Posts tagged with: Laurie Kellogg

Nostalgic Romance

Nostalgic Romance is my own personal term for any blast-from-the-past romance novel set between 1950 and present day. (Romance Writers of America® now considers 1950 as the cutoff date for differentiating between historical and contemporary novels). Sorry, RWA®, there isn’t much contemporary about a book set in the 60s or 70s when personal computers, the, Internet, and cell phones didn’t yet exist. Still, that period isn’t exactly historical, either. It is, however, filled with nostalgia—a wistful or sentimental remembrance of places, people, conditions, or things belonging to the past.

Our world and gender roles changed dramatically between the end of World War II  and the late 70s/early 80s when the United Kingdom embraced their first female prime minister, Americans elected a movie star as president, disco died, and the Internet was born. Rosie the Riveter’s husband came home from the war and expected her to return to the kitchen so he could have his job back. The Cold War began between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And only four short years later, the U.S. became embroiled in another military conflict in Korea, which was a war, officially declared or not.

Two years after our soldiers returned from Korea, Rosa Parks valiantly kicked off the Montgomery Bus Boycott with her arrest for refusing to give her seat on the bus to a white man. Soon our soldiers deployed again, this time to Vietnam for another undeclared war that caused great dissension in America. Young men dodged the draft, rock ‘n roll ruled with the British invasion in American music, and beehive hairdos were all the rage.

Blacks and whites alike cried over the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. NASA fulfilled President Kennedy’s vow to win the race for space when the U.S. landed first on the moon during the summer of ‘69 just before rock ‘n roll stars closed the New York Thruway with their three-day concert at Woodstock. In 1973, during the height of the Watergate scandal, our soldiers and POWs finally came home and the country turned its back on the vets who’d served so selflessly.

It was a time of dissension, an era of protest and conflict, not only in the world, but at home between men and women whose gender roles were rapidly changing. Women decided if black men could be liberated, then why not women. Suddenly, daddy was washing bottles and changing diapers while mpow-mia-braceletommy hopped on the Affirmative Action bandwagon, symbolically burned her bra, and pursued a career, demanding equal pay.

While in high school, I, like a lot of people my age, wore a POW/MIA bracelet. My heart wept for these soldiers and their families who were separated for up to nine years while the men were physically and mentally tortured. Some of our GIs never came home. Others returned to grown children who saw them as strangers, some discovered their wives had moved on to other relationships, and far too many came back as hollow shells of the carefree young men they’d once been.

I’ve never forgotten those families and felt compelled to write some of them happy endings, which resulted in my first novel, The Memory of You, the Prequel to my Return to Redemption series. The stories in that series all feature characters who live in the fictitious small town of Redemption, Pennsylvania.

I’ve just released The Wonder of You, another blast-from-the-past, returning Vietnam POW story, however, it’s NOT set in Redemption. It’s the Prequel to my new, spin-off series called Beyond Redemption. Readers will still get to visit with old friends from my previous books in this new series because it will star characters who have friends or family who live in Redemption. After all, the entire world can’t live in one town, now can it?

the-wonder-of-you-cam-smallerlThe Wonder of You

The Love of You series—Book 2 & The Beyond Redemption series—PREQUEL
Her child’s happiness, or her own? A choice no woman should have to make.
Six years ago, Julie Danvers’ husband was declared missing in action. A single tipsy night of indiscretion left her pregnant, guilt-ridden, and still uncertain whether she’s a widow or a wife. When she learns the love of her life, Rick, is actually alive and coming home, she’s both overjoyed and terrified. Now she’ll be forced to choose between her war-ravaged husband—who may be unable to accept her daughter, a sticky-faced reminder of her infidelity—and her child’s father who wants to make them a real family.
The only thing that kept POW Rick Danvers—also known as Ben—sane during his hellish Hanoi Hilton vacation was the dream of holding his beautiful wife again. During Operation Homecoming, he eagerly returns home to discover his entire world has changed. His country doesn’t respect him, he’s lost his parents, and his so-called best friend has already provided Julie the baby Rick ached to give her before Uncle Sam drafted him.
If that’s not bad enough, while Julie was burning her bra, his aging uncle came out of the closet and appointed her president of their family construction business—a position she has no intention of relinquishing. Rick’s now a visitor in his own home, forced to live with a bossy preschool princess who resents him and has hijacked his faithful dog’s affection. Nevertheless, the passion between Julie and Rick burns hotter than ever. He refuses to give up the woman he still loves—or his business—without putting up a damn good fight. He didn’t survive hell only to lose everything in the end.
The hero in The Wonder of You is a talented singer who loves music and is an avid Elvis fan. Throughout this story many songs from the Vietnam War era are mentioned—some you may remember and others you may not be familiar with. Therefore, I’ve created a YouTube playlist of all the recordings for your listening pleasure.   

Read a sample of The Wonder of You

The Wonder of You YouTube Playlist  memories-3d-smaller

BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL!  From today through Saturday, you can get my boxed set, Memories, containing both The Memory of You and A Little Bit of Deja Vu, absolutely FREE at Amazon! 

Do you have a Black Friday special coming up or a current book promotion? If so, please let everyone know about it in the comment section!


HOT Reads Edition of Fan Girl Friday

Welcome to Friday! Can I get an AMEN?

And we have a long weekend. I can almost hear a gospel choir in the background. Yes, we get an extra day and that means more time for….READING! possibility - Beth

So what do we have on tap for you this edition? Well, a few sales from two Rubies and a couple of recommendations plus a new release. You ready to check these out and then give us your recommended Labor Day weekend reads?

First the sales…let’s check out the deals:

Ruby Sister Laurie Kellogg has The Parent Pact FREE. A Little Bit of Deja Vu will be only $1.99 and Baby, I’m Back! will be only 99 cents. All only at Amazon. Here’s the page where you can score these deals

And from yours truly (Liz Talley), the first book in my new Morning Glory series Charmingly Yours is on sale for $1.99! I’m a little too excited about having a book on sale because as a trad pubbed author I don’t get to run sales. It’s the perfect light escapist read that’s heavy on romance with a tinge of Women’s Fiction. And the cover is really cute if I do say so myself. Here’s the link where you can score this one:

Oh, and Ruby Skye Jordan has a fabulous promotion and giveaway going this Labor Day weekend. Plenty of books on sale and a change to win books. There will be 24 WINNERS with tons of great authors (72 of them!) participating. You can ENTER HERE:


From Tamara Hogan:

Last week, I read former MTV VJ Dave Holmes’s new memoir, “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs.” A “hilarious memoir of a perpetual outsider fumbling towards self-acceptance, with the music of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today as his soundtrack,” Holmes, now Editor-At-Large at Esquire magazine, brings serious writing chops and massive pop culture cred to this bittersweet – and did I say hilarious? – coming of age story.

 Here’s a shortened link:

From Elizabeth Langston

I recommend Noelle Adams for adult contemporary romance. A Negotiated Marriage and Listless are two of my favorites. LISTED will make you cry. A Negotiated Marriage is a modern marriage of convenience. I also like her Willow Park series. It’s set in a small mountain town in NC. Attending the same church is the the common thread throughout the series–but that is one happy congregation, because these books are sweet and steamy (is that even possible?)


And finally a NEW RELEASE from Ruby Julia Day (Yes, a pen name…we have a few of those but no worries, they’re still Rubies!)

  I have a new book releasing on Tuesday, Sept 6.  If you want to add it tomorrow, it is available for pre-order.  If you want to wait until next week, that’s fine too.  The book is THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMEWHERE.  My first YA contemporary romance. 

Here’s a link to my books page: that might be easier than including a gazillion buylinks.




Ruby Tuesday: Laurie Kellogg

Welcome, welcome, welcome!  It’s Ruby Tuesday time again! Time to peel back the layers and get to know one of our Rubies a little better.  Today our willing victim is the lovely Laurie Kellogg, multi-Golden Heart finalist and bold indie authoress of a host of contemporary romances.  Take it away, Laurie!

Name: Laurie Kellogg

2009 GH Category & Title:  Contemporary Series, The Great Bedroom War

What Happened to That Book: Indie-Published in 2012


What subgenre(s) do you write?  Steamy, Heartwarming contemporary romances under my name  & Red-hot romantic comedies (not quite erotic) under L.L. Kellogg

When did you start writing? (And why?) I began writing in 1999 because I needed to do something creative for a living. I never thought it would take me 13 years to earn any money from it.

How many books have you written? Not sure. Somewhere around 20, but only about 15 of the stories are worth publishing, and some need a LOT of work.

What are you working on now?  The Wonder of You–A sequel to The Memory of You

If you could grow up to be one writer, who would you want to be? LaVyrle Spencer

Laurie’s Golden Heart Book

Where do you get your best ideas? I usually tell people I buy them at writer’s conferences, two for a dollar. But in truth, I get most of my ideas while I’m on vacation or doing something I don’t normally do.

What are your favorite subgenre(s) to read? Contemporary and Historical Romance

What was the first romance you ever read? Other than Harlequin romances, Sweet Savage Love, by Rosemary Rogers

What’s your day job?  Writing

What was the first job you ever had? Scooping ice cream

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? Scooping ice cream

College? Major? Post-grad work?  Associate’s degree

Marital status?  Kids?  Grandkids?  Married with two grown/married kids and one grandson

Where are you from? I’m originally a Jersey Girl. I moved to Pennsylvania about 15 years ago.

Where would you build your dream house? Right next door to my grandson.

If money were no object, where would you go on your dream vacation? A cruise to Antarctica

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled to? Hawaii and Italy, especially Venice. We’re going to Alaska and renting a car to explore this summer.

Laurie’s Latest Release

What three words would you use to describe yourself?  Loyal, loving, perfectionist

What piece of random trivia would you use to entertain a new acquaintance at a cocktail party?  I’m a fount of useless information and interested in all things medical so it would probably be some weird fact about the human body—like a person’s nose never stops growing and eyes are as big as they’ll ever be when an individual is born.

What’s your astrological sign? Virgo

What is your Myers-Briggs designation? Probably ESFJ, but I’ve never been entirely sure where I fit.

Which TV show are you most addicted to right now?  Grey’s Anatomy and Big Bang Theory

What is your favorite movie of all time?  I love too many movies to narrow it down to just one, but if I had to choose, it would definitely be a romantic comedy.

Do you like sports?  What team(s) do you follow? I’m not a big sports fan, but if I was going to follow a sport it would be football or baseball.

What hobby takes up the most of your time? Cooking.

What advice do you have for new writers just starting out?  Read Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict before starting your first novel.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?   SHOW don’t TELL.

Thank you, Laurie!  And here’s a little peek at Laurie’s latest Return to Redemption release, Don’t Break My Heart

Remember Luke and Sabrina from A Heart Decision?

Catch up with old friends at their wedding, and join the town of Redemption celebrating!

Architect Justin Riverá recently lost his best friend and business partner to cancer. Before his widowed buddy died, Justin agreed to become his fifteen-year-old goddaughter’s legal guardian. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know a thing about raising a teenage girl or have the slightest clue how to cheer up Haley, who’s facing her first Christmas without her parents. When his brother’s family (which includes Haley’s best friend), are invited to Luke and Sabrina’s Christmas Eve destination wedding–which involves a three-day vacation at a mountain ski resort–his brother insists they should join them for the holiday. For Haley’s sake, Justin agrees, never suspecting one of the other guests is his first and only love, who, for some mysterious reason, disappeared sixteen years ago, deserting her family and all of her friends–including him.

When high school counselor Trisha Mason sees her unforgettable college boyfriend at a wedding, she’s tempted to run the other way. Much to her dismay, he’s hunkier than ever, and his goddaughter is a determined matchmaker. Consequently, when Justin attempts to resume their relationship by seducing Trisha, she can’t resist falling into bed and in love with him all over again. She’s always had a soft spot for troubled teens, and would love to be Justin’s wife and Haley’s stand-in mom. But despite being eager to spend more time with her in and out of bed, Justin still seems as anti-marriage as he was in college. Regrettably, Trisha has no choice but to end their fling after their vacation. Otherwise, she’ll be forced to confess her secret.

Should We Dumb It Down

While revising my new release, A Heart Decision, my editors and proofreaders questioned the accuracy of several words and statements in my manuscript. For example: My hero’s heritage is Italian (his mother was born in Italy). In Italian, the affectionate address for mother is Mamma with two Ms, however, the average American reader believes it should be spelled Mama with one M. So now I’m torn. Which should I use for this hero?

As writers, we all run into the dilemma of deciding whether we should choose accuracy over meeting our readers expectations in our stories. We want our books to be authentic, but none of us wants to receive negative reviews or e-mails from more savvy readers, calling us on the carpet for inaccuracies. Every profession has its unique vocabulary and standards, however, the public isn’t always well-versed on all job-related specifics. The same holds true for historical terms and social customs.

So my question is—should we dumb down our writing for general consumption, or should we cover subjects and use facts, vocabulary, or spellings many readers aren’t familiar with.

In my case, I usually feel compelled to cater to my audience, all the while crossing my fingers that no  authority on the subject will fling my book across the room. The human body fascinates me, so I frequently include medical elements in my stories. More often than not, though, I’m constrained by the public’s expectations of the romance genre and must explain a lot less about a topic than I’d like to. I’ve learned a lot while reading fiction, and I’d like my novels to be informative to readers, however, in order to keep my romances marketable, I can only include the basics of any subject.

The balancing act of indulging my own interests and educating readers, while still keeping most of my audience invested in the story, is like walking a tightrope. If the average reader doesn’t learn at least one new thing while reading my novel, I feel as if I’m failing as an author. So I’m always left wondering if my book quenches my readers’ thirst for interesting tidbits of information or leaves their minds dehydrated.

Today, I’m pleased to announce my 2013 Holiday release, A Heart Decision, which is Book 5 in my Return to Redemption series. Some of you may recall that I posted the cover and blurb a while back, asking for help choosing a title. I decided Janet Gardner’s suggestion, not only fit the story well, but was a humorous play on words. So Janet, THANK YOU. I’ll be sending you a copy of my newest book.

 A Heart Decision Digital Christmas Cover 300X450On her wedding night,

Sabrina will share the bridal suite

with one of her brother’s best friends.

Which one?  She has no idea!

 Sabrina Fitzpatrick helped plan her dream wedding last year—for her brother and his wife. Now, she wants her own Christmas Eve ceremony. She’s tired of waiting for commitment-phobe, Detective Luke Marino, to realize she’s been crazy about him since puberty. Consequently, when Luke’s billionaire friend asks her to marry him, she’s compelled to accept BJ Elliott’s proposal, especially after he suggests their impending marriage might induce his idiot pal to finally step forward. Unfortunately, a week later, adrenaline-junkie Luke risks his life again and ends up temporarily confined to a wheelchair.

 BJ would love to give Sabrina an unforgettable wedding night, but he fears she’ll never be happy with him if she doesn’t resolve her feelings for his buddy, first. Therefore, even knowing he could lose her, BJ persuades her to become Luke’s live-in nurse—offering her one last chance to convince the man she loves to take BJ’s place at the altar (which BJ doubts his friend will ever do). If nothing else, he hopes Love’em and Leave’em Luke can convince Sabrina he’ll make a lousy husband.

 Luke has two secrets not even his best friends know. The first is he aches for Sabrina with every fiber of his being. The second is he loves her enough to spare her the heartbreak that being his wife would undoubtedly entail. Much to Luke’s dismay, his resolve to resist his buddy’s fiancée is tested after Sabrina steps in as his nurse and starts prancing around in nothing but his threadbare T-shirt. If he surrenders to her seduction, it may destroy his relationship with BJ. And, worse still, if he gets a taste of loving Sabrina, how can he ever stand by and let her marry his friend?

To celebrate the release of Book 5 of the Return to Redemption series, I’ve placed Book 4, No Exchanges, No Returns on sale, at only 99 cents, for a few days at Amazon, Barnes & NobleKobo, and I-Tunes. I’m also holding a drawing tonight from those who leave a comment for a digital copy of The Parent Pact, which stars Sabrina’s brother Tyler as the hero and introduces, Sabrina, BJ, and Luke.

Now I’d love to hear how you handle the predicament of choosing between presenting irrefutable facts and commonly-held beliefs.  Do you sometimes dumb down a subject, or do you dare to irritate your audience by including elements that are, in reality, one hundred percent correct but seem totally wrong to the general population?

A Crash Course on Being a Hooker (Part II)

Last month, in my Crash Course on Being a Hooker Part I, I discussed the importance of using hooks in your writing. I promised to finish today with Part II—pointers on crafting that all important first page. Please, allow me to apologize in advance for how long this post is. My only excuse is these tips should help in polishing your Golden Heart entry so that it’s just as dynamic as the great openings we’ve seen this past week the Ruby’s Make it Golden contest

However, before you follow any of the 15 upcoming tips, my first piece of advice is to finish writing the damn book before you worry about how great your first page is. Many authors get so caught up in rewriting and polishing the opening to their book they spend a week crafting hooks and rewriting passages that might eventually need to be deleted or changed once the novel is finished. Anyone who’s ever written a complete book knows how often the story changes and how frequently the first scene needs to be reworked.

TIP 1  Have a specific purpose for choosing a particular style of opening for your book.

A Crash Course on Being a Hooker PART I

One might think standing on a corner to support my writing addiction for thirteen years helped make me a better hooker, but it really didn’t. Only writing every day did that. However, my part-time job as a crossing guard did provide lots of time to brainstorm. 🙂

It’s that time of year again, when hundreds of writers are finishing and polishing entries for RWA®’s Golden Heart® contest. As a seven-time finalist and two-time winner of the GHt® award, I’m frequently asked what elements I believe sets a winning contest entry apart from the rest. Naturally, my answer is, “Talented writing and an intriguing premise.” However, if you’ve ever judged the GH, you know there are lots of entries with those qualities that never make the cut.

To give a manuscript the best chance of becoming a finalist (or to be successful with readers once it’s published), I believe the most important thing is for an entry to make a good FIRST and LAST impression.

It only makes sense that a positive first impression will leave judges and readers anticipating an enjoyable read, and they will therefore be more forgiving if they find something slightly negative in your entry—whether it’s a typo, minor characterization flaw, or overuse of a purple word. As a result, it will take a much more glaring problem to change their opinion for the worse.

At the same time, if you have a typo in your first sentence the reverse will be true. The judge will probably start looking for additional problems, so creating a bad first impression can put an otherwise great entry at a big disadvantage.

This is why hooks are so important in writing contests and in attracting buyers for your book once it’s published. You need to snag the judge’s or reader’s interest from the beginning and continue reeling her in all the way to the end. Then finish with a great hook that will leave her with a positive overall opinion and screaming for more.

What’s a HOOK? a newbie might ask.

HooksA hook in publishing is anything that will catch a reader’s interest and lure her into—buying a book, reading it, continuing to read it, or buying the next book. Hooks are utilized as marketing tools, which can be anything from a high concept plot, a catchy title, a book cover, back cover blurb, to an author or reviewer’s endorsement.

Authors use hooks in their writing by including passages designed to grab the reader’s attention and keep him/her turning the pages. An effective hook will  attract, intrigue, and entertain by teasing the senses, adding humor or wit, raising questions (make the reader want to know more), or evoking emotion (shock, horror, compassion, the ability to relate, etc.) It should make the reader feel something or react.

A good opening hook should reflect the genre and subgenre and establish the tone of the book, which can be funny, thought-provoking, insightful, action-packed, suspenseful, spooky, dramatic, emotional or poignant, lyrical, reminiscent, or evocative. I’m sure there are other tones that escape me at the moment.

And lastly, an opening hook should foreshadow and set up reader expectations. This is how the author makes promises that had better be fulfilled by the end of the book, or he/she will end up with a lot of unhappy readers.

But wait!

Before writing that first compelling line to draw the reader in, you need to bait your FIRST hook. Real ‘hookers‘ use revealing clothing, make-up, and come-hither glances to tempt and attract men. (My alter-ego, L.L does that too, but we won’t discuss her.)

If you recall, I mentioned that, in the publishing industry, the bait or initial hooks for a book are very similar—a provocative title, an eye-catching cover, and a compelling back-cover blurb that leaves the consumer eager to read the novel. Unfortunately, in unpublished writing contests,  the author only has her title to lure the reader and make that first impression.

Think about it. What’s the first thing you do when you receive a group of entries to judge? If you’re like me, you scan the titles and probably start reading the most appealing one.

From my numerous years as a finalist, I recall several fellow GH sisters who I suspect had a slight edge in the Golden Heart because of their great titles. Here are several examples of those I found especially memorable:

The Naked Duke, by Sally McKenzie

His Majesty, the Prince of Toads, by Delle Jacobs

Claiming the Courtesan, by Anna Campbell

The Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans

First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones

A Most Improper Gentleman by Elisa Beatty

The Proper Miss’s Guide to Bad Behavior by Anne Barton

If you study RWA®’s Past GH Winners list,  you’ll see what I mean. You’ll notice most of the titles that won are highly  provocative, witty, humorous, emotional, or intriguing. That’s not to say they weren’t also damn good books, but so are a LOT of GH entries that never get nominated. By the way, most of these books were published with their original titles.

So before entering your manuscript in a contest (or submitting to an editor), find a group of creative people to help. Brainstorm together to come up with the best possible title for your book that is extra witty, cute, sexy, emotional, or whatever you would like to make it unique—with emphasis on the EXTRA. Titles need to be a little over-the-top to get attention. It’s best if they reflect the ‘high concept‘ of the book.

Here’s a funny story. My hubby and I were brainstorming titles with my CP and her spouse for her sci-fi romance that involves interplanetary travel. We came up with some real doozies. In the end, my hubby won the prize when he suggested the most unforgettable title of all. Starship Bootie Call. Unfortunately, the book isn’t a comedy so my CP couldn’t use it, but we still laugh about it. I still think we should collaborate and write a spoof with that title.

Okay, back to our crash course in hooking.

After you’ve come up with a title that will really grab the judge’s or reader’s attention, you need to really HOOK ‘ER—not just with the first line, but with the entire opening page. I always try to position a great hook in the very last line of the first page so the reader develops extra enthusiasm to continue reading. Once you’ve promised an entertaining story, you naturally need to deliver, but creating the anticipation of greatness is half the battle.

Come back next month for PART II of this Crash Course on Being a Hooker, which will offer tips on crafting that all important first page.

Now I have a favor to ask of you that will be a big help to me. A lot of my readers who loved The Parent Pact have been e-mailing me, requesting a story for three of the secondary characters in that book—Sabrina, Luke, and BJ (a/k/a Ben). I hope to release this “love triangle” novel by November, but I need a kick-butt title for it. I don’t want to use a Christmasy title because I’d like the option to market the the book the rest of the year with a matching non-holiday cover, much like I have with No Exchanges, No Returns. In November, that cover will go back to red and green and the baby will be wearing a Santa hat again.

I have a couple of good ideas what to call my next release, but I won’t share them because I don’t want to  send you down the same  track my train of thought is already running on. Here’s the high concept, blurb, and cover to fire your creative process. Please feel free to comment on each other’s suggestions if you think one is particularly good. And keep in mind my author brand is Steamy Heartwarming Romantic Fun!

On her wedding night, Sabrina will share the bridal suite

with one of her brother’s best friends.  Which one?  She has no idea.Who's the Groom Background

Sabrina Fitzpatrick helped plan her dream wedding last year—for her brother and his wife. Now, she wants her own Christmas Eve ceremony. She’s tired of waiting for commitment-phobe, Detective Luke Marino, to realize she’s been crazy about him since puberty. Consequently, when Luke’s billionaire friend asks her to marry him, she’s compelled to accept BJ Elliott’s proposal, especially after he suggests their impending marriage might induce his idiot pal to finally step forward. Unfortunately, a week later, adrenaline-junkie Luke risks his life again and ends up temporarily confined to a wheelchair.

BJ would love to give Sabrina an unforgettable wedding night, but he fears she’ll never be happy with him if she doesn’t resolve her feelings for his buddy, first. Therefore, even knowing he could lose her, BJ persuades her to become Luke’s live-in nurse—offering her one last chance to convince the man she loves to take BJ’s place at the altar (which BJ doubts his friend will ever do). If nothing else, he hopes Love’em and Leave’em Luke can convince Sabrina he’ll make a lousy husband.

Luke has two secrets not even his best friends know. The first is he aches for Sabrina with every fiber of his being. The second is he loves her enough to spare her the heartbreak that being his wife would undoubtedly entail. Much to Luke’s dismay, his resolve to resist his buddy’s fiancée is tested after Sabrina steps in as his nurse and starts prancing around in nothing but his threadbare T-shirt. If he surrenders to her seduction, it may destroy his relationship with BJ. And, worse still, if he gets a taste of loving Sabrina, how can he ever stand by and let her marry his friend?

I can’t wait to read all of  your ideas. On Sunday night, I’ll do a random drawing from all of the suggestions and the winner will win a digital copy of my box set containing The Memory of You and A Little Bit of Deja Vu, which are the Prequel and Book One from my Return to Redemption Series. If I decide to use your inspired suggestion for my new book, I’ll send you a free digital advance copy of Sabrina’s story right before it’s released.

Laurie Kellogg is a two-time winner and seven-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® award, the winner of Pacific Northwest Writers Association® Zola award, and a Romantic Times® American Title I finalist. She began writing to avoid housework and has since resorted to naming the dust-bunnies multiplying as fast as real rabbits while she plots love stories that are Steamy, Heartwarming, Romantic Fun! Laurie also writes red-hot romantic comedies under L.L. Kellogg, which she’s branded as A Little Naughty and a Lot of Fun!

A Valentine’s Day Ruby Release!

Ruby LoveThis year Valentine’s Day falls on the same day as our Winter Writing Festival check-in, so I’m celebrating a little early. Happy Valentine’s Day!

People in young relationships traditionally do something romantic and often extravagant on Valentine’s Day. However, as a relationship matures and becomes settled, we frequently become complacent and neglect to observe this holiday for lovers.

Sometimes it’s because we’ve become overly practical and decide we don’t need to be romantic on cue. As a result, some of us celebrate some other day when there’s no wait for a table at a good restaurant, roses only cost $9.99 a dozen, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are marked down to 50% off.  And then there are some who have trouble thinking of ways to be romantic and simply don’t do anything. If you’re like me and you married one of those individuals you might want to read a Ruby blog I wrote in 2010, Valentine’s Day Encouragement for the Romantically Challenged, for a bit of consolation.

In my opinion, rescheduling your personal Valentine’s Day to a more opportune time is great as long as you don’t ignore spending time with your sweetheart and showing him or her the depth of your love. My family moves holidays all the time to accommodate everyone’s schedule. We’ve permanently moved Mother’s Day to the Saturday night before to avoid the mobbed restaurants, so is it any surprise I moved Valentine’s Day?

I must confess, the WWF check-in day wasn’t the only reason I wanted to celebrate today. The other reason is I officially launched my debut novel, The Memory of You, last year on Valentine’s Day here on the Ruby Blog, although, the book was actually published on February 6th. (Incidentally, that book is presently FREE at Amazon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Operation Homecoming.)

This year, I (and my alter ego, L.L. Kellogg) pushed hard to publish our seventh novel by February 5th, simply so I could say I published seven books in one year. Silly, I know, but it was my goal. And anyone who’s participating in the WWF knows how good it feels to meet an especially challenging objective.

The third reason I wanted to officially launch this book today is because the story actually opens at eleven p.m. on the night before Valentine’s Day. So without further ado (drum roll please), I’m proud to announce my alter ego, L.L. Kellogg, has just released  The Naughty Never Die,  Book 2 in the Seduction series.

The Naughty Never Die Book Cover SmallerAnyone who’s read Book 1 of the series, Hypnotic Seduction, knows there was a minor  suspense element in the story, however, it wasn’t substantial enough to categorize the novel as suspense. This new release was originally called Finding Trouble (the title under which it won the Ignite the Flame and Touch of Magic contests and became a Daphne DuMaurier finalist). It was SUPPOSED to be strictly a romantic comedy, too.

Much to my dismay, however, L.L., in her usual obnoxious way, took the story places I really didn’t want to go, because I DON’T WRITE SUSPENSE. But would L.L. listen to me? NO WAY. She insisted on bringing out the inner Snookie in my uptight, prissy Jersey Girl heroine and threatening her life.

(So maybe you can understand why I locked L.L. in her room today and refused to let her attend this launch party. You should’ve seen the floozy outfit she planned on wearing.)

Anyway, we once again ended up writing a fence-straddling plot. The romance half of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, whereas the suspense subplot is dark and edgy and scandalous enough to make our philandering politicians seem like choir boys. It’s still a Red-hot Romance that’s a Little Naughty and a Lot of Fun, but it’s definitely different than my other novels.

If only the good die young,

then New Jersey’s virtuous First Lady should be a cinch to kill.

Unless….deep down she’s really quite naughty.

The Beauty—a chronic people pleaser who’s had enough of her goody-two-shoes life

Since her mother’s untimely death, crusader Josephine Callahan has served as New Jersey’s First Lady. Acting as her father’s official hostess in the governor’s mansion is tantamount to living in a fishbowl, which makes S-E-X extremely difficult. On the brink of a nervous breakdown, frustrated Josie loses her usual good sense along with her cool and lets her assemblyman boyfriend sweet-talk her into an impromptu romantic getaway–something she would never consider if she had a clue someone is trying to kill her.

The Beast—an incurable bad boy who refuses to admit beneath his scars lurks a hero

A deliberately twisted message, via the governor’s spiteful assistant, misleads ex Special Forces officer, DJ Ryder, as to the true objective of his freelance assignment. He’s told to, not only track down the governor’s classy daughter and hold her in protective custody, but to also teach her a lesson by letting her believe she’s been kidnapped.

When Josie discovers the scarred, but still sexy, badass has played her for a fool, she retaliates by feigning a raging case of Stockholm syndrome, teasing the brute until all he can think of is the ‘hold her’ part of his orders. How can Ryder concentrate on keeping Josie safe when he’s busy avoiding the danger she poses to his heart?

Now that I’ve shared what my heroine, Josie, will be doing for Valentine’s Day, how about you?  What plans to have with your sweetheart?

Do you ever have trouble keeping your plot from going places you’d prefer not to visit—like the sick mind of a psychopath?

Leave a comment to be eligible for a drawing to win a $25 American Express Gift Card.

Risky Business

Have you ever wondered where the idiom, sticking your neck out, originated? Some believe the saying is a metaphorical reference to turtles, which become vulnerable when they poke their heads out of their shells. If a turtle remains inside, it’s safe from predators. However, a turtle also can’t locate food from within its shell, so if it doesn’t ever risk its neck, it’ll starve.

There’s a lesson in this for writers. Publishing is a risky business, and editors pass up wonderful books all the time because they’re unwilling to take a chance on stories that don’t fit the current trend. On the other hand, the books that are given the biggest advances and the most publisher support are also frequently novels that are different enough to grab readers’ attention. That’s why acquiring editors constantly say they want something different—but not too different.

Negotiating that balancing act can be really tough, but if a writer always plays it safe, chances are she’ll go the way of a turtle who refuses to stick his neck out. She”ll starve as an author. If your keeper shelf is anything like mine, the authors of your favorite novels broke some so-called rules. One of the reasons LaVyrle Spencer’s and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s titles dominate my bookcase is because they aren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects that some might consider taboo or unpopular. They take risks.

For example, in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s novel, Ain’t She Sweet, the heroine, Sugar Beth, did something most readers would consider unforgivable. And, yet, SEP managed to instill sympathy in her audience for this character, who by rights, everyone should hate. In The Fulfillment (which helped inspire my holiday release), LaVyrle Spencer managed to write a compelling romance involving infidelity and still managed to keep all of the characters heroic.

These authors’ ability to craft such irresolvable conflicts and to find ways to, not only keep the characters likable, but still give them a happy ever after, has always left me in awe. It’s books like these that reinforce my belief that characters can do anything in a story and still remain heroic if the author gives them sufficient and proper motivation.

My newest release, No Exchanges, No Returns, is this kind of risky story. It received a lot of mixed opinions and scores in contests. Judges either loved it or hated it. And, yet, this book got closer to selling than any of my other novels, which I believe is because its surrogate-mother plot pushes the boundaries.

At the same time, this à la Jerry Springer story defies the romance genre’s conventions enough that I feared it would incense some of my audience. Therefore, I considered leaving the manuscript under the bed for my pet dust-bunnies to feast on. In the end, however, my alter ego, L.L., refused to let me leave it unpublished. Any regular visitors to the Ruby blog have undoubtedly met L.L in my past posts and know what a bully she can be. I realize there are other, more fitting adjectives for my alter ego than bully, but this is a PG-rated blog.

Anyway, L.L. kept screaming in my ear, “Grow a pair, you wimp! So what if the heroine ends up with her sister’s ex-husband. Things like that actually happen. This is a great story about sisterly love and sacrifice. Even if some people don’t enjoy No Exchanges, No Returns, a lot of readers will love it. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s real, and it’s hot—what’s not to like? Do you think E.L. James didn’t worry her Fifty Shades of Grey would offend some readers? Her book has over four thousand 1-star reviews. Name a book that’s hit the New York Times Bestsellers list that doesn’t have something a little different or offbeat in it.”

Don’t tell my alter ego I said this, but she made a valid point. I was being a coward. So I stuck  my neck out and published the book—mostly to shut L.L. up.  Now I’ll just have to wait and see what the readers’ response is.

No Exchanges, No Returns

A new twist on O. Henry’s classic tale, The Gift of the Magi

There were never such devoted sisters…

Dr. David Lambert and his wife, Brianna, received the ultimate Christmas gift from her fraternal twin. They gratefully accepted it, of course, because everyone knows you can’t return a baby like an itchy sweater. Yet, that’s essentially what Brianna does when she has a meltdown and unexpectedly divorces David. She runs from their home in Redemption, Pennsylvania, and leaves their surrogate—her sister, Casey—pregnant with his little bundle.

When David chose her beautiful twin over her, Casey McIntyre hid her hurt behind a wall of sarcasm. Now that her sister has divorced her husband, it’s increasingly difficult to remember why the hunky pediatrician is supposed to be off limits—especially since Brianna doesn’t seem to want him or care if Casey and he get involved.

David always liked and admired his selfless ex-sister-in-law—despite that the sassy preschool teacher is always busting his chops. Consequently, after his wife bails on marriage and motherhood, it’s only natural he turns to Casey for sympathy. Unfortunately, the exasperating pixie becomes more irresistible with each day she carries his child. He already mistook lust for love once and jumped way too fast into marriage. He’s not about to botch up his life that way again.

Casey wants whatever happiness she can grab, whether it’s temporary or not. The only problem is, if she lets herself love her baby (or David), what will happen to her when her sister inevitably realizes her mistake and returns to Redemption?

 To celebrate my holiday release of No Exchanges, No Returns, I’ll be holding a random drawing for a digital copy of the book from the list of commenters.


Now it’s your turn to share. In which of your favorite novels did the authors take chances and how? In what way are you sticking out your neck in your current WIP? What concerns do you have about pushing the boundaries of the romance genre?

Are You a Writer or a Cave Painter?

At some point in your life, I’m sure you’ve read a book and hated the cover and wondered why on earth the publisher used it. Maybe you’ve even received cover art for your own novel that you don’t feel fits your story. Romance readers get totally bent out of shape if the hero and heroine isn’t depicted accurately on the cover as compared to how the author describes them.

Many of you may recall my debut novel, The Memory of You, had an extremely different cover when I first released it. All of my romance-writer friends told me how much they loved it. I don’t know if they were being honest or just sparing my feelings. In any case, I really liked the cover.

When my son, who has a master’s in marketing, saw it, he hated it—which frankly didn’t surprise me. I have a have an honest open relationship with my kids, and they have no problem telling me when they think something I’ve done sucks the big one. Normally, I might shrug off his opinion, but this time I couldn’t, because I knew on this particular subject he spoke as an authority. His father and I spent a lot of money helping to educate him in his chosen field, and he made us extremely proud by graduating just a hundredth of a point shy of  summa cum laude (and don’t think that didn’t royally tick him off).

He told me my first cover made him think of an old lady story about a funeral. He reduced the image to thumbnail and pointed to the vase of hydrangeas and said, “What is this? It looks like a purple tree. And who’s that guy in the background? Is he a ghost? Is this a paranormal story? What’s that gold blob in the corner. You’re selling your books on the Internet, you need a design with pictures and fonts that readers can see in a thumbnail.”

I loved my cover and didn’t want to admit he might have a valid point. So I did what mother’s do best, I argued with my son, and tried to explain what the book is about. I showed him other covers on Amazon that were no different than mine. That’s when the poop hit the fan. “Are you a writer or a cave painter?” he asked in a not so soft voice.

“I’m a writer,” I answered defensively.

“Then stop trying to tell the story with pictures! The only thing your cover needs to accomplish is to get people interested enough to find out more about your book. You only have to catch their attention and give a sense of the genre and the tone. It doesn’t matter if the artwork matches the story. Covers are designed for shoppers. The inside is for readers.”

Well, I still don’t totally agree with that, but I understood the lesson he was trying to teach me. Giving the shopper an impression of the type of story is far more important than the accuracy in the cover art. My son then explained many NY publishers are still designing covers for brick and mortar bookstore shelves instead of the digital market. He reworked my first two covers to illustrate what I should use to sell my work.

Many were disappointed  by the new  cover for The Memory of You (like my 80-year-old mother, who is one of the little old ladies my son mentioned) because they’d truly loved the original. I had to explain time and again that, although the first cover might have been  aesthetically pleasing, it was a lousy representation of what the reader should expect from the book.



From that point on, I took my son’s advice and made sure L.L. Kellogg’s first cover gave the right impression of Hypnotic Seduction’s genre and tone, which is a red-hot romantic comedy that’s A Little Bit Naughty and a Lot of Fun. The Great Bedroom War’s cover told readers they were going to get a fun, sexy, contemporary read.



While choosing the cover art for my new release, The Parent Pact—book three of The Return to Redemption series, I somehow forgot my son’s marketing lesson and began cave painting again. I designed a cover I absolutely love and which illustrated the story wonderfully. The kids look exactly like the little boy and girl in my novel, and there’s even an issue with the heroine’s son kissing the hero’s daughter against her will.  I’d already finished the cover before the Anaheim RWA conference, so I naturally included the cover image for my upcoming release on the promotional material I distributed in the Goodie Room.

As I was admiring my handiwork on the flight home (in coach), my flamboyant alter-ego, L.L. Kellogg, sauntered back from first class to gloat about how much roomier her seat was than mine . Since my butt is twice the size of hers, you can bet she grated on my nerves.

She snatched the promotional card I’d distributed at the conference from my hand. “What the hell did you do!” she shrieked loud enough for the passenger in the closet-size john at the rear of the plane to hear. She pointed at the sweet covers for my next two releases. “These are awful! Where’s the sexy hero and half-naked heroine? Is this a romance between children?”

“No,” I answered, “but the hero and heroine are both single parents.”

Aww, isn’t that sweet.” She tossed the card over her shoulder and into the lap of the sixty-ish female passenger on the opposite side of the aisle. “Change it,” L.L. demanded.

“Why should she?” the passenger interjected. “This looks like a wonderful book. Exactly the kind of heartwarming story I’d like to read.”

“Do you like hot, sizzling love scenes?” L.L. asked the woman. “Because I forced her to make the hero walk in on the heroine while she’s bathing in his huge whirlpool tub, and things get mighty steamy—and not from the hot water, if you get my drift.”

The woman blushed.  “Well, I don’t mind a little kissing, but I really don’t prefer explicit love scenes.”

“Then this book ain’t for you, lady. It’s hot! Especially the skinny-dipping scene when they finally get it on.”

The woman dropped the promotional card as if it were covered with the Ebola virus.

L.L. picked up the card and flapped it in my face. “THIS is exactly why NY wouldn’t buy your book. Their marketing department couldn’t think of a way to illustrate the fact that, although your stories are heartwarming, they’re far from sweet. You’re cave painting again. Remember what your son taught you.” She turned and wiggled her way back up the aisle to first-class and shouted over her shoulder, “Are you a writer or a freaking cave painter?”

As much as I hated to admit it, L.L. the bimbo-beeyotch was 100 percent right. Granted, the marketing blurb (see below) makes it crystal clear it’s a sexy story, but the title and graphics indicate the exact opposite. The passenger across the aisle had given me a glimpse of the awful reviews I could expect from outraged readers who didn’t bother to check the blurb before clicking the buy link. And the saddest part was they would have every right to be upset about not having their expectations met.

Naturally, as soon as I arrived home, I immediately redesigned the cover. I don’t like it nearly as much as my original cover art (I love the adorable kids), and it’s not accurate to the story. At no time does the heroine run around the hero’s kitchen half naked.

However, this IS a sizzling, different worlds, Cinderella story. The contrast of  a sexy, barefooted, penniless heroine kissing a successful lawyer who’s wearing $900 Italian leather shoes is a much better marketing tool and will give shoppers a more accurate impression of what they’ll get when they buy The Parent Pact—Steamy, Heartwarming, Romantic, Fun!

Cinderella and Prince Charming never had to consider the welfare of their children

When widower Tyler Fitzpatrick meets Annie Barnes at his daughter’s school, his libido goes tilt. The sexy single mother is everything he and his grieving little girl need. Unfortunately, Annie flatly refuses his dinner invitation. She wants a husband and a father for her son—not just a boyfriend. And the last time she checked, wealthy, summa-cum-laude lawyers didn’t marry high-school-drop-out housekeepers.

Tyler concedes there’s a vast difference between their experiences and lifestyles. Still, he’s inexplicably drawn to the impoverished young woman—even though her little boy reminds Tyler of an underprivileged past he’d rather forget. While becoming better acquainted, he offers Annie a job caring for his daughter and home in Redemption, PA. He also proposes a Parent Pact—an agreement to become role models to each other’s child and to fill one another’s needs as single parents while they continue to search for true love.

Accepting Tyler’s offer would solve a lot of Annie’s problems. However, surrendering to her weak-in-the-knees attraction to the irresistible widower could very well leave her and her son heartbroken. Yet, when circumstances threaten her ability to feed her child, Annie reluctantly agrees to the pact, making it clear she has no desire for Tyler to fill her so-called needs in bed. It’s a bald-faced lie, but she knows the man’s desperation to give his daughter the nurturing she needs will compel him to accept a purely platonic relationship.

Now, Annie’s only problem is resisting the overwhelming temptation to let sin-in-a-tailored-suit Tyler seduce her.

So the next time you pick up a book with a cover that doesn’t accurately depict the story, think about why the publisher chose the picture they did to market it.  And if your publisher gives your novel a cover you hate, consider the marketing aspects. You may realize that, even though the artwork may not be pretty or accurate, it’s eye-catching and a great selling tool.

Now I’d like you to share your experience. Can you think of a cover you really didn’t like, but you can see why the publisher used it? Have you ever quit reading a book simply because the picture on the cover didn’t accurately illustrate the events or characters in the story? What do you envision as a cover for your WIP and why?

Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a free digital copy of The Parent Pact, available now at Amazon and soon to be released for the Nook and paperback.


Ruby Release: A Little Bit of Déjà Vu

Suppose, when you were not quite eighteen, you made a BIG mistake.  You suffered but, eventually, put the disastrous event, and the person associated with it, safely (if not satisfactorily) behind you and got on with your life. 

Now, nineteen years later, you learn your child has made a similar error.

A nightmare for any parent, yes?  Yet, it gets worse.  The other party involved is the offspring of that person you’d hoped never to see again.

What?  Are we all wide-eyed with horror?  Cringing in our chairs?  Recalling things we hope NEVER return to haunt us?  Praying our child won’t bring our past home to roost?

If so, my job is done, because that’s the premise behind Laurie Kellogg’s Golden Heart® Winner and newest release, 

A Little Bit of Déjà Vu


  Sometimes destiny has the last word  (and laugh)

 Fate thrust them together

Blackmail and deception tore them apart

Nineteen years later, their children’s love reunites them

Now, only truth and forgiveness can make them a family

Margie Bradford is picking up the pieces of her shattered life following her husband’s death. When her cousin encourages her to make a fresh start with her teenage daughter, unsuspecting Margie takes a reading specialist job in the small town of Redemption, PA. The last person she expects to encounter is Rocket Manion, the ex-NFL quarterback and Dr. Phil wannabe who broke her heart nineteen years ago. Strangling her meddling cousin is now at the top of Margie’s to-do list.
Divorced teacher and head football coach Jake Manion experiences an eerie sense of déjà vu when his son announces he’s gotten his girlfriend pregnant. The feeling simply grows stronger when Jake learns the girl’s mother is Maggie, the same woman on whom he’s wasted nearly two decades of bitterness.
While planning their kids’ wedding and helping them grow up too soon, Jake attempts to pick up right where he left off—in Margie’s bed. But no matter how irresistible his kisses are, she isn’t stupid enough to let him hurt her again. Or is she?

If you enjoyed The Memory of You, you’re going to love A Little Bit of Déjà VuRedemption, PA lives up to it’s name, proving a parent’s worse nightmare can become the stuff of dreams—and true love never really dies.

For those familiar with Laurie’s covers, you can’t help but notice the new look.  Both book covers were recently redesigned.  The reasoning behind the extreme makeover is based on  electronic marketing strategies, a rather complicated topic.  Thus, rather than explain here, Laurie will reveal all in a future blog.

To help launch her new release, Laurie’s book, The Memory of You, is currently free for Kindle at   ALSO, one lucky visitor (Sorry, Rubies aren’t eligible) will be chosen at random to receive a free electronic copy of  A Little Bit of Déjà Vucurrently available through and Barnes &  To be eligible for the drawing, just leave a question or comment for Laurie.  It’s that easy, and if you like a book that makes you grin, giggle, laugh, weep, sob, and/or wail, you’ll be glad you did.

Is there any event in your life you hope never raises it ugly head?  (You can give us the gory details, if you wish.  We won’t tell.  😉  )  Have your children (or another family member) reprised a cringe-worthy mistake from your past?  If so, how did you handle it?

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