Tag: sweet romance

Five Things I’ve Learned About Shared Series

Reading a great series, who doesn’t love it? I know I’m the type who might wait for the whole series to be out so I can binge read it, one book after the other.

So why wouldn’t I want to write for a publisher who ONLY publishes shared series?


Well, duh. I would. And I do.

You’ve heard me declare my love for my small publishers before. If you need a refresher, find it here.

But what is a shared series? And do I love writing for it as much as I enjoy reading a series by my favorite author?

A Shared Series

A shares series is a little different. It’s series written by multiple authors around a common theme or location. There might be appearances from previous (and future) main characters, but the “shared” element is generally a place or situation.

 

Five Things I Learned

1. You Need a Series Bible

I didn’t realize how important this would be until I wrote my manuscript, and I wanted to know things about St. Judith, Virginia, where MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER takes place.

Simple things like:

  • Where is this bank in relation to where my shero lives?
  • What are the baseball fields like?
  • What sort of neighborhoods are there?
  • How far is the bank from the baseball fields?
  • Who else lives around here that my people can talk to

And there was nothing. We knew there was a military base nearby, and we collaborated on names for the schools.

Those things were discussed and decided upon in our group, but after that, it was only a sketchy outline of a commercial district and a residential area.

So I floundered around trying to get a feeling for this setting. Thankfully, I was able to read a couple other books that preceded mine, but still the town felt vague and unformed to me.

A series Bible names businesses. It gives a general map of the important locations. It also mentions and describes any CHARACTERS who might be available to be shared (which they often aren’t because my characters are copyrighted along with my story.)

All these things were provided for the First Street Church series, so I took them for granted when I applied to right for the MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS series.

2. You Want to Work with Other Professionals

Most of us author-types work in a room by ourselves. When I’m creating, I don’t care if I EVER leave the room. In my office, the characters are real and their story is essential.

But in the larger world, I want—no NEED—to interact with other authors.

I expected to become “friends” with the people in this shared series. I would read their stories. They would read mine. We’d talk about the town of St. Judith and how to weave more reality into our plots.

It would be one big happy family.

Except some people didn’t show up with anything more than the required posts. They didn’t offer input on questions or toss out ideas for naming things.

It’s like they wanted to be on their own.

Flakes aren’t just for breakfast. Sometimes they show up at work, too.


3. Leadership is Key

I’ve taken several personality quizzes and assessments. The one that always stands out for me is one my husband and I did together shortly after our first son was born.

I was a lion. He was a golden retriever. I don’t need to explain how that can create a less-than-favorable dynamic in a home where a wife WANTS to follow the Biblical concept of man-as-head of the marriage.

I demand a LOT from my leader. Mostly, I expect them to be present, prepared and ahead of the game.

But I’m a creative, so I don’t want them meddling with my creative stuff.

The first argument I had with the series leader was over the title of my book. After reading the reviews for my story, there are readers who are JUST as confused as I am about the requirements for having “Mommy” in the title when my story wasn’t about a mommy but a MIMI. Would it really kill anyone to rename it Mimi Loves the Banker?

After all, we were encouraged to use OTHER caregivers in the story so all the matchmaking wouldn’t be between moms and dads. But all the titles had to begin with “Mommy.”

Enough said about that.

4. You Can Ride a Successful Author’s Coattails

Honestly? This is why I wanted to be part of a shared series through Sweet Promise Press.

I know there are authors publishing there with thousands of followers and who make more in ONE HOUR than I made the first YEAR I was published.

My publisher is a marketing genius. She knows exactly how to leverage her reading audience, and that pays off with sales for authors like me who don’t have a huge personal following.

The series lead for MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS had been skyrocketing with another series she was writing. Another author said she had an email list of 12,000 names. Oh-kay. And I was so thrilled when I hit 500 followers (by the way, that swelled to over 800 with a promotion and has since dwindled back to 680, only 400 of which actually open my emails).

People would buy those early books. They would love them, and they’d keep reading the series. Even though it wasn’t by the author they loved, that author would be telling them to try the next book (mine) and that would generate sales.

Once people READ my story, I knew they would enjoy it. Hopefully they would convert into a follower of ME. Maybe someday other authors would want to join a series so they could ride MY coattails.

5. Professionalism of All Authors is Mandatory

In a shared series, each author is getting paid for their own title, sure. That’s different from the anthologies and collections I’ve been part of where there was ONE sale that had to be divided among all the participants.

SPP contracted each of us and guaranteed us our share of royalties from EVERY book we sell.

Contracted authors are surely professionals, right?

Well, they should be. And when members of a shared series drop the ball, they affect everyone else. Whatever tie-in was supposed to exist to keep readers engaged to buy the next book is important.
If there’s no communication from the author you’re intended to follow, how are you supposed to make that connection?

This was a dilemma that I faced. Partly because I draft my stories early. Looming deadlines do NOT improve the clarity of my prose.

Apparently, not all authors work the same way.

If you enter into a shared series, you should expect that you’ll need to stretch out of your writing comfort zone. That you’ll share your story with others writing BEFORE it’s ready for public consumption. Why? For series continuity.

If we’re all professional authors, that shouldn’t be a problem.

But having a book (or many books) published by big-name publishers doesn’t make an author understand this sort of professionalism.

Have you read anything from either of the shared series I’m part of? Do you enjoy reading a shared series as much as a series from a single author?

Meet My Quirkiest Shero Ever

Tomorrow is the day. My book baby MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER will be live on Amazon. (Sorry. I wish it was available on other platforms, but that’s a decision my publisher makes.)

Yes, that means this book is only available in ebook.

I hold the print rights. If I cough up the money for the cover, I could release the book in print. But it would cost $9.95, and that seems like a chunk of change for a book you can read in one sitting.

Post on this if you would buy such a book. Maybe if there is enough interest, I will fork out my OWN chunk of change (which will require I sell 15 books just to break even).

Now, on to the book.

Isn’t she lovely?

An excerpt from the beginning to get you primed.

Mommy Loves the Banker
Chapter One

This mommy gig wasn’t going like she remembered. When her daughter was in elementary school, parents sent their kids to school on the bus or their bikes. Or—Heaven forbid—they walked. Every Clara Barton Elementary student needed to be dropped off.

Or so it seemed as Meredith Williams eased her daughter’s Toyota minivan forward in the two-block long line of cars. Finally, she caught a glimpse of the school building.

“Are we late, Mimi?” Poppy nibbled her brown curls and hugged her self-constructed wind chime closer. Wearing her bulging backpack, she couldn’t sit flush against the built-in booster seat.

Meri glanced in the rear-view mirror, checking the line of vehicles behind her before meeting the worried gaze. Brown eyes brimmed with urgency and sent a knife into Meri’s midsection.

“Not unless all these people are late, too.”

Poppy twisted around. Meri pulled forward, three car-lengths this time. The end of a long sidewalk peeped around the tires of the SUV in front of her. Rain sprinkled the windshield until the automatic wipers cleared it away. Kids who’d been playing four-square on the covered playground beside the athletic fields scurried toward the doors. Was school starting?

The clock on the dashboard showed three minutes until eight.

“Come on, come on.” Good mommies—or mimis—didn’t make their kiddos late for school.

Two cars pulled away from the curb near the school entrance. Several kids piled from the minivan in front of her. She checked her side mirror and flipped her blinker down. She’d go around, and Poppy wouldn’t be tardy. Again.

She steered into the street with her foot nudging the accelerator. A honk like a freight train bellowed, and Meri floored it. The Sienna reared forward. Brakes screeched, and more horns blew.

Meri’s heart sprinted as she swerved back to the curb. She ignored the nasty glares from the drivers she passed. Certainly they’d do the same to make sure their kids made it to school on time.

Another truck gunned in front of her and Meri ignored the driver’s one-finger salute, although his blaring honk made sure she saw it. She slammed to a stop beside the door and slapped the shifter into park.

“Cheap Trick.” The name of the band slipped out in a curse as she fumbled with the button to open the side door. “Can you get the buckle?”

Her spine crackled as she swiveled toward the back seat. Poppy held out the conglomeration of wrapping paper, paper towel, and toilet paper tubes they’d spent an hour gluing together the night before. Meri grunted as she contorted to hold the creation without smashing it. The seatbelt cut into her neck.

Strangled by a seatbelt. She’d suffer worse for Poppy and Sunnie.

Poppy released her harness and scrambled out of the seat. Her cool lips pressed into Meri’s forehead. “See you, Mimi.” Her granddaughter balanced the sculpture in gentle hands and hopped out of the minivan.

Warmth poured into Meri’s stomach and chest, drowning the honking-induced panic. That simple kiss wiped away the negative sensations. Precious Poppy was the reason Meri’d left everything, drove across four states, and bumbled her way through the new era of motherhood.

Keep Reading Now

Enter the Giveaway

See all the books in the Series

What do you think of Meri’s quirk? Did you catch it? Do you enjoy reading second-chance love stories featuring middle-aged characters?

What I’m Writing Now

I’m not talking about this blog. One of the new things you’ll see around here this year is at least once per month, I’ll give you a glance behind the scenes…or more accurately between the covers…of whatever I’m writing at the moment.

Have you Seen These?

The current project is in “revision” mode. This isn’t my favorite. I think I’ve shared this meme before, but each time I see it, it reinforces my emotions in the two processes of being an author: writing and editing.

There is a series within the First Street Church Series published by Sweet Promise Press. This is a trilogy I’ve affectionately called, TEXAS HOMECOMING.

In Book One, Jaz comes home with a plan to find a post-military job and make a quick exit. Since her brother’s death, she and her father can barely occupy the same room without having harsh words.

Bailey dreams of leaving Sweet Grove, too, but when his sister returns home with plans to convert the family ranch into a resort, he knows he has to stay and help her. She’ll be his only family once their father succumbs to the cancer devouring him.

But what if they don’t inherit the ranch? What if a “blood” relative comes to claim it? Bailey seeks out a legal expert and finds his high school crush. Jaz can’t turn the handsome cowboy away, but she’s hardly prepared to start falling for him.

Even without a will, love finds a way.

 

 

 

 

The story continues in Book Two. I refer to this as “Jaz’s story” because she finally gets questions answered about her brother. Of course, a mysterious visitor makes an auspicious delivery. When Bailey sees Jaz embracing the man, he suspects the worst.

Because he knows he’s not worth loving.

Sometimes hope needs a helping hand.

I Have a Plan

When I originally concieved the idea for this series, I hoped to write THREE books outside of Sweet Grove. I was going to pull readers from the Kindle World into my own sweet romance world.

And then their were no more Kindle Worlds.

But there was Sweet Promise Press. And I enjoyed working with Melissa Storm and her crew of friendly and knowledgeable professionals. So, I decided to bring the characters back to Sweet Grove. It was supposed to be a Texas Homecoming anyway, right?

My new plan is to release the third book in the trilogy in April.

Then I’ll hire a designer to make a lovely Texas Homecoming print wrap and in the fall, I’ll release the trilogy in a print collection. All three stories (somewhere between 80,000 and 90, 000 words) together in a single paperback.

Doesn’t that sound like a fantastic idea?

Between the Covers

Now for the moment you scrolled past the rest of this to see. Here’s a scene from the second chapter of the book.

I hate to give too much away, but book three is Bailey’s story. Plenty of reviewers have commented about how static and even whiny Bailey has been in the first two books. Well, he’s not weak. He has a bad past.

And it’s about to come to Sweet Grove.

From the second chapter (this is NOT final copy and is subject to change and IMPROVEMENT) before it’s included in the final book:

Lonie Dyer was a piece of work. Jazlyn Rolle had met sweet talkers like him during her six months with Boldt & Associates.  It wasn’t the false charm that grated against her as much as the expectation to get something for nothing.

By the time he’d spoken two sentences, Jaz had known that the striking physical resemblance between Bailey and Lonie was all there was. Even without the sharp planes on his face and hardness in his eyes, Lonie wasn’t at all appealing.

“And who might you be?” That was the first sentence he’d spoken.

“This is Jaz.” Tess stepped around her as the two of them entered the parlor.

Lonie’s hand settled possessively beside a photo book of Central Texas on the edge of an antique table.

“A Sweet Grove native like my little girl?” His tone dripped honey, and Jaz figured the man could con a starving man out of his last meal.

Probably how he’d convinced the parole board a man with one armed robbery after another shouldn’t serve out a full sentence. Jaz had entered the man’s name into the county database as soon as Bailey had mentioned he was out of prison. Not that she expected him to show up in Sweet Grove. He’d burned whatever bridge he might have had to his children years ago.

“I thought you’d be in your room.” Tess gazed at him with expectation.

That’s when Jaz saw herself in her friend’s posture. Tess wanted his approval. Since she’d always yearned for Daddy love, Jaz knew the feeling exactly. But her friend missed the calculating way Lonie’s eyes narrowed, and Jaz knew Tess was heading for heartache.

Jaz stepped closer. Lonie’s gaze flashed to her and roamed lasciviously down her body.

The very same thing had happened so many times during her six years in the army that Jaz was surprised when she glanced down at herself. The uniform she expected to see was only loose boyfriend denim and a form-fitting sweatshirt. By the way the lust filled the older man’s gaze, it should have been something much more revealing.

“I’m Bailey’s girlfriend, and he’s on his way here.”

Lonie’s lips thinned into a reptilian smile. “Boy couldn’t wait to see me.” His dry chuckle sent a hoard of shivers down Jaz’s spine.

“Tess and I are going to hang out until he gets here.” Jaz turned Tess toward the doorway. “Let’s get some sweet tea. What’s on the menu for breakfast?”

She forced her backbone to steel as she marched her friend back to the kitchen. Tess responded about breakfast, but Jaz didn’t pay attention. Now that she’d met the man and seen the open desire in Tess’s eyes, she realized Bailey hadn’t been overreacting to send her to the ranch.

Jaz blocked the doorway into the kitchen by leaning on the side of the bar. Lonie pulled up a stool like he belonged there.

“Sweet tea?” Tess paused to glance over her shoulder at Lonie while pulling glasses from the cupboard.

“I never did sweeten to it.”

Once Tess turned away, Lonie shifted a leer to Jaz. She glared, unblinking. Maybe it would be smarter to pretend to fall for his slimy charm, but she couldn’t do it. Men like Lonie Dyer had too much power over women, and Jaz refused to be another conquest for him, even if it was only in his own mind.

Tess handed her a glass of tea and sipped hers. “What are your plans?” She set her glass down. “Did you want something else to drink?”

This wasn’t part of her normal B&B hostess routine, and Jaz wanted to snap at Lonie to leave the kitchen, since it wasn’t generally open to guests. But Tess’s hopeful expression killed the protest before it reached her lips.

“A shot of Jim Beam would be nice.” Lonie chuckled again, this time the sound more authentic, although it still grated on Jaz.

“How about a coke? I have Sprite or cola.”

Lonie shrugged. “Don’t go to any trouble for me, darlin’.”

As if she hadn’t already by loaning him a rent-free room. The front door opened and closed, and footsteps plodded toward the dining room. Jaz’s heart leapt, but Bailey would use the kitchen entrance, so it must be Tess’ other guest.

“That’s Mr. Gary.” Tess brushed past Jaz and into the hallway.

Lonie arched a scraggly eyebrow at her and smirked. “How long you been goin’ down on my boy?”

Jaz clenched her fist. “He’s not your boy any more than Tess is your darlin’.” She mimicked his syrupy drawl of the endearment.

What do you think? Are you ready to read more?

A Fun Look into Match-Making

No, this is not an episode of HOW IT’S MADE. I’m talking about romantic matchmaking…not the manufacture of match sticks. Although both of them can lead to fire.

A matchmaker is a trouble maker.

Okay, that’s not the dictionary definition. But if you’ve ever been subjected to matchmaking by someone, you know first-hand that it can be a painful experience. Maybe not root canal or tonsillectomy quality agony but close.

A new series from my publisher looks at kids of single parents as the meddlesome matchmakers.

It’s supposed to be a series of romantic comedies. Although I’m the first to agree I’m hysterically humorous, I tend to write books with a serious tone.

I hope my readers won’t be disappointed by my foray into this new genre. Based on the experience, it’s unlikely I’ll continue to write in it. It’s not like I don’t have tons of other things to write (like I talked about here.)

 

THE LINE-UP

Indie authors with huge followings and tons of experience will write in this series. Although I’ve only read ONE of the actual stories, I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of the writing. (UPDATE: I have actually read THREE of the stories plus my own, and I’m certain you’ll be thrilled to invest in the entire series.)

Here’s the Mommy’s Little Matchmakers line-up:

  1. Mommy Loves the Principal by Shenae Johnson
  2. Mommy Loves the Military Man by Allie Kincaid
  3. Mommy Loves the IT Guy by Joanne Dannon
  4. Mommy Loves the Rockstar by Janae Ronniesha
  5. Mommy Loves the Doggy Doctor by Deb Kastner

And last but not least…
MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER


Okay, first of all. There’s a titling formula for this series. I’m sure you noticed it.

My book is not about the actual mommy. In my book, the grandmother is taking care of the mischievous little matchmaker for a year. A more appropriate title would be MIMI LOVES THE BANKER.

So…you’ve been warned.

The Blurb

Neither was banking on love…but their granddaughters have different plans.

She was abandoned by her husband. He buried his true love. Can they find a second chance at happiness?

In a new town, filling her daughter’s shoes as a stand-in mommy, struggling entrepreneur Meredith Williams longs to prove her ex-husband wrong and make a go of her lotion-making business. But when he constantly defaults on his alimony, she approaches the local bank for a small business loan. She’s about to find something so much better.

Tightened lending policies at Bank of Virginia force Donavan Anders to reject Meri’s loan application, killing any chance he can act on his interest in the enterprising woman, until he realizes their granddaughters play on the same T-ball team. Maybe he can make up for bank policies and score a date at the same time.

When bullies make T-ball difficult for their granddaughters, it’s up to the grandparents to step up their game. While they’re working together on that, their matchmaking granddaughters connive their way into one sleepover and two lunch dates. Lots of girlish giggles might lead to a happily-ever-after…if only those stubborn grandparents will get a clue.

I LOVE THIS STORY

This story was tons of fun to write. Since I’ll be a first-time grandma a few weeks after this book releases into the wild, it was fun to imagine myself in Meredith Williams’s shoes.

We have other things in common too: 1) We’re entrepreneurs; 2) Dads who left; 3) Love of baseball and 4) Disgust for bullies.

While I’m happily married, it’s always great fun to imagine a romance for people near my age. Since Meri hadn’t really experienced all the feels of falling in love before, I wanted her to have lots of tingles and ah-ha moments.

Who better to give them to her than a man who HAD been head over heels before. A man who felt certain he’d spend the rest of his life alone because he’d already had his “one true love.”

Debunking ideas like this are one of the best things about being a fiction writer.

GRAB THE SERIES

If you’re a fan of this genre or you think the premise of kids as matchmakers is intriguing, you can grab the entire six-book set for 35 percent off the price of purchasing the titles individually.

Better yet, you will get ALL SIX STORIES on the day the first story releases. While everyone who doesn’t order the entire set is twiddling their thumbs for a month to read MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER, you’ll have it on your ereader on March 1.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Of course it does. Order your set now. Read one and read them all before everyone else.

After hearing about this book, are you excited to read it? Do you like a series written by different authors? Or do you prefer to stay with the same characters for a series?

PEEK INSIDE Summer’s Most Romantic Anthology

If you want to keep that summer romance alive, ONE SULTRY DAY is the perfect choice. And who doesn’t want a little romance in every day?

Four Stories

Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar

University drop-out and current barista, Lexi Fletcher-Bain upgrades to a position as a quality controller for a new agency established by her friend Jess. An agency designed to provide escorts for discerning women.  Anything’s better than driving an espresso machine. Despite her shattered ego after a disastrous breakup, Lexi decides to try it for a month.

Sadly, the assessments aren’t any more fun than making espresso. The first subject, Jeremy Miller, gets the Aunt Freda special and Lexi manages to send him running for the last train back to the city.  Her second assessment is ruined by an accidental meeting with her ex-fiancé Simon.

Back at the cafe, things get more complicated when Jeremy looks her up wanting a do-over. When Jess says Simon has applied to be an escort, Lexi is forced to explain why she broke off their engagement and why Jess shouldn’t hire him.

The bigger question: why is Jeremy no longer available?

Ghosts of Summers Past by T.E. Hodden

For five years Bunny has never once felt alone. He has been haunted by the tragedy that stole Hanna, his first true love from him, and has always felt her presence on one shoulder, and blame on the other.

Now Alice, a minor star from the show he writes, is on the verge of becoming more than just a friend, and the sun-baked palm beaches are almost feeling like home.

Can Bunny face the ghosts of his past? Or is history about to repeat itself in the most terrible of ways?

Unexpected by Sharon Hughson

Grad student Ivory Konner relishes a summer of guiding rafts on the Wenatchee River far from the expectations of her parents and the reminders of her recent dumping. Falling in love is the furthest thing from her mind when a thin guy and his dog nearly send her plummeting off the trail.

Cancer survivor Prescott Colyer drops out of college, escapes to his uncle’s photo gallery in Leavenworth, WA, and quietly pursues his art. But when an unexpected encounter during a hike exposes him to pain-free physical contact, he risks everything for a girl who’s not interested in romance, not even for the summer.

Once Ivory connects with Prescott’s art, she offers to help him build a business. As they spend time together, her heart takes on its own mission.

Can their unexpected encounter urge Prescott out of isolation? Will Ivory include love in her long-term plan?

Second Chance Summer by Lily Carlyle

Twenty years ago, Summer and Jason’s summer romance seemed destined to last. Until Summer abruptly broke it off, with little explanation. Heartbroken, Jason leaves the Outer Banks—indeed, the entire East Coast—waiting two decades to return. When he comes home to settle his great-aunt’s estate, one of the first people he sees is Summer.

She’s ready to tell him the truth about that summer. But is he ready to listen?

Today’s Excerpt

Excerpt from ‘Escorts for Hire – Heartaches Free’ by Deryn Pittar

She’d chosen the tearooms because of their proximity to the train station and had arrived before the time she’d told him on the phone. She wanted to be able to observe him before he realized who she was.  Of course, having his photo gave her a distinct advantage, whereas he was looking for a woman wearing a floral dress carrying a largish, red sisal bag and wearing a sunhat, which now hung on the back of the third chair at the table. Perhaps she should stand outside to get a clearer view. She made to rise then sat again. Was this him?

Yes, she recognized his face from the photo she had and he was tall, very tall compared to her 5 ft. 2”. Just as well she wore sandals with a reasonable wedged hell which gave her another 2” in height. Despite his long legs he didn’t stride, he sort of strolled with a slight swing to his hips. His blond hair flopped over his forehead, cut short at the sides and long on top  in what seemed to be the current  trend. A pale chambray shirt over dark blue jeans, his pullover draped over his shoulders, its arms half knotted across his chest. Very casual chic. He looked absolutely delicious. Where did that thought spring from? Here she was, off men altogether and suddenly her brain had woken up from a long sleep and declared an interest.

He stood a short distance away from the tearoom’s doorway and checked his watch then after putting his hand in his pocket ran a comb through his hair, pulling back the fallen fringe.

Note to self: early for appointments, dresses well, takes care with his appearance.

Her heart sank. He walked away and to her horror disappeared around a corner across the road. What? He was abandoning her without even meeting. How could she explain this to Jess? How embarrassing. She left the table, waving her hand at the waitress. “Looking for my friend,” she explained and walked outside. The heat hit her. Unbelievable for this time of the day. The stone paving had already absorbed enough sunshine to reflect heat and the highest temperature for this summer was predicted for this afternoon.

She stood, feeling foolish and sad as early shoppers bustled around and past her. Once again the last girl left standing without a partner while everyone else danced. It wasn’t fair. She hitched her bag over her shoulder and decided to give him a few more minutes to change his mind and come back. After all, checking her watch, it really was just on half nine.

“Excuse me, would you be Alexandria?”

He’d returned, sneaked up on her from the side. His blue eyes set below arched eyebrows held her gaze and even as she thought to look away, she couldn’t. Ignoring the flip-flop in her chest as her heart bounced with excitement she got a grip and stood as tall as she could and gave him her best smile. This could be fun after all.

Want to keep reading? Click here to purchase the anthology from your favorite retailer.

One Fantastic Giveaway

In order to celebrate this newest release, I’m running a contest. The mandatory portion of this “Rafflecopter” is a scavenger hunt of sorts. You visit either websites, blogs or Facebook pages to find the answer to the question.
I promise, the answers are front-and-center and so obvious all but a blind person could find them. (No slight to my plethora of unsighted readers intended.)

Besides the scavenger hunt, there are multiple ways to enter, including visiting Facebook pages or following authors on different platforms. Four entrants will win.

The prizes:

The Grand Prize: TEN bucks to spend at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE winners of a digital copy of the anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re always game for cash to spend at Amazon and/or FREE books, click on the link. Enter by visiting the authors’ pages.
To make it simple, the answer to my scavenger hunt clue can be found in the blurb from “Unexpected” (scroll back up to see it).
I’ve always liked the summer camp romances. What’s your favorite summer romance trope?

ONE SWEET MORNING Spring Romance Anthology: Meet the Authors

Roane Publishing has launched another short story anthology into the world. I love these things. You might recall that my first published fiction appeared in one such anthology in February of 2015.

I’ve been with Roane for three years and have never regretted a day of it.

Odds are good none of the authors who’re dropping in for a quick visit today are sorry about submitting their work to a small indie house rather than chasing a literary agent or a big house.

Since ONE SWEET MORNING brims with romances set in spring, we’ll be discussing that season of new life with the four ladies with stories in this collection.

Thanks for taking time out to stop by my blog today, ladies. The question I have for you is “What is your favorite thing about springtime?”

For the record, my favorite thing is the return to green and the blooming of flowers, sure, but more importantly that SUMMER will soon be here.

Here are the answers:

Theresa Kemble (Author of “Spring into Action”):

What is my favorite thing about springtime?  For me. it’s the Sun returning it’s warm rays back to me after a dreary winter. (Yes, I’m one of those people that hate the winter! Well, except for the holidays, which I totally love!) I love warm gentle breezes, the scent of flowers invading my senses! It’s pure joy for me! Spring to me means a fresh start, hope for something new and exciting! In my story, “Spring into Action”, my heroine,Tamara Goode hopes for good things as she start’s a new chapter in her life. As the saying goes… Spring hopes Eternal!

ME: I also love sunshine, Theresa!

Claire Davon (Author of “Spring Water”):

Spring is such a great time of year. It’s when the promise of new life and new beginnings takes hold, and winter begins to fade in the rear view mirror. I grew up in Boston, so when Roane wanted spring romance stories it was a natural fit to set my story in Boston. I always loved when April rolled around when I was growing up. We were finally were able to think about warmer weather and no more snowfall. By that time I was good and sick of the snow! By that time fifty degree weather called for t-shirts and shorts. I love the promise of spring, when the snowbanks recede and the landscape is revealed again, just as people are revealed, scrapping their heavy layers for lighter clothing, and lighter moods.

In my story I talk about the swan boats, and that was one of my favorite memories throughout my time in Boston. They were like a rite of passage. When the swan boats started, you knew that the city had moved into spring mode, and warmer days were coming.

ME: I shivered when you said fifty-degree weather called for t-shirts and shorts. It will have to be 65 or warmer before I bare my arms and legs to goosebumps.

Suzi Finlay MacDonald (Author of “Only the Heart Knows”):

My favourite thing about springtime is that it’s a time of new beginnings. The natural world is waking up and starting over, and all that positive energy can give one the courage to take a chance on something new, or get rid of something that isn’t right. In ‘Only The Heart Knows’ Maddie has chosen springtime for her new beginning, but when things change it takes courage to make the right choice.

ME: Something about sunshine gives me courage, too.

Kim Strattford (Author of “Sparkage”):

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where it stayed green all year. Then I moved to DC area and got to experience the full effect of four seasons–how gray and bare winter can be. So the best part of spring is seeing the grass turning green again, the crocuses blooming, the trees leafing out, and the daffodils and other spring flowers  exploding.

Spring lasts a hot minute here. We usually go from winter to summer with maybe a week of spring, but still, I love it.

ME: I’d heard that about spring lasting a week or less in DC, but the cherry blossoms are lovely.

To grab your copy of ONE SWEET MORNING, click here or on the cover image above. These authors and the indie publisher who believes in them appreciate your willingness to support them.

Check out the rest of the posts for this release by clicking below.

Say Hello to ONE SWEET MORNING

Happy book birthday to the authors of One Sweet Morning!

One Sweet Morning
A Sweet Romance Anthology
by Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: April 9 2018
 
Spring Water
When Riley finds a way to meet the cute swan boat driver she has been admiring on the banks of a pond in the Boston Common she does it knowing it would be temporary. Her plans had always been to leave the city at
the end of the summer and even the cutest guy she has seen in forever wasn’t going to derail that. However she quickly finds that Graham calls to her as no other guy has ever done. She also finds that that he has a secret just as she does—he’s afraid of water.
Riley, a lifelong rower, is shocked by the revelation but it does not dim her attraction. After all, she is leaving so what difference does it make? However, as they get closer she finds it harder and harder to imagine leaving both the city and the man at the end of the summer. What seemed so far away at the beginning of spring now looms in front of her and the reality of leaving everything she loves tears at her. When near tragedy forces both of them to face their deepest secret will the truth pull them together or tear them apart once and for all?
Sparkage
Chris and Kirk have always had chemistry, but he was with someone, and then Chris moved across the country for a better position in the company they both work for. Five years later, she’s happy in her job and recently single, having broken up with someone rather than be in a relationship without any kind of spark. She’s resigned to waiting for the right guy rather than settling.
Enter Kirk, recently transferred and also recently broken up with his girlfriend. He’s interested in Chris, and she’s interested back, but his break with his girlfriend was sudden and his move across the country even more so. He may say it’s over, but his ex didn’t get the memo, and Chris suspects Kirk may need closure before he can move on.
She wants to believe in him—he’s always been honest with Chris and faithful to his girlfriend—and in what they could have together. Their chemistry is still there but it’s not just desire: she really likes this guy. But is she a fool to wait for something that may never be? Especially when her big sister is urging her to give the man she broke up with another chance before he finds someone else.
Only the Heart Knows
One dark spring morning, the man that Maddie loved was swept away in a tragic accident that left her alone and pregnant on their wedding day.
Exactly three years later she has built a new life with Troy, her best friend from childhood, and the sun is shining as she sets off down the aisle for a second chance at happiness.
But before she reaches the altar her plans and her heart are thrown into disarray by Jack’s well-timed return, re-igniting all the feelings she thought were dead and gone. Like him.
Can she forgive Jack for the lies that left her broken three years before? Or should she trust Troy and his promises, when he may not have been entirely honest with her either?
Only her heart knows the truth.
Spring into Action
by Theresa Kemble
Tamara Goode lives a privileged life, always trying to please others. Her fiancé is like her father—well-meaning but controlling, and Tamara soon realizes she needs her independence. Escaping to a new life, she becomes a
personal assistant to the handsome TV reality show star, Joe Campo. Fighting her attraction for him is a losing battle, for how could such a man possibly fall in love with a Rubenesque woman when model-types fall at his feet?
As a celebrity, Joe Campo has money and beautiful women clamoring for his attention, but he secretly fears losing himself to a shallow existence. Enter his new, competent assistant who seems to read his soul and understand his struggle to become a better person.
Joe’s attraction for Tamara grows and he hopes love will spring into action, but will her shyness and insecurity keep her from recognizing the connection between them?
 

PURCHASE LINKS

 

 

Back to Sweet Grove: LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS

Today the second Sweet Grove Romance is born into the world of published books. You can snap Love’s Little Secrets up on Amazon, and check in with Kyanna and Roth while discovering the truth about Norma and Herman Wells.

The idea for this story was born as I drafted and revised Love’s Late Arrival. I really liked the high school secretary, Norma Wells, and I kept wondering why she stayed with that chauvinistic husband of hers.

It’s been five years since my own silver anniversary party, but the question that really got me going was: what if Herman had a son who crashed Norma’s anniversary party? All the other questions that helped formulate the plot sprung from that one.

Synopsis

Norma Wells is having a silver anniversary party under duress. Tabitha Olsen and the ladies of First Street Church won’t let such an important anniversary slide by, but Norma isn’t sure there’s much to celebrate. For the past several years, she and Herman have drifted further apart, and she wonders if she even loves him anymore.

Herman’s been wrestling with a lot of changes at work. But he doesn’t talk about that with Norma. It’s his job to take care of her and protect her from the harsh realities of life. Besides, who wants to talk about demotions and pay cuts?

When Herman’s well-hidden secret crashes the silver anniversary party, everything changes. This is only the first wall to crumble in Herman’s life.

Will he finally treat Norma as a partner? Or is Norma finished with him now that she knows he betrayed her in the worst possible way?
Romance shouldn’t end after the wedding and honeymoon. This story focuses on the struggles of marriage between Christian and non-Christian and the truth about real love and forgiveness.

Read an Excerpt

From chapter two:

Norma addressed everyone by first name, smiled, touched them with warm hands. She asked them about pets, children, gardens, and their health. It struck him that she belonged in Sweet Grove, but most of the faces were only vaguely familiar to him since he’d been on the road for so many years.

Herman stood beside her, munching on a generous slice of cake. Everyone loved her. A stirring in his chest reminded him of his affection, dampened by time and distance, and the bitterness of her broken dreams and his unfulfilled plans. He’d never stopped loving her, even when his duty kept them apart.

If the gem on her finger didn’t prove his love, certainly the four-bedroom farmhouse on twenty acres must do the trick. Every anniversary and birthday, he brought rose bushes and flowers, which she loved planting. And that darned gazebo she’d wanted a few years back, situated just so beneath the arching shade of pecan trees, had been a special addition.

Norma’s hand stayed on his arm as she led him through the crowd. Herman spoke a few words to everyone, nodding in acceptance of their well wishes. Talk of the Apple Blossom festival circulated, smothering him. Finally, a woman hugged his wife and her hand dropped away from him. He sidled toward the door.

A motor revved, roaring nearby before cutting off. Many heads turned toward it. Herman stepped closer, yearning for fresh air and space without clingy near-strangers.

A dark-haired young man in a black leather jacket swished through the doors. His fawn-colored skin contrasted with the white walls. Tousled curls flopped nearly to his shoulders, and he glanced around the room. White teeth flashed when he answered a query from one of the men clutching a cup of coffee near the door.

Herman glanced toward Norma, meeting her questioning gaze. He jerked his head toward the door. It was too soon to expect they could leave, but surely she wouldn’t begrudge him a few moments away from the crush.

He shuffled toward the door in time to hear the coffee man growl, “Don’t know no Manny Wells.”

The sound of the name anchored his feet in place. Only one person called him Manny Wells. One person he never wanted to see in his hometown.

“Do you mean Herman Wells?” Summer Davis slipped beside the older man, a carafe of water in her hand. “This is his anniversary party.”

“Can you point him out?” The younger man’s voice was smooth but unfamiliar.

All three of them turned, and Summer’s finger pointed directly to him. Her lips moved, but Herman heard nothing above the slamming of his heart against his eardrums.

The handsome stranger’s amber-flecked brown eyes fixed on Herman’s pale ones. His square jaw and wide nose were twins of Herman’s while the rest of him reflected the Hispanic beauty of his mother.

“Dad.” Fire lit the boy’s eyes, and his full lips didn’t smile.

Herman stiffened. Questions swirled through his mind at dizzying speed, and the sinking sensation in his stomach turned the spice cake to gravel.

What’s Next

You’ll meet some new characters in this story. I intend for you to like them enough you’ll want to read their stories in a few months.

Bailey Travers, the Wells’ neighbor, is the hero in the next book in the series. Love’s Lingering Doubts is scheduled to release on July 3, 2018.

I’m planning Ariel Stryker’s story for September 10, when the new young adult sub-line of First Street Church romances debuts. Adonis will play a role in that story, too, but my brain is churning up ideas for a romance all his own. If anyone deserves it, I’d say it’s Adonis.

With all the changes Kindle Direct Publishing is making to the Kindle World system, I don’t know if there will be more than these four books. But I’m committed to finishing out the 2018 projects I’ve planned.

What other characters would you like to know more about? Would you like to see me continue with the Sweet Grove Romances?

The Final Chapter is Here!

Veronica Shay was born in my imagination more than two years ago. Today, the final installment of her love story hits the shelves of digital bookstores everywhere.


It’s bittersweet for me. I rejoice in the birth of another book into the wide world (and hopefully into the hands, heads and hearts of hundreds of readers). But it’s also a goodbye.
If you’ve been following Ronnie and Marcus’ romance, grab your copy of the final chapter now.
Maybe you’re new to the world of Sharon Hughson. Let me introduce you to my friend (and ofttimes nemesis) Veronica Shay. She had a little problem at her sister’s wedding (now that’s a story no one has read…and I have a surprise for you) and it sent her straight to Virtual Match. Anything to stop the well-meaning set-ups and continual nagging of her family—especially her mother.

You can read all about that in Reality Meets its Match.

Now available

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a romance if Ronnie kept her Virtual Match at arm’s length. Things get real for her and Marcus in Reality Bites. And if the title doesn’t give you a clue, I can tell you reality slams Marcus and Ronnie hard in the second installment.
Grab your copy of Reality Bites now.


If you’re still not sure whether this series is for you, here’s an exclusive sneak peek inside the final chapter.
This comes from chapter four of the latest ebook:

Marcus pulled Ronnie against his side, and she nestled under his arm like a kitten seeking warmth. His hand squeezed her waist while his chin tapped the top of her head.
“Thanks for coming.” Her voice was hushed, as if a normal tone might wake the babies.
“Stop thanking me. I wouldn’t have let you come alone.”
An independent part of her raised its back at what sounded like overbearing words. Ronnie shoved the ire away. Marcus wanted to take care of her in the same way she wanted to take care of her brother.
Movement beyond the second nursery caught her eye. A dark-haired man stood up, his face covered by a mask and body engulfed in a yellow paper gown: her brother. He spoke with a nurse before walking out of sight.
Ronnie scanned for an exit, shuffling toward the nurse’s station visible through the nursery’s glass wall. She drew slightly away from Marcus, preparing to be strong for Tony.
Her brother was discarding the paper robe and mask when she rounded the corner. He swiveled toward her with military precision and wrapped her in his arms.
“How is Jen?” Ronnie pulled away slightly and watched his face for tells. Dark circles smudged his eyes and wrinkles drew his mouth into a firm line.
“Stable. She lost a lot of blood, but they saved her uterus.”
Ronnie had been reading about placenta previa and the related side effects during the flight. About five percent of women needed a hysterectomy to staunch the blood flow associated with the misplaced placenta. As much as Tony wanted to father a son, it would have been heartbreaking for them if this was their only child.
“The baby?”
“She’s plugged into a breathing machine and hooked to a dozen different monitors. Most of her vitals are good, but she didn’t breathe on her own at delivery.”
A girl. This tiny one didn’t know how lucky she was to have a loving, protective father watching over her. A tug in her chest distracted. Was she wishing for a father? The one who sired her had walked away, and the replacement her mother chose had done unspeakable things.
She shook her head, tucking a strand straying from her upswept hair behind her ear. That was old news. This was the future.
Ronnie squeezed her brother’s fingers. “What can I do for you?”
Tony shrugged.
“Are you ready to sleep?” Ronnie peered into the tired lines of his drawn face. The adrenaline she imagined fueling him all day had run out, but behind the hazel eyes like hers, she saw anxiety, and she’d been reading those eyes for three decades.
“How about a walk?”Tony says this?No, Ronnie. I think I fixed it…
Ronnie wasn’t sure if it would help him, but anything had to be better than sitting in a hospital room.
Marcus squeezed her waist. Ronnie glanced up at him, breath catching at the tender look in his cobalt eyes.
“I’ll book a nearby hotel.” It was the one thing he hadn’t done in advance since they might have stayed at the hospital with her brother. Marcus wouldn’t expect to share a room with her and understood she wanted to pay her own way.
Ronnie rose on her toes and nearly touched his ear with her lips. His indrawn breath made her heart vault against her chest.
“One room.”
His eyes widened. She pressed her lips to his in a perfunctory kiss then turned to thread her arm through Tony’s.
“There’s a waiting room down that hall.” Tony gestured to the opposite side of the nurse’s station.
As he navigated the maze of halls to another bank of elevators, Ronnie fell into step with her brother. On the ground floor, he led her into a walled-in garden. Their shoes thumped against the paved path around the edge. Minutes passed in silence, and she drew a deep breath of temperate air, so different than the chill moist air near her apartment.
“Greg and Angie will be down tomorrow.”
Tony grunted.
“When’s Mom going to be here?”
“Dennis wanted to drive over and stay through the holidays.”
The holidays? It was nearly three weeks until Christmas. Ronnie shook her head and drew a breath to comment.
Tony continued. “She doesn’t want to fly in case she has an episode. It embarrasses her to lose control of her limbs.” He sighed. “While Dennis relayed their plans, she never stopped blathering about this being the only grandchild she’ll ever meet.”
Ronnie hugged his arm. The firm bicep bulged beneath her fingers, reminding her of Marcus’s very un-engineer-like arms. She pushed thoughts of him away. He was a distraction, and she needed to focus on her family. Hadn’t she told him as much on Sunday?
If she could shake her mother right now, Ronnie would do it. Couldn’t she see that Tony needed encouragement? Obviously, this terminal illness was going to exacerbate her mother’s self-centered tendencies.
“How can I help?” Please don’t say handle, Mom. But, she would do it if that’s what he needed.
Tony stopped walking and faced her. A desolate look stared back at her. “I don’t know how to be a good father. How could I? I never had one.”
Ronnie’s stomach nosedived into her feet. The truth was too much of a burden for her brother, which is why she had kept her secret for so long.
“Stop.” Her voice broke. She stiffened her spine and squinted at him. “You are three times the man of anyone who ever claimed to be your father.”
His ragged breaths did nothing to cool Ronnie’s flaming cheeks. If she could go back, she wouldn’t tell him anything.

STILL not sure if this series is for you? Check out this review of Reality Ever After.


And of course there’s a giveaway.

THE SURPRISE

Remember how I mentioned Ronnie’s sister’s wedding? Well, I’ve written a short story recounting that delightful event. If you want to read it, FIRST sign up for my newsletter.

Once you’re a subscriber, drop me a quick email (info at sharonleehughson dot com) to say you’ve subscribed and you would LOVE to see how Ronnie was driven to the desperate place of hiring an invisible boyfriend.

I hope to hear from you very soon!

What You Should Be Reading this Weekend

Weekends are the perfect time for cuddling up in front of a fire with a good book. It’s even better if you can get a bite-sized story that fills the one or two free hours perfectly. And I have a recommendation that fits both bills: ONE SNOWY NIGHT.

This is a new collection of four short stories released by Roane Publishing only a few days ago. Because it’s my publisher, I read the advanced copy several weeks ago. And boy did it get me in the mood for snowy nights cuddled up with my honey.

I’m not going to give you the summary. You can click over to my blog earlier in the week to read the blurbs for all the stories.

My Review

You’ll enjoy four- and five-star reads in this collection. It includes stories with traditional tropes but all of them have a twist. That’s exactly the way I enjoy my tropes.

Melissa J. Crispin takes the “I lost my memory” trope and throws it into an interesting situation. What if you forgot you were divorced? What if you woke up after an accident expecting to see your husband? Asking these questions worked for the author because the husband under consideration hadn’t wanted the divorce in the first place.

These characters weren’t especially relatable as far as careers go, but their emotions were universally understood. Although I thought the story shifted too suddenly in some areas, it was still a powerful, feel-good read that made me tear up.

Four stars.

If you haven’t read anything by T.E. Hodden, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. I’ve read several of his stories, and this one has the most “feels” of any I’ve read. Again, he uses a common trope–friends to lovers–and freshens it up with incredible stakes.

He employs two devices I’m usually NOT impressed with. The first is that most of the story is a flashback. The reason this doesn’t really work for me is because I know where the story’s going and that takes away the tension in the progression.

That didn’t happen here. In fact, I kept turning pages wondering, “Well, how did this happen?” And although I figured out the big misunderstanding fairly early, I still wanted to keep reading.

The other thing is the use of first AND second person. I especially dislike second person because I never feel the “you.” In this case, the author pulled off this strange point of view. It came across as the narrator telling the story to the love interest (the “you” of the story). Some skilled writing went into this.

Five stars.

If you like the friends to lovers trope when it’s separated by a time lapse, you’ll like Laurie Treacy‘s story. While I felt like it told us the individual stories of Danielle and Quinn rather than truly building their romance, I still enjoyed it. Part of that could have been the hometown setting, which is one I generally adore.

The characters were well-developed and I could relate to their struggles. The plot progressed very much as expected in a romance, but I never felt the budding (or revisited?) relationship was in peril, so it didn’t have the sort of tension I need to fully engage with a romance-only story.

Four stars.

The final story I read in the collection was by Charlotte Snead. “One Snowy Day” took the trope of surrogate mother to wife and twisted it by giving an incredibly unique situation as the setup. It didn’t have the same “winter afternoon” feeling as the other stories, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable and engaging.

I never connected with these characters the way I did in the other stories. The only one who had my empathy was the little girl, Molly. I wanted the aunt and dad to get together so Molly would finally have a happy home.

Four stars.

My Recommendation

If you enjoy sweet romance, you’ll want to pick up this collection. Each story offers enough familiarity to pull you right in and enough originality to keep you reading.

These aren’t holiday stories. Yes, most of them center on events that happen in the winter, but many of them span several months or years.

Once you sample these authors, you’ll be back to Roane Publishing to read more from them. And that’s a perfect way to throw support to a small indie publisher.

Don’t forget the Giveaway for a $10 gift card.

What are you reading this weekend? I hope you’ll consider adding One Snowy Night to your pile.