2013 and 2014 GOLDEN HEART® Finalist

Friday, March 25, 2016

A new release from CM Doporto is on the way!! MY LUCKY CATCH- A University Park Series Novel

Isn't it lovely?? If you're already a fan of my friend CM's uber-popular University Park series I know you'll be excited to learn about her upcoming May release My Lucky Catch! If you haven't found these novels yet, now's your chance to get started on these swexy New Adult sports romances.

 Here's where to find it...

Preorder links:





 And here's a little about the story:


They'll do anything to hide what they want, even though it's each other they want most. Determined to keep their friends-with-benefits status under-wraps, Luke and Delaney spend their junior year of college sneaking around. Once the truth is revealed, their relationship takes off, but not without the challenges from Delaney's carefree attitude or Luke's overbearing parents. Luke’s determined to standby the girl he loves and trust she’s doing the right thing, despite his hectic baseball schedule that keeps him on the road. When Delaney's past threatens to destroy them, will forgiveness be enough for them to realize they were each other's lucky catch? ***Standalone but it is recommended you read the entire series***








“That was f---ing amazing!” The hottie peeled her body off mine and moaned a few times before falling to her side of the bed.

“You were damn, good, too.” I panted for air, trying desperately to refill my lungs. This woman was desperate to wear me out. After a few deep breaths, I rolled to my side, eyeing the gorgeous brunette next to me. “So, are you going to tell me your name?”

“No.” She laughed, finger-combing her messy hair. “You don’t need to know it. Trust me.”

Strike one.

I grunted. “That’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair?” She stared at me with a dubious look, even though she knew what I was talking about.

“You know my name, and I don’t know yours.”

A slight smile emerged through her fake stare. “Everyone knows your name, Luke Thompson.” She winked.

I shook my head. “I doubt it.”

“Whatever.” She waved a hand. “First baseman for Park Hill University. You’re known around here.”

Despite what she thought, I wasn’t that popular. Unless you followed baseball, most people on campus didn’t know me, which was fine. I could do without all the attention – helped me keep my focus. Or at least what my parents wanted me to focus on – landing with a major league baseball team. I loved playing, but wasn’t sure I wanted to do it for a living. My passion was in the training room and earning a degree in sports exercise would hopefully work to my advantage.

“Are you a stalker or something?” I retracted slightly, hoping she wasn’t some kind of bat-shit crazy woman.

“I guess you can say that.” She gave me a sexy shrug. “I’ve had you on my To Do List for a while.”

“Your what?” I half laughed, half shuttered at the thought that this woman was after me. I normally kept an eye out for those only interested in a Mrs. Degree, but between the beer and shots, I’d somehow gotten careless. She made it damn easy to get in her pants so I figured what the hell.

“Yay, you know, a list of guys I want to have sex with.”

I choked on my spit and coughed. “I guess you don’t have any issues with consensual sex, huh?”

“Not at all.” Her bright, sparkling blue eyes surveyed me purposefully. I wasn’t sure if she wore color enhancing contacts or what, but I’d never seen eyes that blue before. “We’re adults.”

“In that case, you want to hook up again?” I rose up on my forearms as she crawled out of bed. Long, dark hair cascaded down her back leading to hips like I’d never seen before. With a perfect ass and a tiny waist, I couldn’t wait to get her from behind.

“Maybe,” she said, gathering her clothes.

“Can you at least give me your phone number?” My eyes stayed fixed, unable to stop watching her dress. She didn’t seem to mind, giving me a full frontal view of everything. And boy do I mean everything.

“No.” Her voice was blunt, without a hint of teasing or flirting present.

Strike two.

I fell back against the pillow. How I managed to get this woman in bed was beyond me. Then it occurred to me that she was the one that got me in bed. This game was totally in her control.

Congratulations CM!! Not only is she a popular author with a large, devoted following, she's also an incredibly sweet and generous person. :) Now here's the "official" bio...
About the Author
CM Doporto lives in the great state of Texas with her husband, son, and daughter enjoying life with their extensive family along with their Chihuahua, Mexican Redhead Parrot and several fish. She writes Young Adult and New Adult swexy stories about ordinary women who do extraordinary things, become a heroine, and find love along the way.
Instagram: http://instagram.com/authorcmdoporto
Twitter: @cm_doporto

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy book birthday to Michelle Hauck and GRUDGING!!

Michelle and I met through her blog and the Sun vs. Snow contest she runs every January with fellow blogger and YA writer Amy Trueblood. I was one of the "winners" of that contest a couple years ago when my entry led to many agent requests and eventually signing with my agent for FOUR BULLETS.

Michelle does so much to help other authors, also running the Query Combat and Nightmare on Query Street contests. Today I'm happy to join in the celebration for her brand new ebook GRUDGING, releasing today from Harper Voyager Impulse!

Check it out...

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Doesn't that cover just say ADVENTURE? Here's a bit about the story:

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

 On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

 But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

Meet the generous and lovely Michelle...

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge. She's repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Connect with Michelle:  

Keep reading for an excerpt of GRUDGING...

Shortly after the combat, Ramiro made his excuses to the men at the wall and left, returning to the citadel and taking the stairs to the roof. Some alcalde’s wife from the past had turned this spot into an outdoor garden and dining room, making it a favorite retreat for many. A peaceful place when he felt anything but.

Other people’s blood spotted his white shirt. Had things gone differently, it could easily have been his own. He needed a bath and a rest, but his mind hummed from the conflict, leaving him unable to stop pacing. Cold chills claimed his limbs. His stomach was sourer than when alcohol had filled it. With no clear single-combat victory, he hadn’t earned his beard. The night reeked of disappointment.

How long? How long could they keep the Northerners out?

Stars spotted the night sky here, where the citadel met the top of the world. Or so it had always seemed to him as a child. Life was no longer so certain now that he was older.

He drew in the cool scent of creeping jasmine, carefully tended and watered by hand in pots across the rooftop. Colina Hermosa spread before him, a humbling sight. The city stretched away from the citadel on all sides, a jewel shining with lights. It spread down the hill, becoming wider and grander as it sprawled, with imposing avenues and white-clad stucco buildings whose thick walls and small windows kept out the noonday heat. There was squalor and dirt as well, fits of temper, rudeness, and often impatience. But the darkness hid all that, washing the city of its faults and giving it a fresh life until it tumbled like the sea against the immovable stone walls that now held out the Northerners.

His heart swelled with love. Something worth defending. Home.

Outside the high, white walls, well beyond arrow shot, was a sight not so welcoming. There, jammed between the city and a deep, old quarry used to build the city walls, campfires burned. A red swarm of rage and death, brimstone and smoke, offering a grim contrast with the peaceful firmament. Not by the hundreds did they burn, but by the thousands, mirroring the stars in the sky. How many peasants’ houses did they demolish to feed so much hungry fire? They must be down to burning cacti. How they kept it up night after night, he couldn’t begin to comprehend. Salvador had talked on about supply trains and quartermasters, but Ramiro had let his imagination dwell on his first ride instead. An indulgence he regretted now.

If only each fire meant a single enemy, but that was wishful thinking. Each fire contained tens of men. Tens and thousands. And behind them, the siege machines waited their turn. A lethal combination for Colina Hermosa.

He touched the spot above his spleen, and whispered, “Santiago, don’t let me give in to despair.”


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Word Count Magic- The Sprint

Are you a sprinter? Not the track-and-field kind, but the writing kind. I never was-- until recently.

In the past couple of years, I've had writer friends invite me to "sprint" with them. I didn't take them up on it because I wasn't all-the-way sure how to do it or exactly why I'd need to do it. I write every day already and at a fairly fast clip. I didn't think I needed it. Boy, was I wrong.

Whereas I normally write 800-1000 words per hour, I found that I could knock out up to 2500 words in two 20-minute sprints. And this was writing at night, when I'm usually too brain dead to write anything. It was like word count magic!

Now, these are first-draft words. I'm writing messy, not going back to fix typos or punctuation during the sprint, not worrying about beautiful prose or clever turns of phrase. And that's okay, because first drafts are allowed to suck-- the fancy stuff comes in later drafts. But I've been pretty amazed when I go into my writing sessions the next day at how usable those sprint-born words are. I've hardly had to throw out anything (yet), and these sessions have launched me farther ahead in my WIP than I would normally be at this point in the process.

Here's what finally got me to try sprinting...

The writing community at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood recently announced their Winter Writing Festival, and Kim Law clearly explained the concept in this sprinting primer.

The Winter Writing Festival is open to anyone who'd like to join the fun and receive the support and encouragement the Rubies are known for. Among other things, they offer several opportunities each day (morning and night) to sprint with other writers. Here's how it works: first, you sign-up. Quick and easy. Then you log in, check out the sprint schedule, which features some amazing writer "hosts" who'll be there firing the starter pistol and writing with you, and click the chat room link in the upper left corner of the page.

That's it-- you're in. Someone (or more likely several someones) will welcome you to the chat room and tell you how many minutes away the next sprint is. There's a little interaction among the writers-- it can get pretty funny in there-- and then the host counts you down, says "GO," and you let your fingers fly for the next 20 or 30 minutes, not stopping for anything, not checking Facebook or Twitter or your phone or the mail, etc. Then everyone comes back into the chat room and reports their progress. It varies among writers. Some are lightning fast- some are slower. It doesn't matter. Everyone's cheering each other on.

It's incredible how much you can get done when your mind is completely focused. Not everyone is working on a first draft. Some are revising, some are addressing copyedits. A friend of mine recently knocked out The Dreaded Synopsis during a sprinting session. For me, the sprints are most productive when I've already written earlier in the day, and I've left off in the middle of a scene or I know where I want the next scene to go-- when I'm warmed-up, so to speak.

But it's not just about word count. Somehow my mind, knowing that it has no time to stop and fret about the small stuff, is more creatively free during sprints. Does that make me sound like a hippy-dippy weirdo? It's hard to explain. I've found that my sprint-words are very dialogue heavy-- I'll go back later and fill in tags and scene blocking and description-- and that dialogue has been going in some very interesting directions. My story is taking turns I hadn't anticipated, and it's fun! It's almost like the internal editor is bypassed because it can't keep up with the speed of the "right brain."

So now I'm a sprint addict. I've sprinted not only with the Rubies now, but with friends who happened to be on Twitter at the same time and suggested a group sprint. I can't seem to sprint on my own. I know my time deadline is a fake one, so it doesn't keep me from "wandering."

But I never have to do it on my own because there are always other writers ready to "3... 2... 1... Go!" with you. Twitter is full of sprinters! A quick search of "writing sprints" revealed these hashtags--    and , and I know there are so many more. And no matter where in the world you are, there's always some writer awake and on Twitter. American night owl? Sprint with an Aussie!

Maybe it won't work as well for you as it has for me. But it's worth trying, right? Trying something new-to-me turned me from sprint skeptic to complete convert. And took me all the way to THE END of the first draft of my current project.

Have you tried sprinting yet? Have I convinced you to give it a shot? Let me know, and maybe we'll sprint together sometime!



Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Wisdom of Waiting-- Are you Rushing Your First Book?

How do you feel about the first book you ever wrote? You love it don't you? It might be shoved under the bed or languishing on the hard drive. You might have vowed that NO ONE will EVER read it. But you love it. It's your first love, your baby-- the one that made you a writer.

My first completed novel was a YA Fantasy romance and a project near and dear to my heart, as most "firsts" are. I wrote it over six months, working at night, the thoughts and emotions pouring out as my fingers flew over the keyboard. I had passion for my subject, a great concept, and I was unencumbered by such trivial annoyances as story structure, character arcs, and theme.

I just wrote what I saw and heard in my head, as if transcribing a movie. And because I'm a lifelong lover of books, I managed to end up with a somewhat decent plot through osmosis. Because I've been a professional writer (journalist) my entire adult life, I managed to end up with a pretty clean book grammatically, and some of the prose wasn't half bad. What I did NOT end up with... was a great book. I didn't know this at the time.

I didn't know any other writers, had never heard of a critique partner or critique group, and was completely unfamiliar with the publishing industry. But I began the task of learning about it. It took a lot of research just to understand how the publishing process works. I learned about agents and decided I needed to get one. That led me to a charity auction where bidders could win the chance to have literary agents critique their work, usually the first three chapters and synopsis. I was hoping to win an auction and have the agent fall in love with my story and offer me representation. That did not happen.

I did win TWO critiques (accidentally) but neither agent offered me rep. What they offered was something far more valuable-- they told me my story wasn't perfect and where to start to make it better. It was hard to hear at first, as many "truths" are. But I believed they knew far more about it than I did. And they were representatives of the very group I needed to impress. Their peers were likely to find the same faults in my writing. And so the work began.

Some of the terms the agents used in their critique were unfamiliar to me-- GMC, story arc. I Googled them and found some incredible author's blogs that shared writing tips in terms I could understand. I started a (never-ending) homeschooling process and applied what I learned to my little work-in-progress. Over time it improved. I learned where a story should start (and threw out my whole first chapter.) I learned my main character should WANT something in every scene, and I gave her goals. I entered RWA writing contests and gained valuable feedback on what worked and what didn't for readers. I attended writing conferences and found critique partners who gave me honest feedback and pointed me to helpful writing craft books. I kept working.

And then my book became a Golden Heart finalist. It's a huge honor, and many of my peers were surprised I'd achieved it with my first book. But that "first book" had already undergone so many changes from its very first incarnation. It was the culmination of all the lessons I'd learned... up to that point.

I was sure the nomination would lead to agent representation if not a book deal. That didn't happen.

I did get a lot of requests from my queries. I also got a lot of rejections-- maybe not as many as some-- I have friends who've racked up hundreds of R's on their way to representation and sales. I didn't send as many queries, I guess, because I kept hearing the same sorts of things-- they liked it but didn't love it, it was original and well-written but *something* was missing. It was also a fantasy during a time when agents were seeking contemporary stories and anything fantasy/paranormal was making editors "run the other way." But that wasn't the main problem.

I loved that story with all my heart, but something wasn't right. It wasn't ready. And I wasn't ready. I wasn't a good enough writer yet to know how to fix it. So I put it away, and I moved on to the next story that had invaded my heart and my head.

This one was much, much easier to write because now I had some tools in my belt. From the outset I had a plan for the characters and a plot to add to all that passion for telling the story. That was the story that got me an agent.

Since that first book, I've written six novels. With each one I've learned. My first love was always in my heart, waiting for the time to be right, waiting for me to learn enough to return to it and know what it needed from me. I always knew I'd go back.

And a few months ago when I got to a stopping point in my other work, I picked it back up again and read it from start to finish. And I knew what to do. I dived back into that world and re-wrote the book, using all I've learned. It was a sort of high, working on it again. I was filled with energy, excited in a way I haven't been in a long time. I had the proper distance from it to see it as it was, to fix its flaws and make it the best it could be.

And it's ready. Nothing is missing.

If I'd kept sending it out as it was, I believe I would have continued hitting brick walls, becoming bruised and eventually broken, losing heart in the whole publishing process and doubting myself as a writer. In this case, it was wiser to wait, to let the book and myself marinate and mature. I had heard from other writers about the importance of writing the next book. But I couldn't understand it truly until I'd been through it myself. If I could go back and give advice to newbie-writer me, I'd say, "Don't rush it. Just keep going and learning. Your first love will wait for you, and when the time is right, you'll both be ready."

Or to borrow a quote from Maya Angelou-- "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."


Monday, June 16, 2014

5 X 5

I've been challenged by my 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

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 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. It will be published under my pen name Amy Patrick. I'm just finishing 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 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 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 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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy News Today!

Love this guy-- doing the contest final strut!

It's been a crummy winter weather-wise in New England, which means it's been great writing-wise. Nothing tempting me to go outdoors and waste all that good writing time, no sir. I completed two new novels during all that indoor-time, and today I got a nice little payoff... the first contest final for my first New Adult book, CHANNEL TWENTYSOMETHING!

The first book in my contemporary New Adult series is now a finalist in the prestigious Fire and Ice contest sponsored by the Chicago North RWA chapter. I'm so excited to see CHANNEL TWENTYSOMETHING get a little love. I mean I love it, but you never know how others, especially other authors and contest judges will respond to your work. And my previous books were Young Adult, so it's fun (and reassuring) to final in a new category.

I'm grateful to the authors who took time to read and judge all the entries. Can't wait to learn the final results next month. They'll be announced at the Spring Fling conference which takes place April 25-26 in Chicago. http://chicagospringfling.com/

Next week RWA National will announce this year's Golden Heart finalists. Maybe the Luck O' the Irish will hang around a few more days...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So I Went on Vacation and Came Home With Some Souvenirs

A week after returning from the whirlwind of RWA National in Atlanta this summer, I set off again for the Deep South with my boys in tow. We went "home" to Mississippi and then to Florida on a family vacation. Good stuff.

I came home with some souvenirs that will last longer and be more useful than some pretty shells or a tiny preserved alligator head. (I kid you not-- they sell these things at gas stations in Florida).

So totally did NOT buy this.

Contest finals!

While on vacation I got calls from three contest coordinators, letting me know I finaled in some AMAZING  RWA chapter contests with my latest YA manuscript, FOUR BULLETS. Nothing beats those phone calls (nothing yet, that is). The chapter representative is so happy to let you know you're a finalist, you're so happy to get the news.

I'm especially thrilled that these honors are going to FOUR BULLETS, because after having finished only one prior book, HIDDEN DEEP, and having it become a Golden Heart finalist, I needed reassurance that I could, indeed, write something else and have it be halfway decent... that I wasn't a one-book pony.

Perhaps awesome-sauciest of all ... FOUR BULLETS has now finaled in FIVE contests, every one I entered it in. (Actually, there's one more contest that hasn't announced finalists yet, but I don't know if I could even get any happier than I am now.) So here's the rundown:

 The Catherine- Toronto Romance Writers 

Put Your Heart in a Book- New Jersey Romance Writers

 Maggie Unpublished- Georgia Romance Writers

 Emerald City Opener- Greater Seattle Chapter RWA

 Golden Acorn Quick Look Hook- Charter Oak Romance Writers 

I've discovered chapter contests are a great way to get informed feedback on your writing. Most have two or more writers, some published and some trained judges, evaluate and critique your work. Those critiques can be really helpful in editing and revising. If you make it to the finals, there's usually a pretty awesome literary agent or editor who'll see your work and be the final judge. Sometimes a judge will even request your full manuscript based on your entry (it just happened to me!). And of course a contest final or win gives you something to put in your query other than "Dear Super-Agent, Please love me!"

You know what's coming. I'm going to recommend entering RWA chapter contests for anyone writing in the romance genre. See? I just did it. You knew I would. You can follow the links on this page for the above-mentioned wonderful contests, and check out this fantastic website to find out about other upcoming contests.

Stephie Smith's Contest Chart for Writers

It certainly isn't easy to put your work out there to be judged, but it does get easier the more you do it. And you really can't lose.

If you're interested, here's a look at all the finalists in these particular contests for 2013... I'm super-thrilled that my amazing critique partner McCall Hoyle and I are co-finalists in this one:

Put Your Heart in a Book Contest Finalists

New Jersey Romance Writers
Is proud to announce
Our 2013 Put Your Heart In A Book Contest Finalists!


Sacha Devine — The Ring

Laurie Benson — A Proper Scandal**

Patricia Kratina — The Viscount With a Wicked Wink


Nadine Mutas — Blood, Pain, and Pleasure

Mary Ann Worden — Heart of Atlantis

Laurel Wanrow — The Farm**

Short Contemporary

Leigh Raffaele — Brewed For Love**

Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe — The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife

Catherine Cervantes — One More Time

Single Title

Pamela Gibson — Perfect Balance

Lena Pinto — True Partners**

Catherine Vignolini — Poser

Young Adult

Amy DeLuca — Four Bullets

Caroline Dunsheath — Last Wishes

McCall Hoyle — The Thing With Feathers

** denotes NJRW member

Georgia Romance Writers

Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for the Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence!

An * beside the name denotes a member of Georgia Romance Writers.

Book Title
Contemporary Series Romance
Melissa Klein*
Her Hometown Hero
Elisabeth Grace
Her Maine Attraction
Kathleen Hodges
Fallen Stars
Vanessa Moss*
Confessions of a Mayberry Starlet
Alexandra Haughton
Stay with me
E.E. Burke
Her Bodyguard
Susanna Craig
To Kiss a Thief
Louisa Cornell
Wicked in His Arms
Ursula LeCoeur
When a Lady Loves
Jillian Lark
Much Ado About Scandal
Contemporary Single Title
Jacqueline Floyd
Everybody Knows…
Lucy Farago
Sin on the Strip
Sharon Wray
Juliet’s Rogue
Sharon Wray
Rogue’s Redemption
Geneva Rand
Bryonna Nobles*
Nadine Mutas
Blood, Pain and Pleasure
Amanda Byrne
Iron Jewel
Lindsey Thomas*
Immortal Soul
Heather Leonard*
Key to the Lair
Walt Mussell*
The Samurai’s Strength
Lucy Morgan-Jones
A Certain Woman of Worth
Kristi Hunter*
The Thorny Hedge
Dianna Shuford*
Hidden Motive
Janice Martin
Turning Point
Young Adult
Jenna Grinstead
The Keeper’s Daughter
Amy DeLuca
Four Bullets
Lucy Briand
Magnetic Shift
Kathleen McMahon
Pamela Asberry*
Finding Home
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Sally Kilpatrick*
Giving up the Ghost
E.E. Burke
Taming Huck Finn
Debbie Goncalves
Family Secrets
Jennifer Sanchez
First Blush
Heather Leonard*
Counter Friction


Greater Seattle Romance Writers

2013 Emerald City Openers Finalists

The winners will be announced at the Emerald City Writers' Conference

Jennifer DeCuir                 Hanging Onto the Past                                            
Stephanie St. Clair                To Mend a Broken Heart                                
Melissa Tenley                      Russell Ridge – Evie’s Story                           

Sacha Bullock                       Katia                  
Kirstin Dansk                         To Capture the Queen                          
Linda Locke                           The Grand Marquess                                     

Susan Bickford                     The House of D’Innocenzi
Susan Dunn                          Where You Belong
Judy Fogarty                        Holding At Love                                        

Amber A. Bardan                 Heart of Shadows                                           
Christy Gronlund                   Neomort                                      
J.C. McKenzie                       Shift Happens: A Carus Novel

Joyce Bouyea                       A Child of My Own                                 
Abbie Roads                         Dangerous Dreams                      
Jo-Ann Terpstra                     Fighting Fear                                         

Amy DeLuca                         Four Bullets
Kelly Garcia                   Late Night Reflections on the Zombie Apocalypse 
Cate Hart                              Bad Company