Tuesday, November 18, 2014

STILL BEAUTIFUL-- 20 Something Book 4!

FINAL STILL BEAUTIFUL COVER

Here she is... STILL BEAUTIFUL is Cinda's story. Sent it off to my editor today and it should be available soon. Are you ready to Fall in Love Like a 20 Something again? Here's a little sneak peek:

20 year old double-engineering major Cinda Moran is the smart one. Her older sister Kenley… is the pretty one. Their nightmare match-making mom has always made their roles pretty clear, and it’s no mystery which daughter she prefers. So while Kenley played the passive dress-up doll, Cinda did the opposite, refusing any attempts to prettify her and make her into “billionaire bait”. Instead, she’s fiercely focused on academics and her internship at an Atlanta TV station.

And as far as romance goes—please—she’s not even sure true love is a “thing”. As she does for everything else in her life, Trekkie-girl Cinda’s got a logical plan: select a sensible mate, come to a mutually satisfactory agreement, and decide to stick it out for better or worse.

Then she meets Blake Branham.

He makes no sense for her at all. He’s a reporter at the station, years older, and has ambitions to work at the network someday while she intends to stay put in Atlanta. Even worse—he’s a total alpha. With her own Mr. Spock personality, the last thing she needs in her life is a swaggering Captain Kirk taking stupid risks and tempting her to do the same.

And he is tempting. When she’s forced to work closely with Blake on live shots and gets to know him outside the station as well, Cinda feels things she’s never felt for another guy and starts to wonder… should she boldly go where she’s never gone before? Should she give love a chance… even if it’s not logical?

FINAL STILL BEAUTIFUL COVER

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sneak Peek- STILL ME-- Chapter One

STILL ME FINAL      It's almost time!!

The 3rd book in the 20 Something series, STILL ME, releases tomorrow, and to celebrate, I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of Kenley and Larson's story. It takes place in Atlanta where Kenley moved to satisfy the ultimatum of her fiancĂ©. As you may have seen hinted at in Book 1, CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING, and Book 2 STILL YOURS, Kenley's engagement hasn't quite turned out the way she expected. Hope you enjoy CHAPTER ONE!




CHAPTER ONE

Don’t Look Up











The key to career advancement is being left at the altar. At least it worked for me. If I’d only known getting dumped would lead to a job at the network, I’d have done it much sooner.

Well, maybe not. It wasn’t like I’d been in control of that situation anyway—the dumping part had been Mark’s idea. But still, two months later, here I was in the Worldwide News Network’s Atlanta headquarters, grateful to be back in the news business after stupidly quitting my last TV job. (Also Mark’s idea, the weenie.) I was way better off without him. Really.



“Know anyone in southern Missouri?” Deb turned to me from the desk adjoining mine. “Please say ‘yes.’”

“Yes, actually. A couple of people. Looking for tornado witnesses?”

“Yep. We need to find an iReporter on the ground there to give us some sound—maybe even some amateur video until our crew can get there.”

A senior producer, Deb had taken me under her wing as soon as I’d been assigned to her show. As a news assistant, I did whatever she and the associate producers needed, answer phones, monitor the news feeds, order graphics, coordinate with field crews. Occasionally, I got to write a script or a tease. Deb was a little like a twister herself, doing all that and more, and making it look easy. Someday, I wanted to grow up and be Deb.

“Okay—I have a couple friends from college who live in Missouri now,” I said. “One from J-school who’d probably be great, actually. I’ll try to get in touch with them. We’ll see if there are any cell towers still standing, though.”

“Thanks, Kenley.”

Deb went back to punishing her keyboard, writing a script for the primetime news show she produced, Overstreet Live. It would air in a half hour, and so far, we had no one lined up to talk about the tornado aftermath.

The storm had touched down only about fifteen minutes ago but had been a big one and had reportedly taken out several schools and had severely damaged a hospital as well as destroying a Mississippi River casino and dozens of homes. There was no word on casualties at this point, but the count was sure to be significant. We’d look bad if we didn’t have at least something on it for the show. Obviously, we couldn’t have a news crew located in every tiny town in the nation, but viewers sort of expected us to.

I tried the one phone number I had—for my sorority sister from Missouri—it went right to voicemail. Then I logged onto Facebook and found my journalism-school friend, Beth. She’d actually posted only a few minutes earlier, telling her friends she and her family were safe, hunkered down in their basement in a neighboring town.

I messaged her. “Glad to see you all made it safely through the storm. How’d you like to report for Worldwide News tonight? Give me a call if you can.”

I typed my phone number and was waiting for a reply when the show’s anchor, Larson Overstreet, came over for a final pre-show chat with Deb. He stood a foot away from me as they discussed the story that had been at the top of the rundown. Then he asked about the latest on the Missouri tornado.

“How’s it going? Any video yet?”

“Not yet,” Deb answered him without pausing in her lightning-fast typing. “Kenley’s your girl for that.”

In my peripheral vision I saw Larson turn toward me, and I tensed.

“Um… yes. I’m working on it. Hopefully I’ll have something soon.” I didn’t look up at him, just kept my eyes trained on my computer screen as if it emitted a powerful tractor beam. Pretty typical of all my interactions with him over the past few weeks—he’d speak to the side of my face in that deep, shiver-inducing voice of his, and I’d do my best to give short answers and avoid eye contact.

Larson walked over and sat with one hip on the edge of my desk, giving me an unavoidable view of his suit-clad torso and one powerful-looking thigh. “Great. I’d love to have something on it off the top. Any hope of getting someone at the scene who can talk to us on-air?”

Still keeping my eyes down, I worked to make my voice steady and even. “I’ve got the fire chief in Carutherstown lined up for a phoner. I’m working on a possible iReporter.”

“Okay, great. Thanks.” A pause. “You look lovely tonight, by the way.” He rose and sauntered off toward the studio.

I resumed breathing and finally looked up, watching his retreating form—tall and on the thin side, wide shoulders, perfectly-cut strawberry blond hair. As he did every weeknight, he wore a beautiful suit that probably cost more than my car—designer label, without a doubt.

Not that WNN was famous for its high salaries. No, Larson didn’t need the money. Everyone here knew he was the only son of Warren Overstreet, the president and CEO of Overstreet Resources, one of the oldest and largest asset management firms in the country. His mother was Corina Videau, the famous clothing designer and heir to the Vivienne Videau cosmetics fortune. Larson didn’t have to work a day in his life if he didn’t want to.

Maybe he hadn’t been satisfied with being obscenely rich—he needed to be famous, too. It had probably taken Mom and Dad one or two phone calls to get him on air here, hosting his own show. At twenty-six years old.

Hmph. Rich boys. “You look lovely tonight,” I lowered my voice and mocked his compliment, certain it wasn’t sincere. “Smooth-talking jerk.”

Deb’s fingers paused on her keyboard. “You should be nicer to him. He’s just being friendly. And he’s not a jerk. He’s really sweet once you get to know him.” She gave me a reproving look, her sharp, dark brown eyes seeing right through me. Though we’d known each other only a month, she was one of those people who lured you right past the shallow end of small talk and into the deep end of real life before you’d even had a chance to acclimate to the water. We discussed far more than work during our long hours here.

And Larson might as well have been Deb’s second son, as much as she doted on him. In fact, pretty much everyone around here kissed his privileged butt. He’d been deemed WNN’s rising star and potential ratings savior, the embodiment of the network’s hopes of bringing in the coveted younger demographic.

“I won’t be ‘getting to know’ him, and he could be made of pure sugarcane for all I care—he’s not my type,” I muttered to Deb, unrepentant.

“What? Single, handsome, and rich?” She laughed.

“Single and handsome I have no problem with.”

“Oh, so it’s the whole double-heir-to-the-wealthiest-families-in-America thing that bothers you. I can see how that would be a huge turnoff.” She looked up from her monitor and smirked at me.

I had to laugh. “It is actually. I know—I’m weird. Do you know anyone nice from the feed room, maybe? Any twenty-five-year-old unpaid interns still living in their parents’ basements? That’s more my speed these days.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, kiddo. You could totally land a guy like Larson.”

The muscles between my shoulder blades tightened. Deb had no idea what a nerve she’d hit. “I’m not selling myself short. I just don’t happen to like rich men.”

I had liked one, loved him in fact. But three weeks before our enormous society wedding, he’d informed me God had told him to break up with me. Apparently, the Almighty already had His divine eye on someone new for His devout follower because Mark had immediately shown up in public with a new girlfriend. They were now quite in love, or so I heard.

Deb leaned back in her chair and stretched, then scrubbed her fingers through her dark, short-cropped hair before sitting up straight again. “Well, all I’m saying is you should take it easy on Larson—give the guy a chance. He doesn’t have too many real friends here. And underneath that silver-spoon, Park Avenue exterior is the kind of boy you want to bring home to Momma.”

I literally shuddered at that thought. “Mine would marry him herself if he looked at her twice.”

The only person more distressed than me by my broken engagement had been my mother.

Mark Fitzsimmons (of the Buckhead Fitzsimmons) hadn’t just been my fiancĂ©. He’d been her trophy, a wealthy future son-in-law to parade around at social events, a name to drop among friends at the country club my parents couldn’t really afford. He was living proof she’d done her job—made her daughter desirable to a man from Atlanta’s highest social echelon and married her off to money—almost.

My phone rang, and I checked the screen—Missouri area code. “Beth? How are you? You’re all okay?”

“Hi. Yes. It hit just south of us. My neighborhood seems to be fine. So—reporting for Worldwide News—really?”

“We’ve got a crew on the way, but they won’t make it in until tomorrow, and there’s no local affiliate close to you. We need some pictures tonight, like, as soon as possible. How fast can you get over to the hospital? And please tell me your phone can record video.”

Beth agreed to help us out, and I gave her the number to call for the director’s booth when she started seeing some tornado damage. We’d put her eyewitness account live on the air along with any video she could shoot.

“We’ve got ourselves an iReporter,” I said to Deb as I ended the call.

“Awesome. Can you finish a couple of scripts for me while I work on the new rundown?”

“No problem.”

Beth did a nice job with her off-the-cuff reporting, better than the fire chief, actually. Poor guy’s voice was shaking the whole time. And Larson handled the constantly-changing show smoothly, making what was chaos behind the scenes look planned somehow. He was a spoiled-rich-pretty-boy, but I had to admit he did have some talent.

After the show I gathered my things, trying to scoot out as quickly as possible. The crew often went out for drinks after the show. I’d avoided the get-togethers so far, and tonight would be no exception. Saying a quick goodbye to Deb, who’d just emerged from the director’s booth, I headed for the hallway.

“Kenley.”

Shivers. Could I pretend I hadn’t heard him? No—that would be weird. I turned to face Larson. Goodness gracious, the man was beautiful. I swallowed. “Yes?”

“Nice work tonight. Some of us are heading for Darby’s. Want to join us?”

And now my heart’s slamming like he just asked me for unprotected sex. Regulate yourself, Kenley. “Oh. No. Thanks. I can’t. I have to… get home.”

“You sure?” His face contracted in a cajoling smile. God, he had a good smile. Of course with his family’s money, he’d undoubtedly had access to the orthodontist-to-the-stars, but it was more about what the rest of his face was doing. He had the most appealing laugh lines I’d ever seen, radiating out from the sides of his mouth and even appearing at the corners of his eyes whenever he laughed or smiled. Which he was doing now with heart-liquefying effectiveness as he approached me. “Traffic’s going to be a nightmare out there right now—unless you enjoy spending quality time on 285 with America’s least patient drivers.”

I took a shallow breath. “Right. I know. But I’d better get started. My family, you know. They’re expecting me for dinner.” Now I sound like I’m ten years old. He probably had a mental image of me pedaling down the interstate on a sparkly pink bicycle with handle streamers.

Larson’s answering grin looked genuine, not derisive. “A family that has dinner together. Must be nice.”

I nodded and whirled around again, hot-faced, eager to reach the safety of my car, but not necessarily to go home. Family dinners probably were nice in some homes. In mine, they’d been considerably less nice since my failure to close the deal with Mark. At our table, the main dish was a generous portion of guilt served with a side of pressure.

*       *       *

What do you think??? Ready for more? The book goes on sale at midnight tonight on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other major ebook retailers. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy Falling in Love Like a 20 Something!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cover Reveal -- STILL YOURS: A 20 SOMETHING NOVEL

I'm thrilled to be able to share with you the cover for Book 2 of the 20 SOMETHING series, STIILL YOURS. This is Mara's story, and is a standalone novel, but of course contains some scenes with Heidi and Kenley and is more fun when read as a part of the series as a whole.

Here's a bit about it:

23-year-old Mara Neely knows who she is and what she wants—she’s an ambitious reporter with a taste for himbos--- beautiful dumb guys who don’t even tempt her to get involved past wham-bam-thank you-sir. When she takes a TV news reporting job in Providence, it’s a great step up career wise, but it’s also a little too close to home … and to him, the only guy who’s ever tempted her to let go and love someone.

To billionaire web entrepreneur Reid Mancini, Mara was like a rare comet-- beautiful, exciting, and impossible to hold onto. Now his first love is on his television screen and back in his life, and this time, he’s got a surefire plan to catch a star and make her fall.

What do you think? Second chance love stories might be my very favorite! And now.... the cover....

STILL YOURS FINAL COVERI personally love the scene of Providence with its river bridge in the background. And she just "looks" like Mara to me, right down to the tiny gap between her teeth! Kudos to my cover designer Gabrielle Prendergast of Cover Your Dreams!

If you've read CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING, you've already met Mara, but don't think you actually *know* her until you've read this book. She's got some surprises up her sleeve! And wait until you meet Reid. Mmmm. I LOVE this guy. STILL YOURS will officially release on Sept. 10, but it will be available for pre-order within days at Amazon and KOBO. Before I go, I'll give you one more look at the lovely cover, this time close-up and in detail!

STILL YOURS FINAL COVER

Monday, July 14, 2014

CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING- in print!

I'm so excited, I just have to share. I got my proof of CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING's paperback version this weekend. I'm supposed to check through it to make sure there are no blank pages, weird formatting, or lingering typos, but I can't stop hugging it.

A little bit excited...



Y'all, it's in PRINT. This is getting realz...

I took a book selfie just to prove it to myself.

Actually, I did stop hugging it long enough to check through it. The formatting is beautiful, the cover is even beautifuller, and that means when Release Day (that's a national holiday, right?)  gets here August 12th, everything will be ready to go!

I've already read some amazing reviews on ARCs (advanced review copies) that have gone out, and I'll be able to share some of those with you soon, too.

It all just makes me more excited about writing the next book in the 20 SOMETHING series. *dashes off to write, wearing a goofy perma-grin*

Monday, June 16, 2014

5 X 5 Challenge

I've been challenged by my author friends Nan Dixon and Marnee Gallaher Bailey to play 5 X 5 and list five things about the main character in my upcoming New Adult novel, CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING, then tag 5 other writers. So here we go...Heidi Haynes:



1- Just out of college-- works as a news reporter/anchor for a small market station in Mississippi
2- started college out of state but ran back home with her tail between her legs after suffering the ultimate humiliation
3- has a little stage-fright issue-- has to throw up before she goes on live TV... EVERY time
4- sort of, kind of, semi, PRE-engaged to her college boyfriend, but not too excited about the prospect of getting married
5- lives WAY too close to her family: a dad obsessed with finding the perfect fishing lure and getting her into the family law firm, a mom who's seriously into community theater and dresses in character for months prior to each role, a wise-cracking older sister, and two younger brothers in high school who find it nearly impossible to remain vertical unless they're at football practice or the dinner table.


Now, I'm tagging Rachel Pudelek, Denny S. Bryce, Abbie Roads, Carrie Padgett, and Piper G Huguley. Go girls!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Guest-blogging with the Rubies!






I'm hanging out with my friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood today, talking about the real-life inspiration for my 2014 Golden Heart YA finalist FOUR BULLETS, about my upcoming New Adult release, CHANNEL 20 SOMETHING, and about covers-- favorites and ... not so favorites.



Stop by if you get a chance. the Rubies are a great group of ladies, all Golden Heart finalists from 2009, who blog together and share great writing tips on a regular basis. They're always so generous and fun to be around. See you there!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Turn on the Writing Process Blog Tour

Amy DeLuca Author

I'm so excited to be "it" this week on the Writing Process Blog Tour that's been sweeping the blogosphere. The amazingly talented and Golden-Heart-WINNING Darcy Woods tagged me. Her  YA contemporary novel SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA won the YA Golden Heart last year, and I had the privilege of reading it (you SO have to buy this book when it's released into the wild!) Check out Darcy's fun and fabulous plotter-pantser (plantser?) writing process here.



And now I tackle the 4 questions:

1. What am I currently working on? What am I not working on right now? :) That's how it feels anyway. While my delightful agent prepares to shop my Golden Heart finalist YA romantic mystery FOUR BULLETS to publishers, I'm knee deep and crazy-busy preparing for the release of the first book in my New Adult contemporary series, CHANNEL 20SOMETHING on August 12. I've just finished drafting Book 3 and beginning Book 4 and loving it! Book 1 features a group of friends just out of college working in their first jobs in TV news. It takes place in and around a small-market TV station in the Deep South, where what happens behind the scenes is the real story.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? New Adult romance is still a developing category of the romance genre-- one thing that makes it so exciting. Many of the books currently on the market feature characters who are in college, living away from home for the first time. I'm thrilled that NA readers are clamoring for variety, because my series features characters who are just beyond that point, dealing with first jobs, first apartments, striving for real independence from parents and home, and negotiating romantic relationships that actually have a chance of lasting. Which is wonderful but can be scary, too.

As far as my YA mystery-- I think it's the premise that sets it apart and caught the eye of agents-- Lauren's mother is prosecuting the biggest murder trial of her career, and Lauren's lifelong crush Bowie has finally noticed she's alive. Too bad it's for the wrong reasons-- his mother is the defendant. When Bowie uses drastic tactics to persuade Lauren to help him prove his mom's innocence, she knows the risks she's taking could finally win her his heart. But she could end up losing much more in the process.

3. Why do I write what I write? I absolutely love reading and writing YA and NA, because it's an amazing stage of life filled with excitement, romance, and decisions that can have lifelong consequences. You never quite get over what (and who) happens during these years. That's what I want to capture.

4. How does my individual writing process work? I pantsed my way through my first book and then took about a YEAR revising and re-writing it. Painfully. Then I read several writing craft books and soaked up some conference workshops... and became a plotter. Now I create a very detailed scene-by-scene outline before I begin actually writing my books. It's much faster, and for me, much more fun. I love to know where I'm going before I begin. Not that I have to stick to the road map. Sometimes a new path becomes the obvious course as I'm writing. The pre-planned map gives me the courage to get started-- I get adventurous and explore side roads along the way. When I'm powering through a fast first draft, I go to the most boring corner of my local library's reference section, settle into a chair facing a wall, and get to work. Every day. Messy first draft done, I do several more drafts before sending my ms to my wonderful critique partners, and after implementing their brilliant suggestions, on to my editor. Everyone has their own methods, but this is working for me so far. It's enabled me to write three books so far this year, with more to come!

I'm also having a great time narrating audio books for other authors. I've been a voiceover artist for the past 13 years doing radio and TV ads and corporate voiceover work. When I got the chance to combine that experience with my first love-- books-- I jumped at it. What's better than working in your pj's? Not much!

Next week you're in for a tasty triple-dip of writing process goodness. I'm tagging two of my talented fellow Golden Heart 2014 YA finalists (go Dreamweavers!) and one of my Lucky 13 GH sisters (go Luckies!)-- who's another Golden Heart winner. I can't wait to hear about how they create their own romance-ish literary stylings. Let's meet them now...
Vanessa's picVanessa Barneveld lives in Australia. She has one husband, two cats, and three Golden Heart nominations in the YA category. When she’s not writing, devouring chocolate or studying for her master’s degree, Vanessa works in TV as a closed captioner for the deaf and audio describer for the blind. THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, her 2014 GH book about a ghost who won't give up till he finds out who killed him, recently sold to Bloomsbury Publishing. Find Vanessa at her website. Or hanging out on Twitter and her Facebook page.



Jessica's picJessica Ruddick Jessica Ruddick is a 2014 Golden Heart finalist for her new adult novel, Letting Go, which was inspired by her own college experiences. She is married to her college sweetheart—their first date was a fraternity toga party (nothing inspires love like a toga, right?). These days she is a high school English teacher by day and young adult and new adult writer by night, lunch break, soccer practice, basically whenever she can squeeze in a minute to write. She is counting down the days until summer, which she’ll spend wrangling her two rambunctious sons. You can find her blogging at her website and connect with her on Twitter.





AE Jones picAE Jones writes paranormal romance and urban fantasies. Her 2013 Golden Heart winner, MIND SWEEPER (the first in a new series) will be released in early fall. Find her at her website and on Twitter.