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RWA Chapters — A Great Place to Meet Aspiring and Published Authors

Check out this great interview about the Yosemite Romance Writers–one of the many fantastic RWA chapters where aspiring writers and published writers get together to talk craft, marketing, and everything that matters to the writing process.

Guest Post–Vicki Batman

Today’s guest is award-winning and Amazon best-selling author, Vicki Batman, who has sold many romantic comedy works to the True magazines, several publishers, and most recently, two romantic comedy mysteries to The Wild Rose Press. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and several writing groups. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocoaholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if??”

Hi, everyone! I’m Vicki Batman and I like to write romantic comedy. Releasing June 1 is “Raving Beauty,” a fun short story, from the Just You and Me boxed set:

What if the love of your life was in front of you all along?

It began innocently with a few margaritas… Kelly Stinson is persuaded to represent Yahoo! Ranch Steakhouse in the Chamber of Commerce’s beauty contest. After an unexpected swan dive off stage, her heart goes pitter patter over the orthopedic surgeon who repaired her ripped up ankle.

Daniel Ackerman has always had the hots for his twin sister’s best friend. Much to his dismay, her doctor has taken notice of the dark-haired beauty and invaded his territory. That’s about to change when he moves in to help Kelly recover physically and open her eyes to what’s been in front of her all along.

Excerpt:

“I can’t believe I let your loony brother, who’s tormented me all my life, talk me into this.” With my eye on the teenage competition, I tugged the leg opening of my swimsuit into place to better cover my hip. “Just because I did some modeling in college doesn’t make me a pageant diva. Back then, I was incredibly skinny, and clothes fit easily.”

“Daniel’s a rat. He took advantage of your third or was it your fourth margarita, Kelly?” Maggie Ackerman, my best friend and roommate, adjusted the scarlet satin sash draped across my body. Glittery stick-on letters spelled out Miss Yahoo! Ranch Steakhouse. “Hold still.”

With an old-fashioned teasing comb, she picked my brown hair into place at the crown of my head. The eerie suspicion I resembled a scary dame with Big Texas hair from the television show, Dallas, caused me to avoid looking in the mirror.

“Close your eyes.” She hit me with super freeze-it hairspray. “Now, that ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

My personal stylist needed to work on her aim, preferably with both of her eyes open. I spit-wiped the sticky spot on my right cheek. I hope nobody I know sees me like this.

“There.” The scrunch of her nose reflected how pleased she was with herself. “Feeling better?”

Like a slab of beef.

Preorder Just You and Me boxed set at:

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Towers of Earth — Future Suspense and a Heart-Warming Romance

J. C. Conway’s new release, Towers of Earth, is an exciting science-fiction adventure interwoven with a first-kiss teen romance that is central to the story and the young protagonist’s arc. Perfect for readers from middle-grade to adult, Towers of Earth is a captivating read with warmth, suspense and vision.

At the brink of an impending dark age, 15-year-old Allison Taylor escapes Earth on a colony ship to the stars. But a catastrophic quark drive failure forces a desperate, near-light-speed return a millennium into Earth’s future. Allison is surprised to find humanity in a “New Renaissance” and to see the Great Geostationary Towers her father engineered still stretching majestically from ground to high orbit, now housing Earth’s billions.

When Allison learns the “New Renaissance” is a mere façade, she struggles against crushing odds to reunite with her fellow colonists. Finally gaining the opportunity to flee again, she realizes her special knowledge of the Towers may empower her to break the Tower Administrators’ tyranny—but at the cost of her means of escape. Allison is torn. Will fulfilling her father’s dream be worth abandoning her chance to finally reach the stars?

TOWERS OF EARTH is available as an e-book at:

Kindle | Kobo | Apple

Other venues pending. The print edition will be available soon.

Rock Stars are a Trope

rock-starsRock and roll finds love–four coffees at a time

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Gabby Denis, a struggling fashion designer, is not stupid. There is something off about Nate Cooper. She just doesn’t know what it is. Not many men are willing to take a girl out shopping and pay for her new clothes. She’s also never been out with a man who seems to have women recognize him. Or one with friends that need a formal dress made. Of course, she doesn’t turn down the chance to make it!

Gabby likes Nate for who he is, not because he lends her a car and pays for some of her things. For the first time in ages, she meets someone who supports her, and she genuinely enjoys his company. But he never tells her what he does for a living…until she sees him on the front page of the news.

Although, for Gabby, rock stars are a trope from movies and romance novels, she’s going to have to decide if she’s willing to give a real life one a shot at loving.

Excerpt

“How’s work?” she asked, trying not to give away that she was prying. 

“It’s been slow, but that’s not always a bad thing.” He eyed her carefully. 

The elevator dinged, and the doors opened. Both Gabby and Nate stepped off the elevator and fell into pace together, but she made sure that he was leading the way because she had not fucking clue where she was going. 

It didn’t take long to get to a door that Nate unlocked and opened. He set Gabby’s suitcase down by the window. 

“Wow.” 

Gabby stared out the window, her eyes widening at the scene in front of her. The lights lit up enough for her to see almost everything, but the dark made it prettier. I can’t believe I’m in England. 

“Why did you do this?”

“What?”

“Why did you do this for me?” Gabby turned to look at him, waiting for an answer.

“I didn’t do it for you.” 

Her heart dropped. Gabby stared at him, trying not to show her hurt. 

“The truth is I missed you. I wanted to see you. I wanted to make an impression and give you a reason to want to see me again.”

Gabby was left speechless for a couple of seconds. “You really think I don’t have my own reasons for wanting to see you again? I promise you. Me wanting to see you again has nothing to do with you flying me here, as much as it means to me. I want to see you again because I miss you.” 

He stared at her, slightly taken aback based on the look that crossed his face. He looked away quickly. 

“Thank you.”

He said it so softly she hardly heard it. Gabby crossed over to him and touched his back softly. He stepped toward her, still facing away from her. Gabby didn’t say anything. She just stood there, her hand against his back. She tried to figure out if she should say something or not, but she couldn’t think of anything worth saying, so she just kept her trap shut. A few seconds passed but not long until Nate turned and gave her a smile. 

“I’ve got to admit I don’t have a lot of time to hang out with you, but I figured I could at least bring you out here, and we could spend some time together, and then Paige and Kenda would love to hang out, I’m sure. If you don’t mind hanging out with them.”

“No, not at all.” It wasn’t quite a lie. She wanted to hang out with Paige and Kenda. She was just nervous to do it. From what she could tell, Paige and Kenda were best friends. Although Paige had been really nice to her when it was just the two of them, she wasn’t sure she would be with a friend around. 

Don’t worry so much. Paige doesn’t seem like that kinda girl. 

Trying to shove the thought out of her mind she padded over to the bed and sat. 

“Does that mean I won’t get to spend much time with you?”

“Sorry, but no. I’ve got a lot of work to get done.” 

Gabby bit her lower lip. She nodded, not liking his answer but understanding it. 

“I’d try to get out of it, but I know I can’t.”

“No, I don’t want you to put off work because of me. I don’t want to be that kind of girl.”

A smirk spread over his lips. “See this is one of the reasons I love you.”

His words shocked her. Gabby snapped her head up, and she stared at him with wide eyes. Had she just heard that right? 

Nate’s eyes were wide as he stared at her. “I mean…” He struggled to find words, looking scared.

“I know. I mean you don’t mean you love me.” She cut him off. Of course he didn’t love her. “That’s way too soon.”

“Yes. Yes, right. Still too early for love. I just meant—” 

“I know.”

“Yes. Good.” 

Nate ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh. He refused to meet her gaze. She wasn’t sure what to say next. Just play it cool. Pretend it didn’t even happen. She cleared her throat. 

“So, you’re not going to take me sightseeing.”

“Sorry, no. I can get the girls to, though, if you’d like.”

“I’d love that.” Maybe a little girl time would be good for her.

 

About the Author

Kelly D. Smith is a 21 year old romance writer from Canada. After being homeschooled all her life she got her GED and has been pursuing her passion- writing- with the hopes of turning it into a full time career.

Smith is a personal improvement junky and loves excelling at challenges. She is a country girl at heart and loves spending the day outside with her 3 dogs and the cat!

 

A Heartwarming Guest Post by Author Amy Vastine

As the end of summer nears, kids go back to school and temperatures begin to dip low enough in the Midwest to allow me to wear my favorite sweatshirt. As much as I enjoy the warm-weather months, there’s something about the fall season that makes me feel particularly warm and fuzzy. Maybe it’s the holidays approaching, maybe it’s my love of everything pumpkin. Either way, this is a fabulous time of year.

It’s also the perfect time to cozy up with a good book. Don’t get me wrong, I love my beach reads and the books that we can gobble up poolside. But nothing compares to snuggling up in my Chicago Bears blanket with a cup of something warm (I’m a hot chocolate kind of girl) and a good book in my favorite chair.

a heartwarming holiday cover

This October, myself and 14 of my fabulous fellow Harlequin Heartwarming friends have put together a sweet and emotional holiday anthology for those of you just like me. A Heartwarming Holiday is 15 connected stories all set in the same place – Christmas Town, Maine. Each set of three stories covers the three upcoming holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. All my favorites!

My novella, Peace, Love, and Baby Joy, is the Christmas story in the 24 North Pole Lane section of the anthology. It’s my take on the crazy world world of extreme Christmas light displays. You know what I’m talking about, right? These wild, over-the-top displays with half a million lights and laser shows set to music are on my Facebook timeline every holiday season. There’s even a show where families compete with other families across the nation, and it was this show that became the inspiration for my star-crossed-lovers story. The Warrens and Bakers have battled it out in the annual Christmas Lights Competition for years. They have a long history of sabotage, idea stealing, and one-upping that has led to a family rivalry reminiscent of the Capulets and Montagues. Last Christmas, Valerie Warren and Lucas Baker had thought the news of their elopement would bring their warring families together, but the rivalry ended up tearing them apart. Eight months after signing their divorce papers, Valerie returns to Christmas Town revealing a secret that could change everything this time. Little does she know, she’s not the only one who’s been keeping things from her ex. Lucas has a secret of his own to tell.

Family rivalries, secrets, and one epic brawl between two eighty-year-old grandpas. This story was too much fun to write and I hope that it’s as equally enjoyable to read!

Here’s an excerpt:

Amy VGramps was on a rampage, shooing the Warrens away. “Why don’t you take your pregnant granddaughter back to your side of the street? I bet you sent her over here to on purpose to twist the knife a little bit. Breaking his heart wasn’t enough, huh?”

“You sure do like to rewrite history, Joe. I think you missed the part where your grandson broke our granddaughter’s heart,” Valerie’s grandmother argued. “And we didn’t know she was home.”

“We didn’t even know she was pregnant!” her mother cried.

“She said it was Lucas’s baby,” his dad said.

“Oh, no, it’s not!” Valerie’s dad wouldn’t hear it. “There is no way I will allow my first grandchild to be a Baker.”

“Dad, please stop,” Valerie begged.

“Just you wait, John,” Gramps said with a sinister laugh. “I’m going to have my grandson name that baby Always A. Baker.”

“Over my dead body!” Valerie’s grandfather stepped off the sidewalk with his arm raised.
Gramps put his fists up, ready for a fight. “That can be arranged, you out-of-shape buffoon!”

Complete chaos ensued. Rick Fisher had to step in and stop the two old men from duking it out. There was more shouting, more threats issued. Valerie was in tears when she made her way over to Lucas.

“We’ll talk soon. Away from here. I’m … I’m sorry.”

He wanted to wipe her tears away and make those gorgeous blue eyes smile instead. Lucas should have been the one apologizing. This kind of thing was exactly what had torn them apart. Their families hated one another. They had hoped their love for each other would be a turning point and reason for their grandparents and parents to reconcile. Unfortunately, once they went public with their romance, everyone had done what they could to break them up.

“You sure you don’t want to go to the hospital? It’ll get you away from all this,” Rick said, waving his hand around.

Lucas stood, his eyes still glued to Valerie as she ushered her family back across the street. Her dark hair was longer than it had ever been, reaching the middle of her back. He wanted to chase after her, but knew better than to set foot on Warren property. She would find him when it was safe to talk all this out.

Valerie was pregnant with their baby. Their baby.

“I think you should go get checked by a doctor. Just to make sure everything is okay,” his mom said, wrapping an arm around his waist. “Dad says you got quite a shock.”

Perhaps his mom had misunderstood. Lucas had been shocked, but the biggest one had been delivered by Val not by the electricity. And there was no doctor who could make everything okay.

~*~

So here’s to fall and the holiday season. I’m ready for football games and falling leaves. Christmas shopping and holiday decorating. Most of all, I can’t wait for the release of A Heartwarming Holiday. What are you looking forward to as the holidays approach?

~*~

Amy V Head shotAmy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

Other works by Amy Vastine:

THE MAGIC STOCKING / A Heartwarming Holiday
WEDDING AT TURKEY RUN / A Heartwarming Thanksgiving
EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE / HQN Heartwarming
THE GINGERBREAD HEART / A Heartwarming Christmas

My Divinely Decadent Duke–an Interview of His Grace, Gordon Sedgewick of Althorn

My Divinely Decadent Duke is the second book of The Duke Series by Sandra Masters. Today, we have an interview of His Grace, Gordon Sedgewich of Althorn. To set the stage, here is a description of the book:

Orphaned and abandoned by family, Lady Cassandra Montgomery yearns for love. Beautiful and innocent, she attracts the attention of a renowned rake, the Duke of Althorn. When her security is threatened, she offers him a proposal for an arranged marriage in exchange for his guarantee of safety for her and her ward. After her first taste of desire in his arms, she finds the sexual attraction irresistible. Finding herself in a family way, she leaves his home, unsure of his love.

The Duke is at first enraged by the brazen behavior, yet he sees Cassandra as a captivating caregiver for his mother and impossible to resist. He agrees. The arrangement becomes inconvenient because love and sex enter the equation.

Will she believe her husband truly loves her and return to his waiting arms?

Will the Duke admit his love and use his rakish skills to woo Cassandra back to his bed?

INTERVIEW

Q. Your Grace, when you first met the former Lady Cassandra, what did you think of her?

A.  To start with, I sat in a wing back chair sipping a liqueur in front of a warm fire in the drawing room of a manor house where I attended a ball. I was startled by a conversation between a man and a woman who had entered the room totally unaware of my presence, The bounder had just summarily broken their engagement in favor of someone who had a higher status than she. I looked for a moment when I could interrupt and leave their presence, but that didn’t happen. A book flew across the room, as well as a paperweight of sorts. He left rather quickly. I stood up, announced myself, and offered my handkerchief and my glass of spirits. Do you know what she said? Something like, “Is this my night to meet nothing but scoundrels?”  But she did take the cognac and my handkerchief. That is how I met my future wife.

Q.  What happened then?
A.  Kindly remember I was an acknowledged rake and proud of it. The last thing I needed was a woman who needed comforting, like a wounded puppy. I’ve a fondness for such creatures. Imagine my surprise, when she took the arm I offered and we walked out of the room, only to meet her now ex-fiancé’. She excused herself for a moment and walloped him with her fist. Bravo, I thought. Great spirit. He wasn’t going to get the best of her. She and I then left him to nurse his cheek, and we joined the others at the ball.

Q. When did you meet again?
A.  Two weeks after that evening, I was on my daily walk on Brighton Beach and I saw an enchanting woman peering through a telescope and when she looked toward me, we recognized each other immediately. The lilt of her warm greeting pleased me. One thing led to the other, need I say more?

Q. Tell us something we may not know about you?
A. I was the second son of my father, therefore, not the heir. That suited me fine. I loved my brother. We were schooled together and then we were tutored at home. We learned the dead languages of Greek and Latin, and not too much else. The fate of second sons was a choice of the divinity or military. I cared for neither but did convince my father to allow me to travel to Barbados and learn about the sugar plantation and factories we had there. The good thing is that it showed me a different part of the world and commerce. The bad thing was that I contracted malaria and after four months on the island, I had to be transported home because foreigners were susceptible to the disease that could kill. Kalinya, a native woman I cared about, arranged for a witch doctor to ink me with a tattoo of a lion so my ancestors could protect me.
Tomas, my good friend from school days, went with me and therefore had the opportunity to transport me back home to England where I barely survived the ocean journey.  Without realizing it, my island life was left behind. Then everything changed.

Q. What happened?
A. My mother greeted the ship with footmen, a physician, solicitor, vicar, and a tutor whom I recognized. That somber sight could have sobered a drunk. I wondered why she was outfitted in black. Tomas assisted me to the carriage. When she saw me, she broke into tears. My father was dead, and three weeks later, my brother died in a carriage accident. That left me as the sole heir to the Duke of Althorn. There I was, totally unprepared for my dynastic responsibilities. My carefree life was over. I could never see Kalinya again. I did apply myself after my health returned, but it was a lonely existence. So I sought out former school chums, and I freely admit, we got into mischief in many ways. My mother tried to talk sense into me, but it was to no avail.

Q. You are a well renowned duke, honored by all. What caused you to change your ways?
A. To say I loved my family would be an understatement. All I had left was my mother, whom I adored. When she fell and sustained an injury, I determined it was time to remember who I was and to emulate my father in all things. Above all, he was an honorable man. Honor became my personal signature. Now, I do not expect anyone to believe I became a saint. Not true by any means, but I was discreet. I did believe that personal integrity, respect, dignity and pride would distinguish my dukedom from others. My mother’s illness was the catalyst to my epiphany. I became aware Cassandra and her ward, Alicia, were also friends of hers, who visited my mother annually. I should say technically that Alicia was her brother’s ward, but the little girl belonged to Cass in every sense of the word. I never really cared to notice, until one day I was at home, when I overheard a conversation between Cassandra and the professional caregiver as to the unkind treatment she rendered my mother. As I listened, I realized this was not the compassionate aid my mother required, so I summarily terminated the nurse. I had to start the search again for I had terminated at least four others.

Q. You speak of your reputation, were all the allegations true?
A. I did acquire notoriety with the ladies, a small part was deserved. The other was conjecture, fodder for the scandal sheets, and wishful thinking. If I had all the liaisons attributed to me, my manly parts would have fallen off from overuse. Beg your pardon, Lady Masters, for my risqué banter. I am a model husband now, ever in love with my wife.

Q. How did the romance progress?
A. Rather quickly. It was clear I had an interest in her, but she came with a ‘package’, her ward, Alicia, a tow-headed blonde who resembled Cassandra. The unkind talk of the town was that the little girl was the issue of a liaison gone wrong. Cassandra was the sister of the earl, so she was semi-accepted in society. While there was no proof of such indiscretion, tongues wagged. The simple truth was that Alicia was the daughter of her best friend who died in childbirth. Cass, that’s what I sometimes call her, agreed to honor (there’s that word again) her promise to raise the child as her own. That’s courage I admired considering her circumstances..

Q. What caused you to propose?
A.  I didn’t. She offered me a business arrangement. She’d care for my mother if I would offer protection for her and little Alicia. In other words, it was a marriage of convenience. No mention of love or sex. I refused the proposition twice out of pride. Then I recalled how difficult it was for her to make such an offer to someone like me. My arrogance repelled me. One day I officially offered and we did marry. We now have two sons, two dogs, Runt and Giant, and there were a few puppies, also. And yes, then there was the traitorous mother dog who went everywhere with Cass, my dowager mother, and the children who frolicked on the beach. I was captivated from the start.  If you wish to know anymore, I suggest we reschedule.

Q. I say there, Lady Masters, I’m getting thirsty. Are you going to offer me a libation?
A. You have such a wicked smile. It makes me sigh. So sorry, your grace, kindly allow me to pour your favorite, since I know what it is.

Q. Your grace, I assume if readers want to know anything further, they should read the book My Divinely Decadent Duke?
A. Absolutely, I’m sure you can use the proceeds to fund future stories.

End of Interview

About Sandra Masters

From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, NJ at the age of fourteen, retiring from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, to the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park, Sandra traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency period and never looked back.

Sandra wrote her first book at the age of fifteen and since then she has always traveled with pen and paper in hand. She loves to write. Romance is at best a gift and her passion is the Regency period. Admittedly, she would prefer to be the sister of a duke or an earl…perhaps even a princess? Or the other endless possibilities of a widow. Hmmm.

Not being able to time travel, she now writes about what she loves and it has been worth every headache and heartache. She has been blessed with a great content editor, Cindy Davis, a lot of helpful The Wild Rose Press staff.

For a new author, it was nothing she expected, but everything she dreamed. However, her first love will always be for Regency Romance. There are five books in process in her DUKE series. ONCE UPON A DUKE is available from Amazon and the Wild Rose Press. Her new second release, MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE will have its worldwide release on January 29, 2016.

Her third book, THORN, SON OF A DUKE, is the prequel to her fourth book, THE DUKE’S MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, which is a multi-cultural romance story of a young couple defeating all odds.

P.S. Sandra love bears of all sizes and shapes. However, she prefers to view the real life ones from afar.

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