Why football romance?

 

Not everyone is aware of this, but until recently, sports romance was not considered a viable literary genre. In the old days–think ten years ago–the thought was that women didn’t want to read romance that featured men who played sports or women who loved sports.

That, of course, is ridiculous. These days, more than half of the viewing audience of any given NFL game is female–and advertisers know that. Just look at the demographics of most ads that run on TV during Sunday games, not to mention Monday and Thursday Night Football.

So why NOT football romance is probably the better question!

For me, personally, football has always been a passion. It was something I shared with my dad. He passed down to me a love of Army football, in particular. My dad and my husband both graduated from West Point. Army is my one constant in college football love; I’ve been cheering on Army as long as I can remember, and no matter what, I’ll be an Army fan until I die.

#GOARMYBEATNAVY

And there’s just something about a romance that happens against the backdrop of football that gives me an extra thrill. I’m not alone. Sports romance as a genre is h o t.  We like the teams, the ambiance of the game, the thrill of competition–oh, and we love the players.

I always knew I wanted to write football romance, so tackling the Keeping Score series was a pure labor of love. The story began with Leo, Quinn and Nate and then continued with Tate, Gia, Tuck and Zelda. Next will come Gideon and Sarah–and then a spin-off college football series.

Your Wildest Dreams, which releases tomorrow, is the book only peripherally related to the game, even though football plays a huge role in the story line. Eli Tucker might not be on the field anymore, but football is still a constant in his life.

Right now, the entire Keeping Score series is on special at Apple Books. The prequel, Young, and Book 1, When We Were Us, are both free this week. Hanging By A Moment, Book 2, is only 99 cents. Days of You and Me, Book 3, is $1.99. And finally, Not Broken Anymore, Book 4, is $2.99.

Of course, Your Wildest Dreams releases tomorrow!

So go get your football romance on! The Keeping Score series page is right here.

 

A Thanksgiving Favorite: Onions Eclaste

The photo above shows some of my oldest and most favorite Thanksgiving recipes. The typewritten paper is from my mother, with the instructions she sent me in Hawaii the first year that I prepared Thanksgiving dinner myself. The top left card is my Nana’s pie crust recipe, and the one with carrots is from Aunt Eleanor–for my favorite side dish, Onions Eclaste! And here’s the recipe.

Two large white onions
2 tbs butter
Swiss cheese slices
Cream of celery soup
1 cup of milk
Bread (you can use french bread or just plain sandwich bread, sliced and with the crusts removed–I make my own homemade bread the day before and use that. It’s amazing!)

Slice onions into rings and saute in the butter.  When the onions are soft and translucent, transfer to a casserole and place the cheese atop them.

In the same pan used to cook the onions, heat the soup and milk, blending together.  When it’s thick and bubbly, pour over the onions and cheese in the casserole.

Top with slices of bread and bake in 400 degree oven until bread is toasted and sauce is hot and bubbly. YUM!! (This is great as a leftover, too. I love it better the next day.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

THE MEANT TO BE GIRL (A Sneak Peek!)

The Meant To Be Girl is my contribution to the Christmas romance anthology THE 12 NIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, available everywhere now! This is a little peek at the magic . . .

“Hey, Ashley. Did you get drafted, too?”

The smile that curved my lips was completely involuntary, but I had trouble ignoring the spark of pleasure and want that tingled up my spine. Zane was sitting on the floor near me, surrounded by evergreen.

“Ohhhhh . . .” I grinned. “So, you’re the someone who got roped into putting the tree together.”

He shrugged. “I think Darlene overestimated my abilities. It looks like a pine tree murder and dismemberment back here.” Zane glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. “It might have helped if they’d saved the instructions. I’m totally winging it here.”

I sighed, and for a happy moment, I simply gazed at him. In the months since Zane had first wandered into my salon looking for a quick haircut, he’d become not only a loyal client but a friend. He had a standing appointment every three weeks, and I’d be lying to myself if I’d said I didn’t look forward to his visits. There was just something about this man . . . between his self-deprecating humor, his kindness, and his charm, I didn’t stand a chance. And that wasn’t even touching on the body that made regular appearances in my dreams.

“Huh.” Tori came up to peer over my shoulder. “Hey, Zane. Yeah, you’re in over your head, I’d say.” She gave me a little shove. “Ashley here just happens to be an expert at Christmas tree assembly. And she’d be happy to help you.”

I glared at my friend. “I thought you and I were supposed to be untangling lights.”

Tori shrugged. “I got that by myself. You should go where you’re really needed, Ash.” She gave me wide and suggestive eyes, and I prayed that Zane didn’t notice.

“Thanks for throwing me into the briar patch,” I hissed to her.

She giggled. “Looks more like a pine forest. And you’re welcome. Because you know, that’s what friends are for—to remind you about what’s important and to kick your ass when you forget.”

There was nothing like having my own words quoted back at me. I was well and truly stuck now. “Fine. But you better make sure I get some of those fries when Darlene brings them out.”

Tori held up one hand, as though taking a pledge. “I promise.”

Still wearing a scowl, I picked my way among the thick wire branches covered in green plastic “needles” and cleared a space to sit down on the floor.

“You’re really going to help me? God bless you. I thought you might just stand over me and direct what I should do.” He gestured to the piles.

“In for a penny, in for a pound,” I sighed. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. We should find the base first, and then the center poles.” I began to root around the branches. “Sheesh, they all look the same. How’re we supposed to know what goes where?”

“Trial and error, I guess.” Zane frowned and picked up a green-covered stick. “Hey, this might be part of the trunk. I think.”

“Is it longer and harder?” Even as the words tumbled out of my mouth, I heard what I was saying and felt my face going red.

Zane quirked one eyebrow. “Not yet. But there’s potential.”

It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . Christmas Romance!

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Available Everywhere Now!

And join us on Thursday, October 25th, for the big holiday party!

Twelve bestselling and award-winning authors each bring you a sexy night of romance, fun and a little magic. ‘Tis the season for falling for the right guy! Can a magical fruitcake be the special ingredient for falling in love?

**‘Tis the season for giving, too!** 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the hunger relief organization Feeding America

December 25: “Scrooge You” by MK Schiller Christmas is nothing but a reminder of Eva’s tragic past. To make matters worse, her boyfriend invites his entire family over…so she goes into Scrooge mode. When three ghosts visit her, will she be able to remember the joy in her heart and the true meaning of Christmas?

December 26: “Unexpected Daddy” by Gemma Brocato She let him go to pursue his dreams without telling him she was pregnant. Five years later, he’s back in town and her secret’s out. Can they get over past hurts to seize a future for their small family?

December 27: “The Meant to Be Girl” by Tawdra Kandle When Ashley Webbar meets Zane Fletcher, it’s insta-lust, but she soon suspects he’s already smitten with someone else. Ashley is so busy matchmaking that she might miss out on her own happily-ever-after…if something doesn’t intervene first. This just might call for a Christmas miracle.

December 28: “For One Night Only” by Carrie Elks When two strangers are stranded at a rest stop in the middle of Nowheresville—thank you, Mr. Bus Driver—they’re forced to spend the night together. But when morning comes, they both find themselves asking one question. Will they see each other again, or was their connection for one night only?

December 29: “Best Friends for a Night” by Alice Gaines Every year, Steve has been cheering up his army buddy’s widow with popcorn and zany movies on the anniversary of her husband’s death. Will a little holiday magic make Steve and Hannah more than friends?

December 30: “Entwined” by Kristi Rose Donovan survived combat, but can he survive being stranded over Christmas with the girl of his dreams? He swore he’d stay away from his best friend’s kid sister years ago, but after a helicopter crash, this sailor knows second chances don’t come around often. Loving Bailey would mean risking not only his friendship but his heart.

December 31: “Rekindled” by Stacy Finz Branna and Drex are over…or at least they thought they were. But a little time trapped in an enclosed space with a magical fruitcake might just change that.

January 1: “New Year’s Negotiation” by Kate Allenton When Detective Elizabeth Cross’s high school crush and star of her what-ifs shows up at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve ready to take her on a trip down memory lane, she’ll have to decide if this is a second chance at her happily ever after or the start of another broken heart.

January 2: “Playing House” by Kim Golden Cassie Delk isn’t having the best holiday season. With her ex-husband about to get remarried, she’s not thrilled about still being single. The last thing she expects is for a second chance at love to turn up on her doorstep.

January 3: “Book of Love” by Cd Brennan Nothing infuriates Melanie more than the one-armed, ex-army hunk who chucks her mail at her book shop door. When Nick delivers a special package at the end of the day, a blizzard strands them together, and the fruitcake delivery sparks magic between them instead. Melanie isn’t sure what she wants to give him—a piece of her mind or all of her heart.

January 4: “A Winter Wonderland” by Rebecca Hunter Coming face to face with Jace after ten years is a reminder of everything Selena left behind when she moved from Delilah’s Cove. It’s even more dangerous when mixed with a little magic.

January 5: “Wild Honey” by Sarah Hegger Two people who couldn’t be more different. One elevator, a dark and stormy night, and a magical, bourbon-laced fruitcake. What could go right?  

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Why I Write Strong Women–and Why It Matters

 

I don’t remember how I began writing strong women. I do recall, though, an early review of my first book Fearless wherein the review jeered that it should have been FearFUL because Tas was such a timid soul. And I remember thinking . . . well, no. She isn’t. She is just a seventeen-year-old girl who has led a protected life and needs to find her own strength. This is the story of how that will happen.

(And that’s exactly what happened in the four books of The King Quartet and by the fifteenth book in the overall series, Age of Aquarius. So there.)

Still, at some point, I began to internalize this concept as I wrote. I made a conscious decision that the women in my books wouldn’t be damsels in distress or weak creatures. I wanted them instead to be sassy, spunky, confident and able.

Recently, I was at a writers’ conference, where I was discussing romance with a group of other authors. The ages of the writers ranged from (probably) early 30’s to mid-70’s. The conversation was lively and interesting, until some time toward the end, when one author remarked, “Well, we all just have to keep writing strong women.”

To my shock, the younger authors reacted badly to that idea. One replied, “Oh, no, I never write strong women–they’re bitches. Readers hate strong women.”

Those of us who were older hardly knew what to say. It bothered me so much that I brought it up to a bunch of other author friends. And then once I got home, I decided I wanted to do something constructive, which is why today we’re kicking off the #IWriteStrongWomen #IReadStrongWomen campaign.

Please understand that I think strength comes in all forms. I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama for over 20 years. That is strength, baby.

Strength doesn’t come from education or money or career or religion or status. It comes from inside you. It comes from experience and choices and–and love. Loving someone else is a measure of great strength and courage.

I write women who’ve never been to college (Jude and Nell and Emmy and Jenna and Ashley and Tori, among them), women who have advanced degrees (Elizabeth, Abby, Maureen), women who would be considered white-collar professionals and and those who own their own businesses and those who are full-time moms . . . what they have in common is their heart and the strength there.

And this is important to me because I have three daughters and will shortly have a granddaughter. I want to leave them a legacy of example–whether that’s in real life or on the page–of women who can do anything they set their minds to do.

I invite you to join our Facebook group,  We Read Strong Women. It’s just fun and chatting about our favorite kickass heroines and their stories–oh, and just maybe a little about the sexy guys who love these spunky women!

I also invite you to join our campaign by posting on your favorite social media site. Just share a picture of one of your favorite strong leading women along with a hash tag like:

#strongwomen
#strongwomenwriteromance
#strongisthenewsexy
#strongwomengreatbooks
#romancetakesastrongwoman
#iwritestrongwo
men

And tell us WHY you read strong women! I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

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