I admit it…I wrote a letter to Ellen Degeneres explaining my plight as a new romance novelist and how my upcoming release, The Nearness of You, was inspired by British supermodel, David James Gandy (pictured in the photo)
I’ve had a healthy obsession with David since the first images of him wearing a tiny, white bikini in Capri, Italy were splattered on my television in those sexy Dolce and Gabbana ads. I asked Ellen point blank if she could do me a favor and help convince the handsome hunk to use his image on my book cover. LOL, right?! Are you rolling on the floor yet? David is a superstar in the industry. One photo of the man could cost tens of thousands of dollars! Who am I to think a Hollywood celebrity like Ellen could call in a favor to a mega-star-male-supermodel for a Southern, middle-aged woman writing romance novels?
But why not?
My plan was simple. I knew that a full image of him on my little book cover was out of the question. But what about an image of his index finger, or an earlobe – a knee or one muscly peck? Surely, he would have agreed to that? It would have been a gigantic coo if it had all worked out.
But it didn’t happen…(you already knew that!)
Alas, I never heard from Ellen and I had deadlines with my publisher and artist to get a move on with the cover image. I must admit; the final result is GORGEOUS! Yes, there is a handsome male supermodel on the cover – but it’s not my muse, David Gandy. That’s okay. It’s the essence of David that’s important and I think we nailed it.
As a published romance author, I’m involved in a funny, sexy business. There is so much competition and so much to learn. If someone tells you, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” they’re wrong! Romance readers love a good cover. They need a good cover! I have been fortunate to work with the incredible Najla Qamber on all my covers. She gets me – and she nails it every single time.
It’s okay to dream big. Whether it’s a book cover or a date with a real male supermodel, it’s okay to fantasize. That’s what I love about this business. Images and words can take you on a journey far away from the stresses of everyday life. I hope you will take that journey with me in my next release! Here’s the blurb:
Lounge singer, Lauren Rose lived her comfortable life in Atlanta always dreaming of making it in show biz. When she unexpectedly meets British male super-model, David Randle at a gig at the posh St. Regis Hotel, she is swept away by his striking good looks and lilting cadence.
In town for his sister Catherine’s nuptials to NASCAR driver, Brian Brady, David invites Lauren to the wedding on a whim. The two instantly bond over music, fashion and family. They continue their new relationship in New York City when David invites Lauren to see him in action at a high-profile fashion shoot for his debut fragrance, “Drive.”
Sparks fly when his assistant, Sabrina Watson is none too happy that his new girlfriend has interrupted his grueling, fast-paced schedule. She becomes fixated on separating the happy couple who are falling in love.
Traversing the East Coast and Europe with the paparazzi in hot pursuit, David and Lauren navigate the precarious path of fame, fashion and fate.
Her wildest dreams were coming true. Would she ever truly believe that his desire was to be near her – always?
The cover reveal for The Nearness of You happens in two weeks on August 5, 2017. Pre-orders start on that day as well. Be on the lookout for links and excerpts. The book goes live on October 10. I appreciate your on-going support more than you’ll ever know – and I truly believe you will smile when you see the cover.
Having your own book published is a pretty awesome experience. The release parties, the blog tours, the book clubs, conferences, the reviews, meeting other fabulous authors and of course, clicking those magical links to all the major retailers that carry your beloved masterpiece. In the past six months, two of my romantic suspense novels have released while I’ve continued to work my full-time job, part-time-job and take care of my family and home. Crazy, right?? I have to admit, I’m tired a lot. But I’m also really enjoying this incredible journey and everyone I’ve met along the way.
When I first started this publication process back in February/2016, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I wanted to build momentum with more than one book in one year. Three sounded like a good number to me and my goal was to try to get on the map. My first book, UNEXPECTED was published in mid-December, 2016. My second book, LOVE SONG recently released this past April. With the release of my third novel, THE NEARNESS OF YOU happening in October, I will have accomplished this major goal that I set out for myself.
I write whenever I get the chance – at work, at home, on an airplane, backstage before a weekend show, in my head stuck in Atlanta traffic… I have stories that need to be told – characters that need a voice! No one told me that in addition to writing the book that I would have to spend hours on social media to promote it! Add to that blog tours, conferences, book swag, giveaways and everything else that comes with marketing an author – well, you can see why I’m tired!
I’ve learned two very important lessons over the past year as a new romance author:
1.Your next book is your best advertising for your latest book.
2.You have to be in this for the long haul.
The long haul…
I am not an overnight success. My first royalty check was less than what I pay for groceries each week for my 6’3” sons! But I still want it. And I know I can do it.
Mario Andretti said,
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
It’s hard work to be successful, but I’m determined. I am living proof that it doesn’t matter how old you are or how busy you are. If you have a goal or a dream, commit to it. Don’t give up! Work on it daily with your goal in mind. I have to remind myself every day that this is a marathon and not a sprint. This is the long haul. I just need to take a deep breath and keep moving forward…
Thanks for cheering for me from the sidelines.
When you hear a certain song about love does your heart skip a beat? Do you tear up thinking about a certain memory and how the music or the words made you feel? Do you smile and sing along or do you sit back, close your eyes and let the music surround you like a warm hug?
I have always been a fan of love songs. I will never forget how I felt hearing the words and music of Endless Love for the first time. Oh.My.Goodness. Lionel Richie and Diana Ross nailed it! It was heartfelt and full of angst – tender and utterly romantic. To this day, if I hear that song on the radio I will instinctively turn up the volume and sing along at the top of my lungs with tears eventually streaming down my face. Yep – I’m a sucker for a good love song.
On April 13, less than a month away, my second romance novel will be released through Inkspell Publishing. The title of my new novel is….you guessed it, LOVE SONG. It’s the story of Casey and Sam – two Atlanta musicians searching for a melody.
Back-up singer Casey lived the old anthem, “work hard, play harder.” When she meets handsome sub-drummer, Sam Wildner on a gig, their attraction is immediate. The two musicians forge ahead in a dizzy rhythm of passion and music, both impressed by each other’s harmonious abilities. When Sam learns of Casey’s family trauma involving her sister’s abusive ex-boyfriend, he commits to being there for her and her young niece who is caught in the middle. The melody of their love song rings loudly in Casey’s ears as she and Sam navigate the precarious fast lane of jealousy, murder and rock ‘n roll.
Here’s a sneak peek:
He leaned into her ear and whispered, his warm breath making her insides stir. “I need a do-over with you. Can I take you out sometime soon? No gin, I promise.”
She leaned back so she could see his face. His eyes were clear pools of blue ocean water beckoning her to jump in.
“I would love that, Sam.”
He smiled as if he were pleased with himself. He shifted his arm to around her shoulders and gave her a side hug. They spent the rest of the ride talking about their performance from the night before. In the blink of an eye, the train was slowing down at her stop.
“Well, this is me. I guess you’ll call me?” she asked as she stood and gripped the handle of her luggage.
“I will,” he replied, looking up at her. She nodded, lingering for one last moment before exiting the automatic doors of the train. Casey knew she liked him and was reeling from the entire weekend. She turned around to have one last glance of him, stunned to see him walking swiftly toward her. Her mouth dropped as he let go of his luggage and immediately placed his palms on her cheeks, kissing her long and hard. She tensed for a moment, not sure what was happening, before relaxing into the kiss, his warm tongue invading her mouth with purpose.
He pulled back with his palms still holding her cheeks, their eyes locked onto each other. They breathed heavily, coming down from the intensity of the kiss, waiting for the other to speak first.
“You missed your train,” she said quietly.
His mouth turned up slowly into a grin and he gently propped her sunglasses onto her head before he touched her lips with his index finger. “I’ve wanted to do that all day,” he said.
She averted her eyes, remembering she didn’t have any makeup on.
“Stop, Casey. You’re gorgeous. I want to see you, darlin’.” He tenderly touched her face and leaned in to kiss her gently on the cheek. She wrapped her arms around him, and they hugged as they stood on the concrete platform under the fluorescent lights, the screeching of the train on the tracks fading away in the distance.
LOVE SONG will be released on April 13. Pre-order sales start THIS MONDAY, March 20. That is also the date the beautiful book cover AND book trailer will be revealed!
I am so excited for you to come on this next journey with me. Thank you in advance for your love and support. And keep listening to those love songs!
It’s inevitable that with every New Year comes change. Maybe you made a resolution wanting a change in your life like a better job, a healthier body, or someone to share your adventures with. Maybe you’re finally going to dare yourself to do that something outside your comfort zone that scares the bejeebers out of you!
I made a significant change last year that is carrying over into even more change this year.
On January 3, 2016, I pressed “send” on an email I stared at for over a month sending my unedited, debut novel out to a handful of publishing companies. I was petrified! On February 5, 2016, just over one month later, I received my first publishing contract from Inkspell Publishing. My debut novel, Unexpected was released last month on December 13, 2016 and my second novel, Love Song will be published in April of this year.
To say that my life has changed because of that one act of courage is an understatement. And yes, it took courage! I wasn’t sure I was ready for the change I had been dreaming of all of my life. I was worried about being judged and fearful of what others might think of my work. I wanted to succeed but was worried I wouldn’t be able to find the right people to surround myself with.
I wasted a lot of time with those feelings.
I have been welcomed into a community of amazing authors, readers and bloggers who have inspired me and helped me to become a better writer! I have met hundreds of people on social media who have sent positive feedback, liked, retweeted, shared and followed me along every step of this journey. I created my own cabaret act that I performed at my book release party and I’m now editing video promotion of my project to shop around to agents and clubs across the nation!
What if I had never mustered the courage to press “send?” Where would I be in this New Year?
Dare yourself to dream big. It’s never too late…I am proof-positive of that!
Happy New Year everyone!
Atlanta, GA is the setting for my debut novel, UNEXPECTED, set to release on 12-12-16. If you’ve ever been to HOT-lanta, you know it can get pretty steamy!
The idea for this story came to me in a very peculiar way. Three years ago I was working for corporate America in a shiny high rise in a wealthy area of Atlanta known as “Buckhead.” I was going through a rough transition in my life trying to figure things out and my six mile commute to work took me forty-five minutes in horrendous bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I’m a very timely person and there was a two week period where I would pass a certain “on ramp” every morning around the same time a black Porsche would whiz by. I LOVE fast cars, so of course, I noticed. It happened every morning for two straight weeks – same time, same black Porsche.
After the third or fourth day, I started anticipating this car passing me, ogling at the beauty of it. I was driving a thirteen year old white mini-van at the time – of course I ogled! I actually started to look forward to my commute and every morning, when this fantastic car would pass, I would often wonder who was behind the tinted windows. I started to day dream about who the driver was, what kind of job, house, family they had. Before you know it, I had a complete story in my head that eventually turned into my debut novel, UNEXPECTED.
Alas, my two week love affair with the black Porsche came to an end and I never saw that particular car again. When I do see a Porsche on the road, I smile and remember the brief encounter that inspired me all those mornings long ago.
Now let’s get to some introductions….
I can’t wait for you to meet William Prescott Harrington, III – Atlanta’s very own millionaire bachelor. He’s tall, dark, handsome and a force to be reckoned with in the world-wide real estate market. Devoted to his family, his youthful dreams are set aside in his early twenties because of the unexpected death of his father. As the only son and heir to the family business and fortune, he accepts his responsibilities in life which include a rather nice side effect of extreme wealth and privilege.
Josephine Davis is a feisty, freelance accountant determined to move forward with her life after being left at the altar on her wedding day. Her tumultuous relationship with her ex-fiancé is finally over and she’s trying to move on in the fast lane of the city and make it on her own. She is devoted to her elderly mother and younger sister, never knowing her father who walked out on them when she was only four years old.
Two star crossed lovers from opposite sides of the tracks meet unexpectedly on a hot September day along a busy Atlanta highway. Driving a sleek, black Porsche, Will accidentally cuts Josie off causing her to swerve and hit a giant pothole. He stops to help her change a flat tire and their attraction is immediate.
Excerpt from UNEXPECTED:
He left the flat tire on the pavement and grabbed the spare out of the back, bouncing it to the empty wheel well. He got it on in no time and she held the rim full of nuts for him as he carefully tightened each one back on the tire, flexing his upper body magnificently.
“That didn’t take long now, did it?” He grinned at her again, pushing back the wave on his forehead smearing more black residue on his handsome face. He slowly cranked the jack back down to where the tire was sitting perfectly on the pavement.
“Gosh, that’s a lot of work. I appreciate you coming back and doing this for me. I probably would have had to call Triple-A.” She felt like a wet mop standing on the hot asphalt, sweating profusely watching him hoist the flat tire into the back of the van and shutting the hatch.
“It’s the least I could do,” he said, grabbing his t-shirt off the top of the car. He used his shirt to wipe the sweat from his face, neck, chest, and dirty hands. The shirt was ruined.
“Oh, wow. You just ruined your shirt. Do you have to be anywhere?” she asked with concern. Her eyes were about to pop out of her head watching him.
He ran his hands through his damp hair again, a noticeable habit she was starting to enjoy.
“Nah… I was just heading home by way of Lenox Mall. I can stop by there another day.” He shook his head with disbelief and laughed. “It sure is freakin’ hot out here!” He grinned, rubbing the soiled t-shirt on the back of his neck. “I want to pay you for a new tire, okay?”
She shook her head even though she wasn’t sure how she’d pay for a new one. “No, that’s all right. Thanks though.”
“Okay, but you look hot. Would you like to go for a swim or something?”
Josie held her breath. Did he just ask her to go for a swim? She suddenly felt very dizzy and put her hand on the van to steady herself.
I hope you enjoyed this first excerpt from UNEXPECTED. Be on the lookout for more excerpts and glimpses into the making of my debut novel!
**UNEXPECTED available for pre-order NOW!**
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dplB01LYDLUSD
KOBO link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebooks/unexpected-68
NEED MORE? Check out the steamy BOOK TRAILER for UNEXPECTED:
So, I have a confession to make. I’m totally freaking out…
As a debut novelist, there is a lot riding on the release of my romance novel, UNEXPECTED, on December 12, 2016. My gorgeous cover reveal is coming up on October 16, 2016. Add to that the incredible news that my second novel, LOVE SONG, will be released through my publisher in April, 2017, and my mind is reeling!
I am blown away by the support of my friends and family with what is happening in my life as an artist. To promote my debut release, I have put together my own cabaret show full of love songs and giveaways. My music charts have been completed, my handsome jazz trio has been hired and my local theater has graciously welcomed me into their space. I will be performing my one-woman show at my book release party on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at Stage Door Players in Dunwoody, GA.
Some would say I’m on a roll – I’m just trying not to jump off the ledge.
The creative process is pure BEAUTY. I thrive on it and dream about it. I pinch myself daily looking forward to something that is getting close to becoming a reality in my life. I am working on yet another book and hope to have this one finished by the New Year. I’m running on all cylinders right now…
But this process also involves something not so beautiful. There is a BEAST lurking in the shadows. The beast goes by many names; self-doubt, anxiety, insecurity…fear.
Screenwriter, Richard Rhodes wrote:
“Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me?”
I read another quote on Facebook the other day that really resonated with me:
“That voice in your head that says you can’t do it is a LIAR.”
I’ve got to stop and smell the roses…
I am a human being with unique stories to tell through the written word and through song. I do have a right to speak and sing and hopefully, be heard. My stories and my voice may not be your cup of tea, but that’s okay. Wouldn’t life be boring if we were all trying to say and sing the same thing?
I’m knocking the beast off my shoulder once and for all so I can enjoy the beauty of what is happening all around me. I am grateful for all of you who have joined me on this journey – for the out pouring of ‘congratulations’ and ‘atta-girls’ that you have thrown my way. They always seem to come at the perfect time.
So now, let’s inhale together…
I opened up the refrigerator and noticed the ranch dressing bottle hanging precariously on the door shelf where it doesn’t belong. I stood there looking at it, tears welling in my eyes, preparing myself for a major transition in our family. You see, my middle son, Henry, is leaving for college tomorrow. I knew he was the salad dressing culprit because he has a rare affinity for ranch on his pepperoni pizza, which he had for dinner.
It has been an odd week full of many unexpected emotions and flashbacks. Henry has always been my most sensitive child. He can always “feel” when I’m a little off and somehow “knows” that perfect moment when I need a big hug or a sweet text. He has always called me “mommy”, even at almost nineteen years old. Heading off to college is a transition in his life that is going to happen. You raise your children the best way you know how and somehow gather the courage to watch them fly off into the next chapter of the rest of their lives…
There is one thing that I know for sure and that is, nothing ever stays the same. We get comfortable in our little nest with our babies and our careers and our friendship circles and all of a sudden, the nest gets flipped over and all you can do is try and land on solid ground.
But sometimes…you fly!
Having my nest flipped over was one of the best things that could have ever happened in my life. I would have never had the courage to pull myself out of my comfort zone and go for dreams bigger than I could have ever imagined. In the midst of all the college planning, I’ve been navigating a new chapter of my own. I am in the midst of all of the many preparations that come with debuting a romance novel and cabaret act while holding down a full time job, singing on the road and taking care of my family. My debut novel is on track for a 12/12/16 release date. I just got word from my publisher that my cover reveal and pre-sales will be on 10/16/16. My composer has been emailing me daily with questions about my music charts for my cabaret act that I am debuting at a huge book release party on 12/13/16. I have secured the theater for the event, have two out of three musicians booked, my best friend MC-ing the show and a few friends flying in. I’m speaking to promotional companies about blog tours, cover reveal parties and give-aways. I’m trying to find the perfect red dress in August for a party that isn’t even happening until December!
As excited as I am for Henry and his new adventure, it is comforting to know that he is excited for me too. My sweet boy has promised that he will be there for me at my book release party, ready and willing to do anything that needs to be done. I have promised him that I will send him whatever he needs (ranch dressing included) while he is away at school. I told him that when he comes home, I’ll even wash his dirty laundry. You should have seen the smile that lit up his gorgeous face. “Thanks, Mommy,” he said. He is going to do wonderful things with his life, no doubt.
Fly beautiful boy… fly!
So… I’ve been very busy over the past two months getting ready for the 12/12/16 release of my debut novel, UNEXPECTED. To say I’ve been having the time of my life is an understatement… Inkspell Publishing hooked me up with a fantastic editor who helped me put the finishing touches on my story. Although the process was at times grueling due to deadlines and the fact that I also started a new, fulltime day job during this process, it was also fascinating, thrilling and exciting. She shed light on my characters that I had either tucked away as inconsequential or that I missed altogether. I cannot wait to read the final edit once it comes back from my publisher in the ebook format which will be a total thrill, as if I’m reading it for the first time.
During the crazy editing schedule I also put together my own “inspiration board” for my cover art. When the email came from the talented artist who I would be working with, I was ready, and sent off my inspirations with a click of a button. Because the artist lives in another country and time zone, her corresponding emails would come in the wee-hours of the morning. I have never been able to wait to open a present, opting to tear into it with excitement and fervor! This is how it played out with my cover artist. I would wake in the early morning and immediately grab my phone anticipating her suggestions of Shutterstock photos, fonts and color schemes. Heaven! Just this morning, I received preliminary versions of my debut novel cover. I feel like I have received a beautiful, tangible gift. I am giddy and nervous – exited and scared… How does one choose? Will the cover catch the reader’s eye and convey the depth of my characters and story by a single glance? These are some of the questions that are currently swirling and tumbling in my brain cell as I try to work a normal day, glancing at least one hundred times an hour at the screenshots saved on my phone.
And then there’s my Cabaret act… yep, you heard me. Two years ago I was a guest at the Metropolitan Room in New York where I was lucky enough to see the incomparable, Marilyn Maye perform her Cabaret act. (The picture is of me and Marilyn on that magical night!) It was a life-changing moment, and a seed was planted. I have always been a professional singer –it is part of who I am. Over the past several months, I have been putting together my own show called, “The Journey of Love.” I am excited to announce that I will be debuting this act at my book release party in December! I have found a composer to write my music charts. I have a three-piece, handsome jazz trio, and I have just finished writing the banter/story to accompany the songs. I even have a vision of what I want my floor length dress to look like! Throw in a sexy venue, some cocktails and giveaways, and you’ve got a pretty happenin’ debut book release party! I cannot wait to combine my love of singing and writing on the same night!
So…I’ve been a very busy girl. I hope that you will be on the lookout for my cover-release, pre-order book sale and for more information on my book release party in December.
I am thrilled to have you all along this journey with me. It’s been a whirlwind! Until next time, keep going after your dreams!
“And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced teaching us to breathe. What was frozen through is newly purposed turning all things green…”
Nicole Nordeman lyrics from the song, SEASONS
I love springtime in Atlanta, Georgia. I have numerous azalea bushes and dogwood trees on our property that bloom in a variety of vibrant colors every year reminding me that the cold, long days of winter have come to an end. I actually used to enjoy the winter and its starkness; its short days and long nights of quiet. Not so much anymore. I have recently come out of my own “winter” if you will, trapped under the weight of unfinished baggage that I dragged around with me wandering aimlessly in the drab, naked landscape without purpose. A little dramatic, wouldn’t you say?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best:
“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation – either react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
If you would have told me 4 ½ years ago that I would be a rock ‘n roll backup singer and about to release my first published romance novel in December/2016 I would have looked at you with wide eyes and thought you had gone off the deep end. You see, I was settled back then; content in my little community bubble with my circle of friends and working at my dream job. I could have continued that course for the rest of my life and been happy with it. Rock ‘n roll and romance novels weren’t even a blip on my radar.
But…. things change.
I lost my dream job. I lost numerous friends. I lost a community of people I was doing life with. Yes, I was devastated. Yes, I was bitter. Yes, I cut off communication with people I thought were lifelong friends that I didn’t believe supported me through this hardship. Depression hit me like a ton of bricks for several years. I sought professional help and a few close friends rallied around me convincing me that I would get through this.
Slowly, I began to change…
I unexpectedly became a member of an incredible National Tour as a backup singer traveling the world with magnificent talent and being treated like a real rock star! I started to write again – something that I had not had time to focus on for many, many years. I treasured my closest friends and family who were there for me during all of my dramatic angst.
I started to thaw…
I had to let go of what could have been. I had to let go of that movie reel in my head of how I thought I should have acted and what I wish I would have said differently.
I’m not the same person I was before.
I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. I have adapted to my loss. I move forward now with fond memories – no more “what ifs” – I’m done. Being a creative person has helped me exponentially in my decision to move forward – to finally embrace my gifts, my age and what I have to offer to the universe. My light has not gone out. It may have only flickered for a while, but it’s shining brightly once again. If you are going through a significant life altering experience I’m not going to tell you that time heals all wounds. Like I said before, I don’t believe that. I would just like to say….
It does get better...
And who knows? You may find yourself living out a rock ‘n roll fantasy that will probably end up in one of your published books.
My journey as a romance writer began many years ago and to now be in the position of having just signed my first publishing contract and creating this website is surreal to say the least! I am beyond excited to start this next chapter (and decade) of my life with new found friends and positive people helping me to succeed. I cannot wait for the release of my second romance novel, Unexpected available in December 2016. It really is a dream come true! So let's fasten our seatbelts and hold on tight as we continue this journey together - oh, and if I forget during all of the excitement.... THANK YOU for your support and of course, your LOVE!