Posts tagged with: Best Contemporary romance

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 Sara Whitney on What She’s Learned from Doing It Scared!!

Today’s Omega guest is Sara Whitney, a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist whose manuscript TEMPTING TALK is nominated in the category of Best Contemporary Romance!

Sara Whitney writes witty, sexy contemporary romance novels packed with breezy charm, crackling dialogue, and want-to-root-for-them characters. Sara worked as a radio deejay, a newspaper reporter, and a film critic before she earned her Ph.D. and landed in academia, where she teaches courses on communication theory and media/race/gender. Under her “day job” name, she freelances as a TV writer for the Entertainment Weekly website and hosts a podcast about live-action DC TV television, so definitely hit her up with your hot takes about nerdy shows.

Sara lives in Central Illinois with her divorce attorney husband—she likes to believe that the happy endings she writes help balance their karmic scale— in a house full of books, cats, and pinball machines.

Tempting Talk is the third book in her Tempt Me series, which will be available beginning in early 2020. Here’s the blurb:

The first time Mabel Bowen takes Jake Carey’s hand, their chemistry’s so explosive that she’d bet her mother heard the gong of imminent grandchildren from two states away. But Mabel doesn’t mix work and pleasure, which is a shame since Jake’s the accountant overseeing the sale of the rock radio station where she’s one of the deejays.

Jake’s only goal for the past decade has been landing a partnership at his firm, and he was fine putting his personal relationships on hold to achieve it—until he met the glib and gorgeous Mabel. But when they finally decide to stop fighting the inevitable, a professional betrayal shatters their burgeoning relationship, leaving Mabel struggling with forgiveness and Jake questioning the toll his work-first lifestyle has taken on his heart.

You sold me on the book with the line “her mother heard the gong of imminent grandchildren from two states away”!! I’m thrilled to know this will be out soon!!

Folks, Sara’s here today to talk about facing her fears—and what finding the courage has taught her. Take it away, Sara!!




My romance-writing journey began on an “I bet I can do that!” whim during NaNoWriMo 2013, and since then, my three constant companions have been my MacBook, my Wonder Woman coffee mug, and my fear. The first two have been nothing but helpful, while the third is daunting enough that I refer daily to the wooden sign that sits on my desk and reminds me of one thing: If you can’t beat fear, then do it scared. Yet when I think back on the things that used to frighten me, I see that over and over again, doing it scared has been just as helpful to my writing career as caffeine and my keyboard.

To wit, a partial list of fears I’ve faced and lessons I’ve learned:

Fear No. 1: Saying the words “I’m an author” out loud to another person. How pretentious, to claim I’m an author when I have no publications to my name! I demurred and deflected too many times in the early years. Thankfully, a friend at my local RWA chapter urged me to spank my inner moppet and own the fact that I take this pursuit seriously. The first time I looked another human in the face and introduced myself as an author, I realized that I’d just said something true.

Doing it scared reminded me of my goals.

Fear No. 2: Announcing my romance-writing plans to acquaintances. We’ve all been there. “Oh. Those books.” “Are you gonna have Fabio on the cover?” “Don’t you want to write a real book?” We understand our genre, and we love our genre. Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not always seek to understand or to love our genre. But I stopped worrying about the judgment of others once I embraced this opportunity to educate the uninformed. I now ask the skeptical people in my life to examine what’s behind their kneejerk mockery of a powerhouse literary genre that’s primarily written by women, for women, and that focuses on traditionally feminized concerns like emotions, relationships, and sexual satisfaction. Almost every time, it leads to an eye-opening conversation.

Doing it scared allowed me to advocate for the books we love.

2019 Golden Heart Finalist Denise Williams on Life Lessons Writing Has Taught Her!

Today we’re welcoming Denise Williams, another of the fabulous Omegas, a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Best Contemporary Romance category with her book THE OPPOSITE OF ORDINARY.

Denise Williams wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books she likes to write. After penning those early works, she finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD in education, briefly setting fiction writing aside to write about her research on Military-Connected College Students. She never let go of happily-ever-afters, though.

​In her day job, she helps college students of color find success, is a diversity trainer, and the co-creator of a women’s empowerment group. She is dedicated to developing flawed, multidimensional characters who struggle with those issues impacting real women in complex and nuanced ways. The Opposite of Ordinary is her first novel. After growing up a military brat around the world and across the country, Denise now lives in Iowa with her supportive husband, wildly manipulative but loving toddler, and two ornery shih-tzus. Like her characters, she enjoys bad puns, frosting-laden corner pieces, and the company of good friends.

Here’s a blurb for THE OPPOSITE OF ORDINARY (Formerly, The To-Do List), which will be available from Berkley/PRH in Winter 2020 (yay!!):

With her flailing department on the university’s chopping block and her last relationship a disaster in the rearview mirror, Professor Naya Turner lets her friends convince her to work on something other than her tenure application. Her new to-do list has a few additions to her ordinary life, like flirt with a stranger, let a man buy her a drink, and have a one-night stand. Jake, a friendly, charming guy in town for work, offers the perfect opportunity to check items off her list. Except nothing can be that easy—Jake makes her laugh, rebuilds her confidence, and soon Naya doesn’t want him to be a one-night-stand at all. Turns out there’s just one problem. That chopping block? Jake’s the one wielding the axe.

 To make matters worse, Naya’s abusive ex—and former coworker—returns to campus threatening to ruin her professional reputation by revealing some of her darkest secrets. With everything she’s ever worked for at stake, Naya must figure out if there’s a way to save her career while staying open to the guy who makes her feel like she’s finally living again. Sexy, poignant, and funny, this rom-com will have you laughing, swooning, and then reaching for a tissue, all while cheering for the heroine who needs to cross “Figure It Out” off her to-do list.

Oh, I adore every word of this!!! I’m so thrilled that I know it’s coming out next winter!!! You have a terrific, warm, witty voice, and I will definitely be watching for this book!

Folks, Denise is here today to share some Life Lessons that being a writer has taught her, and she’s got some great things to say.

Take it away, Denise!!


The Four Life Lessons Learned from Writing (Plus One Bonus Lesson)

Like Naya, my main character, I’m a list-maker. When it came time to craft a blog post, it seemed only natural to make a list. Below are the five most important life lessons I’ve learned from writing. 

Life Lesson #1: Growth mindset is key—I don’t do better because I am great, I do better because I can do better.

Here’s a tightly held secret about academics.

Are you ready? Clutch your pearls, because it’s shocking.

Golden Heart Finalist Gwynne Jackson: “Yet She Persisted!”

Today I’m delighted to introduce 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Gwynne Jackson, another of the fabulous Persisters. She’s been nominated in the Best Contemporary Romance Category for her manuscript DUET.

I was first ‘introduced’ to Gwynne when I was named as her GH mentor through THE GOLDEN NETWORK, an RWA chapter of past Golden Heart finalists. After a few emails, her talent, confidence, and generous spirit were quickly apparent, and my role morphed from mentor to cheerleader and fan.

Gwynne was born in New York City and raised in Connecticut. After earning a degree in English Literature, she went on to a promising career in fast food, advertising, educational support, typesetting, and technology, where she wrote plenty of How-To manuals and tested buggy code before giving it all up for massage therapy. Along the way, she spent far too many hours of her life hauling amps and equipment from vans and trucks to rock venue stages large and small, where she also mixed sound and lights.

These days she lives in the Seattle area with her family and pets. Her focus is primarily on writing contemporary rock & roll romance from the inside out, featuring strong, outspoken heroines who know what they want and aren’t afraid to reach for it. She does her best to bust at least a few tropes per book. Banter is her guilty pleasure. When she’s not writing, she’s either taking photographs, doing artwork of some kind, or critiquing manuscripts for writing partners.

Her nominated manuscript DUET is a look at life behind the scenes on the road with a major rock tour, where appearances are deceptive, privacy is nonexistent, no one is who or what they seem, and taking what doesn’t belong to you is par for the course.

Here’s a blurb:

Whatever it takes to succeed is guitarist Lila’s mantra. When her band is invited to fill in as opening act for Johnny Blue and the Lightning Bolts, they leap headfirst. There’s only one problem: the Bolts’ frontman is a head-up-his-ass sellout pop star with zero integrity. The rest of the musical world might be worshiping at his feet, but hell’s going to have to freeze over twice before Lila will ever stoop to that level.

The only thing openly bisexual rock star Johnny ever wanted to be was everything. What he never anticipated was that being everything would mean losing the people most important to him. The hole that puts in his heart shuts him down, leaving him to consider the unthinkable: success in music might not be the life goal he’s truly looking for.

 When Lila approaches Johnny and asks for private lessons in Rock Star 101, neither of them expects the rhythm of their own personal song to turn into something beautiful…and Johnny certainly doesn’t expect Lila to steal his best lyrics right out from under him.

Trope busting, indeed! I can’t wait to get my hands on this unique perspective of the world of rock rooted in Gwynne’s real-life experiences.

As with most of us, her pursuit of a writing career has been filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, and even a few potholes, putting her persistence to the test. In her own words, she’s going to fill us on the challenges she’s faced and how she persevered.

Tell us all about it, Gwynne:



We writers are a notoriously fractious bunch. Everyone’s got their own opinion on the best way to write (plotter! no, pantser!) or the best time of day for creativity (first thing in the morning! no, deep into the night!). We like to wax poetic about the best subgenre of romance, or about writing styles, or about favorite authors. But one thing we all seem to be able to agree on is that to make it in this business, you have to stick with it. You have to be persistent.

The first time I saw a writer friend declare publicly that she was quitting writing forever, I panicked. How could someone do that? I understand getting to a point where you think you don’t have it in you, or you feel like a giant imposter, or you’ve received your fifteenth rejection letter that week and wonder what the point is in continuing. But to see someone else make a public announcement about broke my heart. My first reaction was no, no, no, you can’t quit writing forever! Because what if you get a plot bunny tomorrow? Do you just cast it aside and say sorry, too bad, I’m not a writer anymore? Inconceivable.

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You’re very welcome. I learned a lot.
  • Bev Pettersen: Such a helpful post, Thanks Autumn. And also thanks to Vivi, Rae and Judy!
  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.