Look, look what I got!

Ever since I signed my contract last year, this is what I've been looking forward to the most - the moment I got my cover. 

Isn't it the cutest thing you've ever seen?! I freaking LOVE it (which, between you and me, is kind of a relief because I am the biggest cover snob ever).  

I love how she's grabbing his shirt. I love his bulging bicep. It so closely mimics a scene in my book, I (almost) can't stand it! I love how the yellow pops. I never would have thought to use yellow, but it's perfect and I am now convinced that every book cover should use yellow. 

Have I mentioned how much I love it?! I keep staring at it and grinning like a fool. What do you think?

Here's the blurb:

In a moment of restlessness, Tate Grayson sold his multimillion-dollar company and spun his love of sports into a radio talk show. Life, and love, is too short to take seriously—a fact he enjoys rubbing in uptight radio host Noelle Butler’s face.

After the death of her parents, a tragedy she blamed on herself, Noelle vowed to live a controlled, focused life. Now a psychologist, she channels her need for connection into her radio show. But when the arrogant sportscaster next door tells listeners men shouldn’t get married, she’s all too happy to yank the silver spoon out of his overprivileged mouth.

Their heated on-air arguments are a hit, but when the station director forces them to do a joint show for two weeks, Tate and Noelle object. They can’t stand each other, despite the attraction sizzling beneath every interaction. But if they can’t pull the struggling radio station back from the brink, they’ll lose their jobs. Or worse, their hearts.

TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD releases in August.

Massive Thank You's All Around


A few days ago, I blogged about signing my first book deal for my novel, Tell Me Something Good. Yes, I’m still grinning ear to ear about this.

In that post, I promised a follow-up post that gives thanks to those who’ve helped and encouraged me on this journey.

As it so happens, yesterday, I decided to participate in the #31WriteNow Blog Post Challenge Luvvie blogged about. I wanted to challenge myself and to see if I could improve my discipline (something I’m not always good at).

And I thought what better way to kick it off than a massive thank you to the people who helped me get there.

In my last post, I thanked my friend and fellow writer, Dawn Alexander, for critiquing my book. But really there isn’t enough thanks for me to give her. My novel was strengthened immensely by her input.

My editor, Gwen Hayes, who plucked my book out of the slush pile. For a while now, I’ve been saying that I was hoping to find an editor who “got” me, someone who was willing to take a chance on me. Gwen was the one, and I’ll be eternally grateful.

My pal, Roni Loren. In January 2010, I went to my first North Texas RWA meeting with a plan. I would (hopefully) find someone who looked to be my age and was alone because we might have something in common and she’d be happy to talk to someone. I stepped into the room and spotted Roni. I was right on both counts. She’s 3 months older than I am and she knew no one. We’ve been friends ever since. She listens to me whine and we talk about writing and books and pop culture and whatever else comes up.

The lovely and supportive members of the North Texas RWA. Angi Morgan rescued me at my first RWA Conference when I looked lost and introduced me to Farrah Rochon.

Farrah Rochon has always been there for me to pester with questions. A few months ago, I wrote this post about being upset about being upset about my lack of progress. On the day I was feeling down, she sent me a DM on Twitter that was just what I needed to hear.

Phyllis Bourne. A few years ago, on the day of the entry deadline for the Golden Heart contest, I tweeted asking if I should enter. Almost immediately, she replied and said, “Yes.” It was the encouragement I needed and I entered. I didn’t final, but I did get a couple of high scores that boosted my confidence in my writing and my desire to enter the next year. I finaled the next year.

The 2012 Golden Heart finalists, the Firebirds. They are all great writers, but even more incredible women. I am honored to be a member of this group.

My coworkers in the “Blue Room” (my old job), who often looked over my shoulder and asked me what I was working on. It was the first time I’d ever talked about my writing with people who weren’t in the industry.

The writers, published and unpublished, and the moderators who post at the Submission Care thread on the Harlequin message board. I’ve spent many hours reading the thread and its archives to soak up any and all information I could.

Piper Huguley. We met on the Harlequin boards and she keeps me laughing with her emails and is always available to listen to me vent.

Twitter people. Nicole Helm. Maisey Yates. Christine Bell, who critiqued Tell Me, before I entered the Golden Heart. Many, many more.

Anyone who has ever critiqued my stuff. Cia Paul. My first critique group - who saw my stuff before it was ready to be seen. *cringes*

The biggest thanks, though, is reserved for my mom. When I told her I sold my book, she said, “How much are they paying you?” That’s my mama! Seriously though when I was a kid, she never said no when I asked to go to the library or the bookstore no matter how often I asked. And trust me, it was often. When I figured out The Babysitters Club books were published once a month, she’d take me to the bookstore on the first of the month and on the occasions when it was warranted ask the salesperson why the new book wasn’t on the shelves yet. She’s the best, and I’m lucky to have her.

I’m leaving people out, I know, and I apologize. It’s not intentional. My memory just ain’t what it used to be.

But believe me, I’m so grateful.

Thank you all.

P.S. My Thursday posts will be updates on my writing. I’m hoping this will encourage me to get a move on all the things on my plate. I don’t want to embarrass myself with my lack of progress that will be PUBLISHED ON THE INTERNET for EVERYONE to read.

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Yeah, I'm a Golden Heart® finalist. Yeah, seriously. I'm thrilled and still having trouble wrapping my head around it. After I got the call, I remembered a blog post on the old blog I wrote in January 2011 about starting the GH manuscript. So I went and found it. Reading it brought a huge smile to my face. Who knew what would happen with this story 14 months later?

I thought I'd repost it because it's so cute.

By the way, for the most part, my initial vision for the story remained intact. I did figure out what Noelle said to tick Tate off, and hilarity most definitely ensued. :)

January 4, 2011

Today is a banner day for me. I’m starting a new manuscript – my third. First drafts are my favorite part of the writing process. It’s when I’m at my most creative and let the ideas flow freely. I have an idea of where I want the story to go, but I love getting that zing when an idea pops into my head that makes the story funnier or connects to another, previously unrelated plot point. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, so it’s all great fun.

However, this new manuscript is different from my first two. The first two had been rolling around in my head for years. I think 2002 for the first one, Seducing Ms. Right, and 2003 for the second one, Second to None. They were stories straight from my heart. I got to write about football in the first and a The Bachelor-type show in the second. These are two things I know waaaayyy too much about. I knew for years what the central conflict in the stories would be (in part anyway).

This new manuscript idea only came to me in late 2010. I was trying to finish up Second to None, but this story kept poking at me. The title, Tell Me Something Good, came to me first. I think I heard the song on the radio and thought that would make a great book title. The “Tell” part stuck out to me and the first thing to pop into my head were radio personalities. Both my heroine and hero are talk show hosts, working for the same radio station. I know they don’t like each other. They each have not-so-nice (but funny) nicknames they’ve given each other that play off the other’s name. Tate and Noelle are going to be fun to write.

However…I don’t know much else. I’m pretty sure she says something that hacks him off and then hilarity will ensue. I kind of have glimpses of their personalities – she’s a little uptight, he’s the fun-loving flirt. I think anyway. I have an inkling of how the story ends – that idea popped into my head as I drove to work this morning – but other than that, I’m not sure.

Basically I’m entering unchartered waters. I know I want to figure out their motivations and goals before I dive too deep into the story. If I don’t, I’ll have problems. Been there, done that. With Second to None, I managed to write a complete first draft without fully understanding what drove Jeremiah, the hero. Not good. I don’t want to make that mistake with Tell Me.


I have a craft book on characters that I’m going to peruse and use to help shape their personalities and figure out how they complement each other. I’m also going to do basic background sketches, so I know their backstories and, by extension, their motivations.

I hope this helps me avoid some of the pitfalls from the first two books, even though I know there are others waiting for me if only because I’m still learning how to be a writer. I always will be.

But anyway…wish me luck in this endeavor.

What do you do to prepare to write a book? Detailed character studies and plot outlines? Or do you sit at your computer and let your fingers take over? Something in between?

xoxo, Jamie

Jam of the Week

I'm a horrible blogger. You know it. I know it. I haven't been inspired to write anything lately, so I haven't. *hangs head in shame* BUT...I have been listening to this song a lot lately because it's on my current work-in-progress' playlist. I'm pretty sure my heroine stops whatever she's doing and nods whenever she hears it. She's in this position and can't find it within herself to care. I love it (the song and my heroine's predicament). Enjoy!

I Discovered Harry Potter!

So it's 2012 and apparently I haven't blogged in almost 3 months. Ouch. Oh well. I aim to do better this year. But more on my resolutions later.

So yeah, I'd never read Harry Potter. Nor have I seen the movies. I decided long ago that I wouldn't watch the movies until I read the books.

I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 2009 (I think) and it languished in my huge to-be-read pile. One of my resolutions this year (I'll blog about them all later) was to read outside of my preferred genre of romance more.

Since I'd been meaning to read HP forever and I had the book, it seemed like a logical place to start.

Here's what I knew before cracking open the book (I'd deliberately kept as uninformed as possible as to not ruin anything).

1. Harry is an orphan.

2. Hogwarts is where he goes to become a wizard.

3. His BFFs are Ron and Hermione.

4. Ron has freckles and people were really upset that Movie Ron is freckleless.

5. There's some character named Voldemort.

I'm pretty sure that's it. Or, at the very least, that's all I can think of right now.

Oh, wait. I think Ron and Hermione hook up at some point in the future. I think anyway and could be so wrong, but I'm going with it because it amused me that Ron dislikes her at the beginning.

Oh, also, actually, I was a little surprised that it took a while for Hermione to join the gang just because they're always presented as a trio at the movie premieres. Which I guess they are once she joined the gang.

As you can tell, my HP knowledge was severely limited before I cracked open the book. I was ripe to be surprised. And I was!

1. The book had a lot of humor in it, which, for whatever reason, I wasn't expecting. I laughed more than once.

2. I got a wee bit annoyed with Harry when he first got his letter. J. K. Rowling had taken great pains to describe his crazy family and how they gave him nothing and wanted him to have nothing, so he waltzes back into the kitchen and opens the letter in front of them! Really,  Harry?

3. My word - it took forever to get to Hogwarts. I was past page 100 before that happened.

4. I was a victim of my own expectations. When he did get to Hogwarts, I kept waiting for something BIG to happen. He would have mini-adventures, but everything would be okay by the end of the chapter. Which was fine. This "criticism" has more to do with me than the book.

5. Sometimes, I would have preferred to be in Harry's head more. Maybe I wish there was more dialogue instead of just telling us what was happening.

6. With that said, I'm in awe of Rowling's imagination. All the stuff she came up with was amazing! She created a whole new world with its own language, rules, and even games. She laid the groundwork for six more books, and did so effectively. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but she made it appear effortless. I was enthralled and kept turning the pages.

I think it goes without saying that I'm looking forward to the next books.

P. S. I love Neville!

I'm a Better Writer Now, Right?



Last night I watched Revenge. It was only the second episode I've watched, so I'm still a little confused about some things and I'm too lazy to go look it up. Regardless, I'm enjoying the show and its intrigue.

Will Emily Thorne succeed in her quest for vengeance against those who harmed her family (something to do with her dad)? How much does she care about her boyfriend or are all her shows of affection just part of her revenge plan?

But, anyway, I got a nice, little giggle last night. When another character confronted her about her past, Emily called up someone who's been helping her and said, "I need your help...again." Dunh dunh dunh! Fade to black.

Why did that make me giggle? It was the "again" part. It was put in to tantalize viewers as we were introduced to a brand new character, Warden Stiles, and make us want to stick around through the commercial break.

But really? I'm pretty sure Warden Stiles remembers Emily asking her for help in the past. She doesn't need the reminder that this isn't the first time.

This probably caught my attention because of my writing aspirations. I'm more cognizant of word choices and what works and what doesn't as I strive to become a better writer (and published). Even when I'm reading books during my leisure time, part of my brain is still focused on craft and the choices the author makes.

I don't want the reader giggling or rolling their eyes, which takes them out of the story, when they're reading my books. I strive to make my writing, especially the dialogue, as natural as possible.

I like to think dialogue is one of my strong suits. It's my favorite part of writing in any case. I'm lucky (or crazy depending on your viewpoint) because my characters "speak" to each other in my head. It's very easy for me to go to that place in my mind where they're talking to each other (and thinking to themselves) and I just type it as it comes to me.

But I also like to read the dialogue out loud to make sure it really does sound as natural spoken out loud as it does in my head. I don't want to pat myself on my back too hard. :)

I also constantly ask myself, is this is how people talk? Is there a better way to say this?

This process works for me.

How would I have written the scene between Emily and Warden Stiles?

Emily: I need your help.

Warden: Again, Emily?

Emily: Yes. It's a matter of life and death.

Dunh dunh dunh. Fade to black.

OK, not great. But a little more natural - I think anyway.

What do you think? Am I totally off base? How would you have written the scene?

Tuesday Links

I've been busy and now I'm tired, so today's links will be few. But still great.

The Serious

1. I have a degree in sport management. I minored in sociology. These two interests collide in this article about the world of "elite" travel youth travel teams. The madness needs to stop.

The Nostalgic

2. Have I mentioned that I love sports and pop culture? A few times, probably. Which is why I love this roundup of iconic athlete food commercials.

The Funny

3. Seems things didn't work out with the Bachelorette Ashley. Shaking my head. What a shame.

4. Borders could have avoided bankruptcy if only the company executives had followed this guy's advice.

5. Last, but not least, everyone knows the black best friend is the best best friend to have.

Already Missing Borders

I absolutely adore reading. I don't even want to think about the amount of money I (and my mom while I was growing up) have spent on books over the years.

A few days ago, Borders announced that they were going out of business. Maybe I was burying my head in the sand, but I was really hoping Borders would pull through. Needless to say, I was and still am devastated.

My first thought was, "Where am I going to buy books now?" because Borders is my preferred bookstore.

Then, I mentally catalogued my alternatives. And boy, that was depressing.

1. Buy books online. Yeah, but it's nearly impossible to replicate the joy of discovery I get at a bricks and mortar store online. Any time I go awhile without going to Borders, I end up saying to myself I need to visit a real bookstore. There's something about walking into one and seeing thousands of books just waiting for me in all their pretty glory. Oh, the possibilities of what I can read and discover by browsing the aisles.

Also, sometimes it's hard keeping up with authors, but to go to the romance section and see that a few of my favorites have new releases - Hallelujah! Or maybe there's a pretty cover that catches my eyes from a new author. I flip it over, fall in love with the blurb and buy the book on the spot.

2. Buy ebooks. I do have a Kobo, which I really like, but I still prefer print books, especially for an author whose books I've been collecting for years. At this point, I mainly use the ereader for library books and digital first books.

3. Buy books from Target and Walmart. Yeah, I can and often do, but let's face it, they're not bookstores. They have a pretty decent selection of romances, but the selections, in no way, compare to those at a dedicated bookstore. They can't. That new author I mentioned earlier? Her books probably aren't going to be in Target because she's an unknown risk.

4. So Barnes & Noble, right? Yes, I can go to Barnes & Noble, but I never liked that B&N made you pay to be a member of its discount club. Borders didn't. Borders also sent out weekly coupons making it a little easier to part with my hard-earned money. B&N doesn't.

In other words, Borders makes me happy. Barnes & Noble doesn't. Sigh

My solution? I guess I'll be doing a combination of all the choices with buying books at Target/Walmart and online leading the way.

The closing of Borders leaves a hole in the publishing industry that I'm not sure can be filled completely. Regardless, I guess I've got to get with the times because the times will always march forward - with or without me.