Monday, October 1, 2012

Release Day for Love Finds You at Home for Christmas

It's release day for Love Finds You at Home for Christmas and I'm so excited for y'all to read it!

There are 2 stories in the book--one historical and one contemporary. I wrote the historical, entitled Sweet Southern Christmas, and the fabulous Gwen Ford Faulkenberry wrote Small Town Christmas.

Our stories are related--the same family, just years apart.

Very fun!

Romantic Times Book Reviews gave it 4 stars and had this to say: Here is a wonderful book by two gifted authors. Both stories hold a common thread with the Hamilton family and the small-town feel of Arkansas. The book gives the reader a feel for true holiday sentiments, friendship and delightful romances.

To read the first chapter and order your own copy, click here!

Check back soon for the "story behind the story" and for a book giveaway!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Memphis Moments Series News

So last week was Elvis Week in Memphis--always a fun time. For the third year in a row, I ran in the Elvis Week 5K. The race starts and ends at the gates of Graceland. Such fun!

Me, after the race.
Some of you may know that I've written 2 books in what I call the "Memphis Moments" series. The first one, All Shook Up, released earlier in the year. Unless you are a member of the Harlequin Heartsong Presents Book Club, finding a copy has been VERY DIFFICULT. The next book in the series, Can't Help Falling In Love, released a couple of weeks ago. Again...if you aren't a member of the book club, you haven't had the opportunity to purchase a copy. 

I finally have the information on how you can get a copy of your own!! You can call Harlequin Reader Services at  1-800-873-8635 and tell them the name of the titles you'd like to purchase.

I happen to think these 2 books are worth the please call and order your copy ASAP! Here are the covers and blurbs:

All Shook Up: Suzanne Simpson's life seemed perfect--nothing tied her down. A rental home with a yard for her dog, a job at Graceland she could leave at a moment's notice, and a long-distance boyfriend she could turn away without regret. It was exactly what she wanted: no commitments whatsoever.

Until Nick Taggart came along. Suddenly the "safe" guy who wanted no commitments either was the very one she couldn't lot go. But when his past holds him back, she must face her own hurt to discover the life and love she never knew she needed.

Can't Help Falling in Love: For the past few years, Emily Madden has devoted her life to her work as a nurse at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital--partly as a way to lessen her grief over losing her sister to childhood cancer. Love isn't on her agenda. But after she meets Andrew Beckett, the uncle of her favorite patient, she's surprised by how much she enjoys his company.

Andrew isn't in Tennessee for love. He's there to help his niece fight a hard battle against the cancer raging through her. Then he meets Emily and can't seem to keep from thinking of her.

As Emily and Andrew's friendship grows into something more, can they find the courage to face what holds them back? Will Andrew be able to forgive himself for a past tragedy and accept forgiveness and love? And will Emily allow herself to let go of a long-held quest to fulfill her sister's dreams and chase the dreams of her own heart?

Now for the fun! Since it has been so difficult to find copies of these books, I'll give away 3 sets of books! Here's how to enter:

Tell me the most exciting/fun/interesting/happy thing you did this summer! Leave your comment and your email address anytime between now and midnight Thursday, August 23. I'll draw for winners and mail books on Friday!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On a Break

Arnie has no problem relaxing...even on my laptop!
I'm a huge FRIENDS fan. I own the whole series and still watch even though I can pretty much say the dialogue along with the characters. Remember when Ross and Rachel were "on a break" and that became something of a catch phrase?

Well that's kind of where I am right now.

On a break.

Me and writing. We are on a break.

See, I've taken on too much over the past few years. This year alone, I have 6 published works releasing.

That means I've been on a constant deadline for a very long time. And that was a real blessing--I'm fully aware of that. I've been so blessed to get the opportunity to write those books. I love each of them dearly and can't wait for readers to read them. I've loved (almost) every minute of it, except for those long sleepless nights toward the end of each deadline when I fear that I've lost the ability to write.

But a few months ago, I took a hard look at my life--and I didn't like what I saw. My super wise grandmother told me that she feared I was WRITING about life instead of LIVING it.


And the truth is, she was right.

Somewhere along the way, between working full time for NFT and writing on a constant deadline, I'd become a shell of a person. I regularly missed family dinners and get togethers and reunions with my friends. I rarely went anywhere. My excuse? "I have to work. Sorry. Maybe next time."

Even worse, I realized that when I did get together with my family and friends, I WASN'T PRESENT. Not really. My body was there, but my mind was with my manuscript. The tension that I carried with me, knowing I was running behind (as I always was) on a deadline prevented me from really enjoying those moments.

There was always a little piece of me that thought if I wasn't at work, then I should be writing. Or editing. Or working on galleys.

And that piece kept me from being fully present in my own life.

From fully being able to have a good time and live in the moment.

How awful!

So I'm on a break. Sure, I have galleys for two more books that will be due soon, but other than that, I'm taking some time off. Time to live. Time to enjoy life. Time to unpack my house that still has boxes in every room because I haven't had time to unpack even though I moved months ago.

So for a couple of months, I'm on a break. A friend told me recently that I needed to learn to relax. You know what? That is exactly right. I don't relax very well because I always have this idea that there is something else I should be doing.

So I'm going to  take time to smell the roses. I'm going to sit in my backyard and read books. I'm going to watch movies. I'm going to paint my kitchen. I'm taking a tap and ballet class for fun. I'm going to cook new recipes. I'm going to spend more time with my family and see my friends as much as possible. I'm going to stop taking myself so seriously and laugh a little bit more.

And when I come back to my laptop, things are going to change. I'm not going to let myself get overloaded again. I'm going to be more selective when it comes to saying 'yes' to projects. Even better, I'm certain my little self-imposed sabbatical will make my future books better.

I think I'll come back inspired and eager to get back to work. I already have some book ideas brewing in my head that I'm sure will need to come out soon.

But for now...

I'm on a break.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Release Day for Rainbow's End

My newest release is in stores and available online now--including on Kindle and Nook!

Rainbow's End is a fun collection written by four authors (Valerie Comer, Cara Putman, Nicole O'Dell and me) and centers around the Rainbow's End Treasure Hunt, a geocaching hunt that lasts for two months near Missouri's beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. The book contains four stories that run concurrently. Very fun!

Here's the back copy:

It's always an interesting group of strangers who show up for the annual Rainbow's Ed geocache hunt, and the spectacular scenery along the bluffs of the Lake of the Ozarks is just one reason...

Lyssa, hoping she can get over her fears and point folks to the treasure found in Jesus, is startled to find her former college professor among the group. Will he upset her mission?

City girl Madison is annoyed that her sister signed her up and then bailed--but now she's been paired with a complete stranger! Worse, he's one of those outdoorsy types.

Reagan has always played it safe, doing everything by the book. And then she meets her brother's frat brother, a guy who's got his life mapped out, too.

After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley can't wait to meet people who didn't know her "before." But Brad is that species of guy she has no experience with: a player.

God only knows if this adventure in the woods will lead to heartache...or love.

My story in the collection is Beneath the Surface:

When Madison Wallace’s sister signs the two of them up to participate in the Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt, Madison is less than thrilled. She isn’t the most outdoorsy girl in the world, so spending two months traipsing around the Ozarks isn’t her idea of fun. Especially when her sister has to back out at the last minute. Grant Simmons loves the outdoors. He jumps at the chance to participate in the treasure hunt with his grandfather, but when the elderly man’s health takes a turn for the worse, Grant is without a partner. When Madison and Grant find themselves teamed up for the treasure hunt, their differences quickly rise to the surface. Will Madison be able to break through Grant’s walls and get him to open up? Can Grant look past Madison’s polished exterior to see that beneath the surface is a heart of gold? If these polar opposites can find common ground, they might find a love worth treasuring.

To celebrate the release of Rainbow's End, my co-authors and I are over on Seekerville today talking about the process of writing the collection as well as giving away some copies! Hope you'll stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Signings and Other Fun News!

I'll be signing books on Saturday, April 28, from 1-3 p.m., at the LifeWay Christian Store in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It should be a great day and they've even put A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina on sale for the event!

Please stop by if you live in the Jonesboro area. The LifeWay Store is across from the Mall at Turtle Creek.

In other news, Rainbow's End is starting to ship from Amazon. Four stories, four authors--all centering around the Rainbow's End Geocaching Treasure Hunt. It's such a fun book and my novella, Beneath the Surface, was a blast to write!

As you know...I think a book release is a lot like a first date--I developed that theory when my third book came out. Rainbow's End is my eighth release and I still stand by that idea!

More about Rainbow's End later--it deserves it's own post where I'll confess how my own life served as part of the inspiration for my story.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Gift of Time...and a Leap Year Giveaway

If you could give me ONE THING that would be the most helpful to me, it would be the gift of time. I think that's probably why I think Leap Year is so neat. An extra day in February and thus an extra day of 2012 is exactly what this writer-on-a-deadline needs to stay sane. (I could really use an extra week, but I'll take what I can get.)

I was born in a Leap Year--so maybe that's why I like them so much. :)

I look back on 2012 and it is already zooming past. Between a full time day job, three book deadlines, and a home renovation, I feel as if I've barely slept.

Time is certainly marching on.

So I'm totally reveling in February 29th. An extra day. The gift of time. Granted, I'll be working. But if I could, I'd spend the day drinking coffee and reading a good book. Maybe on a balcony somewhere that overlooks the ocean. I can practically hear the water lapping against the shore now. Then I'd meet up with some friends and linger over a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant where we'd laugh and talk and forget about schedules and deadlines and how busy we all are. Then I'd turn in early and be lulled to sleep by the waves. Perfect. Day.

If only.

How about you? If you could do anything at all with your "extra day" this year, what would it be? No limits. One day to spend how you'd like.

Put your answer in the comments (along with your email address) before midnight on Sunday, March 5 to enter to win a copy of my new book, A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twas the Night Before A Book Release...

This is kind of a big week for me.

Tomorrow kicks off a year full of book releases. A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina officially hits the shelves tomorrow.

While it is totally a dream come true, each book release also brings a certain amount of angst. You may remember that I liken a book release to a first date. I still stand by that theory. (although I have been writing so much lately, I haven't had much time for many first dates--ha!)

Even though this is my sixth release, I'm still as nervous and as excited as I was for the very first one. Nervous because I want readers to like it--love it, even! And I know from past experience that some will...and some will not. Excited because this story finally gets to be read. Hopefully by many.

In a lot of ways, A Wedding to Remember in Charleston is VERY different from any of my other books. It's about a marriage that's in the process of falling apart. Whoa.

My other books have been about people finding love for the first time. Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. Conflict happens. They make up and live happily ever after.

This one is a little different. 

Summer and Luke are in a very dark place. Strangers sharing a last name. And a home. And a dog. But not much of anything else.

So writing their story was sometimes quite hard for me. It made me sad. It made me stop and think about all of the things that tear apart people who've vowed to love one another forever.

In fact, there were times I would call my friends and whine. I'd say things like "Why did I think writing a romance about an estranged married couple was a good idea? Why didn't you tell me I was crazy?"  

And my friends would talk me down from the ledge. They'd tell me to go back to work and not call/text/Facebook them until I'd written more.

I'd pray about it and come away realizing that it was a story that needed to be told. That there was a way to add in some light moments to a dark subject. That even in the hard times, there were still moments of humor. Because that's the way life is.

So I created some secondary characters, Ashley and Justin, who helped add some fun. Then I brought back two of my favorite characters from Love is Grand--Mary and Mavis, the elderly sisters from Alabama.

And when it was all said and done, I wound up with a book that I love and one I hope readers can relate to. There's only been one review so far--4 Stars from Romantic Times:
"This book is about a marriage that's on the rocks, not from any major event, but from erosion of commitment and lack of communication over time. It's a story that readers can relate to, and a reminder that marriage takes work and dedication. The author does a wonderful job of weaving the story together along with infusing a little romance."
I am thrilled with their take on the book and am anxiously awaiting seeing it on the shelf for the first time--something that never gets old!

So tomorrow if you see a bleary-eyed girl doing a happy dance on the book aisle at might be me. :) 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peace is the Word...

There's been a lot of talk lately in several groups I belong to about finding your "one" word for the new year. I knew my word would become clear to me if I really thought/prayed about it.

And it did. It was right there on my Christmas tree.


This year I am seeking peace. Because honestly if 2011 had a word, it may as well have been Chaos or Turmoil. So Peace is sounding pretty perfect to me. :)

2011 saw me return full time to my day job and write 4 books and 1 novella. Which basically means I worked in one way or the other pretty much non-stop. I turned in the last of those books 2 weeks ago and am taking a few days off to renew my creativity. MUCH NEEDED time off!

2011 also saw a major milestone for me: I bought my first home and moved back to my hometown. Which was a whole other set of adjustments, which I'm still getting used to. My house is presently under renovation--and I'm trying to do as much of it myself as possible.

Obviously 2011 was a busy year! Some of the wonderful highlights:

1. The aforementioned book contracts! Writing is a blessing and something I feel called to do. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've been given and look forward to making some fun announcements soon about upcoming projects.

2. The release of Love Finds You in Lancaster County--and learning it had reached the ECPA Bestseller List.

3. Traveling to Chicago with some of my best friends to see U2 in concert. What an amazing night!

4. Signing the paperwork and officially becoming a homeowner. It has been a long journey and I'm so thankful to have a place to call my own.

5. Traveling to Charleston to do research for an upcoming book. I absolutely fell in love with the city and can't wait to return.

6. Spending time with my friends and family--as I get older, those relationships become so much more meaningful. I'm truly blessed.

But back to my word. PEACE.

How will I instill Peace into my life in 2012?

Here are a few things I hope will help:

1. Read the Bible all the way through. I sheepishly admit I've never attempted this. I read bits and pieces as I'm studying different topics, but I know there are plenty of verses I've never read--particularly in the Old Testament.

2. Pray with a purpose. Once upon a time I kept a prayer journal. I think it's time to go back to that.

3. Exercise. Oh man. This was the first thing to fall by the wayside when my life got all crazy-busy this year, and I think that was a huge mistake. Back when I was running on an almost daily basis, I think my life was much more peaceful. So I'm back to training and am aiming for several 5Ks and the ultimate (for me) goal: a half-marathon. I signed up to do one in 2011, but wasn't ready. 2012 will be the year.

4. Relax. Somewhere along the past few years of working and deadlines and being a grownup, I think I forgot how to relax. In 2012 I'm planning a spa vacation with some of my best friends and WILL make it to a beach where the only thing on my agenda is sleeping and reading.

5. Get my house organized. This includes finishing the kitchen and living room renovations!

6. Plant a garden. There is nothing as therapeutic for me as digging in the ground. Now that I have a couple of acres, I'm going to make use of them! I hope to have a vegetable garden and also plan a flower garden. 

7. Manage my time better. Juggling 2 full time jobs and a home renovation is a challenge. But I don't want my life to revolve around working all the time. My very wise grandmother cautioned me recently that she worried I was writing about life and not living it. 2012 will be the year that changes and I think that change starts with being a better steward of the time I have--and also of choosing my projects (both work and home) wisely.

And there you have it. The 7 things I hope will bring some much-needed PEACE into my life.

How about you? Do you have a word for 2012?


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