A Sinful 4th

Yes, it’s summer. Yes, I have a new day job. And yes, I have been ignoring you all completely. Sorry about that. To be fair, I doubt you want to hear about how much fun I’m having going to work early, working through lunch and staying late. Then I come home and work on freelance stuff.

See? I told you it wasn’t fun. Actually, I like the job a lot, so it’s not bad, but it’s keeping me from the blog and the book. But last week, a wonderful thing happened. It turns out, we’re supposed to have 9 paid holidays, but somehow we missed one this year. So someone at work suggested earlier this year that we get Thursday and Friday off for the 4th. A moment of brilliance there, let me tell you.

So I took my first vacation in forever. Sure, I bop on down to South Carolina regularly and hang with Regan Black. But it’s always a crap shoot as to whether or not we’ll actually leave her house.  Because we’re, you know, really. exciting. writers.

At the news that I could have four days off in a row, I made plans. Snarky Daughter and I took off for the beach on Wednesday night after she got off work. Which means we got to the coast at 1am. For those wondering, Scout Son was at Scout Camp learning to sail. We do not pity him, although he remains jealous.

Now, here’s where it got sinful… because driving 9 hours round trip for 36 hours at the beach wasn’t sinful enough. We went out to the beach and read. Books. We ignored phones, email, wheat-free dining and life in general. Snarky Daughter and I both read two books while we were down there.

Heaven with a hint of sunburn. Took several hundred photos, but haven’t downloaded them yet, so just trust me when I say that Beaufort, North Carolina is wonderfully relaxing. Parts of it were also the inspiration for the town of Blakely in The Heiress and Her Fake Fiance.

I’ve been home for five days now. Is it too soon to go back on vacation? This time I’ll work on the book. I promise!


Ta-da! A Holiday Anthology and I’m Guest Blogging Today

A Season for Romance Book Cover
They say home is where the heart is…

Yes, that’s me doing the happy dance in the kitchen, while trying not to spill my morning cup of tea. No, I will not be sharing photos of me post-yoga and pre-shower. Even with the Dunkin’ Donut, it’s not a pretty picture!

So, here’s the exciting news of the day: my holiday anthology, A Season for Romance, is out!!! This is a fun collection of short stories that take place between Thankgsiving and New Year’s Eve.

If you ever wondered how Grandma Vi got her matchmaking start, you can watch as she tries her hand with Jessica’s parents, in Meddling with Mistletoe. You’ll remember Jessica from my first book, The Heiress and Her Fake Fiance. There was a throw-away line in there about how Vi locked Jessica’s parents in a wine cellar at a Christmas party. When the offer to participate in the anthology came along, I knew it was time to share their story.

Romantic Suspense author, VR Marks brings us The Sheriff’s Proposal. We meet Sheriff Cochran in her first novel, The Thief, but we don’t learn exactly how he feels about Ruth Williams, the owner of the local diner, until her annual Thanksgiving feast in The Sheriff’s Proposal.

When Ethan Myers, an award-winning photographer short on inspiration, leaves his studio for the road, he’s shocked to run into the one woman he’s never forgotten, in the contemporary sweet story, Finding the Focus, by Jay Keelan.

And finally, we have Snow-Covered Resolutions by Regan Black, a fantastic paranormal romance/fantasy/Young Adult author. It’s New Year’s Eve and all of the Pixie Chicks have someone special to kiss at midnight – except Austin. In this season of resolutions will she stick to hers, or will the snow-covered magic of Hobbitville sweep her up in a whole new adventure?

We’re guest blogging today at Romance Bandits, so stop by. I’ll be checking in throughout the day while I wrap presents and bake a ton of Christmas cookies! And did I mention there will be book giveaways?


Writing Wednesday: Location, Location, Location

I have a problem. I can’t write about places I haven’t visited. No, don’t bother to look at a map. Blakely, NC, the small beach town where The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé takes place, does not exist. It’s made up of small southern towns I’ve visited over the years, especially the Crystal Coast area in North Carolina.

When it comes to non-fiction articles, I can write about just about anything, whether I’ve been there or not. I can call people, visit websites and do research so I can write 1,000 words about whatever it is. But to carry a book, I need to have a place in mind. I have to have been there.

I know writers who can take that same level of detailed research that I do for an article and write a book that sounds like they’ve lived there all their lives. Not me. I need to see a place, wander around, breathe the air, talk to the locals. Only then can I write about it.

Even having grown up in the Bay Area, when I sat down to write The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge, due out early this summer, I had to visit the area. I had to see it through my characters’ eyes this time.

It’s important that I see it because to me location is a character in the book. Heiress wouldn’t have worked in New York. Would Luke Skywalker have saved the universe a long time ago if Tatooine looked like Hawaii? Doubt it. One of the reasons Casablanca is so good is because the location has it’s own personality that permeates the movie.

So, as you sit down to write, whether you need to see a place in person or you can get what you need through traditional research, make sure you give your setting its due.

And while you’re doing that, I think I’ll pack a bag. I feel a research trip coming on!



Indie Giveaway Hop Stop #19

indie giveaway

Welcome to stop number 19 on the Indie Giveaway Hop! The week-long hop is hosted by A Daydreamers Thoughts and Booked Up Reviews and supported by Blogger Loving, Making Connections, and Shut Up & Read.

To celebrate Indie authors, I’m giving away some of my favorite indy books. Obsession is the first book in Debra Webb’s Faces of Evil series. If you enjoy thrillers, you’ll love this opening novel for a serial killer series. The Matchmaker’s Mark by Regan Black is a personal favorite, light paranormal romance. Also the first in a series, I can’t wait to see the next installment. My final giveaway is a fun contemporary romance, Deal with a Devil by Diana Duncan.

Photo of Heiress and Her Fake Fiance by Kimberly Hope book coverIn my book, The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé , when Jessica Heymore needs to figure out what to do with the mess her life has become, she runs home to the North Carolina beach town where she grew up. It’s hardly surprising. I’ve run back home when my life hit rock bottom. And when I was there, I ran to the beach. Now that I’m on the east coast, I run to the beach at least once a year, usually in the winter when the place is deserted and the weather is a lot like Northern California in May.

Which raises the question, where do you run when you need to get away? Answer the question as a comment on this blog and you’re immediately entered in the drawing for one of the books above.

Here’s an excerpt from Jessica’s story:

“It’ll go away,” she muttered. Her body hadn’t gotten the memo saying she was over him. With so little sleep, her body and her hormones were working on autopilot. Tomorrow everything would get back to normal.

 “Now, come on, you two, work with me. This isn’t a root canal. Matt, put your arm around the girl. You’re supposed to be in love.”

“What? We’re not –,” The words died in Jessica’s throat when Matt touched her.

He slipped his arm around her waist, and pulled her close, so they stood hip to hip.

“You mean like this?”

Fire ran up her side and she wanted to cry. Why didn’t Bill cause sensations like these?

“Or was this more what you had in mind, Vi?”

Jessica stopped thinking the minute he turned her so they were facing. He winked as he slowly pulled her closer, until she was pressed firmly against his hard body. Her hands reached for his shoulders, almost of their own volition.

Matt lowered her in a dip and their eyes met. Her laughter died in her throat. Eyes that had held humorous sparks just a moment before now darkened to near-black with an awareness she’d never seen. Anticipation licked up her spine but Jessica opened her mouth to protest.

“Well, don’t just stand there. Kiss her, for goodness sake.”

He whispered an oath as he lowered his head.

You can read the whole story The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé . And don’t forget to visit all the stops on the blog hop.
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Alpha-Hero Gardners Apply Here

Not surprisingly, I dream of my heroes. I mean who wouldn’t want a hot, understanding guy who instinctively knows when to stand back because you’re in control and when to step up and take control? They cook. They clean. They somehow remain hot, alpha males.

But today, all I really want is Matt Lawson, my garden designer hero from The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé. I love gardening, so you’d think my yard would look awesome. Not so much. We spent 15 years working on the house. All the money went into the house. In the early days I tried to work on the yard too. But for several years I heralded in spring with crutches. By the time I could walk again, it was 100 degrees outside and the dirt was now clay brick. Somehow the chickweed continued to take over.

So this weekend I came out of a cleaning haze long enough to glance out a window and thought, What Would Matt Do? I’m pretty sure what he would do is come through with a flamethrower.

The big problem is that a garden that 15 years ago got mostly sun now gets mostly shade. So what plants remain are spindly and maybe get one bloom. Maybe. I can sort of see what I want to be there. A water garden in a raised bed full of anything and everything that blooms in the shade. Because at the end of the day, I still want an English cottage garden.

Foxglove. Phlox. A bunch of stuff with Latin names I can’t pronounce that bloom from March to November. Yeah, I see the issue. What I want is a full sun garden, what I have is a full shade space.

If Matt could just wander into the yard, or maybe I could run into that guy from HGTV who haunts home improvement garden centers and fixes your yard in a weekend…the things they could accomplish. After they stopped shaking their heads in disgust. And started the flamethrower.

No. No pictures. Mostly because it’s 8:30 at night and this is when it looks its best. But if any of you have seen my hero wandering around, send him to my yard. I have a little project for him.


Christmas Reviews or The Evil Empire? Which Would You Face?

Christmas at my house means Star Wars. This year we had Star Wars coffee mugs, t-shirts from Vader and more video games than I can count. We even had Star Wars hot chocolate. Scout Son sagely informed me that there are only three Star Wars games that we do not currently own. He wasn’t asking for them, mind you, he’s analytical. He knows these things and feels the need to share.

Christmas came for me when my daughter got an Amazon gift card. After all the gifts were open, she went to the computer to carefully consider her purchases. Funny how when it’s their money the kids have to think about what they’re buying. When it’s my money, it’s how fast can we get the stuff into the cart.

So, she’s carefully shopping. Except for one thing. When she opened up our Amazon account, she looked at me and said, “Mom, can I buy your book?”

Merry Christmas to me! My kid wants to buy my book! Umm…hmm… My daughter wants to read my book?

Don’t get me wrong. I know she reads romance novels, and I’m fine with it. But now she’s going to read the one I wrote. That just seems like it’s skating on the line of Too Much Information. But it was so sweet, I couldn’t say no.

Luckily, Snarky Daughter reads about five books at a time, so there’s a really good chance I’ll never hear about this again. And it helps my sales numbers. Heaven help me if she decides to review it. Worse, what if it doesn’t hold up? What if she doesn’t like it?

Have I mentioned that writers are neurotic? Yes, it takes guts to put our books out there for people to read. But the reality is, once it’s out there, we can sort of ignore its existence and just accept the checks when they come in. If we don’t think about the fact that people are reading the books, we can get through the day.

On Christmas Eve, I got the email from Amazon that someone had reviewed The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé. Remember that feeling you got in school when your teacher handed back the big assignment, but you hadn’t looked at the grade yet? Multiply that by 1,000 and you’ve got what a writer feels when they get a review.

I got the email in the middle of canceling a credit card, baking cookies, and last-minute wrapping. In the middle of all the holiday hoopla, I was not prepared to face a review. Who am I kidding? In the middle of winning the lottery I wouldn’t be prepared to face a review.

Please have it be someone I know. Please have it be someone I know…

Armed with a Hot Buttered Rum, I clicked on the link. Paranormal romance author, Regan Black, reviewed my book. I looked at the stars. Woo-hoo! A five-star review! And with that, I closed the computer and went back to making cookies. No, I didn’t read it right then. I couldn’t. Seriously, I had about a million more packages to wrap, and fingers to burn making pralines (another story) before I could go to bed and hope the reindeer dancing on the roof didn’t wake me up.

I did finally face the review, which is lovely, by the way. Even knowing it was going to be good, I still had pralines in hand. You never know when you’re going to need them! Because facing Darth Vader is easier than facing a review.

I should know. We face him daily, thanks to Santa.

Happy Holidays!


The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé is available now!

When it came time to announce that The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé was available online, I had it in my head that I was going to be all business. *snort*

But the reality is, I’m in my living room today doing a Snoopy Happy Dance because three people bought the book before I could announce that it was for sale. My book’s for sale! My book’s for sale!

Better yet? I’ve checked with everyone who knew the book was floating out there, and they haven’t bought it yet! So real people are buying it. Not my mom (which would have been pretty impressive giving she passed away a few years ago). Not my critique partner or my best friend. Strangers are buying my book!

Yeah, the ‘all business’ thing is totally over-rated. Seeing my book available on Amazon and Smashwords is a dream come true. So, I’m happy dancing with a glass of wine. Good news for me; dangerous situation for the carpet.

In case you hadn’t pieced it together yet, my book is out there. You can actually go out and buy it today for $.99. It would make a great gift for the romance reader in your life. Don’t think you know any? Did you know that 7 out of 10 genre fiction book sales is a romance novel?

Yeah, someone’s going to call me on that stat, so I’ll just admit right now that it’s an old one from Romance Writers of America. But it was accurate a few years ago (the last time I checked), and it’s stuck in my head and people are always amazed by it. Don’t be. If you think you don’t know people who read romance, you’re wrong. Everybody loves a Happily Ever After.

I’ve had a lot of people ask about Smashwords and what it is. It’s a one-stop shop for most e-reader formats. It gets the book into all the major markets (Apple, barnesandnoble.com, etc). You’ll see it popping up in those places over the next week, but in the meantime, if you can’t wait to read The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé — or you just want to improve my sales numbers — you can go to Smashwords.com and choose your download format. It’s also available at Amazon.

Don’t have an ereader or smart phone? Well, first ask for one/both for Christmas. Yes, pages are nice. You know what’s nicer? Having all your books with you when you travel! I never thought I’d be a convert, but the last four books I read, I read on my phone or Kindle. But, if you’re not quite ready to make that jump, you can download a PDF version to read on your computer. After you send your letter to Santa about a reader or phone.

Admittedly, having 24/7 instant access to a bookstore is not a good thing for me. Kind of like dropping me in the middle of See’s Candies with a credit card. Soooo bad. But I will never be a victim of a crappy airport book selection again.

Now I have to stop happy dancing, and get back to gift wrapping, chocolate making, cookie baking, Christmas card writing… oh yeah, and working on the next book!

I hope you all enjoy The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé as much as I enjoyed writing it.


A Flock of Parrots Put My Head in the Sand

So, between Boy Scout Popcorn, Girl Scout Nuts, and preparing for the  Heiress and Her Fake Fiance release, I might have gotten a wee bit stressed. When stressed, do I do all the stuff on the To Do List so that I can relieve the stress? Heck, no.

I cook. A. Lot.

Tuscan Lemon Muffins. Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. Butternut Squash Risotto. Black Bean Soup. Roasted Winter Vegetables. Welcome to my Sunday.

Seriously, I made all of those things in about four hours on Sunday.

Several years ago, a published friend of mine told me a story about a writer who had gotten a book deal. And she froze. Couldn’t write. Sort of freaked out about the whole thing, because it suddenly hit her. This was REAL. It was really happening. And worse than that, now… she had to do it again. Oh. My. God.

At the time I thought, WHO could be that crazy? Um…yeah.

I was trucking along without fear right up until I received my book cover. Opened up my email a few weeks ago (I’d only been checking it 100 times a day waiting for the cover to arrive), and there it was. Reality was staring me in the face.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful cover. Karl Warren did a great job. I love my cover. But it’s a cover. Something the rejected manuscripts holding doors open throughout my house don’t have.

At that moment, I had my Oh My God moment. But with popcorn and nuts, I was able to do my ostrich impression and put my head in the sand. Funny thing about that is, life keeps going. Line edits still have to be done. New books still have to be written. Reviews have to be garnered. Blogs have to be…ignored. Oops.

I mentioned I flipped, right?

So, I allowed myself some time in the sand. But now it’s time to brush the sand out of my hair and get back to it. Because it’s my dream. I’ve worked hard for it, and it’s time to enjoy the moment.

So, you want to see the thing that sent me over the edge? Here it is!

Photo of Heiress and Her Fake Fiance by Kimberly Hope book coverIsn’t it gorgeous? I’m thinking of having it painted on my office wall. Well, I would but more often than not, my “office” is my living room, and I don’t think Snarky Daughter and Scout Son want to explain that to their friends.

But it’s nice to finally have something in hand to show that I’ve achieved this dream.


Matchmakers Abound in My World

Matchmakers abound in my world these days, whether it’s Grandma “Gran” Violet in my upcoming release, The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé, Amy in Regan Black’s The Matchmaker’s Mark, or Snarky Daughter’s friends. Or mine, for that matter. They’re everywhere!

“I know this guy. He’d be perfect.”

Sound familiar?

The all mean well. Even the bumbling 14 year-olds “helping” love along. Now truly, Regan and I are both happy these people exist in the world as they give us central characters in our books.

Writing about Gran was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Probably because I wasn’t her latest victim. Yes, Gran has a history. But Jess and Matt are definitely her toughest match to date. The problem with a matchmaker with a history is her victims know her tricks and will do anything to avoid them.

Like all matchmakers, Gran thinks she can force a man to move along before he’s ready. As an impatient woman, I understand the urge. Poor Jessica’s been waiting for Matt to get it together and notice her as something other than a 12 year-old for ten years. Luckily, when Gran drops her on his doorstep, Matt finally notices.

One of the best parts about being a romance writer is that I get to be a matchmaker all the time. No one gets hurt because I’m playing with the lives of characters, and I get to have all the fun. Although my characters are about as happy with the meddling as I am when it’s done to me. I like to pretend that I control everything in my books, but characters are just like real people. If you start taking them down a road they don’t want to go, they’re going to dig their feet in. Usually you can work with that. I mean, their reactions are honest. Who wants someone else making decisions for you?

But characters like Gran and Regan Black’s Amy are what bring layers to our stories. They make the stories believable. Because we’ve all been there. Even Snarky Daughter was recently a victim when over-zealous friends couldn’t wait for a young man to act on his feelings.

Unfortunately, 14 year-olds don’t know how to handle these situations as gracefully as 40 year-old men do. As we get older, we learn how to ignore matchmakers, laugh at their antics, or divert their attention to other victims. Whatever works. (Hey, I’m not noble. I freely admit to pointing a matchmaker toward another victim.)

Jess and Matt don’t have those choices since Gran is playing multiple games at once. Add in Jessica’s meddling father and you’ve got a whole lot of trouble for Jessica and Matt to juggle while Matt tries to find a wife who wants to stay in Blakely, their home town, and Jessica tries to figure out how far away she has to run to escape her family.

Grandma Violet is the reason Jess’ parents got together. Now she’s working on Matt and Jessica. If she’s successful, with them or her own love life, will she retire as Blakely’s matchmaker?

I doubt it. Let’s just hope she doesn’t bother Snarky Daughter. She’s got her hands full with two real-life matchmakers already.


Finding a Hero in a Song

The idea for The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé came out of a song.

Number one question writers get asked? Where do you get your ideas? I never know where ideas will come from. Sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation overheard in line for coffee, sometimes it’s a magazine article and NPR interviews some really interesting folks. But this time, it was a song.

Moving On, by Rascal Flatts. As the title implies, it’s a song about new starts. I was singing along one day in the car (it’s what I do), and wondered what the guy in the song would look like. And Matt just appeared.

A good kid born to the wrong family, who was determined to make something of himself. Matt didn’t follow the plot of the song, but he also didn’t leave me alone. Yes, my characters talk to me.

I tried to ignore Matt. I was working on corporate projects at the time and really didn’t have time for a landscape architect with a chip on his shoulder the size of the Grand Canyon. Lucky for all of us, Matt refused to keep quiet.

The more I tried to ignore him, the louder he got. I found myself playing Moving On all the time. Wondering what sort of a woman would be interested in Matt. And what sort of woman would interest him.

It didn’t take long to decide Matt was coming back home to gain the respect he craved as a child. Jessica Heymore, the town Heiress, was a lot harder to pin down. Matt needed a strong woman, but would he see her in the girl he’d rebuffed back in high school?

Jessica has her own issues, what with a father who thinks he can buy her success and a meddling grandmother who thinks she knows best (seems to be a family trait). When Jess blows back into town, licking her wounds from her father’s most recent attempts to help her succeed, she turns Matt’s world upside down.

Force them to live together while Jessica tries to decide how to escape her family’s meddling ways, and you get to watch the sparks fly. But that should go without saying since this is a romance novel.

Creating Blakely and the people who live there took even longer because I wanted to get the town just right. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now looking back, I see the reason it had to be right was because I’ll be spending more time there.

I was laying the groundwork for additional books for the fantastic characters that live there. Of course, in the meantime, I started a trilogy, so the stories from Blakely are percolating. But that’s OK. It’s a small town with some big personalities, which leave lots of room for more fun.

I can’t wait to see what happens next in this little town that’s big on down home charm. Of course, since it’s a Carolina beach town, I might need to head for the coast and do some more research before winter really sets in.

Don’t worry. We’re less than a month away from you getting to meet Matt, Jessica, Gran and the rest of Blakely. Hopefully you’ll like them as much as I do. Maybe some of them will even stop by for some guest blogging!

Until then, be careful what you say in the coffee line. You never know who’s listening or what kind of ideas it will spark!