November 28, 2013

Musings

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Ca-cornucopia_of_the_worldI have so many things to be thankful for in 2013, including discovering this cornucopia photo on Wikimedia Commons. I find old advertisements like this, described as a “propaganda poster to get immigrants to move to California” (circa 1876), fascinating. Did you note how California is “a climate for health and wealth, without CYCLONES or BLIZZARDS”?

Fun, eh? I love to pore through historic ads selling miracle cures or, more recently, claiming smoking is good for you.

Anyway, this is Thanksgiving Day, so I’m here to list the things for which I’m giving thanks. This is a special year for me, being newly published and all.

In no particular order:

— Thanks to the folks at Turquoise Morning Press for taking a chance on DIVA IN THE DUGOUT. It’s been amazing working with such a talented group, and I look forward to getting Books 2 (BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER) and 3 (still untitled) out next March and April, respectively.

— Thanks also to those who’ve helped me ready my first foray into indie publishing, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. (It’s not a terribly original title, by the way. There are about 100 pages of them on Amazon … I blame the Christmas carol, which is where I took inspiration for the title.) I couldn’t have done it without my talented cover designer, Rogenna Brewer; former coworker and editor Dani Crabtree; and Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies.

— Thanks to the Boyfriend for always believing in me, even when I have a tough time believing in myself. He’s more excited about my first royalty check than I am … I think he thinks I’ll suddenly be flush with cash, while I know better. I’m not going to disabuse him of the notion, though, because he gives me plenty of time to write.

— Thanks to the people who are buying DIVA  and HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, reading them and leaving reviews. HFTH just got its first 5-star review on Amazon. Among the highlights:

Short, sweet and punctuated with Ms. Hittle’s trademark wit, it’s the perfect length for a quick getaway when you can’t handle another minute of the holiday rush.

And …

Grab a latte or a hot toddy and relax with Home for the Holidays. You won’t be disappointed.

I’ll take that high praise any day of the week (and twice on Sundays!).

— Thanks, too, to my fellow authors for their support and commiseration. I don’t know where I’d be without the gals from NARWA; my Golden Heart sisters, the Starcatchers; and the LaLaLas. They’re always around to bounce ideas off of, cheer me on and listen to me worry. They say writing is a solitary pursuit, and you need a strong support system. Thanks to these folks, I have one. They’re all a phone call, text or email away.

— Thanks to my coworkers, who listen to me squeal with excitement (or groan in disappointment) whenever I check DIVA’s Amazon sales ranking. Even if they don’t really care, they do a good job of faking interest.

— Thanks to my web designer, Larissa, who put together this beautiful website. It’s exactly what I wanted, but had no clue how to build for myself.

— Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Starbucks. Their drinks and pastries keep me going. Oh, the pastries … have you tried the new pecan tart yet? Mmmm …

 

November 25, 2013

Cher & Derrick, Stories

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Cheryl “Cher” Stanton is about to discover home is where the hunk is …

Today has been more than a year in the making, but I can finally say it, loud and proud: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is on sale. Just in time for the holidays, it’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

My indie publishing debut joins DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, which was released last month by Turquoise Morning Press.

The musician heroine of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS leapt out at me, fully formed, last year when I read Carina Press’ open call for holiday shorts. I clearly saw the story’s beginning and end … I just wasn’t sure how she got from Point A (singing the blues because she’s forced to return to the hometown she couldn’t wait to get out of) to Point B (singing the town’s praises).

This being a romance, a man had to figure into the transformation. Enter Derrick Mullins, one of her two best friends throughout middle school and high school. Cher had always had a thing for Derrick—and even went so far as to put the moves on him on graduation night—but she left town on the 6 a.m. bus the next morning convinced he didn’t know she existed.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course. And now that Derrick’s no longer young and stubborn, he’s ready to pick up where Cher left off all those years ago.

I knew I wanted Cher’s hometown to be a small town, one a high-school girl with big dreams would find stifling. And I knew just the place: Langley, Indiana. I’d already written one story where Langley figured into the equation, so I had a clear picture of the town. Nestled in the Indiana cornfields, it had  just one stoplight. A high school (Langdon High, Cher and Derrick’s alma mater), a barber shop and Dottie’s Diner (the town hangout) dotted the main drag.

It was the kind of place from which Cher couldn’t wait to escape. She returns only because her health demands she get some R&R, and she figures she can hide out at her folks’ house, so far off the beaten path that her fans will never think to look for her there.

And it works. She’s getting her much-needed vacation … until she runs into Derrick. Things heat up and Cher finds herself developing a new appreciation for her hometown.

Why set a story in a tiny Indiana town? Well, they say write what you know. I grew up in small-town Indiana. My high school was in Albion, which had one stoplight—at the intersection of state roads 8 and 9.

Langley is not Albion, but Albion is part of Langley. So are a lot of other small Indiana towns, places I’ve come to appreciate now that I’ve been gone from them for more than a decade.

I hope you enjoy Cher and Derrick’s story, and your stay in Langley. (I have three other stories set in nearby Willow’s Grove, including OPERATION SNAG MIKE BRAD, the manuscript in which Langley was born.)

Pick up your copy of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It’s a real steal at only 99 cents.

November 23, 2013

Excerpts

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LynnSexySaturday_buttonIt’s Saturday—time for another installment of everyone’s favorite blog hop, My Sexy Saturday.

A quick reminder of the rules:

Post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. The choice is yours. It can be from a WIP or something you already have published. Your post should be live by 9 am US Pacific Time on Saturday. Put those lucky 7s to work for you!

Arlene_HomeHolidays_300dpi(1600x2560)This week, I’m celebrating the release of my holiday novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

The tale of a singing sensation forced to return to her tiny Indiana hometown just in time for Thanksgiving is a little bit sexy, a little bit sweet and a whole lotta hilarious.

Enjoy this sneak peek:

Derrick didn’t seem to mind her lapse into brainlessness. He merely chuckled and stepped away to strip off his T-shirt, revealing the muscles she’d been fantasizing about all night. Hair dusted his chest, narrowing down to

Oh my. They weren’t in high school anymore. This Derrick was all man, and finally, all hers. She raised her eyes back to his face too late. He’d caught her looking.

His lips quirked up in amusement. “You looked your fill yet?”

Not trusting her voice, she nodded.

“Good. Now it’s my turn.”

“What?”

“Strip for me, Sweetness.”

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, my indie publishing debut, available Monday at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

November 18, 2013

Musings

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… No, not “Catching Up with Depeche Mode,” although that disc had most of the essentials from DM’s early years.

I’m talking about catching up with my busy, busy author self.

Diva-Dugout-AHittle-LGThe days—has it really already been a month?—since DIVA IN THE DUGOUT‘s release have been a whirlwind. That’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s been there, done that with their debut novel … or any new book, really.

Since I’m not making enough to quit the day job (yet), I’ve been juggling a 40-hour work week with:

  • Finishing the first draft of still untitled Book 3 in my All Is Fair in Love & Baseball series. (Finished Oct. 30 and am about to start self-editing.)
  • Prepping BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER for its March release. (Got edits from my TMP editor in late October and am about to shoot an updated MS back to her.)
  • Getting my holiday novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, ready for its indie debut on Nov. 25. Edits courtesy of my former Daily Sun coworker, now a freelance editor, Heather Danielle Crabtree, and formatting by Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies.
  • Being NARWA’s president, with all the fun and worries that entails.
  • Promoting DIVA in as many ways as I can.

I bought a Facebook Flash ad on TheCheapEBook.com, stuffed DIVA bookmarks into books from some of my favorite authors at Barnes & Noble and Bookmans stores in Phoenix and have been making the rounds with guest blog posts.

In case you missed it:

  • I chatted with fellow TMP author J.M. Kelley about my debut—before it had actually debuted—and answered questions about my high school days and my favorite season.
  • I visited with the Rubies to talk about my trouble with the (learning) curve. I asked what everyone wished they’d known before they published their first novel and discovered, much to my disappointment (but not surprise), that the writing biz doesn’t get any easier once you’re published.
  • I stopped by Lynn Cahoon’s blog to share my favorite writing advice. I wish I’d been at RWA Nationals to see Kristan Higgins’ keynote speech live, but I’ve watched the YouTube video twice, and my advice is from it.
  • At Just Contemporary Romance, I revealed my dirty little secret. (Hint: It involves balls … or a lack thereof.)
  • At Chicklets in the Kitchen, I whipped up one of the meals that makes an appearance in DIVA. Nothing fancy here. Think something a busy single mom would feed her 4-year-old.
  • This Wednesday, I’m set to visit with Barbara Bettis for her Writers Wednesday feature. Among other things, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from DIVA. (You’ll be able to see for yourself why the hashtag #BadDadIncident, coined by one of my healthy living blogger friends who’s reading the book, fits …)

I’ve been watching DIVA’s Amazon bestsellers ranking closely. Not like a hawk, though I admit to checking it more often than I probably should, for my sanity’s sake. It’s been up and down, though it seems to be hanging tough right around 10K. You might have seen some of the posts on my Facebook author page.

Taken at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 ... DIVA's sales rank was the highest I've seen.

Taken at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 … DIVA’s sales rank was the highest I’ve seen.

For a brief, shining moment Wednesday night, it was at 6,800-something. (Yes, I took a screen shot … I’m nerdy that way.) Whatever magic bullet propelled it to that height on the Amazon Best Sellers list has since worn off, and it’s back in the 10K-15K range.

Because I’ll only have one stab at Best First Book (and because habits die hard), I decided just this week to enter DIVA in the RITAs. It’s up against some stiff competition (like my friend Abigail Sharpe’s WHO WANTS TO MARRY A COWBOY), but I figured what the heck. I’ll only have one first book, so why not try?

You can’t win if you don’t play!

Disclosure: Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I’ll make a few extra pennies if you use them to buy.