Posts tagged with: the Omegas

2019 Golden Heart Finalist Angie Hockman on Motivation!

Today we’re welcoming Angie Hockman, another of the Omegas, whose manuscript THE HUSTLER is a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Romantic Suspense category.

Angie Hockman writes modern romance with sizzling thrills…because what’s life without love and adventure? Her professional background includes stints in law, government, and education, but these days you can find her burning up the keyboard in the late hours of the evening, working her day job as a conservation manager for an expedition cruise company, or embarking on adventures big and small with her family. Angie lives in northeast Ohio with her engineer husband, young son, and two grumpy-old-lady cats.

Here’s a blurb for THE HUSTLER:

Tech-savvy Sage Peters is one of the most highly respected PIs in New York City. For her latest investigation, she’s spent countless hours poring over Ryder Thorne’s surveillance photos, enough to memorize the precise angle of his cheekbones and the curve of his Cupid’s bow lips. Ryder is a master thief and con artist—the fact that he also happens to be jaw-droppingly handsome is immaterial. Once she’s hired for a job, she delivers. Always. But when a routine night of surveillance unexpectedly ends with her father gravely injured in a shoot-out, Sage is thrust in the middle of a high-stakes conspiracy and has no choice but to go on the run with the handsome thief. 

Ryder Thorne has never met a woman he couldn’t charm. Once a member of an elite crime ring, now in hiding from his former partners, he’s always lived in the shadows. But when a small-time con job goes wrong and puts him back on the radar of the nefarious figures he once worked for, he finds himself relying on an unexpected ally: a gorgeous, sassy PI who matches him wit for wit.

As the danger heats up and sparks fly, Sage has to decide how much she can trust a con artist. Will she give the tenacious thief a chance to win her heart? And even if she does, will the two make it out alive?

Ooh, this sounds fun!! I love Thrown-Together-in-Crisis stories, especially when the couple are antagonists who match wits and each think they ought to be the one in control!! Definitely looking forward to the dialogue on this one!!

Angie’s with us today to talk about one of her favorite things: Motivational Posters! 

Take it away, Angie!! 


Some Not-At-All Corny Motivational Poster Advice

When I was a high school varsity field hockey coach, I routinely wore t-shirts to practice with corny sayings like “Dream | Believe | Achieve” and “Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.” I like to think that through forced repeated viewings of inspirational quotes, my players dug that much deeper during end-of-practice sprints or discovered an extra dose of determination during the final minutes of a tough game.

Or maybe they thought I was a hopeless cheeseball. We’ll never know.

One thing’s for sure, I do love a good motivational quote—inspiring, powerful, cheesy, or otherwise. So when I sat down to write this guest blog (huge THANK YOU to the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood for having me!), I thought I’d share a few of the quotes and mantras that have given me a boost over the years—brought to you by cats. Because everything’s better with a cat.

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.”


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!


Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Jilly Wood!!

Today in our series of interviews with the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists, we’re welcoming Jilly Wood, a finalist in the Paranormal Romance category with THE TRANSFORMATION OF ALEXIS DOE.

Jilly Wood was born and raised in Derbyshire, England, a county that’s best known for Mr. Darcy but is also home to ancient castles, deep caverns veined with rare gemstones, wild moors studded with otherworldly rock formations, and a whole host of supernatural legends. All these elements are to be found in Jilly’s fantastic adventure stories of chivalry, rivalry, power, and love.

Jilly now lives quietly with her husband of many years in a leafy corner of historic North London. She writes epic fantasy from the comfort of her sofa, aided by her trusty laptop, a vivid imagination, and a steady supply of coffee and wine.


Alexis Doe is a six-foot-tall, shaven-headed twenty-five-year-old woman raised in a monastery as Brother Alexis, an acolyte with kick-ass fighting skills and a stolen power jewel hidden in her navel. When Alexis becomes energy sick despite the jewel’s protection, she’s forced to seek help in Caldermor, a wealthy city-state ruled by Prince Daire, the half-brother she’s never met. Daire is still hunting his missing heirloom. If Alexis is caught with it, she’ll hang.

Alexis finds the help she needs—at a price—from career soldier Kierce Randsen. Kierce knows Alexis’s half-royal birth, her excess of life energy, and her power jewel mean she could make elan—a golden, near-miraculous medicine created only by the royal family, who channel their vitality into common pulse beans at an ostentatious ceremony known as Transformation. Kierce’s sister is ill and he agrees to team up with Alexis if she’ll make the elan Mirel needs to survive.

When Alexis and Kierce discover that the solution to her energy sickness and his need for elan are only to be found at Transformation, they have no choice but to attend, risking discovery and execution. They don’t expect to develop a personal connection that runs far deeper than a mutual assistance pact, or to learn that Caldermor’s elan secrets are older and more dangerous than either of them ever imagined.

Awesome! I love seeing full-on fantasy in the Paranormal category!! I’m a sucker for wild moors and mysterious caverns (my reading tastes were heavily informed by an Ursula LeGuin addiction that ran from when I was eleven until I’d run out of new novels by her to read). And WOW do I love the idea of a “six-foot-tall, shaven-headed” heroine raised in a monastery, with “kick-ass fighting skills”!! (I’ve been jonesing for more Brienne of Tarth, so you’ve got my attention!!)

 I think we’ll gather round in a forest today, friends—and, ooh, look! A circle of ancient stones! Perfect! Put off your armor, if you’re wearing any, and get comfy while I pass around a goatskin of sweet wine and ask some questions of Jilly Wood.


Welcome, Jilly! Fantastic to have you visiting with us from all the way across the pond!

Thank you to Elisa and the Rubies for allowing me to share your blog, and for hosting this series of guest posts. I’m loving the chance to learn more about my fellow Omegas and their books, and honored to be part of the last ever Golden Heart class.

It’s truly our pleasure. I’m just loving the depth and variety of stories the Omegas are sharing!! So…fantasy is your jam! Why did you gravitate to that genre?

Because writing and reading fantastic stories makes me happy J.

I heard a superb workshop from last year’s RWA Nationals called Writing For Your Id. The presenter was Dr. Jennifer Barnes, a psychologist, cognitive scientist, and YA author (the recording is available for download from RWA). Dr. Barnes explained that an effective way to make your stories distinctive and memorable is to add in elements that the writer really, really enjoys. Dr. Barnes recommends building a personal Id List of beloved tropes, settings, or details, and using the list to add excitement to your writing. I really like that idea. I get a fizzy, Id List feeling writing fantasy romance, and if I can share that buzz with people who read my stories I’ll be even happier.

Oh, yes!! That was one of my favorite workshops in Denver!! The whole idea that instead of seeing tropes as clichés to be rigorously avoided, you embrace them shamelessly because if you enjoy them, there are surely other readers who do, too, and diving in to ones that give you that sweet frisson of excitement will make your writing delicious to others as well. She said it can be big things, like “friends to lovers” or “evil twin” or “couple come to know each other through long exchange of letters,” or small moments, like “midnight swim” or “hands brush unintentionally” or “gruff man gentle with child.” (At some point, I’m going to devote a whole blog post to this.) Dr. Barnes suggests making a list of things that give you that frisson of pleasure, and making the list as long as possible, so you can dip into it often. So what’s on your Fantasy Writer’s Id List?

Castles, monasteries, landscapes, seascapes. Jewels and sparkly stuff. Mystery. Wonder. Adventure. Bravery—physical and moral. High stakes—the world in peril. Wordplay and swordplay. Big ideas. Old-fashioned values—chivalry, idealism, sacrifice, honesty, respect, generosity, and kindness. Proactive women. Underdogs. True love.

Yum!! Definitely delicious!! Of course, fantasy can’t just be a pile of tropes; you’ve got to build a whole coherent logical world for your characters to exist in. Tell us about your worldbuilding for THE TRANSFORMATION OF ALEXIS DOE. What’s the big idea in your world?

Elan. It’s an imaginary medicine, created by concentrating life energy into specially grown beans. The mysterious transformation process changes beans from everyday foodstuff into hard-shelled, fragrant, shiny golden nuggets of elan, known as pulses. A pulse of elan can be grated and boiled into a tonic for internal use, or added to a poultice for external application. However it’s used, elan boosts the body’s own natural healing powers and gives near-miraculous results.

The Edevald family, rulers of the city state of Caldermor, holds a monopoly over elan. It’s a position that brings them wealth and power, but also envy and danger.

Fascinating! I love that it involves the power to heal, since that’s a power people will truly go to any lengths to obtain—either for themselves or their loved ones. I’ve noticed your gravatar looks jewel-like. Is it a jewel from your world?

Yes! That glowing amber stone is called the Light of Calder. It’s the greatest and most powerful treasure of the Edevald family. Missing, presumed stolen by my heroine Alexis’s mother, who was pregnant with the Crown Prince’s bastard child when she fled Caldermor. Now Alexis wears the Light in her navel, under her monk’s tunic.

Very cool!! So, will you be pitching Alexis’s story in New York in July?

No. The Caldermor Chronicles is a complex multi-book epic fantasy by a debut author. I think there will be at least two prequels and a main series of six books. It would be asking a lot to expect a traditional publisher to invest in that. Also I’m a bit of a control freak. I think indie publishing is a much better option for me.

Wow! That sounds big. You said indie publishing, not self-publishing. What’s the difference for you?

 I think the term self-publishing is misleading, because I didn’t do all the work myself. Many people have helped me get my elan stories to the almost-published stage. I’m super-grateful to them all, especially my main critique partner, Dragonfly/Persister and Paranormal GH winner Jeanne Oates Estridge, and ace developmental editor Karen Dale Harris. And I’m sure I’ll be grateful to many more folk before I finally get the first book to market.

No one should try this alone, that’s for sure! When do you expect the book to be out in the world?

I’m planning to publish my debut book, THE SEEDS OF POWER, later this year.

Oh, so you’re not starting with your Golden Heart story?

No, it’s a prequel. The heroine is Christal, a princess from a military-minded kingdom who’s ordered into a political marriage with spoiled Prince Daire of Caldermor but who uses her considerable ingenuity to avoid her fate. Christal becomes an important secondary character in the main series. The choices she makes in THE SEEDS OF POWER change Prince Daire’s life, and she sets in train the events that become the Caldermor Chronicles. Her story is the pebble that starts the series avalanche.

Cool! And what a great metaphor for a prequel! Do you have an official blurb ready?

Christal Hollin, princess of Larrochar, narrowly escaped death by marriage as a fourteen year-old. She won’t risk wedlock ever again. Instead she becomes trusted assistant to the King’s Cultivator and an expert in rare plants.

Christal’s safety rests on her papa’s obsession with elan—the mysterious golden, bean-shaped curative that gives neighboring Caldermor its wealth and power. Only the Calderran royal family knows how elan is made. Christal intends to break their monopoly.

Then, catastrophically, she receives a marriage proposal from Daire Edevald, crown prince of Caldermor. All he cares about is elan. All she has is her expertise.

Her father wants Caldermor’s secret. The Calderrans want Christal. To save herself she’ll need every kernel of knowledge she’s ever gleaned. And the support of Kiran Randsen, elite soldier turned Calderran bodyguard, who may be something even rarer than elan—a man she’d trust with her life.

OOH!! Love the concept, and that final line: “something even rarer than elan—a man she’d trust with her life.” Do you have a cover ready? Can we see it?

Yes! Here it is!

Oh, that’s absolutely gorgeous!!!! Hurray! Where can we find out more? 

You can read an excerpt at my brand new website:

I blog every other Sunday at Eight Ladies Writing:



Fantastic! I’m eager to check out the excerpt!! Best of luck on your debut!! 

So, do you have a question for our readers today to get the conversation rolling?

Here are a few more items from my Id List: Bluestocking heroines, men with strong mothers, twisted tropes, make-unders, bright colors, tall men, deception, snark under pressure… Readers, what’s on your Id List?

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.


Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Lisa Heartman!!

Today we’re welcoming Lisa Heartman, one of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists. Lisa is a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category with her book HIGH HEELS AND HANDGUNS.

Lisa Heartman is a coffee-swilling, sass-spewing, romance writer who believes love is messy and magnificent. She writes things she wishes she had said, and some she wishes she hadn’t, delighting readers with exhilarating stories and swoon-worthy characters in a world where danger and desire collide.

In addition to writing, Lisa enjoys movies, music, reading, baking, traveling, anything dark chocolate or coffee related, and hobbies like jewelry making and sewing. Growing up in New Jersey in a large Italian family full of strong role models gave Lisa the confidence to chase her dreams all the way to Arizona where she still lives with her husband and cat.

Here’s a blurb for HIGH HEELS AND HANDGUNS:

For Kate Howard, former Army Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, life as a one-woman personal protection detail comes with challenges. Wearing civilian camouflage while guarding high-profile clients is a dangerous game of rock, paper, hollow point. After an explosive and deadly end to her client’s re-election fundraiser, which left his young son in critical condition, Kate must accept help from an unwanted source: the soldier she loved and left in Afghanistan, bloody, broken, and barely alive.

Special Forces Officer Paxton Banks, Kate’s former captain-turned-FBI agent, is brought in to investigate the attempt on her client’s life. After twelve years, old emotions and new threats whip Kate’s world into complicated chaos. But when other elected officials are threatened, Kate and Paxton must tamp down their fiery feelings to catch a madman hell-bent on revenge.

That sounds deliciously intense! “Old emotions and new threats,” indeed!! I’m just imagining the dialogue….

So glad to have you with us here today, Lisa!! I’m having a blast getting to know the Omegas!

Since Lisa’s a Romantic Suspense finalist, I’m going to invite everybody into my virtual bulletproof bunker today. Don’t worry—I’ve got comfy couches inside, and there’s a fresh pot of coffee brewed up by one of the hunky FBI agents who always seem to be hanging out. Grab a seat!!


Welcome, Lisa! Congrats on your Golden Heart Final, and thanks for being with us today! So, tell me a little about your background as a writer. Did you always know you wanted to write?

Guest Blog: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Susan Lee – This One’s For the Dreamers

Today we’re welcoming another member of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists: Susan Lee, whose manuscript DRAGGED has finaled in the Young Adult category.

Susan Lee has built a career as a Human Resources executive at successful startups such as Spotify, Warby Parker, and SeatGeek. Her biggest job takeaway: we are all, for the most part, ridiculous. 🙂 And she channels this into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition. You can find Susan around New York City enjoying bottomless brunch, catching any show with her favorite local drag queen, Marti Gould Cummings, or trying to snag cheap tickets for Broadway previews. Susan is a 2018 PitchWars alum, a 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, and a lifetime Shangela stan.

Here’s a blurb for DRAGGED:

Goody two-shoes Grace Lee has a surefire plan for success: work her butt off to become a doctor and then be rich enough to buy herself a new butt. She’s one-hundred-percent focused on graduating first in her class and accomplishing all her goals. Nothing can stop her…except her smug arch-nemesis, Henry Liao. Henry is fast on Grace’s heels in their race to the top. He’s also the villainous traitor who convinced Grace to participate in a senior prank gone terribly wrong. Left shouldering the blame, Grace faces an enormous repair bill and—even worse—disappointed parents (eek!). To redeem herself and get back on track, Grace must win the school’s Most Outstanding Student Award, along with its hefty scholarship. Problem is, “outstanding” requires not just good grades, but song, dance, and jazz hands, too. 

 Enter stage right: Azia J’Adore, New York City’s hottest teen drag queen. With her huge wigs and an enormous heart to match, Azia’s the fairy dragmother Grace needs to land a role in the school musical, catapulting herself past Henry and straight into the winner’s circle. But working with Azia stirs up unexpected feelings in Grace. And when she finds out Azia’s true identity, Grace is knocked for a loop. With opening night fast approaching, it’s time to face the music: win the scholarship at any cost and screw up the one relationship she never knew she wanted, or toss aside her best-laid plans for the chance at a future unlike anything she ever imagined.

Oh, my!! What a fascinating and fresh storyline!! I’m dying to know exactly who Azia really is! Just from this blurb, Susan, I can see the humor and warmth in your writing voice, and can’t wait to see this book out in the world!

Today, readers, Susan has a wonderful guest blog post for us, one that’s especially poignant just after Father’s Day.

Thanks so much for being with us, Susan! Take it away!!


This One’s For the Dreamers:

It is such an honor to be a finalist for the 2019 Golden Heart award. Some of my favorite authors started their careers as GH finalists and to share this achievement is mind-blowing for me. I’m a baby writer – I’ve only been putting words to page for a few years now, and this is my second completed manuscript. But, I think I’ve been a storyteller my entire life. And I know I’ve been a dreamer from the very beginning.

My father passed away a few weeks ago. It was a difficult loss for my family. But as I’ve been scrolling through memories of him in my mind, there has been a common thread: my dad was a dreamer. He was hard-working, uber-practical, stubborn, demanding…but he was a dreamer nonetheless. From early on, he dreamt of a better life and greater opportunities, success for his family, and a legacy to leave behind. And he made those dreams come true for us.

When I was growing up, he moved us to a new neighborhood in the suburbs of San Diego. We were one of the very few families who looked different than the rest. In school, others would actually tell me that they’d never even seen a kid who looked like me. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When I walked down the stairs of our home, he would announce “Here comes Miss Korea!” And I would wave and smile and stand taller with pride. I was unfazed by looking different than other kids because in my heart I knew I was beautiful. My daddy told me so.

We attended a Korean church every Sunday. It was one of the only places I had access to other Korean kids, kids who looked like me. But most of these kids were born in Korea, where I was born in Chicago. It’s funny what kids decide is weird to them. For these kids, it was weird that I was “not Korean”.. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When we watched the news at the kitchen table, he would proudly say, “Susan, you’re the only person in our family who can be President of the United States.” And I would nod and let those words sink in and accept all the opportunity ahead of me with pride. I was unfazed by kids telling me I wasn’t Korean. I knew I was Korean-American and that meant something big. My daddy told me so.

The dreamer in me wants to tell stories that are life-affirming, confidence-building, and honestly, belly-achingly funny (my dad was that too, by the way). I write young adult romance because I want the teens who might worry there isn’t a place for them, to be assured that there is. There are stories for them. There is love and happily ever afters for them. I don’t want to tell kids to forget who they are, but to explore all the possibilities that lay ahead of them because of EXACTLY who they are.

I was raised by a dreamer.

I am a dreamer.

I write stories for the dreamers.

What about you, readers? Who inspires you the most in your life? 



Connect with Susan Lee on social media:

Twitter: @susanleewrites

Instagram: @syleegurl



Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Sammi Spizziri

Today we’re delighted to welcome another Omega, Sammi Spizziri, whose manuscript AFTER I BID YOU ADIEU is a 2019 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult Category

Sammi Spizziri lives in a small town in Illinois with her husband and baby girl. When she’s not lost in writing (or reading) a new book, she’s a stay-at-home mom who dabbles in accounting on the side. Boy bands, rec league volleyball, and chai tea lattes are a few of her favorite things.

Here’s a blurb for AFTER I BID YOU ADIEU:

Eighteen-year-old Evie wants to change the world through podcasts and not repeat her deceased mom’s mistake of settling for a hometown boy over her career. In an early college program at NYU, she’s on the perfect path to success. The only thing missing is her best friend and sort-of love interest from back home, Kace. But since he decided to skip college in favor of staying in Ridgeview for his mom, Evie’s done her best to forget about him. So when her dad’s heart attack requires her to return home for the summer, she’s not sure how to handle being face-to-face with Kace again—or her grief.

To make matters worse, her scholarship is threatened and she needs Kace’s help on a podcast to save it. She knows it’s not safe to get too close again or she’ll be tempted to stay, especially since he admitted his feelings for her before she left the first time. But as they spend time together, she soon finds herself admiring his small acts of kindness around town and appreciation for who she is over what she does, making her doubt why she’s leaving. Will Evie chase her dreams no matter the cost or learn how extraordinary ordinary can be?

Ooh! You’ve got podcasts and the lure of New York and anxiety about the future and family responsibility and best friends who might fall in love…very real stuff for teen readers!! And I love the idea that the boy is the one representing kind-heartedness and small-town-values! Very interesting dynamics going on!

Well, readers, it’s a lovely summer day outside, and my cottage hollyhocks are in bloom, so let’s all pull up some comfy-cushioned wicker chairs, pour tall glasses of iced tea, and let the local finches serenade us while I lob some questions Sammi’s way.


Welcome, Sammi! Wonderful to have you with us! You’re our first Young Adult Finalist of the year. (It’s a favorite genre for me, since I teach high school and am always looking for good books to recommend!) Tell us a little about your Golden Heart book and the process of writing it.

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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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