Posts tagged with: short contemporary romance

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Becke Turner!

Today we’re welcoming another of the Omegas: Becket Turner, whose manuscript MURPHY’S DEBT is a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Best Short Contemporary Romance category.

Becke Turner spent many years honing her story chops—many years. A native of southern Illinois, Becke and her husband of over forty-seven years were on the move for the first ten years together, including a three-year stint operating her family cattle ranch in Missouri. But two kids, 300 cows, ten horses, four dogs, and enough snow to scare Frosty wore thin. In 1996, the family and dogs, minus the hooved animals, moved to sunny South Carolina. Although by this time Becke had completed five ranch stories, she hadn’t found RWA. With the help of her CRW and GRW sisters, her stories improved. Today, her stories feature sassy, independent women learning how to love.

When she’s not wrangling her five rambunctious grandkids, you’ll find her on some grand adventure or writing her next story.

Here’s a blurb for MURPHY’S DEBT, accompanied by a picture of the clock tower that sits atop the Newberry, SC Opera House. Newberry is the inspiration for her fictional small city of Sunberry, NC, the setting for Murphy’s Debt and her two WIPs:

Five years ago Ava Robey lost her husband and nearly lost herself. But life will not suck this Marine widow under. To help her four young children, she’s going to win the lease in her hometown’s historic district and open a business to honor her husband.

 For Ryan Murphy, ‘leave no man left behind’ are not words. They are his code. And that includes the widow of the best man in his unit. Only problem is a fellow officer needs help securing a location for his retirement business. As a native of the Carolina community, Ryan has plenty of contacts. But to get the best site, he’ll have to win a competition—against the widow.

 As a Marine widow, Ava understands their code. But she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her. She’ll teach her impressionable children the pride of attaining a goal because of hard work and she won’t let Ryan throw the contest because of his misplaced guilt.

 Ryan harbors his own demons. His Afghanistan decision resulted in the loss of Ava’s first husband and the need to give back wars with his desire for a family. But his southern roots taught him good relationships are built on love not guilt and he must prove his worth to Ava and himself.

 With the competition in full force, Ava and her children soon show Ryan they are a fair match for one love-sick Marine. But how does he convince the independent mother of four, his feelings stem from love and not guilt, and her rambunctious tribe are the family he believed he’d never have?

Oh, I LOVE that “she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her.” What a great way to modernize that familiar trope! Fabulous emotional dynamics going on here!!

Okay, folks—I’ve got some questions for Becke!! I have fond memories of visiting a friend in North Carolina in the heat of summer and sitting on his old wooden back porch eating watermelon and spitting the seeds through the cracks between the boards. Grab a seat and a slice of ice-cold melon….spitting seeds is purely optional!

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Barbra Campbell!

Today we’re welcoming 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Barbra Campbell, another of the fabulous Persisters, who has been nominated for Best Short Contemporary Romance for her manuscript WATCHING.

Barbra grew up in the suburbs of Houston but feels much more at home in the mountains of Colorado with few people and an abundance of wildlife. Other than writing, two of her many passions are playing the cello and placing exchange students with local families. But with all life has to offer, she’s pretty sure she needs to be reincarnated because there’s not enough time in this life to do all the things that fascinate her.

Her author tagline isRomance served with a side of spice.”

Here’s a blurb for WATCHING:

Cassie is taking control of her life and that means taking matters into her own hands when it comes to her drug dealing ex. If the cops can’t do anything about his stalking, she’ll get the evidence they need to put him away for good.

Gabe had a crush on Cassie in high school, and grasps the opportunity for a second chance when he crosses paths with her ten years later. But his military and cop training won’t let him take a backseat while Cassie cleans her life up.

Personal and professional lines blur when Gabe agrees to a fling with Cassie. Neither wants the other hurt. Neither can turn away. But Cassie’s ex will do his best to keep them apart.

How much risk will Cassie take to get her ex locked up? Can Gabe let Cassie have the control she seeks?

I love the title and the multiple layers of meaning in “Watching”! And her need to stay in control mixed with his need to protect makes for some great internal and external conflict! Can’t wait to learn more!

It’s a lovely day here today, so let’s all stretch out on lounge chairs poolside with some cold iced tea and watermelon popsicles while Barbra and I chat about breaking locks and the complicated (but wonderful!) nature of love.


Welcome, Barbra! Tell us a little about your Golden Heart book. Where did the idea for WATCHING come from, and what does the word represent for you?

When I was in Copenhagen, I saw a bridge with a bunch of locks clamped onto it. The idea of ‘love locks’ became an obsession for me and I knew they’d end up in a story or three. Seeing all the locks, I couldn’t help but wonder how each relationship worked out, and thus the heroine in my GH story is cutting a lock off a bridge in the opening scene.

When I started brainstorming my GH story, WATCHING, which contains a stalker, the concept of ‘watching’ became my secondary theme. Whether we think about it or not we’re always watching people (at least I am) and they’re always watching us (even though that creeps me out to think about it). As the story developed, the various ways we watch each other, or ourselves, kept popping into my mind, so I had a fun time letting my characters explore the concept.

Nice! The title is even more layered than I guessed! And I love the idea of opening with the breaking of a “love lock” (surely not all those optimistic “lockings” end up lasting forever, after all!). So…that little moment during travel led you to a Golden Heart nomination. What was it like when you got that coveted phone call letting you know you were a finalist?

A little backstory…I’m trained as a geneticist, but a brain injury brought my world to a stifling halt ten years ago. There’s a long story that involves a fortune teller and losing self-awareness, but I don’t have enough space to delve into that here. So basically the brain injury gave me a personality reset and I had to relearn who I was and what I wanted out of life. Yes, this was quite a challenge for my husband too, but again, not enough space.

Meet 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Seana Kelly!

Today we’re welcoming another Dragonfly! Our guest is the lovely Seana Kelly, 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in Short Contemporary Romance with her book WELCOME HOME, KATIE GALLAGHER.

Seana is a high school English Teacher-Librarian who writes in the wee hours of the morning when her husband and daughters are sleeping. She was born and raised in the California Bay Area but believes she must have lived on the East Coast in a previous life as she feels a ridiculous connection with an area she’s only visited once. She is an avid (obsessive) reader, who has been known to pull out her Kindle at a stop light (Don’t judge!). She is excited and overwhelmed to be a Golden Heart finalist and can’t wait for New York. Seana is seeking representation.

Here’s a blurb for Welcome Home, Katie Gallagher:

This isn’t how she envisioned her life. When she dreamt of her future, she never once imagined depression-induced insomnia, being wedged into a rental car with 140 pound dog, grape soda splattered in her lap, a fecund, mushroomy odor she wasn’t entirely certain she could pin on the dog, and a cop tapping at the window. Nope, she sure didn’t see this coming.

Kate Gallagher is running away from home. Better late than never. Since the beginning of her marriage, she’s been corrected and improved, worn away and refashioned, never reaching the perfection asked of her, not in her husband’s eyes.

When she finds evidence that marriage hasn’t curtailed his dating, Kate decides his beloved BMW could use a little refashioning of its own. Now she needs to either hire a defense attorney to deal with her overzealous auto makeover or run like hell. Kate and her Newfoundland dog return to the only place she’s ever been happy, her late grandmother’s home in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Chief of Police Aiden Cavanaugh has been in love with Kate since that first summer she’d visited her grandmother. She was six years old and he thought she’d shone like she’d swallowed the sun. For the next nine summers, he’d pined for an oblivious Kate, until the summer she’d stopped coming and all the light and life had run out of his world. Now, fifteen years later, the woman he needs to take in for questioning is the same one he’s spent half his life trying to forget.

Each will need to make peace with the past if they can ever hope for a brighter future. The question is, will that future be together?

Yay! You’re pushing my buttons here: childhood crushes and small town romance (and Newfies!!)! I hope we see it on bookshelves soon!

Readers, Seana’s here today to talk about an aspect of Romance we don’t often talk about here on the Ruby blog, but I’m sure it’s been important in all our lives: the way Romance novels lift us up when life gets rough. (And one lucky commenter will win a $20 Amazon gift card!)

 Take it away, Seana!


Seana KellyRomance as a Non-Prescription Anti-Depressant

There has been a great deal written over the years about Romance, a genre written primarily by women and for women, one that serves as an expression of female empowerment. I agree with that but today I’d like to take a minute to highlight its benefits as an over-the-counter anti-depressant.

Happily Ever After isn’t just a fairytale. It’s a promise of hope, a light to help us navigate the darker alleyways in life. The belief that the good are rewarded, the evil are punished, and that no matter what we have to live through now, our futures will be happier, is what helps many of us get through the grim days. At its core, Romance is about hope and redemption.

I started reading romance when I was in middle school. I spent whole days mired in the trials of my heroes and heroines. As soon as I finished one happily ever after, I picked up the next and started reading again. Now, some of that is just being an obsessive reader but, looking back on it, I think it also served as an escape from school bullying. I may not have understood it as such at the time but what are the cruel vagaries of mean girls when compared to larger-than-life challenges and the course of true love?

Because I’m dyslexic, reading was a slow, sometimes arduous process. Once I started high school, I had to put my romances away. Just keeping up with assigned reading was tough enough. College with an English Literature major meant no free time for pleasure reading. After I graduated, I continued to read but I’d forgotten about those Romances I’d inhaled in my youth.

Many years later, when I was pregnant with my second child and received an abnormal result on my amniocentesis, I rediscovered Romance. The geneticists told us that our baby’s extra chromosomal material in a portion of her cells could cause anything from severe physical and mental retardation (their words) to slight learning disabilities. They couldn’t guess because it would depend on exactly which of her cells contained the extra genetic information. I couldn’t deal with reality, couldn’t watch TV, and didn’t want to discuss it. I buried myself in books. The NYT best sellers about dysfunctional families, wars, and memoirs of abuse were untouchable. As I’ve stated, reality was not my friend. I yearned for strength and hope. I immersed myself in urban fantasy. Werewolves and vampires? Hell yeah. The emotional and societal effects of poverty on children? Sorry, I can’t. It was a daily struggle just to keep my shit together.

It was also at this time that I started writing seriously. My first book was an urban fantasy/paranormal romance set in San Francisco. It isn’t easy to write when you’re dyslexic. It’s mostly slow and tortured, but it served to keep my mind off the child growing within me who may or may not be born with horrible birth defects. When I finished, I asked a fellow book lover to read it. CR Grissom has since become a beloved friend and invaluable critique partner. During our initial manuscript critique and discussion, she recommended some favorite authors and books for me to read (Nora Roberts’ Angels Fall and Northern Lights, Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars series). As I mentioned, I hadn’t read any romance since middle school (Danielle Steele) so I didn’t know any of these authors. I’d heard of Nora Roberts but I’d never read any of her books. So, I can credit CR Grissom with my renewed love of romance, the subsequent contemporary romances I wrote, and my Golden Heart nomination.

I took her book recommendations and ran with them. I gorged on romance, all kinds of romance, and I fell back in love with the genre. The stories were filled with strong, funny women, pushing themselves beyond their perceived limits, facing up to their demons (sometimes literally), and finding the courage to fulfill their dreams, all while finding a love that respected and cherished them. It was heady stuff. I read obsessively, finding solace in women who battled with the impossible, eventually finding their happy endings. As my daughter grew within me, I read and prayed, prayed and read, hoping for that happy ending.

My youngest is six years old now and she is the light of my life. Yes, there are problems but nothing severe. She is smart, funny, and shares my love of romance. When asked her favorite part of a story, she invariably says when they danced, kissed, or got married. I’m pretty sure all the Romance I read when I was pregnant traveled through the umbilical cord. Her imaginary friend is a boyfriend and she’s already asking about dating. She loves making up stories and has complete faith in Happily Ever Afters.

So, while I agree that the Romance genre empowers as it instills the message that a woman’s concerns and pleasures are not secondary to a man’s, it is Romance’s inherent message of hope, that the journey and struggle are worth it, that has had the most profound effect on my life.

How about you? In which books or stories have you found much-needed hope? Who are the authors who inspired your love of Romance?

One lucky commenter will win a $20 Amazon gift card!


Connect with Seana on social media:

Seana’s facebook



Meet Golden Heart Finalist Mia Sosa!

Yay! We’ve got an other Dragonfly with us today: 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Mia Sosa, whose book AT HER SERVICE is nominated for Short Contemporary Romance.

Although she’ll never give up her “resting New Yorker face,” Mia now calls Maryland her home. For more years than she’d like to admit, she practiced law in the nation’s capital, representing broadcasters, television production companies and newspapers in a variety of media matters. Now that Mia no longer braves the treacherous commute to D.C., she has ample time to hone her craft and plot stories about smart women and the complicated men who love them. Okay, let’s be real here: She wears PJs all day and watches more reality television than a network television censor—all in the name of research, of course.

She and her husband have two wonderful daughters who very much want their mother to write middle grade books. (Sorry, sweeties, it’s not going to happen!)

Here’s the blurb for AT HER SERVICE:

Ethan Hill’s penchant for fast driving lands him in a Washington, D.C. courtroom, where a judge orders him to perform community service. His objectives are simple: get in, get out, and move on—without revealing his true identity. But Ethan isn’t prepared for Graciela (“Gracie”) Ramirez, the captivating beauty who runs the community center where he’s obligated to serve.

Gracie is tempted by the secretive man who’s making a positive impact on her clients, but she has to focus on getting funding for her non-profit or its doors will close. What will she do when she discovers the man causing her sleepless nights is the CEO of the company that could save her charity?

 Fabulous premise—I love all the delicious power dynamics!

 Okay, everybody: let me set out a tray with virtual coffee and crullers (calorie-free! no gluten!) and let’s all gather around for a few questions with Mia!

As a special treat, Mia is offering one lucky commenter a “#WeNeedDiverseRomance” t-shirt, just in time for RWA 2015! (campaign made possible by author K.M. Jackson) The winner must select the color and size before June 8. More details here:


mia sosa author photoWelcome, Mia!! Delightful to have you with us! Can you start out by telling us a little more about your Golden Heart finaling book, AT HER SERVICE, and the process of writing it?

I wrote the first draft over the course of two months. In August 2014, I decided I would write a 20k novella as a way to practice my craft. By then, I’d completed my first single-title manuscript, and it was doing well in chapter contests, but I knew I had so much more to learn. The consistent advice to my question, “What next?” was “Keep writing,” so that’s exactly what I did. Somewhere along the way, I learned about Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest, and before I knew it, that 20k novella was over 50k words. It didn’t gain any traction in the SYTYCW contest, but I entered it into the Golden Heart, and I’m so glad I did!

As a woman of color, I’m super excited that my Golden Heart finaling manuscript features a Latina heroine and a multicultural cast of secondary characters. There are so many fantastic writers highlighting and embracing the need for diverse romance, and I’m delighted and proud to be among them.


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!!


The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood