Archive | July 2014

Rita Awards Rules Changes for 2015

Romance Writers of America has announced some significant changes from last year’s RITA rules. Many of the changes are based on member input; other changes were necessary in order to manage the increased number of entries. The RWA Board has provided the rules at this time so its members can become familiar with the changes before judges are asked to sign up (in September) and the contest opens for entries (in October).

Summary of Changes

(Please note: This summary of changes is from the RWA site, but it is not meant to replace or supersede the actual rules. Entrants should read the actual rules carefully before entering the RITA contest. This is provided as a preliminary courtesy.)

  • Entrants are required to judge.
  • Entrants will not judge in a category in which they are entered.
  • Judges will be allowed to opt out of two categories.
  • Contemporary romance is divided into three categories and historical into two categories, based on word count, with the goal of dividing the number of entries equally among the available categories. Please note that the number of entries, by category, vary from year to year, and the resulting number of entries in each category may not be equally divided.
  • Each entry will be scored between 1.0 (lowest) and 10.0 (highest).
  • Judges will assign one score to each work, with the final score calculated by dropping the high and the low score and averaging the remaining three scores (trimmed mean).
  • The top 4% of each category’s entries (based on the number of qualified entries received) will advance to the final round, except each category will have no fewer than 4 finalists or more than 10 finalists.

For more information GO HERE.


Golden Hearts Winners 2014

The Romance Writers of America has announced the winners of the prestigious 2014 Golden Hearts® Awards for best unpublished novel in certain categories or romance fiction. Congratulations to the winners, to the finalists, and to all of the participants. Every year many extremely high-quality works compete for these few slots, and the quality of writing and story are always of the highest caliber, allowing readers to fall in love again, and again, and again.

2014 Golden Heart® Winners

Contemporary Romance

  • “Too Good to Be True” by Suzanne Kaufman Kalb

This is the second Golden Hearts Award for Suzanne Kaufman Kalb, whose unpublished work, “Irresistible” won the Best Young Adult Romance category in 2011.

Suzanne, who writes as Erika Kelly, is a UCLA graduate in English Lit, and has been writing for years—plays, screenplays, short stories, novellas, and was one of the contributors to the book A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. She found her true voice, though, in writing passionate contemporary romances. Recently, she sold a contemporary series to Berkley. The first book, YOU REALLY GOT ME, comes out in January 2015. Learn more at her Website.

Historical Romance

  • “Charlene and the Duchess Factory” by Lenora Bell

“This sexy Regency romp blends The Bachelor with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and is the first in the RENEGADE DUKES series. The second two books are inspired by Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.”

Lenora Bell writes fun, sensual Regency-set romance novels that feature strong, sexy heroes who can only be reformed by the most extraordinary heroines. Past careers include sultry lounge singer, vintage clothing stylist, and, far less romantically, salmon cannery grunt. Lenora has lived and worked on five continents and currently shares a home in Bolivia with her carpenter husband, twenty-one-year-old cat, and towering mountains of books. Learn more at her Website.

Inspirational Romance

  • “My Lord Valet” by Kristi Ann Hunter

Stories have been part of Kristi’s life for as long as she can remember. An avid reader from the moment she could open a book, the written word has always been a way for her to relax, escape, and learn about herself and others. She graduated from Georgia Tech is 2003 with a degree in Computer Science. While she enjoyed building databases and designing software, her heart still yearned for the stories. After much prayer and deliberation the decision was made to pursue that passion. Since then she has written scripts for church plays and illustration videos, newsletter articles, blogs, and, of course, stories. Kristi’s fiction writings have been included on Regency Reflections, a blog for readers of Inspirational Regencies, as well as placed in several national writing contests. When she isn’t writing, Kristi enjoys music and television (again with the stories!) as well as working with the youth at her church. She is also fascinated with the internet and social media and how it can bring people together in new and exciting ways. She currently lives in Georgia with her husband and three children. Learn more at her Website.

Paranormal Romance

  • “Beyond the Fire” by Marni Folsom

Marni Folsom writes romantic fiction laced with magic, history and suspense. An adventurer at heart, Marni loves to travel, skydive, kayak, and eat all sorts of cheese. She’s worked in various business administration, human resources, and writing roles at mega-corporations, start-ups and everything in between. She studied British Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, designed her own program in Writing & Education at Antioch University and completed the University of Washington’s Popular Fiction Writing Program. Marni lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest, where she often chases her mini-booklovers through the mossy forest beside their home. Learn more at her Website.

Romantic Suspense

  • “Chasing Damn” by Denny S. Bryce

In 2013, I was a finalist in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence and the Daphne Award of Excellence for Mystery/Suspense also for Chasing Damn. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Washington Romance Writers (WRW-DC), Maryland Romance Writers (MRW) and RWA Chapters Kiss of Death (KOD), Contemporary Romance Writers (CRW), and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FFP).

Hot on the tracks of her first sale, she is currently polishing her novel about a deputy sheriff who stumbles onto a small town’s darkest secret and into the arms of an international playboy as they search for the truth about six missing girls, a bag of bones, and a 500 year-old book. Learn more at her Website.

Short Contemporary

  • “Yesterday’s Promise” by Sarah Cannon

Sarah Connon, writing as Lauren Canan, will have her first published novel released in 2015 from Harlequin Desire. According to Romantic Times: “Lauren Canan, a Golden Heart finalist, crafts a heartwarming story about a rancher who will do anything to save her land when a billionaire threatens to seize it.  Prepare to be enthralled.”

Lauren has won multiple awards for her literary work in both romantic fiction and poetry. “I love the written word.  It has always amazed me how certain words placed in a particular sequence can evoke an entire gambit of emotion in the reader.  Laugh, cry, or scare the hell out of you! “Words can explain the mysteries of life or help visualize the simple wonder of a child seeing their first rainbow.  Best of all they can tell the story of two people who against all odds, meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Which to me, is the way it should be.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending!” Her education is from the University of North Texas with continuing courses in creative writing from other area colleges.  “I never want to stop learning.  And I will never stop writing.  It’s so engrained I will no doubt leave this world with pen in hand.  Or keyboard, as it were!” She also enjoys playing guitar, dulcimer, or bass in an acoustic music group/club and has composed several tunes for the piano.  “There has to be time for music!”

“My literary journey has been challenging, often frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking.  But I’ve also cried tears of joy, basking in the glow of successes gained along the way. I’ve made some terrific life-long friends and I wouldn’t trade one minute for anything in the world.” Learn more at her Website.

Young Adult Romance

  • “The Thing with Feathers” by McCall Hoyle

McCall is a 2014 Golden Heart Finalist, a middle school English teacher, and a runner…actually, make that a slow jogger. When not reading or writing, she can most often be found spending time with her husband, two children, and slightly neurotic Beagle. Learn more on Facebook.

RWA 2014 National Conference is Underway

Romance writers have arrived in San Antonio Texas and are now well into the affairs and events of the 2014 National Conference.



This Morning’s Special Speaker: Cindy Ratzlaff

A 25-year publishing industry veteran, Cindy Ratzlaff created the launch campaigns for more than 150 New York Times best-selling books. Cindy was named to the Forbes “20 Best Branded Women on Twitter” list and Forbes Woman called her one of the “Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship.” She is the author of two books on happiness and self-esteem, Queen of Your Own Life and Queenisms.

Cindy spoke to conference attendees at the General Session on Friday morning, July 25, about “how to write a book, build a platform, balance a personal life, and become a bestseller without bankrupting yourself, killing your spouse, becoming estranged from your friends and running screaming into the night.”

Speakers address attendees at luncheons, dinners and the awards banquet, coming soon.



RWA2014 conference attendees have been signing up for pitch appointments with romance fiction-acquiring editors and agents. Pitch appointments are individual 10-minute meetings where writers pitch their completed but unpublished romance novels/novellas to editors/agents. This is one of the key benefits of a conference with RWA.



The RWA Conference is a great place to pick up free signed books and to share a few words with favorite authors and meet new authors.




In addition to invaluable networking with writers, editors, agents, retailers, publicists, and others involved in the business of romance publishing, there are more than 100 workshops designed for authors at all stages of their careers and publishing paths, including career management, craft elements, industry knowledge, marketing, publishing, research, self publishing, plotting, polishing, editing and more.

The RWA National Conference is a one-a-year event, worth every cent and second. It is jam packed with tips and opportunities for writers at all stages of their careers and something all writers should consider attending each year.



NEW RELEASE: Cowgirl Come Home by Debra Salonen

Some dreams come with a big price tag.

Bailey Jenkins left her hometown of Marietta, Montana, at eighteen, poised to take college and the rodeo world by storm–despite Paul Zabrinski. On the eve of her great escape, at the top of the Ferris Wheel at the Big Marietta Fair, he invoked his great-grandmother Hilda’s curse. “If you do this, Bailey Jenkins, I will hate you forever. And I’ll call on my great-grandmother to curse you. She was a Gypsy witch, you know.”

Fifteen years later, Bailey’s back–shattered, humbled by fate and bruised at the soul level but determined to rebuild–once she helps her parents get back their feet. She didn’t expect her Paul Zabrinski to meet her plane, but seeing him strong, handsome and successful is somehow fitting. After all, Bailey didn’t need Paul’s gypsy great-grandmother to put a curse on her–Bailey already had the worst luck on the planet.

Never say never.

One look at Bailey Jenkins–his first love, the woman he adored…and cursed–and every emotion Paul Zabrinski felt fifteen years earlier comes rushing back. The love of his life broke his heart and made him hate her…or so he thought. The line between love and hate is very narrow, with only so much room for forgiveness. But Paul Zabrinski owns Big Z Hardware and Construction. If anyone is capable of building a bridge for them to cross together, it’s him.

The Big Marietta Fair Series 

  • Book 1: Beauty and the Cowboy by Nancy Robards Thompson
  • Book 2: Cowgirl Come Home by Debra Salonen

Cowgirl Come Home is available now at Amazon HERE for a release-day price of $0.99, with reviews already posted. “A wonderful tale of family, friendships, hope and reuniting with your first love.” “This is not a fantasy romance. Characters are very realistic and each has his or her struggles. It is a very enjoyable tale of making the best of the cards you are dealt and moving forward.”

Debra Salonen is the author of many wonderful books, and this is one that has been anxiously anticipated.

About the Author

From award-winning journalist to nationally bestselling author with 26 published novels for Harlequin’s Superromance and American lines, Debra Salonen brings humor and heart to her stories. She was named Romantic Times Reviewer’s Career Achievement “Series Storyteller of the Year” in 2006. And her heart-warming tale, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, May 2010, was named “Best Superromance of 2010.”

Her popular Indie release, ARE WE THERE YET, has been called “laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and just plain fabulous!”

COWGIRL COME HOME, her newest release for Tule Publishing, is a full-length novel set in Montana. Upcoming titles in Debra’s “Big Sky Mavericks” series, include: NOBODY’S COWBOY (August 2014).

To stay abreast of the latest Debra Salonen releases, sign up for her newsletter or enter her monthly contest, visit her website at Debra’s weekly blog: EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY features recipes, guest authors, and dynamic snippets/excerpts from new releases. Don’t miss a single yummy post.

How Do You Like Your Alphas?

I’d like to thank J.C Conway for having me on his blog again this time for my Wild and Tender Care tour. A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog posts on alpha males. I loved J.C’s comment: “all guys are alphas sometimes.” That is so true. I prefer my alphas on the softer side. Being gentle to a woman and wooing her does not make the man weak!

Much of the romance out there these days involve very strong alphas, especially in the shifter books I guess because the men have an animalistic side. Even if the man is half wolf I like him to behave as a charming gentleman most of the time.

I didn’t know how my toned down alpha male was going to be received by readers. I was pleasantly relieved when I received my first Amazon review for Wild and Tender Care. Here is a snippet.

“It was refreshing and different from so much of what is available in romance today. […]
Dr. Steere is not an angry, bitter alpha hero. He is a man who has been typecast for his entire life, and still manages to see the good in (most) people. I enjoyed the way he courted Ida Page. He was charming and adorable and persevered even when she tried to tell him to stop, for his own good.”

Thank you “Romance Reader” for understanding and appreciating Dr. Steere.
If you are interested you can read the rest of the review here.

10481443_625085577587699_5437892396946164006_nWhat makes you fall in love with an alpha hero?

Wild and Tender Care Excerpt:

He sucked in his lips. She hadn’t said she didn’t have feelings for him. That was a good sign. By the way she looked at him he could tell she was interested. He just had to persuade her somehow that they could be together in Big Rock.

“I see, Miss Page. Well, I will be by tomorrow to check on you.”

“Check on me? Now listen here, Dr. Steere, I didn’t get shot. I didn’t even break a bone. There is no reason for you to check on my sprained ankle.”

Fire burned in her eyes. He didn’t respond, merely headed for the door.

She liked him, wanted him. Usually it was the boy who showed he loved the girl by antagonizing her. Miss Page was flustered because she loved him. He’d bet all his money on it. Of course, he longed for her to say those words. Hopefully in time she could.

Stuck in the chair with her foot emerged in the bucket of water Miss Page couldn’t run after and chastise him. However, her glare scorched his back. “Did you hear me, Dr. Steere?”

He turned around and grinned. “Yes, I heard you, Miss Page. I’m just doing my job. All my life I’ve had to work extra hard for the things I’ve wanted.” And I want you.

His piercing lust elicited a tiny shiver from Miss Page. His gaze having the effect he wanted gave him silent encouragement. Oh yes, she wanted him. “It was hard getting into medical school as a half-breed. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Wild and Tender Care

Ida Page has seen the worst the west has to offer. Snubbed by the citizens of Big Rock, Colorado, ever since the town cleaned up its act and became civilized, she has tried to change with the times. No other line of work available, she became a laundress after the mayor shut down the whorehouse, but the good people will not allow her to forget her past as a shady lady. She has given up on ever being accepted, let alone falling in love, until a handsome half-breed stranger arrives in town.

After the War Between the States, William Steere has been looking for a town to build a medical practice. He answered a newspaper ad placed by the mayor of Big Rock and hopes their desperate need for a doctor will overrule their race prejudice against his half-breed status. At the Independence Day picnic, he is introduced to all the town citizens except for one woman sitting off by herself. This redhead draws him to her with merely a gaze.

Can the two outcasts find love and acceptance in each other’s arms or will the town’s cruelty and a smallpox epidemic tear them apart?

Wild and Tender Care is Available at:

Liquid Silver Books    ~    Amazon US     ~    Amazon UK     ~    Barnes and Noble     ~    ARe

About the Author

10477374_625085654254358_1795318249891109320_nHaley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical fiction and historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing.

Haley is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy. Visit Haley’s website at


Where to find Haley Whitehall:





Amazon Author Page:


Imagine That–Kristin Wallace and her latest book in the Covington Falls Chronicles

ImagineThat-KristinWallaceChildren’s author Emily Sinclair was supposed to be the next J.K. Rowling… Until her second book flopped and her imagination went on the fritz. So Emily sets out on an epic adventure to find inspiration again. Till a dead car lands her in Covington Falls, Georgia. Soon Emily is taking up her quest, looking for inspiration driving a mobile library van, as a companion to a crotchety old woman and her insomniac dog, and as a very ungraceful baker’s assistant.  Of course, what really sparks her romantic fantasies is a valiant hero, though he yields a paint roller instead of a sword.

Rugged, blue-collar Nate Cooper has spent most of his life avoiding the printed page. These days he doesn’t have much use for fancy words and certainly not for a slightly off-center writer on the lam. Not when his mother is battling cancer, his little brother has morphed into a teenaged ogre, and God seems to have taken a vacation.

On paper, these two would seem the least likely pairing, and a happily ever after nothing but fantasy. But with faith and imagination Emily and Nate are about to write a new chapter that will lead to unexpected love.


Chapter One

A stomach-churning thunk. A disaster-laden chug. A scary, threatening gurgle.

Emily Sinclair’s hands clutched the steering wheel as she guided her how-could-you-give-out-on-menow convertible to the side of the road. With a last ominous blunk and splutter, the car gave up the ghost.

She switched off the engine, waited a few seconds, and then turned the key again. Nothing.

Not surprising. As if anything glug-glugging like an octogenarian trying to cough up a lung was going to restart with so little effort.

A cranky yowl went up from the passenger seat. Emily glanced over at the pet carrier and sent the fat Persian inside a confident smile. “Don’t worry, Wordsworth. This is why modern man invented cell phones.”

She fished her phone out of her purse. A blank screen stared back at her. Pressing more buttons did nothing.

Dead as her car.

With a sound of disgust, Emily tossed the useless phone aside and stared out the windshield at the deserted country road in front of her. The very deserted country road that stretched around a sparkling blue lake and disappeared into the back of beyond. The kind of road featured in all the best horror stories. Emily’s mind conjured up every one, along with the opening line in the newspaper article.

Onceamous children’s author found mangled to death. Quest to locate her lost imagination and revive faded career ends in disaster… as her mother predicted.

Muttering an oath, Emily climbed out of the car and slammed the door as hard as she could. What a fix. And ironic. There were rules about writing. Not grammar rules, like where to put commas or when to use a semicolon. No, the unofficial rules for fiction writing. Chief among them is that an author should never start a novel with the character driving or thinking. No, readers wanted action right off the top, and the car could never break down.

In college, Emily had written a short story where the heroine’s car stalled in a typical these-people-will-murder-you-in-your-sleep town. Emily’s professor had written cliché in bold, red pen across the page. Not satisfied, she’d added boring cliché, underlining the boring with three thick red lines. The critique had stung. The fact that it had come courtesy of Professor Vanessa Sinclair, Emily’s mother, had been like ripping off an old bandage.

Emily was breaking all three cardinal rules of writing at once. Though technically the driving rule didn’t apply. Same for the sitting rule. She was thinking, though. Thinking her entire life had become a cliché, so what did it matter if she broke her mother’s precious writing rules? She was a one-hit writing wonder. A flash in the pan. A big-haired eighties’ rock band that had scored one giant hit and then disappeared into the oblivion of those nostalgic ‘Where are they now?’ music specials.

Emily sighed. If one had to break down somewhere, one could do worse than… what had the sign said back there? Covington something. Covington something, Georgia. Muted afternoon sun shimmered off the surface of the lake. She lifted a hand to ward off the eye-watering glare and focused on the water. In her previous life, the golden flecks of sunlight reflecting off its surface would have transformed into a million different kinds of fantastical creatures. Or maybe something nightmarish would charge out of that bank of oak trees across the lake.

Unfortunately, Emily was stuck in her real life, and her imagination was on the fritz.

Well, at least she wouldn’t die of water deprivation while she waited to be rescued.

Speaking of rescue.

A car had appeared, winding around the curve of the lake. A big ole’ country truck calling to mind hoedowns and hay rides. A big ole’ rusty truck, Emily realized as it drew closer. Burnt red growth spread out across the hood like a marauding band of Vikings overtaking a defenseless village. She imagined rust was the only thing holding the vehicle together.

The truck slowed and Emily tensed, torn between elation at being found and wariness regarding exactly who might be behind the wheel of the ancient rattletrap. The glare off the windshield made it impossible to see inside the cab, however.

The tires veered off to the side of the road and stopped, sending up a cloud of dust. Emily waved her hand, choking on the airborne dirt. Her mouth felt dry as if she had licked the ground. The door opened. Work boots emerged. Brown and roughed-up and covered in… paint. A man stepped out, and Emily steadied her hands against the car to keep from falling over.

Mr. Darcy. No, Heathcliff. Only instead of a cravat and breeches, he was dressed in faded jeans and a black T-shirt, which seemed molded to an impressive chest. Heath stretched up a good six-plus feet, towering over her puny five-foot-two frame. A lock of dark chocolate-brown hair brushed over his forehead. Their eyes met. Since she was already thinking in clichés, Emily’s mind offered up a million of them to describe his eyes. She could start with gray, but no way did such a mundane word do them justice. Slate, storm clouds, a roiling sea, glazed pewter. Devastating, and framed by thick sooty lashes no man had a right to possess.

He stopped a few feet away, and Emily had the fanciful notion he was trying not to frighten her. Like she was a skittish filly about to bolt.

“Hi,” he said. “Car trouble?”

His voice was like his eyes. Smooth and deep, like honey in a cup of hot tea.

Emily nodded. How could she speak when every male literary fantasy she’d ever dreamed about had unfolded from a rusted-out pickup?

Imagine That can be Purchased at:


KristinWallace_HeadshotAbout Kristin Wallace

Growing up Kristin devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. Her first Golden Book led to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, C.S. Lewis and the Sweet Valley High series. Later, she discovered romance novels and fell in love all over again. It’s no surprise then that Kristin would one day try her hand at writing them. She writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction filled with love, laughter and a leap of faith. When she’s not writing her next novel, Kristin works as an advertising copywriter.

Kristin is the author of the Covington Falls Chronicles, romances set in a quirky Southern town with a character all its own. Be sure to check out the first two books in the series, Marry Me and Acting Up.

Connect with Kristin: