fake romance” is such a great trope, and pairing it with creative types trying to break out of restrictive boxes to find an authentic voice (together!!)…I want it now!! Yum!!!

Folks, we’re thrilled to have Alexis De Girolami here for a visit!! Let’s dash into a local café to escape the paparazzi (everybody have your oversize designer sunglasses? Put ‘em on and they’ll never recognize us!!). I hear the sushi here is delicious!!

Ready, Alexis? I’ve got questions!!

2019 Golden Heart Finalist Claire DeWolf on the Book That Surprised Her

Today we’re welcoming another Omega, Claire DeWolf, a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist whose book LOLITA’S MUSE is a finalist in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements category.

Claire DeWolf (seen below in her role of Golden Heart Finalist and Hollywood wife) is a former actress turned editorial writer and community organizer. The mother of a grown son, she lives in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu with her husband, a forty-year Hollywood veteran. When she’s not attending Hollywood functions or traveling with her husband, you will find her in her home office working on her next book.

The real Claire DeWolf behind the scenes wears braids and walks her dog around the neighborhood in her writer’s uniform—t-shirts and zany yoga pants. She is a consummate foodie and believes that crafting a debut novel is like making fine jam. Use the best ingredients, craft it carefully, and then cook it down to its essence without too much sugar.

Claire and her husband of 33 years just adopted a two-month-old mini red poodle puppy named Bingley. (Named after Mr. Charles Bingley of Netherfield Hall.) Young Bingley, like the man for whom he was named, is an affable gentleman with a true heart. He loves to play with toys, give everyone kisses and cuddles, and is a good boy until he pees in the house. Mr. DeWolf will be very grateful if his wife would potty train Mr. Bingley before she goes to RWA Nationals. Claire is making no promises.

Here’s the awesome Elevator Pitch for LOLITA’S MUSE:

Lolita’s Muse is an over-fifty ménage à trois that explains why #metoo had to happen in Hollywood. With Tantric sex.

And here’s the full back-cover blurb:

Blacklisted as a young screenwriter, Liz Attwood hid behind pen names and her husband’s legend to become Hollywood’s top script doctor, only to lose it all when he died. Grieving, near bankrupt, and unable to write the romance novels that pay her bills, she goes to the sensual yoga retreat that had sparked her spicy Lolita Yardley novels to find inspiration. Instead, she finds two muses who spark her inner Lolita.

 Together, Jake Daggett and Marcus Faraday embody everything she wants in a lover and a muse, and she wants to keep them both. But when scandal threatens everything, Liz must choose between hiding behind another man, or facing her crippling fears and step out from behind her husband’s legend to claim her rightful place in the spotlight.

When life gives you two choices, take both.

Now there’s a spicy mantra you can live by—“take both!”!! LOLITA’S MUSE sounds terrific, and I love that it’s “an over-fifty ménage à trois!” Can’t wait for this to be out!!

 Folks, Claire DeWolf is here today with a guest blog about the surprising origins of her Golden Heart book, and how a book she never meant to write came to be far more meaningful than she expected.

 Take it away, Claire!

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The Surprise Book

Once upon a time, I swore I’d never live in LA. Later, after I’d had a child and became an avid romance reader, I swore I’d never write a romance novel. Writing romance was hard. I didn’t understand the beats and my dream was to write historical fiction. (Yeah, I know. I can be boneheaded.) Once I learned a lot more and I started writing romance, I swore I’d never write about the film industry. Especially not the ugly side I knew too well.

But in 1985, I moved to LA and met and married the love of my life. In 1995, I joined the Orange County Chapter of RWA and found my tribe. And in 2014, out of my fingers came a book about the film business. That book became Lolita’s Muse, my Golden Heart Finalist.

The first two swear-breakers happened because of rational decisions. I came to LA after earning my SAG and AFTRA cards. I’d never spent any time in New York City and I had family here. I still didn’t have an Actors Equity card and I figured that it was better to starve than freeze and starve.

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Ann Chaney!!

Today we’re welcoming another Omega, Ann Chaney, a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Regency Historical category with her manuscript DANGEROUS PURSUIT.

Born and raised in in rural southeastern NC, Ann Chaney is a Southern belle who once wore combat boots. Moving from duty station to duty station taught her home was where ever she was. While stationed at Ft. Irwin, CA, her life took a turn far too corny to be believed. Surrounded by 100 military officers and NCOs, she saw a man checking out the buffet. In that instant she fell in love. They were married four months later. John tells whoever will listen they are still on their first date. Love at first sight has never been just a trope to Ann, it’s been her reality. A seven-year veteran of the US Army, she believes her military experience gave her the self-confidence to take on challenges, especially when husband John encouraged her to put herself first and write.

Today, Ann writes historical romance novels set in Regency England. A pantser, her stories come from a single idea and grow. She believes in paying it forward and does so by volunteering. Not only is she a GH finalist this year, but she’s also The Beau Monde’s mini-conference chair in NY. During that conference, she’ll assume the office of Chapter President for 2019-20.

Ann is the 2016 winner in the Historical Unpublished category of RWA’s Kiss of Death Chapter’s Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery & Suspense for her first book and now her 2019 GH entry, Dangerous Pursuit. That year, she also placed second in Indiana’s Golden Opportunity contest for her entry, Along Came A Spy. In 2018, she once again was a finalist in the Daphne and received Honorable Mention for her second book, Dangerous Liaison. She currently is working on the third book of her Lords of Whitehall series.

Here’s a blurb for DANGEROUS PURSUIT:

Richard Weatherington, a lord of the Realm and a spy, speaks five languages, fights with the finesse of a gentleman and pursues enemies of the Crown with a vengeance. A lone wolf, Richard balks when told he will have a partner, Lady Serena Preston. They share a rather disjointed history. Four years earlier, after drinking a pilfered bottle of champagne, a tipsy Serena stood at the foot of his bed and demanded to know why he didn’t love her.

 When an assassin for hire escapes Whitehall’s custody and is believed to be heading for Portugal to kill Lord General Wellesley, Richard volunteers to pursue the killer. Never one to be left behind, Serena dressed as a young man, follows him. Still as quarrelsome as ever, Serena questions him at every turn. His greatest fear is her lack of experience will get them killed. Each life or death encounter affirms Serena excels at keeping a cool head. With no traveling companions to hide behind, they fill the hours carefully revisiting their shared past and getting to know each other again. The urgency of their quest to save Wellesley takes center stage. Should they manage to stay alive, maybe they can start over. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?

Oh, delectable! You’re a writer after my own heart (check out the blurb on one of my Lara Archer books, THE DEVIL MAY CARE.) I’m so looking forward to reading this one!

Okay, friends—there may be enemy spies all around us, so I’m going to ask you to meet Ann and me in the secret back room of a little Portuguese tavern I know where the port wine flows freely and the Cozido à Portuguesa is delicious. Ask for João Miguel; the password is “rogues.”

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Welcome, Ann! So fun to have you with us today! Let’s start with my favorite question: what was it like getting that Golden Heart call?

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalists Janet Raye Stevens and Christine Gunderson!!

Today we’re welcoming not one but TWO Omegas, Janet Raye Stevens and Christine Gunderson, both 2019 Golden Heart Finalists in the Young Adult Romance category, Janet with her sci-fi book THE NASCENT BLOOM, and Christine with THE WALLS BETWEEN.

Why two at once, you ask? Janet and Christine aren’t just finalists in the same Golden Heart category; they’re critique partners, and good friends! They met on the RWA contest circuit before they became GH sisters. They’re here today to tell us how they met and became CPs, how their friendship has helped their writing, and what it’s like to be finalists together.

A little individual background first:

Janet Raye Stevens is a committed genre hopper, writing mystery, paranormal, contemporary romance, and sometimes YA, but she draws the line at poetry. A three-time RWA Golden Heart® Award finalist, she won in 2018 for her short contemporary, Cole for Christmas. Janet lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she spends her days drinking copious amounts of tea (Earl Gray, hot) plotting revenge (best served cold), and creating fictional worlds populated with cool chicks and hot guys.

Here’s a blurb for Janet’s GH book THE NASCENT BLOOM:

In a strictly controlled society of rich and poor, Meili and Kai are worlds apart. She has everything; the only thing Kai has is a scholarship to Meili’s elite school, provided he works in exchange for lessons. Captured by space pirates while on a school field trip and sold into servitude on a far-off planet, they’re equals. Desperate to find a way to escape, they’ll do anything—even work together. 

Christine Gunderson grew up on a family farm in North Dakota reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books in her own little house on the prairie. She’s a former television anchor/reporter and former House and Senate aide. She currently writes YA fiction outside of Washington, D.C. with three children, two dogs and a very patient husband. She’s the 2018 overall winner of the unpublished Daphne du Maurier Award and a 2019 Golden Heart® Finalist. When not writing, she’s sailing, playing Star Wars trivia, re-reading Persuasion, or unloading the dishwasher.

Here’s a blurb for Christine’s GH book THE WALLS BETWEEN:

Seventeen-year-old Soren King’s life changes forever the night her father is arrested, and she’s thrown into a labor camp for orphans and political prisoners. Now she must decide if she’s willing to betray her twin sister to help the handsome leader of the Resistance take down the evil dictator who controls her father, the Republic and everyone she loves.

Ooh! I’m already seeing lots of interesting thematic connections between your books—complex power dynamics, family loyalties, politics, hard choices to be made! No wonder you two work well together!

Time to gather ‘round, everyone! In keeping with the dystopian themes, we can meet in my secret underground bunker where we’ll be safe from all exterior dangers…plus I’ve got warm brownies fresh from the bunker’s gourmet oven (‘cause even in a dystopia, excellent baked goods are key!) Grab a seat!

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Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Elly Kate!!

Today we’re welcoming another Omega, Elly Kate, a 2019 Golden Heart finalist in the Contemporary Romance category with her manuscript THE CINDERELLA FACTOR.

Elly Kate began reading romance novels early, pilfering from her mother’s collection kept piled in a basket in the kitchen. Writing romance came much later – in fact, not until just a couple of years ago. After years of penning poetry and non-fiction, dreaming up romantic stories has stolen her heart and she can’t seem to stop.

Born and raised in the Boston area, she has lived for the past twenty years in and around the city of her soul: Philadelphia. When she’s not writing or working at her day job as a librarian and archivist, she spends her time being a mom, wrangling two cats and a dog, fixing up an old house, reading, playing the banjo, knitting, cooking, gardening, and generally making all kinds of stuff.

Here’s a blurb for THE CINDERELLA FACTOR:

What happens when a precariously-employed academic with anxiety meets a book-loving, stress-cooking British movie star?

 After losing her job as an adjunct professor of Medieval Literature, Julia Harrow takes a chance on appearing on a morning television segment about courtly love in an attempt to raise her profile—despite her fear of cameras and public attention. Happily, her job search yields a dream opportunity in London: two years at a renowned college with the possibility of permanent appointment.

 Jake Flynn is the movie star heartthrob every woman wants. With his boy-next-door good looks and the leading role in a successful action series, he seems to have everything. But what he knows he can’t have is the brilliant, fascinating woman on the television morning show. Approaching a “regular” woman never ends well.

 Lightning strikes twice as Julia and Jake meet first in Miami Beach, then in London. But with Julia’s fear of public attention and cameras, Jake’s life in the spotlight is her worst nightmare. And it doesn’t help that her new boss is after her to stay out of the tabloids. Can love last when the reality of the fairy tale is everything she never wanted?

What a fabulous scenario!! You had me at a book-loving, stress-cooking British movie star!! (Weirdly, I also am a former academic who had a brief pop-culture moment being interviewed by HuffPost about medieval love poetry and Tumblr…but I digress. And I’m still waiting on my hot Brit actor boyfriend….)

Sounds like there’s plenty to drive Jake and Julia apart, and also a universe that very much wants them to be together!! Splendid!!

Okay, it’s time to gather round, folks. Since the story’s got a Miami Beach connection, I’m setting out some chaise lounges on a posh hotel balcony overlooking the ocean. Pour yourself a frozen tropical cocktail (with a flamingo stirrer, naturally), while we learn more about Elly Kate.

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The Latest Comments

  • Louisa Cornell: It’s a great first line, Louise! I am looking forward to reading the book!
  • Lenee Anderson: The murderer is David’s best friend. I’m concerned if I said something along the lines of...
  • Darynda Jones: This is great, Lenee, especially for a first attempt. Wow. I’m wondering if the stakes can be...
  • Darynda Jones: YES!!! I love it, Vivi, but Autumn’s is adds that twists that grabs me. Great job both of you!
  • Heather McCollum: Yes, this works! Thank you Autumn! You are awesome!!

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