Hate to Love Him releases on Monday. Including the anthology I was part of, this is my 12th time releasing a book, so you'd think I'd be all
But no. Not so much. I feel less...frazzled this time around for sure. I'm more confident with some of the activities associated with a release and not so panicked about interacting online. But in terms of putting this book out into the world...it feels a lot like the first one.
I'm nervous. But mostly, it's a good kind of nervous. It doesn't hurt that some awesome readers and bloggers have been so kind with their reviews and words of encouragement. That is something I didn't have the first time around and the difference is huge. The writing community-- as I've often said, is this beautiful, supportive entity and it's bigger than I ever could have imagined. What I didn't know with my first release, that I do now, is how amazing it is to have a core group of readers-- the people that read your books every time. Before my first book release, my core group included my mom and my best friend. And slowly, it expanded. My self-published story, Forever Christmas, got 5 reviews on Amazon. More than Friends just passed 150. I guess there was something to the tortoise's belief that slow and steady wins the race. Because even though I'm nervous and hopeful, like I was the first time, I am also exceptionally grateful because I know I have a security net-- a group of readers that are actually looking forward to this release like I am. People in my corner, ready to rally when Hate to Love Him hits the virtual shelves. How cool is that?
And so, before all the excitement of Monday and Tuesday descends upon me, I just want to say,
Thank you. So very, very much for helping make my dream of writing and sharing my work come true.
That is all.
*Oh, but if you visit my FB author page tomorrow, you can have some blissful scavenger hunt fun.
That is all for real now.
I honestly do mean to post more. I mean to do a lot of things, but somehow, life gets in the way. At this time of year, that includes report cards, awards nights, year end activities, and pretty much general chaos. Still, I always mean to blog more often. Tonight will be short and sweet. In honor of Father's Day, I'm going to share my favorite romances where the hot hero also happens to be a dad. There's something about writing or reading a hero who shows another side of himself as a father. When I wrote Falling for Kate, I think Elliot's appeal was largely based on how good a dad he wanted to be and was. Being a parent gives the hero (or heroine) an extra layer of vulnerability.
My favorite romance reads featuring dads
When you lose everything, anything is possible.
Lauren Grahame needs a whole new life. A simpler life. After leaving her cheating husband, she moves to Carnal, Colorado, takes a job as a waitress, and realizes she might have finally found the hometown she'd been searching for. Except things are about to get a lot more complicated . . .
Lauren's fresh start does not include her growing feelings for her boss, Tate Jackson. She'll take the new friends, the new job, not to mention the incredible banana bread from the local coffee shop, but love is not on the agenda.
However, the people of Carnal know chemistry when they see it, and they're not about to let Tate and Lauren miss their chance.
Both Lauren and Tate are reluctant to believe they can find love again, but they do, in each other and with Tate's son, become a family.
When California girl Hope Spencer arrives in Gospel, Idaho, she gets more than she bargained for—including a long, lean sheriff by the name of Dylan Taber. And when an unsolved local mystery involves them both--and when their flirting gets the better of them--Hope and Dylan know it’s time to make some true confessions . . . to each other.
I love Dylan and Kate's adorable back and forth banter.
At long last, Seattle Times columnist Jane Alcott has a shot at a full-time assignment. She badly needs the income, but unfortunately, the opening is for a sports reporter traveling with the Seattle Chinooks hockey team and she knows nothing about the game. To add to her difficulty, the team doesn't want her, especially Luc "Lucky" Martineau, the Chinooks $33 million goalie. The team stonewalls when she tries to interview them and they haze her mercilessly; it isn't until the superstitious Luc decides that she brings good luck that Jane gets a shot at being a real journalist. But when her acceptance by the team leads to spending more time with Luc, Jane finds, to her dismay, that he’s more than a handsome, empty-headed sports jock and her heart is in danger.
For his part, Luc learns that behind "plain Jane's" boring dark clothing and black-rimmed glasses lies a quick wit, nerves of steel, and a personality that charms him. And when Jane appears at a team banquet with a new haircut, makeup, and a killer red dress with matching sexy stilettos, Luc's affection fast-forwards into a major case of serious lust. But if Jane lets herself fall in love, she'll have to find a way to explain the secret she's hiding before it becomes public knowledge and Luc's passion turns to hate. Can she bring herself to tell him the truth? And if she does, will he forgive her?
Luc is an older brother, not a single dad, in this story, but he plays the protective, vulnerable hero well and definitely gets a little flustered when dealing with teenage hormones.
Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . .
With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner." Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day . . .
This is such a sweet one and Grace comes to Josh's rescue more than once.
And one I'm eagerly awaiting...
Ready or not…love will find a way
Single dad Hogan Guthrie is getting his life back on track, and working as the "barbecue master" at a local diner is just a temporary detour. He and restaurant owner Violet Shaw constantly butt heads…until one night they end up mingling other parts instead. Hogan thought he had the recipe for happiness all figured out. But loyal, carefree Violet is daring him to trust his impulses…and see just how sweet small-town living—and loving—can be.
Nathan Hawley traded his SWAT team credentials for a sheriff's badge, but a gorgeous new neighbor is shaking up his orderly life. Nathan has a hunch there's more to Brooklin Sweet than meets the eye—but given her caution about getting involved, he has his work cut out for him. Still, there's something about the elusive beauty Nathan can't walk away from—and helping her come to terms with her past might pave the way to the future they both secretly long for.
We meet Hogan and his son in book one, Don't Tempt Me, and I cannot wait to see Hogan get his happily ever after.
What are your favorite single dad romances?
Hope everyone has a lovely Father's Day.
Disclaimer: if you don't feel like reading complete randomness right now, you might want to stop here. But let me put a cute picture so you don't feel like you came for nothing.
I don't have anything poignant to say right now, but I feel like I do. Actually, I sort of feel like the kitty cat there...upside down and a little dazed. I've been in a weird spot with my writing lately. I've gone so full tilt since the second I decided I wanted to do this (in 2012), that there hasn't been a minute that I haven't trying to push myself harder, prove myself to....everyone, but mostly myself. There hasn't been down time or a moment of, wow, I did it-- I got this. Until this last few weeks.
And the feeling has been...terrifying. I don't feel like I'm in a rush, overwhelmed, sidetracked or off-track. My edits are in, my galley is done, I have a line up of books coming out and I'm working on a book now. There's no pressure. Except for what I put on myself every single day.
I worried and said to a couple of friends, am I done? Did I wear myself out and now I'm a girl who used to write? Because, I have to be honest...I've never written without a feeling of urgency...a feeling of: I have to do this, I have to get this done, I have to show this person or that person that they weren't wrong. That I wasn't wrong to keep trying.
As they tend to do, my friends smartened me up. They assured me I wasn't done, but maybe that pressure and feeling of needing to DO MORE and BE MORE was actually stifling my writing. I hope not. But it might have been misleading me. That self-induced pressure may have been forcing me to think I need to always move at the same pace. And no matter how hard I try, that pace was always behind others and in front of some (I told you, random.) But it makes sense in my head. Sort of. I think I've been struggling with my place right there in the middle. I'm no longer a debut author. I'm not one of the biggies. I'm just...somewhere in between.
I've been reading Jennifer Probst's book Write Naked. This book was made for how I've been feeling. It's everything I love about the writing community and writing and authors and words. She's perfectly honest and in between sharing personal anecdotes, she breaks down moments in her own career that mirror ones I've had or hope to have. But she also reminds you that it isn't about pushing yourself to be better than someone else...in fact, that's the exact way to drive yourself crazy.
As a teacher and a mom, I always tell kids, the only person you have to be better than is the person you were yesterday (this is not my quote but I like it). And even though I truly believe it, I don't apply it to my writing. Or myself, but that's a road we won't go down today. The thing is, in her book, Ms. Probst gives exercises...I haven't been doing them because I'm so into the book I want to swallow it whole and internalize it. I'll go back and do them after I finish. But I read through what she asks you to do and the one that stuck with me was make a list of where you want to be...your goals. What you want for yourself and your career. I should have done that when I started out. And here's why:
Because I forget to remember how lucky I am. At one point, I wanted an agent more than anything. Then I got one and I wanted to sell a book more than anything. When I co-wrote and sold not one, but two books, I wanted to write a book BY MYSELF more than anything. When I did that, I wanted to write another book and have it be loved. Do you see what was happening? I didn't stop at any of those points and say, you did it. You got exactly what you wanted. Good for you and yay. Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled and proud and so happy that I've been able to put books out into the world. I've been so lucky to have my agent, work with my wonderful editors, and mostly to touch people's lives with my words. That is a dream come true. I recognize it, but I haven't stopped to absorb it. Because I've been too busy pushing forward to make sure I don't let myself down.
If I'd written that goal list in 2012, it would have said: to publish a book that someone (other than my mom and best friend) loves. I did it. I've done it a few times in fact. Why do we forget to stop and appreciate those moments? They seem to take so long to reach and fly by so fast. I didn't stop. I kept pushing. Writing multiple things at a time. Writing faster. Writing more. And then...I caught up. There's no urgency right this minute and maybe I should be worried...I was...but on the other hand, it's kind of nice.
It's scary to realize that I don't have complete control over my books. It wouldn't matter which path to publishing I took. I have no more control with Forever Christmas (self published) than with Dangerous Love (co-authored), or More than Friends (Entangled Publishing) because I can't predict where they will go or who will hate them or who will love them. Jennifer Probst wrote the Marriage Bargain and then put it away for FIVE years. And I kept thinking, what if she'd gotten it out in the world sooner? Would she have become a USA Today Bestseller 5 years sooner? Maybe. Her point, I think, was that you can control your career, your words, your choices, your schedule, and many other parts of your journey, but not everything. I love how honest she is about this because while I've been feeling like I have to reach the next level and the next level and the next after that, she's been there and said, she does the same thing....you get into this circle of wanting more and needing to keep reaching higher. Part of that is ambition and it's what makes us career writers and it's healthy because it makes us strive for more. But we (I) also need to realize it's not all in our control. By remembering to be happy and appreciative of where we are in our journey, we gain a sense of...power over ourselves and our work.
Last week I kept thinking I have to recapture that urgency or what will happen to my books? But maybe I need to embrace this feeling. I'm not going to quit my job anytime soon and write full time (because I love eating), but maybe I don't have to. I don't have to convince myself that I'm only a real writer if I'm able to do that. Or any of the other things I think we try to convince ourselves of as writers. It's our career. It'll unfold as it's meant to and the journey is unique for everyone.
So while I'm settling into a new kind of comfort zone in terms of my writing pace and own expectations, the news feed shows that there were several fatalities at a concert in Manchester. And holy hell, talk about randomness because then I thought, I'm worrying about writing and books when people can't even go to a concert or public event without wondering if they'll make it home. And then my anxiety wraps me up like a very noose-like blanket and I think, why does any of it matter and what can I do to stay safe and keep my family safe? And as much as I hate to admit it, once again, it comes down to not being able to control everything. God, that sucks. I really like to be in control. I want a guarantee that we're all going to be okay and everything is going to be fine. But there aren't any. And it terrifies me. And it bothers me that I worry about how well my next book will sell or if my face needs more make up today when there are so many bigger, more important things in life. But maybe these moments are what pull us through the others. If I'm thinking about books, I'm not thinking about how it scares me to let my kids go to school because what if something happens. When I'm reading and getting lost in a book-- or writing a book, I'm not wondering if my best friend and I should attend the concert in July that we're both pretty pumped about.
Life is sad and scary and out of our control. But it's also happy and thrilling and within our control to a certain extent. It's not about best seller lists or movie deals or who can write the best and most books. It's not about falling off the Weight Watchers wagon again or whether I'm a better mom than so and so. It's about getting up each day and planning to be the best person you can...better than you were yesterday. For writers, it's about sharing our words and pulling someone into a world that gives them a break from their own. It's about reminding each other that there is good and kindness and support out there. Chris Cornell's death was another part of my blah feeling this week. We're all guilty of looking to the person next to us and thinking "if only I had that or I could do that". But it isn't true. We don't know what anyone carries around with them. We convince ourselves (or I do) that we'll be happy with the next level, if we can just get one step further, lose five more pounds, write one more book, win one more contest, have one less argument with our kid or spouse, that everything will magically and suddenly be okay.
I don't know if everything is going to be okay. I stay away from the news because it frightens me. But here's what I know: my husband is outside making our house look better. My girls are downstairs hanging out and happy. The people I love are all okay right now. The sun is shining and right this very moment, I am okay and so are you, at least I hope so. As much as we plan for the future and want all the things, what we have is right this minute. Right now. That lack of urgency I'm worried about having? Maybe it's a long awaited contentment. Maybe it's me remembering to stop and be happy with where I am and what I have right this second. The rest will come as it does. I can't control all of that. But I can embrace happy right now. So I will. And I'll hope next week I'm not rushing around in a mad, frantic mess ;)
Truly though, all randomness aside, if you're a writer, read Write Naked. It'll remind you that we're all in this together and no one achieves greatness alone. It'll remind you to thank the people around you and be grateful they're there. If you're not a writer, well, um....I have other book recommendations if you need them.
I'm going to post this now because if I don't, I'll re read it and second guess it a dozen times and never share it with you because I'll tell myself I shouldn't. But I should. Now. Because this is where I'm at.
This week's who's who is a good friend of mine. We met through a contest actually and here's the funny part...we actually judged each other's entries. Renee is 1/4 of the Romance Chicks group, an excellent writer, and a great sounding board. Here's her answers to this week's who's who.
Who's Who with Renee Ann Miller
What you write: Historical romance that are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always sensual…..that means they have sex in them.
Influences: This might sound odd, but my first influence, and what made me write, wasn’t another author but watching BBC productions. I’m addicted to them. Sadly, my hubby doesn’t feel the same way.
Favorite writing snack and beverage: Trail mix and water.
Hardest thing about writing: Plotting. I just don’t seem to know how to do it. I’ve tried, over and over, but it just doesn’t work for me.
What you’re working on now: The third story in my Infamous Lords series which will be released by Kensington Zebra Shout next year.
You can connect with Renee at any of the links below. Thanks Renee for taking part in Who's Who Wednesday
Who's Who with Lexi Lawton
What you write: Steamy contemporary new adult romance and romantic suspense
Influences: Jennifer Armentrout (J. Lynn), Lora Leigh, Julie Ann Walker
Favorite writing snack and beverage: Pepsi and Pringles (the honey mustard flavored ones) or chocolate of any kind.
Hardest thing about writing: Names. I agonize over finding just the right character name or town name, and I end up spending way too much time trying to figure it out.
What you’re working on now: A possible proposal for a fourth book in the Collins Brothers series. It would be Devon’s book, who is Juliana’s best friend in Trusting Tanner. I’m also outlining a new romantic suspense series.
You can connect with Lexi in any of the ways below. Check out the blurb for Trusting Tanner below!
Tanner Collins is the embodiment of perfection—tall, dark, sinfully sexy—and completely out of Juliana Shea’s league. Knowing she’d never survive a repeat of her last disastrous relationship, she parks Tanner firmly in the friend zone. But man, he’s hard to resist.
Juliana is exactly what Tanner wants, and he’s determined to win her over with his kindness and humor… But one night—a night he can’t even remember—threatens to take it all away.
With the flick of a “send” button, their hope for a future together is shattered. But Tanner isn’t the type to give up on what he wants—and he wants Juliana.
Thanks so much for joining me today, Lexi!
Welcome to Jennifer Shirk!
My first Entangled Bliss publication was set to come out December 5th, 2016. My editor suggested I read one of her other authors as a way to get a better grasp on a specific trope. This was my introduction to Jennifer Shirk. Not only is she a great author-- I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match, but when I reached out on another trope issue....she was so gracious and helpful. I'll definitely be thanking her for her great advice and guidance on the first book in my new series. And I'll remember her telling me (when I wondered how she was SO good at this), it's easier with someone else's book. Here are Jennifer's answers to this week's Who's Who Wednesday. You can connect with her by clicking on the links below. Thanks for joining me on my blog Jennifer.
Who's Who Wednesday with Jennifer Shirk
What you write.
For those of you who don't know me, I write sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing.
Who are your influences?
Wow… so many to name. The first and queen of my influence would be Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But I also love Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Jill Mansell.
Favorite writing snack and beverage.
A lungo espresso (basically an espresso with more water in it) and either a little piece of dark chocolate or my healthy banana oatmeal cookies to go with it.
Hardest thing about writing?
The actual writing. LOL I should say just getting the first draft down. That's the hardest part for me. But once it's down on paper, the editing and making it all pretty and legible is my favorite part!
What you're working on now.
I'm working on the first book of a new 3 book series for the Entangled Bliss line. This is the premise: In a weakened moment, a depressed woman jilted by her longtime boyfriend has a one night stand with a wedding guest at a friend's wedding only to discover he's the man who recently bought her family's suffering business—and now happens to be her new boss.
Thanks so much for having me!
To win her trust, he’ll have to surrender his heart.
To win her trust, he’ll have to surrender his heart. Trusting Tanner is a sexy new adult romance coming May 8th from Entangled Embrace. Check out the cover! About Trusting Tanner: The Collins Brothers #1 Tanner Collins is the embodiment of perfection—tall, dark, sinfully sexy—and completely out of Juliana Shea’s league. Knowing she’d never survive a repeat of her last disastrous relationship, she parks Tanner firmly in the friend zone. But man, he’s hard to resist. Juliana is exactly what Tanner wants, and he’s determined to win her over with his kindness and humor… But one night—a night he can’t even remember—threatens to take it all away. With the flick of a “send” button, their hope for a future together is shattered. But Tanner isn’t the type to give up on what he wants—and he wants Juliana. About Lexi Lawton: Born and raised in Central New York, Lexi Lawton is an only child who found companionship in books. When she was old enough to put pen to paper, she began writing her own stories of love, suspense, and heartbreak. She hasn't stopped since. Represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Lexi is actively pursuing her dreams of publication. Today, Lexi lives in Michigan with her husband, four kids, three pit bulls, and two cats. When she's not writing, she enjoys going to the gym, spending time with her family and friends, and obsessively listening to anything by Luke Bryan. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Who's Who with USA Today Bestselling Author Cindi Madsen
What you write:
I write YA, NA, & adult romance, all with laughter, witty banter, and happily ever after.
Sophie Kinsella, Elizabeth George Speare, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Mary Shelley
Favorite writing snack and beverage:
Chocolate & Diet Mountain Dew
Hardest thing about writing:
When you’re not feeling it & you have to sit down and work anyway.
What you’re working on now:
I just finished proofreads on the last book in my sports romance series, Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny. Next up I’ll be working to get my next romcom, 13 Ways to Avoid a Heartbreak nice and shiny so I can send it to my editor.
Thanks for joining me for Who's Who, Cindi. If you'd like to connect with Cindi, you can do that here: