Coastal Magic 2020–in the books!

Last weekend marked my eighth year as a Featured Author at Coastal Magic Con, and it was better than ever! Check out these pictures from our Roaring Twenties weekend . . . and consider joining the fun next February!

Second Chance Romance: Love is sweeter the second time around

Last year, a friend let me know that she was putting together a proposal for Apple Books to do a second chance romance feature. She asked me to submit any of my second chance romance as part of that.

When I think second chance romance, I think a second chance at love–full stop. So my mind immediately went to The Posse, where Jude, a young widow who experienced deep and abiding love with her late husband, finds herself falling for their long-time best friend. She gets a second chance at love.

But apparently, this is not the generally accepted definition of second chance romance–what I learned was that this is a much narrower understanding, wherein the love must be between the same two people, both times.

Happily for me, I had a book like that, too. The First One is the second book in my Love in a Small Town series. It’s near and dear to my heart, because it’s actually a story I had had in my head for a long time before I wrote it.

The book was inspired by Tim McGraw’s song Everywhere. The very first time I heard those lyrics, a tale began to evolve in my mind . . . a young couple in a small town, both of them eager to escape together, until the day of departure arrives. Why didn’t she go with him? That was what made the story.

Ali is the youngest sister of Sam Reynolds, and when we meet her in The Last One, she’s the single mom of a feisty little girl named Bridget. Sam and Ali both reference the fact that she’s divorced, but neither of them says much more than that until one night when Ali spills her heart to her new friend Meghan, the woman who’s slowly winning Sam’s love.

Still, we don’t know what lies ahead of Ali until The First One, when Flynn, the boy who’d been hers back in high school, comes back to Burton for a sad occasion. As it turns out, there’s more awaiting Flynn than he expects.

The First One is on sale at Apple Books for only 99 cents through the end of January. Grab it now and find a second chance at love!

Since Amazon has price-matched the book, Kindle readers can also get in on the fun right here.

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THE KEEPING SCORE BOX SET 99 cents

https://books2read.com/KeepingScoreBoxSet

SWAY releases on October 29th! Preorder here:

https://books2read.com/KSSway/

Happy 5th Birthday to THE LAST ONE–and some news!

Five years ago, I spent the summer writing a book that was different from anything I’d released before. Meghan and Sam’s story was by far the sexiest story I’d told so far . . . but it also included laughter and tears, all set against the backdrop of a small town in Georgia.

THE LAST ONE was actually the first one in what would become my longest contemporary romance series. This set now includes twelve books, and it’s far from over.

But even a five year old series can use a little sprucing up now and then. When I finished writing the first four books in Love in a Small Town, I realized I had more stories here–so I launched the next set of books, also set in Burton–and I titled them the Always books (Always For You, Always My Own, Always Our Love) and then the next set were the Girl books (The Love Song Girl, The Meant To Be Girl and two more upcoming releases).

The only problem was that these title changes within the series sometimes confused readers who didn’t realize these books were all part of one small town. So in celebration of five sizzling, romantic years in Burton, Georgia, we re-titled and re-covered five of the books. They are now:

The Always One

The Hard One

The Forever One

The Love Song One

The Meant To Be One

If you haven’t read this series yet–now is the time! THE LAST ONE is free on all vendors right now.

Find the entire series here!

 

Why I Stayed

When author Eva Pohler invited me to be part of Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My regular readers and friends know that suicide prevention is a cause close to my heart. I support organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms that help people choose not to end their lives.

But there are some intensely personal reasons for me to believe in this cause. At three different points in my life, I have seriously considered checking out early. Once was during my high school years, when I was struggling with an eating disorder. The second time was when I was in my early thirties and was facing an incredibly painful personal crisis. And the third time was in the past few years.

I want to say upfront that I am a woman of faith, and that faith has sustained me more than once. I credit my relationship with God and El’s grace with having saved me. But I’m all too aware that the church has not always been understanding and compassionate about mental and emotional struggles. Too often, women and men who needed the most help have been stigmatized as weak, shunned or ridiculed. The very place and people to whom we should want to turn have betrayed us.

It wasn’t the church that made me turn away from the dark. It wasn’t a doctor, although I believe strongly in therapy and counseling. It wasn’t my friends or my family, although they all loved me and hurt for me.

For each of us, where we find the small thread to which we cling is different. Where the light shines through can be varied. For me, the why was different each time. But ultimately, somehow, at the crucial point, hope broke through, and it was bright enough, even if it was only for a moment, to keep me on this side. And when hope came, it spoke to me through a book–a different one every time.

Suicide wasn’t unheard of in my family. I lost an uncle, a cousin and several other extended family to the dark. I remember my father often saying that suicide was a permanent solution to temporary problems, but for those of us who struggle, the problems don’t feel temporary. They feel huge and permanent and insurmountable. It doesn’t feel as though there’s life on the other side.

I remember reading something that changed my life and the way I looked at things. The gist of it was that we can’t always trust how we feel. While I know I should listen to my emotions and tune into them, consider what they might mean, I can’t make decisions based solely on how I feel, because those feelings aren’t reliable. They can be influenced by things like hormones and misunderstandings and whether or not I’ve eaten today.

That realization was a game-changer for me. I don’t mean it should be for everyone, but for me–it made a difference.

A few years ago, I wrote a quartet of books within my series Love in a Small Town. Although each book stands alone, there was an overarching storyline in these four books: the story of Jenna Sutton, who’d attempted suicide in the aftermath of a devastating rebuff. Jenna’s tale was very personal, especially as her story was seen through the eyes of her family, friends and others in her small town. I hope that these books help others, too, who might need to know they are not alone.

Please join us at the event on Tuesday (I’ll be doing a Facebook LIVE there at 6 PM CDT/7 PM EDT) and also check out my video on my YouTube channel (it’ll go up before September 9th).

If you are on the precipice of making a choice right now . . . if you are choosing whether or not to stay . . . please hold onto these truths:

You are important.

Your story isn’t over.

Hope is real.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

If you need someone to talk to and you don’t want to call a suicide hotline (which is a wonderful resource, by the way), please know that you can message me on Facebook or email me, and I will be there for you.

That’s a promise, and it’s not just for you. Knowing there are people who are counting on me helps me, too, when I’m making one of those decisions.

I’ll stay . . . if you do.

Much love, now and always . . .

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