Been Searching for You Cover Reveal and Teaser

This is my never thought it would happen book. I never thought I’d write romance. (Actually, you could classify this as romance, chick lit, women’s fiction, or a romantic comedy – but I just call it a love story.) I mean, I’m a historical fiction writer. What do I want with the contemporary world? I actually swore I’d never write romance because I really disliked romance books for a long time – until I realized what I really hated was certain types of romance. Others actually aren’t too bad. But I still had one pet peeve: most heroines, especially in romantic comedies, are under 30. If there’s a wedding involved, it’s “OMG, I’m going to be 30 and not married!” As a 36-year-old single girl, allow me to smack you.

So, what did I do? I went and wrote my own love story, one for those of us who are over 30 *gasp*, still single and still romantics at heart. It came about because I wanted to write the happily ever after I haven’t yet experienced. It was also inspired by the Civil Wars songs “To Whom it May Concern” and “Dust to Dust.” They seem to be bookends to a love story to me, so I swore I’d write a book that began with the words “To Whom it May Concern” and ended with the words “Dust to Dust.” And I did.

Been Searching for You eBook Cover Large

Here’s the back cover copy:

Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16.

Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before that’s left her unable to commit.

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may finally be at an end. Things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to find the unknown recipient of her letters.  But blind dates, Meetup events and online singles sites have nothing on what fate has in store for her when a co-worker unexpectedly quits and Annabeth finds herself working in close quarters with both Alex and her long ago ex, Nick. Fighting her attraction to one and loathing for the other, Annabeth is forced to face all of her old insecurities while keeping an eye on a scheming frienemy who may derail her hopes and dreams.

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, it shows that love on the sweet side can exist for the modern girl, if only she’s willing to trust herself and search hard enough.

Been Searching for You was the winner of the 2015 Romance Writers of America Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

February

To Whom It May Concern,

I think I wronged the love goddess in a previous life. How else do you explain that I’ve written you so many letters yet we’ve still not met? Everyone I know is either married or in a committed relationship, and here I am, pen in hand, writing to someone I can’t even prove exists.

There’s an old Chinese folktale that says soul mates are connected from birth by an invisible red thread and that they can feel one another’s emotions, no matter the distance. It is this connection that eventually enables them to find one another. I believe it too.

As I write, I find myself trying to imagine your face, grasping at flashes of memory from dreams, wondering what name to voice in my prayers that you will soon be by my side. The irony is that by the time you read this, the color of your eyes will be second nature to me and your name will roll off my tongue as easily as my sister’s.

So please, my unknown love, hold tight to your red cord and follow it like a lifeline into the safe harbor of my arms.

“Are you ready yet, birthday girl?” Mia’s impatient voice broke through my romantic reverie, scattering my lovelorn thoughts.

“Almost,” I yelled back as I scanned what I had written. I wanted to say so much more, but Mia wouldn’t wait. But there was one more thought I couldn’t let go unsaid.

I just want you to know that I haven’t given up on you. I don’t trust easily, but I trust in you. I’m still waiting, though not so patiently anymore.

All my love,

Annabeth

The note was short compared to other years’ notes, but it would be after midnight when we returned home, so this would have to be enough. My one rule in this long-standing tradition—I’d been writing these letters since I was sixteen—was that the letter to my soul mate had to be written on my actual birthday. I folded the paper, slipped it inside the matching envelope, and licked the flap, then I pressed down to seal it.

Mia stuck her head in the door just as I drew the big numeral on the front. It matched my age—thirty-four. She shook her head, making her flaming tresses bounce. “You and your letters. If you two don’t meet soon, he’s going to have to buy an extra plane ticket on your honeymoon just for that box.” She nodded toward the big square hatbox that functioned as a hope chest for my letters to my future husband.

I slipped the newest letter in front, envelope awaiting further decoration. “Yes, but it’s romantic, don’t you think?”

“For a young girl, maybe, but you’re well past that, hon.” Her tone softened when I made a face. “You’ve got plenty of declarations of love. Maybe this should be the last one. You know, new year, new traditions?” She held up a shot glass filled with golden liquid. “Come on. We need to get this party started.”

Still scowling, I took the glass and downed the tequila with a small shiver. “If you say so.”

As I locked up, I cast one last glance at the box on my desk. She had a point about growing up, but I had no intention of giving up my beloved letters. It was only one each year, and it meant something to me. Those weren’t just letters; together, they were my gift to my future husband. Old-fashioned? Maybe, but it was me. Anyone who wanted to marry me would appreciate that. I smiled with a sudden thought. It was good I didn’t want to marry Mia.

(I’d give you the second scene as well, but it’s REALLY long. It’s the meeting of our hero and heroine…)

Pre-Order and Audio Info

Ebook and paperback will be out May 10. You can pre-order the Kindle version on Amazon now or add it to your Goodreads list.

It will be made into an audio book as well. I’m not sure when that will be released. I’m in talks with an actress and studio now, so I’ll keep you updated.

So, what do you think? Are you interested in this book? Thoughts, comments, questions?

 

Publication Announcement!

Image purchased from Dreamstime

Image purchased from Dreamstime

This is the blog post I’ve been waiting four years to write. I’m excited to announce that you will be seeing four (maybe even five) books from me in 2016!

That’s because I’ve made the decision to become an independent author. I’m even in the process of setting up my own company, which will be my publication house.

Here’s the publication schedule:

  1. Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 1) – January 1
  2. Camelot’s Queen (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 2) – March 23
  3. Been Searching for You (formerly He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) – May 23
  4. Madame Presidentess – July 25

And if the stars align, I’d love to have Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 3) published by the end of 2016, but that may be a bit ambitious, so I’m not making any promises yet.

All of these books will be available in e-book, print and audio formats. (Audio may come later than the others, depending on the production schedule. I’ll keep you updated.)

These books are the beginning of three series that I’ll continue in years to come:

  1. Arthurian Legend – Obviously, this includes the three Guinevere’s Tale books, but I also plan to write Tristan and Isolde’s story (Isolde demanded it when she walked into my head all those years ago), as well as several novellas. I’m also planning a companion book that tells you more about the details of my Arthurian world – you know, all the stuff that didn’t fit into the books.
  2. Love in the Windy CityBeen Searching for You was supposed to be a standalone novel. However, my beta readers immediately came back and demanded more, as have several contest judges. I’m pretty sure that there will be two more books in this series. I don’t want to give away more than that until all of you get to read it and tell me if you agree there’s more to Annabeth and Alex’s story (and Miles, Mia, and Nick).
  3. Heroines of the 19th CenturyMadame Presidentess (about Victoria Woodhull) is the first of four books about three feisty, mostly unknown, real-life women of the 19th century. Victoria was the first female to run for President in the United States. Another woman I will write about was a Morman with dreams of a new life in California, who unexpectedly became involved with Indians in the Wild West (I think her story will be two books). The other is a French woman who made a certain brand of high-end wine a household name in a time when women simply did not work. Though they are from vastly different worlds, none of these ladies lived the traditional role set out for women of their time and the world is better for it.

Which one will I focus on once the third Guinevere book is out? I have no idea. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have 22 books floating around in my head, so it will really be up to the muse and the characters what comes next. Well, that and how all of you react to the books once you can read them.

As many of you know, this has been a long journey with many ups and downs, and I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for all of you sticking with me, whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are just hopping on for the ride. I plan to keep you apprised of every step in the process and will give additional information as soon as I can. Look for cover reveals, early sample chapters, giveaways and more as publication dates approach.

Eventually I’ll get to the fun stuff like scheduling book signings and virtual tours (hope to get to meet some of you via Skype!), but right now I’m working on securing a cover designer, map illustrator (for the Guinevere books) and editor. Plus learning everything I can about self publishing. Before long it will be time to firm up the audio deal. Every day brings a new challenge, but it’s something I am having so much fun learning. For me, this is a career and a business, so I want to get it right.

Curious as to why I chose to self-publish? Find out my reasoning on Thursday, August 28, over at Spellbound Scribes.

Are you excited that my books will finally be out there? Which one(s) are you most looking forward to? Anything in particular you want to see in terms of marketing?

I’m a Linda Howard Award of Excellence Finalist!

This is the news I’ve been sitting on, but now I can finally announce: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a finalist of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence in the Single Title category. This award is sponsored by the Birmingham Chapter of RWA. Final placement will be announced in July. I’m especially excited about the final round judge for this category, Alicia Condon, editor at Kensington Publishing. Wish me luck!

(For those of you keeping track at home, this is final #5 for this book.)

 

Final #4 for He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not!

FFL_WHO_FinalistYou guys may get tired of hearing this, but I never get tired of saying it: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not has finaled in another contest! This one is the Fool For Love contest, sponsored by the Virginia Romance Writers. The category is long contemporary and the final results will be announced in mid-June. Wish me luck!

I’m sitting on one more piece of similar news…will reveal when I can.

Great Expectations Winner: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not!

1stPlace_Medallion_GreatExpectations_v1_2015Ah! You guys! He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is the winner of the Great Expectations (North Texas RWA) contest for Single Title Romance! I can’t believe it!

I’m going to go have a celebratory drink. Here’s to much more success to come and hopefully soon, a book contract!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a Great Expectations Finalist!

Finalist_Medallion_GreatExpectations_v1_2015I am so excited to announce that my romantic comedy, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, is a finalist in the Great Expectations writing contest, sponsored by the North Texas chapter of the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA).

This means my book is one of four books in the Single Title Romance category that will be judged by an editor at a major publishing house. Results are due the third week of March, so I will be sure to keep you updated.

Just like the Academy Awards, even though everyone wants to be that one winner, it is such an honor just to have gotten this far, especially since I didn’t set out to write a romance. I just set out to tell the story that was in my mind, so it doesn’t necessarily follow all the traditional conventions. But it means so much to know that readers believe I have talent and want to see this story on the shelves!

Meet My Main Character: Annabeth

Learn more about my rom-com main character, Annabeth, over at Spellbound scribes.

Spellbound Scribes

Nadine Lewington is who I would pick to play Annabeth. She's been my muse for the character all along. Nadine Lewington is who I would pick to play Annabeth. She’s been my muse for the character all along.

Since I was tagged twice in this hop (by Malcolm Noble and J.F. Ridgley – have a look at their main characters, please), I’m introducing two main characters. Today, I’m please to introduce you to Annabeth, the main character of my new romantic comedy, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. (Don’t forget to visit my main blog to meet Guinevere, the main character of my historical fantasy trilogy.)

What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historic person?

Annabeth Coe. She’s a fictional character.

When and where is the story set?

Modern-day Chicago.

What should we know about Annabeth?

Annabeth is a die-hard romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing letters to hers since she was a teenager.  Now in…

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Blog Hop – My Work in Progress

This is a hint of the book title, without giving it away.

This is a hint of the book title, without giving it away.

Lucky you! You’re getting two blog posts today since I’m part of a blog hop.

This one has been called by a few different names, including My Writing Process and the Faberge Blog Hop. I prefer to think about it as an opportunity to tell you about my latest Work in Progress (WIP). This is the contemporary story I’ve been hinting around about for a while now. Since it’s nearly ready to go to beta readers and then my agent, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you a little tease about it.

1) What are you working on?

I am finishing edits on my first contemporary story. I don’t know exactly what to call it in terms of book genre, so I refer to it as a romantic comedy. The closest comparison I can draw is Bridget Jones’ Diary. This is my first attempt at summarizing the story, so it’s not nearly as polished as a query or back-cover copy would be:

Annabeth Coe is a hopeless romantic who is still waiting for her soul mate to appear. When, on her 34th birthday, she meets a handsome professor named Alex, she thinks she may have finally met “the one.” But when he fails to ask her out, she determines she will do whatever it takes in the next year to find the guy she knows is out there somewhere. Hilarity ensues as Annabeth navigates the world of online dating, Meetup groups and being set up by well-meaning friends and family in her quest to find love.

When she’s finally happily dating an artist named Victor, fate throws her a curve ball by thrusting her and Alex together in a working relationship, where they get to know one another without being able to pursue one another. Then, just when Alex is in reach, a blast from Annabeth’s past shows up to stir up trouble, in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Nick, who broke her heart and ruined her ability to trust years before. While she’s dealing with the unresolved emotions his reappearance has brought to the surface,  Alex is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to teach at Oxford, where he becomes embroiled in a scandal that threatens their relationship. Can Annabeth move beyond past hurts to trust Alex in his time of need? Is their love strong enough to survive what is either Alex’s greatest mistake or a pack of well-planned lies? Or will Nick’s meddling be enough for  Annabeth to give up on love completely?

This summary doesn’t do the story justice – it’s even missing my favorite character, Mia – but it’s all I’ve got for now.

2) How does this story differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough question to answer because I don’t know exactly how this book will be classified. It’s not a traditional romance for a few reasons:

  1. While it’s clear the characters are having sex, there are no explicit love scenes.  I did this on purpose because I didn’t want the sex to be the focus of the book. Rather, I wanted the characters’ story to be what keeps you reading.
  2. It’s written in first person. This is Annabeth’s story, so I wanted you in her head, experiencing things as she does. Traditional romance is written in third person, telling both sides of the story.
  3. While Annabeth’s quest for love and her relationship with Alex is certainly the focal point of the story, it also makes a strong statement about the value of education, specifically how important reading and writing are for young people. I never intended my book to have a “theme,” but it naturally occurred as a result of Alex’s passion for his students and a project he and Annabeth work on.
  4. Annabeth is older than the traditional romantic heroine. I made her my own age because I wanted to write a book for women like me who are older than the norm for those never married. I wanted a book that those of us who are still waiting for someone worth our time can relate to. I may end up having to make her younger to appease the market, but I’m hoping not.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I never thought I’d write something like this. I’m not normally a romance fan. But as I said above, this isn’t what most people think of as romance. I wrote this story because I had to. The plot came to me and would not be denied. I wrote the whole book in two months, which is only a fraction of the time it normally takes me to write my historical fiction books.

This book had it’s genesis when my best friend, Courtney, introduced me to the song “To Whom it May Concern” by The Civil Wars. I fell in love with it immediately because it’s basically a love letter to a soul mate you know is out there but have never met. I loved The Civil Wars’ music, so I listened to another album and found the song “Dust to Dust,” which was to me, a bookend to “To Whom it May Concern.” “Dust to Dust” is about two people realizing they’ve finally found one another after a long period of being lonely and trying to convince each other to let their guards down and finally love. I told Courtney that someday I was going to write a book that started with the words “To Whom it May Concern” and ends with the words “Dust to Dust.”

A few days later I was watching the British TV show Inspector Lewis and I saw actress Nadine Lewington. As soon as I saw her, I knew she’d be a character in one of my books someday. The next morning, Annabeth was in my head, and it was Nadine. Two weeks later I had a full plot. Two months later, the book was done, complete with the opening and closing lines I wanted. That’s not normally how it works for me.

4) How does my writing process work?

I pretty much chronicled the process for this book in my last answer, but I will say this: normally the whole thing takes a lot longer. But no matter if it’s contemporary or historical, every book starts with the characters. I usually know who they are and what they want before I even have a plot. When I write historical fiction, I go on from there with research into the time period/myth I’m writing. That usually helps me fill in the plot details. Then I outline and start writing, knowing full well that the characters will mess up my outline at least once during the first draft.

When I draft, I mostly write on weekends since my day job is also writing and there’s only so much my brain will do in a day. I don’t have any rituals or anything specific that I do every time. I just plop down on the couch and write. Sometimes when I need motivation, I will look at Twitter to see what the successful authors I follow have to say. Sometimes they spur me into action. Or I also watch things with the actors who play the characters in my head to get a feel for how they might move or sound. Since I’ve been to Hedgebrook, I also light incense that smells like the wood burning stoves in cabins to take me back to a time of peace and creativity. In the end, it’s the characters who write the book; I’m just their scribe.

Once I have a first draft, I set it aside for a month to get some distance and clarity. Then I go back and do a first pass, catching typos and noting major problems. I fix those and then read it again, making more changes. Then it’s time for the beat sheet, which is my last round of edits before anyone else sees it. Then my two alpha readers (one writer and one average reader) read it and I make their edits. Then a group of beta readers see it (again, a good mix of readers and writers, plus one amazing proofreader). After a few more edits, it’s off to my agent and we do some additional editing. Then it’s ready for submission.

I was tagged for this blog hop by Elise Forier Edie. Make sure to go and check out her answers about her latest book. She’s a playwright and author based in Los Angeles.  This month she is looking forward to the release of her paranormal romance novella “The Devil in Midwinter” by World Weaver Press and the opening of her one woman show “The Pink Unicorn” at Stage Left Studio in  New York City.  You can learn more about Elise’s work and writing at these links:

BLOG: http://www.eliseforieredie.com/blog.htm
TWITTER: @EliseForierEdie
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/EliseForierEdie?ref=hl
BIO: http://www.eliseforieredie.com/bio.htm
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7495615.Elise_Forier_Edie
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Elise-Forier-Edie/e/B00HFEFOGE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

And next week, look for these authors to answer the same questions about their WIP on their blogs:
Shauna Granger (she writes paranormal, post-apocalyptic and erotica), Jamie Krakover (she writes YA) and Courtney Marquez (she writes historical fiction – she’s a maybe for the hop).

What do you think about this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.