Music Monday, The Life She Wants

Music Monday – Believe in Us (Shane & Mel)

Cover Life She WantsOn the recent season finale of The Voice on NBC, Alicia Keys (love her!) and James Bay (OMG!) did a duet that literally gave me goosebumps. It immediately went on my romance playlist, and I knew the couple it belonged to. This is a song with all the angst and emotion of Shane and Melanie in my most recent release, The Life She Wants.

A hot-shot sports agent on his way to the top. A former supermodel looking to just slow down. When their paths cross, they will be forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they wanted. But in the end, it’s love that gives them the answer. I can actually hear this song playing when Shane comes back to Gallant Lake with a whole new goal for his life – Mel.

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.

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!

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….

 

The Writing Life

Welcome to Gallant Lake!

Gallant Lake SeriesIt’s official! I have a brand new series coming in 2019! With the unfortunate demise of the Harlequin Superromance line (the final Supers will be out in June, including my The Life She Wants), I wasn’t sure where I’d land. But I’m thrilled to announce that my Gallant Lake Series will be published by Harlequin Special Edition, starting in 2019.

If you’ve read Nora’s Guy Next Door, you’re familiar with the fictional Catksill Mountains town of Gallant Lake, home of the Gallant Lake Resort. Gallant Lake is also the setting for The Life She Wants. I’ve basically fallen in love with this little town of faded storefronts along the lakeshore. It’s a town left behind by progress as the old resort (think Dirty Dancing) fell into disrepair. But it’s also a town full of close-knit individuals who care about each other and the place they call home. When the resort is brought back to life, along with the historic castle next door to it, Gallant Lake begins to feel hope again. As the town rebuilds, new people and new challenges come along. And….so does love.

First up are Nick and Cassie, both new to town and both employed by the Gallant Lake Resort. Both are trying to leave troubled pasts behind, and they dare each other to make some changes. Nick shows Cassie how to be more adventurous, while Cassie gets Nick to relax and breathe once in a while. Cassie’s past is threatening to catch up with her, but if she runs, she’ll leave behind her one chance at forever love.

Next come Sheriff Dan (who appears in Nora’s Guy Next Door and The Life She Wants) and his best friend’s little sister, Mackenzie, back in town to help her dad. The last thing Mack needs is Dan bringing up memories of high school and all the dreams she failed to achieve. Dan was always the bad boy as a teen, and Mack was the sweetest little kid. These days the single dad enforces the law instead of breaking it. Sweet Mackenzie is looking for a walk on the wild side, and Dan can’t let her do that with anyone but him. But how much is he willing to risk?

And then we have Nate (who appears in Nora’s Guy Next Door) and Brittany. Nate owns the local hardware store, which has been in his family for generations. Nate’s not big on change. Brittany is in Gallant Lake for one reason — to change everything. When the hard-charging real estate developer meets laid-back Nate, she figures her job just got a lot easier. She has no idea how wrong she is, because there’s nothing easy about Nate. Including leaving him behind.

So what do you think? Are you ready to read the stories of Gallant Lake? Because I’m already busy writing them!

 

Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

A First Kiss: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me GraphicYes, I’m still sharing First Kisses this month! This one is from my novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which was part of the anthology Falling For You. The anthology features ten small town romances from me and fellow award-winning and best-selling Harlequin Superromance authors. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should!

And here’s a special announcement…Meet Me in the Middle will soon be available as a stand-alone novella. Stay tuned over the next month or so for a cover reveal and release news. Ben and Sarah’s story takes place in Gallant Lake, the same town Nora’s Guy Next Door was set in (and the same town June’s The Life She Wants will be set in). While the anthology was released a few weeks after Nora’s Guy Next Door, the events in the novella technically take place a few weeks before Nora arrives in Gallant Lake for Thanksgiving.

Technically, this is Ben and Sarah’s third kiss, because this is a second chance romance. Ben just came cruising back into town on his motorcycle for his sister’s wedding, and schoolteacher Sarah’s not ready to face her bad boy high school crush again. Those first two kisses years ago didn’t stick, but this one (in the coatroom) just might…..

……………………………………..

       The logical thing would be to go back to the wedding reception and finish the night with their friends and family. That would be the safe choice. Her shoulders straightened. Maybe Ben was right. Maybe it was time to take a risk.
      “Well, I think we need to communicate more clearly about what we’re planning. No more blindsiding. We need to meet in the middle. To have a mutual agreement…”
       “And what exactly are you planning, Miss Sarah Jones?”
       She swallowed hard. “I’m planning on walking toward you. And I hope you’re planning on walking toward me. And when me meet, I’m thinking we should have a mutually agreed upon kiss.”
        She took a step, and he did the same. Then another. Until they were just inches away from each other. His hands cupped her face, his eyes so intense she could hardly bear to look into them, but she couldn’t look away. His head lowered and his lips brushed back and forth across hers. They’d never kissed like this before—tentative, careful, tender. He pressed his mouth against her and his tongue teased her for a moment before she let him in. A groan vibrated through her body, and she wasn’t sure if it came from Ben or her. She reached up and buried her fingers in his hair, while his hands slid down her body to pull her hips into his very obvious arousal.
      Those kisses in the past had been all about pent-up desire and an explosion of passion. This kiss was more like a furnace slowly being turned up until the heat could melt steel. Their moves were slower and more measured, but no less intense. A tremble started in Sarah’s chest and rolled out to her skin until her whole body shook with it. Ben must have felt it, because he growled and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her against the wall so she no longer had to worry about her legs holding her up.
        Their mouths came apart only long enough for a ragged breath, then crashed together again. This felt more like old times—heads twisting, hands moving quickly over bodies, frantic incoherent whispers. The two of them were combustible together.