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Posted in Gallant Lake, Music Monday, The Writing Life

Music Monday – Writer on a Deadline!

I generally use Music Mondays to share love songs from my romance playlist. But I’m shaking things up this week because it’s that dreaded time in an author’s life: DEADLINE WEEK. Well, technically the deadline for my first book in the new Gallant Lake series for Harlequin Special Edition is in ten days, but close enough. I have to get this book done, because it’s…it’s not done. TEN DAYS, PEOPLE!

So I’m sharing a song I’ve been playing on repeat all weekend because it calms me (a little). I thought maybe you might have stuff going on that makes you need the same message – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. Meanwhile I’ll be over here blubbering into my wine glass and typing 24/7.

Posted in Lowery Women, Music Monday, The Life She Wants

Music Monday – A Wedding Song for Shane & Mel

Life - Checklist

With all the royal wedding excitement this week, I thought I’d share the little-known song Himself and I danced to at our wedding – the Irish Wedding Song. It’s sung here by Andy Cooney, whom we’ve seen in concert several times.

I say it’s little-known, but anyone from an Irish family (like the one I married into) has probably heard this song before, like…at every Irish wedding they’ve ever been to. Listening to it just now sure brought back memories for both of us.

So it only makes sense that Shane Brannigan, the Boston-Irish hero of my upcoming June release, The Life She Wants, would expect to dance to this when he marries Melanie Lowery. I can see the two of them swaying together on the veranda of the Gallant Lake Resort, surrounded by friends and family, as someone (maybe Andy Cooney?) croons this song to them. Perfect, don’t you think?

Posted in Gallant Lake, Music Monday, The Writing Life

Music Monday – In the Mood for Love

Strong Enough Dock Crop

This week, instead of matching a love song to an existing story, I’m sharing the music I played while writing my current work-in-progress. This book (the deadline is this month!!!) will be my first Harlequin Special Edition romance, releasing in 2019. It will be Book One of the Gallant Lake series. And this weekend I was writing that very special scene – the first time Nick and Cassie make love.

They’ve already shared a surprising kiss after the coworkers became friends. Or maybe it wasn’t so surprising, since they were at the Kissing Rock up on Gallant Mountain. They spend the following week agreeing to pretend that kiss never happened, but then Cassie ends up in Nick’s kayak at night, which leads to them both getting wet, which leads to them both getting…well…naked.

And what better mood music for writing what happens next than the classic by the incomparable Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It on.

Posted in The Writing Life

Beginnings: The Life She Wants

Life - ChecklistThis month, I’ve shared the beginnings of each of my books. And this beginning is quite a teaser – it’s the beginning of my upcoming June release, The Life She Wants. If you’ve read the first two books of the Lowery Women series, you’ll recognize a few familiar names here, and get a big surprise about one of them!

And hey – don’t forget to sign up for my brand new newsletter (just click “Subscribe” in the upper right corner of the page)!

And one more thing not to forget – don’t forget to pre-order The Life She Wants!

………………………………………..

Melanie, can I skip this necklace? It seems like overkill to me.”

“Mel, you don’t really expect me to wear these shoes, do you?”

“Melanie, this dress is way too short for a grandmother.”

“Mel…”

Melanie Lowery closed her eyes and took a long, slow breath.

If this was Paris or New York City, this type of fashion-model rebellion would never be tolerated. But Mel wasn’t in Paris. And while technically in New York State, she was nowhere near the fashion district. The three women in front of her were not professional models. They were her cousins, and they had volunteered to help her market this collection.

They were doing her a favor.

She could not scream at them.

One more deep breath.

“Amanda,” she said—as calmly as possible—to the petite blonde in the blue sheath, “it’s not a necklace, it’s an extension of the dress that happens to fasten around your neck. That jeweled bib is what makes the dress special. So please. Just. Put. It. On.”

The tall redhead standing by the door wore a flowing floral gown. Bright orange stilettos dangled from her fingers. Bree’s face said it all, but Mel stopped the inevitable flow of opinions before it began.

“Bree, I picked those shoes specifically for that dress. They match the clutch you’ll be carrying. It’s almost like I planned it that way.” She tried to keep the sarcastic edge from her voice, but failed.

“Pull in your claws, Mel. It’s not the color I’m worried about, it’s the crazy heels. I can’t walk in these things.”

“Seriously? I’ve seen you walk Hollywood red carpets in higher.”

“That was a lifetime ago. There’s not much call for stilettos on the farm.” Bree patted her protruding belly. “And don’t forget my passengers. Twins, babe. Twins. They’re wreaking havoc with my balance, not to mention my ankles.”

“Okay, Bree, I get it. Twins.”

……

“Nora.” Mel turned to face her eldest cousin, who was frowning at herself in the mirror while tugging at the hem of the dark red cocktail dress. “You may be a grandmother, but you’re forty, not eighty. That length makes your legs go on forever, so please stop yanking it out of shape!”

Amanda slipped her arm around Melanie’s waist. “Mel, you’re not even dressed yet, and dinner is in half an hour. We may not be models like you, but we’ll be fine. Go get your dress on, and we’ll meet outside the ballroom in thirty, okay?” Amanda turned serious, giving her a quick squeeze. Mel knew what was coming next.

“Are you okay?”

Note: The reader will come to see that’s a “code” question that Melanie gets asked a lot. Because there was a time not too long ago when she was definitely not okay. When she leaves this room and heads off to get dressed, she’ll meet a brash sports agent who will turn her already stressful life upside down. Shane Brannigan is chasing all the things that nearly destroyed Mel. Their lives are heading in totally opposite directions, and they’ll each have to examine their goals and redefine what “success” looks like to make it work. 

Posted in Newsletter

A Newsletter Is Born!

Newsletter Sign-Up - Website

Read Below for a Special Giveaway!

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to tasks that intimidate me.

Write an 80,000 word romance novel? No problem!

Create a newsletter for my followers? *PANIC ATTACK!*

Part of it is because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of having followers. Remember, my debut novel came out just over a year ago, so this is all new to me. The goal of a writer, of course, is to have people love their books. But it’s also an intimidating concept, and I’ll confess that I’ve ignored some parts of the process out of fear of screwing it up.

Things like asking people to review my books.

Things like asking people to subscribe to a newsletter about…me. What? 

But it’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and learn to handle the marketing end of the business with a more serious approach than just throwing random stuff on social media (although I’m very happy for the hundreds of followers I have there – Hi, Everyone!).

Phase 1 of that serious approach is creating a newsletter. Scroll up to the top of this page and check out the “Subscribe” box on the top right! My plan is for the newsletter to be quarterly, with “special editions” coming up for book releases or really big news (and boy, do I have some really big news coming up…….shhh!). I want to provide a newsletter that’s fun and offers some exclusive content, a peek at my writing process, book news, occasional giveaways, and silly things like pictures of hot guys, cool places, recipes, etc. Be patient with me for the first few issues, as I’m definitely still pretty low on the learning curve!

Cover Life She WantsSince I have a new book – The Life She Wants – coming up in June and, since I have some advance copies…I will randomly select five names from the first twenty people to sign up for my newsletter on Monday and will send those five people a signed ARC for The Life She Wants. I sure hope winners will share reviews of the book once they’ve read it! 

Phase 2 of my plan (in case you were wondering) is coming later this year. I will be creating a private Facebook group for my most devoted followers, where we can talk books and have opportunities to receive ARCs for reviewing and have special giveaways. But one thing at a time, and right now that’s the new NEWSLETTER!

Posted in Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

Beginnings: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me Meme Home (1)I’m visiting “beginnings” with this month’s excerpts, and today is a peek at my October novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which is part of the Falling For You anthology of small town romances. Meet Me in the Middle is set in the small town of Gallant Lake, which is also the setting for my upcoming Harlequin Special Edition series called…yup, you guessed it–the Gallant Lake Series.

Schoolteacher Sarah is feeling bad that breaking up with her ex has messed up her best friend’s wedding plans, since they’re still both in the wedding party. She doesn’t anticipate her friend’s solution to the problem, though, which puts Sarah much too close to her old high school crush–bad boy Ben Conway.

Ben’s only in town long enough to see his kid sister get married, then he’s hopping back on his bike and following the sun to Florida, determined to maintain his rolling stone lifestyle despite the loneliness he’s been feeling lately. But sweet Sarah Lowery makes him rethink his plans, and his life.

…………………………………………….

Sarah Jones dropped her head to her desk with a thunk and a groan.

“The full moon got to your monsters, too?”

She rolled her head just enough to open one eye and see her best friend, Jacqueline Conway, standing in the classroom doorway. They both taught at Gallant Lake Elementary School. The small resort town of Gallant Lake, nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York, had seen better days, but it was working hard to make a comeback. Kind of like Sarah.

“Just kill me now, Jackie. No, don’t bother—I’m already dead.” Sarah raised her head, rubbing her temples with her fingertips. “I’m trying to teach them about the Middle Ages, and all they want to talk about is Game of Thrones and whether Westeros is a real place. I lost control completely once someone mentioned dragons.”

“At least sixth-graders can discuss something interesting. My little minions revolted shortly after lunch, and I swear for a minute there they were plotting to lock me in the closet and take over the school.” Jackie kicked off her stylish pumps and sat on the corner of Sarah’s desk, hiking up her skirt to cross her legs. “I was trying to explain the difference between odd and even numbers, and that rotten little Billy Johnson started labeling everyone in class as odd or even. There were tears and a general meltdown of decorum, including mine. I dread the emails I’ll be getting this weekend.”

Sarah winced. Technology meant teachers were available to parents 24/7, and those ranting emails that mommies and daddies fired off at midnight were so much fun to wake up to. She nodded in sympathy. “Yeah, I used to think your second-graders would be more controllable because they were smaller, but…”

Jackie finished the thought. “But they have the attention spans of gnats.” She brushed her long, dark hair back over her shoulder, looking like a poster girl for Hot for Teacher. “So about the wedding…”  

Sarah grimaced. Jackie was getting married in a week, and Sarah felt responsible for messing up a year’s worth of careful planning.

“You know I love you…” Jackie hesitated. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. Long enough for Sarah to know there was always a “but” coming when Jackie said those words. “…but I don’t have a lot of options. The only solution is to have you with Ben…”

“Ben? No. No.” Sarah was not sitting with Jackie’s big brother at the wedding.  

“It’s not that big of a wedding party, Sarah. Carl and Nicole are best man and maid of honor. I planned on having Lashonna sit with Ben, and you with Aaron. But unless you want to spend my wedding sitting with your cheating bastard of an ex, I have to put Aaron with Lashonna, which leaves…Ben.” Jackie patted Sarah’s arm. “It’ll be fine, as long as you don’t mind being with a shaggy-haired biker. He’s probably forgotten all about you following him around like a puppy dog when we were kids.”

Note: Ben definitely did NOT forget about Sarah, or the two kisses they shared way back when. Maybe the third time will be the charm….

 

Posted in Music Monday, She's Far From Hollywood, The Writing Life

Music Monday – Some Love Songs are Sad

My romance writing playlist contains a lot of songs about the power and joy of love. But we all know that true love isn’t always sunshine and roses. There are dark times and bumps in the road. Sometimes there are even endings (although we know those endings never last in romance novels!). But I don’t think any of my characters, even in the darkness of the “black moment” in their story, ever regrets falling in love.

So this is my first sad Music Monday song – Break Up in the End by Cole Swindell. It stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it, because the bittersweet heartbreak of Tennyson’s “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” feels so real in the lyrics and in the simple, heartfelt delivery.

I think especially of Cole and Bree from She’s Far From Hollywood. Cole ends up in residential rehab for his PTSD. Bree goes back to California to deconstruct the life she used to think mattered to her. They’re hurting. But they’re also stronger people at this point than they were in the beginning, and they’re grateful for the impact they’ve had in each other’s lives.

And, of course, since it’s a romance novel, there is a Happily Ever After that occurs after Cole and Bree’s black moment, because I believe in Forever Love.

Posted in Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

Beginnings: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora's Guy Next Door HPG2What could possibly be more romantic than a grocery store, right? Hey–I don’t argue when inspiration hits me, and the opening scene for Nora’s Guy Next Door came to me as I was fighting my way through a crowded grocery store. I went with it, and it may be my favorite story opening.

I’m spending April revisiting the openings of each of my romances. Nora’s Guy Next Door is part of The Lowery Women series, but this book also inspired my upcoming Gallant Lake series with Harlequin Special Edition.

………………………………………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again–on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day–then all bets were off, Southern or not.

…………..

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak, honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

Just a few minutes later, the drama jumps up a notch when Nora runs into a gorgeous, furious man cursing to himself in the fruit section of the produce area. They don’t exactly hit it off, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other…especially once they find out Nora’s daughter is having a baby…with Asher’s son. 

Posted in Excerpts, She's Far From Hollywood

Beginnings: She’s Far From Hollywood

She's Far From HollywoodLast month I shared “first kisses” from my books, and it was so much fun that I wanted to do something similar this month. Since April is a time of renewal and new beginnings, I’m going to share the beginning of each of my stories every Wednesday. If there are any you haven’t read yet, maybe you’ll be intrigued and want to know more (psst – just follow the link!).

I’ll start the beginnings with my beginning – the opening of my debut romance, She’s Far From Hollywood.

……………………………………………………….

Brianna Mathews hated North Carolina.

Seriously.

She hated it.

She’d left the cosmopolitan appeal of Charlotte a couple of hours ago, and now it was just field after field of…what? Corn? Tobacco? Cotton? What did they grow in North Carolina, anyway? Cotton, right?

Some of the fields looked like golden-green grass and were undulating prettily in the wind. Was that wheat?

…amber waves of grain…

Wasn’t wheat a grain?

She cursed softly behind the wheel of her rented red Mercedes. She was completely out of her element driving through farm country, and she laughed at her reflection in the rear-view mirror.

“You’re a long way from Hollywood, girlfriend.”

This seemed like such a good idea last night. But last night she was still in the civilized world. She’d been happily ensconced at her cousin Amanda’s palatial stone castle, Halcyon, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, sipping pink champagne at Amanda’s baby shower. Then she got the news that upended her tidy little world. The concensus was she needed a place to stay that was out of the public eye. Amanda’s best friend, Caroline, offered her mother’s rural farm as the perfect place to avoid both paparazzi and crazed stalkers.

“‘Go to North Carolina,’ Caroline said. ‘You’ll be safe there.'” Bree glared at her reflection as she continued her one-sided conversation. “‘Mom has a cute little cottage you can use.’ Didn’t that all sound delightful last night at Halcyon? And look at me now. Driving down country roads in the middle of nowhere. Me! Miss California!” She shook her head. “I haven’t been here three hours and I’m already talking to myself. How am I supposed to last a month?”

[HINT: The hot, grumpy farmer next door makes Bree’s time in North Carolina a lot more interesting than she ever expected!]

Posted in Meet Me in the Middle, Music Monday

Music Monday: Heaven (Ben & Sarah)

One of my favorite new singers is a young artist who doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a typical country artist. But Kane Brown can really sing a love song. And he’s one good-looking dude, too! I can’t get enough of his very intimate song, Heaven.

In fact, Kane reminds me of Ben in my novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which is part of the Falling For You anthology. Ben doesn’t exactly fit into any mold, either. He’s a biker with a gentle heart and an impossible-to-ignore attraction to his kid sister’s best friend.

I can easily picture Ben and Sarah slow-dancing to Kane’s song on a Friday night at The Chalet in Gallant Lake. Yeah, that could definitely happen.