DUDE, I'M A RITA FINALIST

More than ten years ago, I attended my first RWA National conference as a newbie writer, all wide-eyed and clueless but full of dreams. And one of those dreams was that someday I would write a book good enough to get one of the prized ribbons on my conference badge that said,  RITA NOMINEE.

Well, dreams do come true.

Yesterday morning, I got the call from RWA that my novella, WILD IN RIO, is a nominee for Best Romance Novella in the 2017 RITA Awards.

True story: I never answer my phone. Like, ever. My voicemail message should be, "You don't actually think I'm going to answer, do you? Send me a text like normal people." But yesterday morning, I was waiting for a call back from a windshield repair company about setting up a time to fix the gigantic crack running eye-level down the center of the driver's side of my GMC Acadia.

So, when an unfamiliar number appeared, I answered it.

Moral of the story: Always answer your phone on Rita day, kids.

Anyway... huge thank-you to Romance Writers of America (RWA) for this amazing honor ! I don't stand a chance in hell of winning against authors like Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, or Jennifer Probst. But it's true what they say: It's an honor just to be nominated.

BULLPEN BLITZ DAY FIVE-- Welcome Tamara Lush

WHAT A WEEK!!!!! This has been so much fun! Today, I'm excited to welcome Tamara Lush to The Bullpen. 

I share a sort-of pinkie-pledge bond with Tamara, because we're both newspaper reporters. (Well, she still is. I left the business a year ago.) Reporters tend to stick together because we generally can't behave outside of a newsroom, have the vocabularies of drunken sailors, and have to fight the overwhelming urge to constantly ask people to cite their sources in any kind of conversation.

So when a reporter meets a fellow reporter-slash-romance-writer...? Watch out. 

Anyway... WELCOME TAMARA LUSH!!! Let's have some fun.

 

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Most important question first. What are we drinking today?

We're drinking Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. It's really warm here in Florida, and I like a glass of crisp, cold wine. 

Editor's note: I think she's just rubbing it in. Because we just got an alert here in Michigan that there's a "heavy burst of snow" headed our way. The Tigers are expecting their coldest-ever home opener tonight. 

 

Anyway..What are we toasting to?

We're toasting to the Sizzling Florida Heat box set! It was put on pre-order this week and will go live on April 20. It's a boxed set of eleven Florida-set romances, by eleven Florida authors. Including me!

Woo-hoo! Everyone raise a glass!!

 

OK. Let's talk about your most recent book (a novella called TELL ME A STORY).  

 

How about a teaser? Give us your favorite swoon-worthy paragraph or bit of dialogue between your hero and heroine.

“Story Brothel,” he murmured in a voice so low I could barely hear the words. Because he was tall, he had to tilt his face and his gunmetal-blue eyes downward to look at me.
I shook my head dramatically and clicked my tongue against the roof of my mouth. “You don’t seem like the type of man who’d come to an event like this.”
“I don’t?” His eyes glittered and teased. They were such a gorgeous hue that popped against his long, dark lashes. He wasn’t the most handsome man I’d ever seen, but he radiated confidence and sensuality. His features—high cheekbones, a slightly big nose, a strong jaw—wouldn’t have stood out on their own, but the combination was irresistibly masculine. Intriguing. Fuckable.
“No. And I’ve never seen you here before.”
“This isn’t a one-time only thing?”
“It’s a monthly thing, for the Orlando Literacy Council.”
“So you’re an experienced…story…?”
He motioned in a half-circle with his hand, and a salacious grin crept on his face.
“Whore?” I offered with mock innocence.
“You said it. I didn’t.”
That made me giggle.

Editor's note: This is me right now.

 

In your mind, what makes for the perfect romance hero?

The perfect romance hero is little broody, mixed with self-assured charm, along with razor-sharp wit and intelligence.

Editor's note: YES, PLEASE.

Time for the super important question: Superman or Batman?

Batman. He's more mysterious and has a dark edge.

Even more super important question: Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston?

Tom Hiddleston. I'll confess that I don't know much about either man! I chose based on the photos.

Editor's note: This is a travesty. Little does Tamara know that I will now be flooding her daily with pictures of both men.

But let's stare at #Hiddlesbum for a few moments first.

I MEAN OMG. LOOK AT THAT SMILE. I think we need another one, for Tamara's sake.

OK, OK, moving on. What will we see next from you?

The second Episode in The Story Series. It will be called Tell Me a Desire, and it is the continuation of Caleb and Emma's story from Tell Me a Story.

Editor's note: Tom Hiddleston approves of that news.

THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE BULLPEN, TAMARA LUSH!!! Who's ready from some free books? 

Click here to enter my Amazon Giveway for a chance to win a copy of Tamara's second book, INTO THE HEAT. 

BULLPEN BLITZ DAY FOUR -- Welcome Jennifer Sable

What an awesome week this has been!! The Tigers won again lat night, and we're having a blast talking books, booze, and the long ball with some amazing authors.

Today, I'm excited to welcome Jennifer Sable, author of the futuristic romance, Separation Point. At the end of the interview, I'M GIVING AWAY A COPY!!!

 

Most important question first. What are we drinking today? 

I love a good, tart hard cider anytime I'm this close to submitting a manuscript to my publisher. (Or because it's Thursday...)

 

OK. Let's talk about your book. How about a teaser? Give us your favorite swoon-worthy paragraph or bit of dialogue between your hero and heroine.

“You and I,” Trace waved his hand between them, “you and I are already a family from where I stand.”
Effone nearly choked. She didn’t know what she’d expected him to say, but it certainly wasn’t that. “Families have adults and kids and cats. Or dogs. Mine would have cats.”
Leaning forward, Trace reached for a thick book on his bedside table. He opened it and flipped through several pages dragging his finger through the lines of text until he found what he was looking for.
“Family. Noun. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.” He purposefully closed the book and leaned forward to put it back on the table. “That is direct from a one hundred year old edition of Webster’s Dictionary, so don’t try to argue with me over the ‘dwelling place’ bit. The word ‘usually’ preceded that phrase. And we can get a cat.”
Effone glanced from his face, to the book, and back to him. “You have a printed dictionary on your night table.”
“I do.”
“You’re my hero.”
“I know.”

I WANT TO READ MORE!!!

 

In your mind, what makes for the perfect romance hero?

Intelligence, empathy, and a genuine concern for the world around him. Long legs are a plus.

Super important question now: Superman or Batman?

Superman. Because I like blue? No, that's not it. I actually like the less damaged hero. And, I like blue.

Editor's note: Are you sure it's not because he looks like this shirtless?

Even more super important question: Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston?

Tom Hiddleston. Anyone who comes with a built in nickname of "Hiddles" usually gets my vote.

Sigh. I could stare at Tom Hiddleston all day.

Oh...sorry. Got distracted there. 

THANK YOU Jennifer Sable!!!! And now it's time for  FREE BOOKS!!! Click here to enter my Amazon giveaway for a copy of SEPARATION POINT!!

 

BULLPEN BLITZ DAY THREE -- Welcome Stacy Finz!!

I'm EXTRA happy today, because THE TIGERS WON THEIR SEASON OPENER LAST NIGHT against the Marlins. Pause for celebration...

Now help me welcome STACY FINZ to the Bullpen Blitz!!! Stacy is the author of The Nugget contemporary romance series, and at the end of the interview I'm giving away free copies of her latest release, Borrowing Trouble. 

OK, most important question first: What are we drinking today?

Uh, champagne of course. Though technically speaking it's sparkling wine because I like Roederer Estate, which is made not far from where I live in Northern California.

 

And what are we toasting to?

I'm toasting all of you and Lyssa Kay Adams, who was kind enough to have me on the Bullpen

Sounds good! Let's do it!!!

Let's talk about your book. How about a teaser? Give us your favorite swoon-worthy paragraph or bit of dialogue between your hero and heroine.

If I was to sum up Borrowing Trouble this is how I would do it: He’s a chef, she’s a cop. Neither came to town looking for love but it found them. Trouble is, so has their pasts. Here's a bit of dialogue to whet your whistle:

“Sloane, honey, look at me.”
She lifted her head and locked eyes with him. Man, they were blue.
“I left some trouble behind in LA. It hasn’t followed me yet . . . but now’s not a good time for me to get involved.”
It wasn’t safe for either of them. And then there was the fact that he didn’t do involvement. Ever.
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In your mind, what makes for the perfect romance hero?

He has to be smart, clever and confident. He can be a rogue or a player but at the end of the day he has to be honorable.

Super important question: Superman or Batman?

Batman. In a past life I was a newspaper reporter and Clark Kent bugged the crap out of me. Batman on the other hand . . . Mm.

Even more super important: Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston?

Tom Hardy. He's got that badass thing going.

Last question: What will we see from you next?

Heating Up, the seventh book in my Nugget Romance Series, is out July 19. It's a scorcher.

 

Woo hoo!!! Thanks for being here, Stacy! 

And now let's give away some books! Click here to enter my Amazon Giveaway for a copy of Borrowing Trouble.

 

BULLPEN BLITZ DAY TWO -- Welcome Amy Olle!!

THIS IS THE BEST WEEK OF THE YEAR!!!! Baseball is back, and we're celebrating at The Bullpen with a Blitz of author interviews, giveaways, and virtual drinking. 

Today, I'm so excited to have Amy Olle here. She's the author of the contemporary romance series, The Nolan Brothers. I've read the first one -- Beautiful Ruin -- and I AM IN LOVE. If you haven't read it yet, DO IT NOW!!!! I'm giving away three Kindle copies today. Giveaway link is at the end of the interview.

Most important question first: What are we drinking today?

I'm a boxed wine girl! White Zinfandel (Vella brand, not Franzia) with ice and a splash of sparkling water. 

And what are we toasting to?

Today I'm toasting the completion of my second novel. Ahhh, so refreshing.

EDITOR'S NOTE: EVERYONE RAISE YOUR GLASS!!!!!

OK. Let's talk about your upcoming book, Sweetest Mistake. How about a teaser? Give us your favorite swoon-worthy paragraph or bit of dialogue between your hero and heroine.

From Sweetest Mistake, Chapter One:

She felt his eyes on her like a caress. “Do you take cream?”
Emily blinked at him. “Wh-what?”
“With your coffee?" His smile turned mischievous. "We’re doing this all out of order, I admit, but now that I’ve fondled your panties, I think it’s expected that I at least buy you a cup of coffee.”

All together now... OH MY.

 

In your mind, what makes for the perfect romance hero?

Jamie Fraser. Next question. No, but seriously, all of my favorite romance heroes have the same qualities. They're loyal, protective, understanding, intelligent, and they have a great sense of humor. I like an alpha male as much as the next girl, but I find the heroes with vulnerabilities so fascinating and sexy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We can't let any mention of Jamie Fraser to pass without looking at him.

This is super important: Superman or Batman?

Superman. Because Henry Cavill. More philosophically, Superman is an outsider who wants to belong but knowing he can't, settles for protecting those he loves.

This is even more super important: Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston?

Tom Hardy. He ticks my vulnerable hero box. He's battled and overcome personal demons, and in his acting roles, he's fearless. So sexy. Also, I'm a sucker for an Irishman.

 

Last question: What will we see from you next?

I'm heading into the writing cave to begin work on book 3 in my Nolan brothers series, surfacing only for M&Ms and the all-important This or That debate! 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I will definitely have Amy back for more This or That debates!

LET'S GIVE AWAY SOME BOOKS!!!!! Click here to enter my Amazon Giveaway of Amy's first book, Beautiful Ruin. 

BULLPEN BLITZ DAY ONE -- WELCOME MJ SUMMERS

It's time to get our Opening Day Bullpen Blitz started! Stepping up to the plate today is MJ Summers, international bestselling author of the Breaking Heart series.

Before I pitch her some questions, I have to tell a quick story about why I love MJ. We met last summer at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York. I happened to sit next to her in a session about a topic I can't even remember. The speaker started rattling off the names of good blogs, and MJ happened to see me taking notes.

She started to laugh. Instead of "Fussy Librarian," I had written, "Hussy Librarian." A friendship was born.

So here we go! Welcome MJ!!

 

Most important question first. What are we drinking today?

Angry Orchard Apple Cider (Yum!)

 

And what are we toasting to?

We're toasting the launch of the final book in my Full Hearts Series. It's been almost exactly three years since I started writing it and this is a bittersweet moment for me, but one I need to properly celebrate. So much of my life has gone into these stories, so much learning, and heartache, and lost sleep, and blurry-eyed typing. Five novels, one novella, and one short story in three years. It's an accomplishment.

OK. Let's talk about your book. How about a teaser? Give us your favorite swoon-worthy paragraph or bit of dialogue between your hero and heroine.

I'd love to talk about it. Thank you! First, here's the blurb from the back cover.

What if Mr. Right showed up at exactly the wrong time? When America’s sweetheart, Courtney Bennett, finds out her husband, Brock McCain, America’s heartthrob, is leaving her, she’s sure her life is over. Thirty-nine in Hollywood is tough on any woman, but not as hard as being hunted by the relentless paparazzi. Finding herself holed up in a cabin in Colorado under the care of Wes Young, her new bodyguard, she starts to see that maybe there is life after Hollywood. Wes Young spent more than twenty years in the Marines and the past two years in protection services. The only thing he guards more carefully than his clients is his heart. When he takes on the task of watching Courtney Bennett, the last thing he wants to do is spend his days and nights with a spoiled, self-involved actress. Before long, Wes realizes that she is not at all what he thought. For the first time in his life, he finds himself navigating the minefield of love, trying to avoid a broken heart. Will they risk it all to be together or return to the lives they knew before The Break Up?

Now for a special advanced preview (it hasn't gone through the line edit or proofing, so please forgive any mistakes). I'll set up the scene for you. Up to this point in the story, the sexual tension between Courtney and Wes has been building at a furious pace. They've just had an argument and she went to take a shower to try to clear her head. She exits the bathroom in only a towel, and there he is in the hallway....

Courtney gasped. She had nearly walked into him. “Oh, sorry. I thought you were outside."
She stared up at him. The look on his face was anger mixed with lust, but it didn’t frighten her. Instead it brought out the same in her. She was angry at herself for wanting a man like him—someone who could be so distant and rude. She was angry at herself for wanting anyone at all right now. But she did.
He glared down at her. “Don’t walk around the house without your clothes on. I don’t like it.”
Something about his tone and the look in his eye caused her to snap. She was through with being told what to do. She’d been letting people boss her around her entire life and she’d had her fill of it. Giving him a defiant look, she plucked at the top of the towel causing it to drop to her feet. “Is this better?”
The muscles in his jaw clenched so hard Courtney could hear it. Her heart pounded in her chest, fear and fury and desire blending together. For a horrible moment she didn’t know what he was going to do. Would he walk away? Would he finally touch her?
She didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Wes took two steps forward, pinning her against the wall. He slammed one hand on the wall behind her head and swore under his breath. Courtney flinched. She had crossed the line and she knew it. What she didn’t know is what he did when someone crossed the line.
He gave her a hard look, then traced a slow line down her naked body with one finger, stopping between her thighs. “Is this what you want me to do?”

And then things REALLY heat up...

In your mind, what makes for the perfect romance hero?

I think most women want to be respected, then adored - in that order. To me, a hero is a man who does both. He has to be generous and be willing to make sacrifices for those he loves and those who need it. He has flaws, sure, and sometime he'll make mistakes, but when push comes to shove, he does the right thing.

Superman or Batman?

Superman. The original Superman was co-created by fellow Canadian Joe Shuster. Superman isn't just a muscle-bound super-hero, he's kind and polite. Love that!

Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston?

It's a close one, but I have to give it to Tom Hardy for his versatility as an actor, as well as his writing.

Last question: What will we see next from you?

I'm adapting a short story I wrote last summer for a boxed set. It's called Honeymoon with a Billionaire and I'm turning it into a full-length novel. I cannot wait to write all those scenes that I had to leave out due to word count constraints. I had no idea how fun it would be to write about a billionaire. It's like having a romantic super-power. They can go anywhere and buy anything at the drop of a hat.

 

THANK YOU, MJ! 

ENTER TO WIN MJ'S FOURTH BOOK, BREAKING HEARTS. ENTER THE AMAZON GIVEAWAY HERE

Baseball is back!

The countdown is on! Fifteen days until the Vegas Aces make their Major League debut! How about a teaser from book one, Seventh Inning Heat?