Jessica Andersen Book Giveaway

June 3, 2008 at 8:51 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Jessica Andersen, writing | Leave a comment

NightkeepersJust a reminder that we will be giving away a copy of Jessica Andersen’s book, NIGHTKEEPERS (released today!), at the end of the week.  Please visit Jess’s guest blog on Hit the Gas and post a comment to be eligible.  A lucky winner will be chosen at random on Friday afternoon.


Honorary Heartlette – Jessica Andersen

June 1, 2008 at 7:00 am | Posted in contests, Honorary Heartlette, Jessica Andersen, writing | 17 Comments
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I’m a New Englander, which by definition means I drive way too much in the snow.  I know that isn’t really what we want to be thinking of when we’re at the verge of summer, but bear with me.  Or better yet, let’s turn it into a hydroplaning metaphor: it’s raining buckets and the roads are soaked. . . and you start to skid.  What do you do next?

Well, let me tell you from experience that ‘hit the brakes’ usually isn’t a great answer.  You’re way better off steering into the inertia, and either pausing a second… or hitting the gas.  If you hit the gas, you might go flying off the road, you might break the skid and continue on your way, or you might do something in between those two extremes.  But if you hit the brakes, you’re probably going to wind up spinning in place. 


And personally, I’d rather make a mistake going forward than keep spinning my wheels, going nowhere. 


The same can be said of the men and women of Nightkeepers (NAL, 6/3/08).  They’re ordinary people like you and me (most of them, anyway) who are just now learning that they’ve inherited extraordinary powers and the task of saving the world from the prophesized 2012 doomsday.  Time isn’t going to slow down and wait for them to catch up, nor are the Mayan demons who seek to precipitate the apocalypse four years before the 2012 end date.  The Nightkeepers don’t have time to coast, and they sure as heck can’t hit the brakes.  They can only go forward and deal with the consequences.


Will they fly off the road and wind up in a ditch?  Maybe.  Will they punch through and fulfill their twenty-times great-grandparents’ vow to protect mankind?  Maybe.  But you can be sure of one thing: they’re not spinning their wheels.


When I’m faced with a choice, whether in my writing career or my life, I try to make the active decision.  It’s not always the right choice, but it’s a choice, dang it. 


After I first conceived Nightkeepers, it took me a good eighteen months of research and writing, as well as an agent change, to get the project sold.  But I kept writing and rewriting, throwing out version after version as I iterated to the final story.  The same can be said of the writing process once the book sold, but in both cases, I kept moving forward.  When something didn’t work, I tried something else with one goal in mind: making the story the biggest, best, brightest, loudest, sexiest book it could possibly be.  I’d rather go down in flames for having tried something amazing and failed, than only partway failing because I only halfway tried.


So today, how about you challenge yourself?  Make sure you make at least one of your mistakes going forward (but do your best to stay out of the ditch, okay?).  And if you feel like it, let us know how it goes.  Or tell us about a recent forward-moving decision that worked… or didn’t.  Tell us… how did you hit the gas?



Jessica Andersen writes sexy medical thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue.  Her first single title book, Nightkeepers, will be released by NAL on June 3, 2008.

We’ll be giving away a copy to one lucky winner at the end of the week. Post a comment to be eligible.

Honorary Heartlette – Jessica Andersen

May 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Jessica Andersen, writing | Leave a comment
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June is a big month for our Honorary Heartlette, Jessica Andersen. On June 3, the first in her new single title paranormal series, NIGHTKEEPERS, hits the shelves. And we are so excited that she’ll drop by on Sunday, June 1, and guest blog for us!

We hope you’ll tune in – Jess is a great writer and excellent teacher and we can’t wait to have her join us!

Jessica Andersen bio: Since selling to Harlequin Intrigue in 2002, Jessica Andersen has written more than twenty science-themed romantic suspense novels for Harlequin; these novels have hit the category bestseller list and been nominated for Reviewers’ Choice Award and RITA Awards. Her first single title, NIGHTKEEPERS: A NOVEL OF THE FINAL PROPHECY, will be released by Signet Eclipse on June 3, 2008. The book kicks off a new dark paranormal series about a group of sexy warrior-priests who must reunite to save mankind in the final four years before December 21, 2012, when the Mayan long count calendar – and a fair bit of modern science – predicts the world will end. For more information on Jess, the books, and upcoming contests, see her web site at

Nancy Haddock Book Giveaway

May 6, 2008 at 9:11 am | Posted in books, Honorary Heartlette, Nancy Haddock | 3 Comments

Just a reminder that we will be giving away a copy of Nancy Haddock’s debut book, LA VIDA VAMPIRE, at the end of the week.  Please visit Nancy’s guest blog on The Long and Winding Road and post a comment to be eligible.  A lucky winner will be chosen at random on Friday afternoon.


Honorary Heartlette – Nancy Haddock

May 4, 2008 at 7:56 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Nancy Haddock, writing | 47 Comments

The Long and Winding Road

I’ve been a member of RWA for 24 years now. Last February I sold my first book in a two-book contract to Berkley, and La Vida Vampire, my debut in this new series was released on April 1st.

So, was I a horrible writer during my first 23 years in RWA?

No. Though I’m a better writer now than I was then (ya think?), I placed in and won contests early on. I had a great agent within a few years of joining RWA. I received good rejection letters. Published friends who read my work asked why I wasn’t published yet.

So, why was my road to publication so long and winding? I attribute it to three main reasons.

First, balance in my writing life. When we join RWA, we tend to join one or more chapters. We may tend (like me!) to get involved in volunteering for the chapter, or even volunteering at the National level. I found myself accepting an appointment to serve an unexpired term on the RWA Board less than a year after I’d joined, and this was at a time when the Board members chaired virtually every job to be done. We had one full-time employee, and the organization was growing by leaps! Talk about time devouring! I met wonderful people who are still friends. I learned how to break my comfort zone wide open. I gleaned information about the publishing business just by having meals with other writers – some published, some not.

What I failed to do during all my Kamikaze volunteering days was to balance doing the jobs with doing the writing. I let job deadlines consume me instead of letting the flow of writing consume me. So my advice to those who tirelessly lend their expertise to organizations – writing, PTA, whatever – is to create balance in writing and volunteer activities. Find out what a job requires in as much detail as possible, including the daily/ weekly/ monthly time it takes. If this is a new kind of job for you, double the time you think you’ll spend on it. You may not use double the time, but if you don’t, you get to write!

A second reason for the winding road was that serious family issues came up, such as my middle management husband being “downsized” out of a job. During this period, I also faced challenges with my children, and I went back to teaching. I tried to write in spite of the chaos, but found myself frozen. I couldn’t write in the upheaval – not for publication anyway. I just couldn’t shake the internal editor who had me changing words before I’d written a complete sentence. And I don’t mean a compound, complex sentence! When the internal editor took over, concentration and confidence vanished.

So, if you have a yappy internal editor, I beg you to destroy that negative voice now! Think twice before you let him/ her out again. Ever. I let mine out during my revisions of La Vida Vampire, and banished her again within minutes. She hadn’t mellowed a bit, and still had nothing constructive to contribute! Whether internal or external, surround yourself with only the constructive voices!

SIDEBAR: One of the positive outcomes of going through intense family times was that I came out of them with clear experience in conflict, confrontation and combat. Since the major criticism of my writing had been that I hid behind humor rather than letting characters confront, the lessons paid off when I began writing in earnest again! There’s always an upside!

The last component of my long, winding road had to do with finding the courage to write what I wanted to, the way I wanted to, rather than “following the market.” I came into RWA in a time when new writers were expected to break into category first. If you proved yourself, you might move up to Single Title. Lead title. Mainstream. But you didn’t simply burst onto the scene in single title. In this sense, we all followed the market, more or less.

When I came back to writing for publication in the late 1990s, romance publishing was no longer quite so restrictive. For the first time, I wrote romantic suspense … with humor, though, so that didn’t pan out. When I moved to St. Augustine in 2002, I decided to release the stories I’d been working on in order to start fresh. I let the energy of my new hometown permeate me, and my story ideas. I was actually working on a cozy mystery series when the idea for La Vida Vampire gripped me and wouldn’t let go.

I’m still working on the cozy series, but my first loyalty is to Cesca, Saber and the gang of La Vida Vampire. It may have been a long and winding road that I wouldn’t wish for anyone else but we must all find – and follow – our own paths. I trust that yours will be shorter and straighter!


Thank you, Nancy!

We will be giving away a copy of La Vida Vampire to one lucky winner at the end of the week! Post a note to the comments section to be eligible. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday afternoon.

Heartlette News – Marley Gibson Book Release

May 1, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in books, Honorary Heartlette, Marley Gibson, writing | 4 Comments
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Way back in August, Marley Gibson joined us as our Honorary Heartlette.  At the time, we knew that her first two books would be making their way into the world, and we are thrilled to report that they both have been released TODAY!

The books, Zeta or Omega? and The New Sisters are written under the pen name Kate Harmon.

These are the two launch books of a much anticipated new series and we wish Marley the best of success with them!

Honorary Heartlette – Nancy Haddock

April 27, 2008 at 8:30 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Nancy Haddock, writing | Leave a comment
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We have been so fortunate with our Honorary Heartlettes and our guest blogger for May is no exception. We are thrilled to welcome debut author, Nancy Haddock, to the Purple Hearts!

Her new book, LA VIDA VAMPIRE, was released by Berkley Publishing on April 1, 2008, to great reviews!

Nancy is the model of poise and persistence and we are honored that she will join us to share her advice. Please stop by for her blog post on Sunday, May 4.

Honorary Heartlette – Eileen Rendahl

April 6, 2008 at 8:28 am | Posted in Eileen Rendahl, Honorary Heartlette, romance, writing | 7 Comments

Riding the Romance Rollercoaster


I’ve had the opportunity twice in the past few months to stand in front of a group of people and talk about my life as a romance writer. Both talks ended up being a little tour of the highs and lows of life as an author. After giving them, the thing that really struck me was how high the highs seemed and how low the lows felt and the dizzying ride in between. It’s been a veritable rollercoaster ride.


Unfortunately, I hate rollercoasters.


I’ve never liked that terrifying feeling that I’m going to fall off the edge of the tracks. I detest the way my stomach drops as the train rushes down and I loathe having the G forces pull my cheeks back. It doesn’t thrill me. It makes me dizzy and frankly, a little nauseous.


Looking over my writing career gives me the same results.


I remember the day my agent called to tell me I had a two-book deal from Pocket Books with their new Downtown Press line with the same amount of detail that I remember the birth of my first child (have no fear, I won’t recount that to you right now although you should know it involves a car battery on a motorcycle trickle charger, a taxi cab doing about 90 miles per hour down the Eisenhower Expressway at one in the morning and has moments of great hilarity). It was a dizzying climb up an unimaginable peak with nothing but the sky before me. It was thrilling. It was exhilarating. It made me glad that I’d done those Kegel exercises because it was so scary I was afraid I was going to wet my pants.


Unfortunately, I can also describe to you what it’s like to find out that my most recent release has a print run so low that my career might be over. I can describe how the blood rushed from my head and my stomach dropped two stories. Honestly, it’s not like there were a lot of years between those two events and in between there were a lot of hairpin curves and surprises.


This business is like that. Sub-genres (and sub sub sub sub-genres) come and go. Trends peak and crash.  It’s unpredictable. It’s maddening. It’ll give you whiplash if you’re not careful.


So, I had to ask myself, why am I still doing it?


I found the answer, as we authors so often do, in the writing. Loving writing was what got me into this business in the first place. To extend the metaphor a little further, it had been my ticket to get on the ride in the first place. I decided to try something new, something different. I decided to push myself to learn something new and dare myself to put it out there. I started writing a dark, gritty romantic suspense. If you’ve read my light, flirty, funny chick lit, you can understand why this was such a big change.


It was a little scary, but it was so much fun! I was writing it for the pure pleasure of writing. I was writing it for me. I didn’t even tell my agent about it until I had three chapters and a synopsis.


She was a little surprised when I told her about it, but – bless her heart – didn’t let me know if she was dubious about it. She read it and she told me to write more.


I didn’t think my editor would like it, but we sent it to her first as a courtesy and I ended up with a new book contract with an editor that I love at a well-respected publishing house.


So here I am, chugging back up the big hill of the rollercoaster ride. My romantic suspense, UNTHINKABLE, will come out in March of 2009. Will it be my breakout book? Will I keep climbing higher and higher up the track? Or will it tank? Will I take a precipitous drop around the next corner?


I don’t know. It scares the bejeesus out of me, but I’m still doing it. I get sick to my stomach and I shake. Here’s the thing though, I could totally get off this rollercoaster. Trust me, I am well aware that there are people waiting in line dying for my spot on the ride, but I’m not going anywhere. I like the ticket too much. They’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.



Honorary Heartlette – Eileen Rendahl

March 30, 2008 at 9:25 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, writing | Leave a comment

We are so pleased that Eileen Rendahl has agreed to join us as our April Honorary Heartlette.  

Eileen Rendahl is the author of four chick lit novels. Every once in a while, she gets an award for one of them. She likes that a lot. She lives in Davis, California with her kids and her cats and her fiancé and her somewhat kooky family. She has had many jobs and lived in many cities and feels unbelievably lucky to be where she is now doing what she’s doing.

And we are thrilled that she’ll be with us, doing her thing, on Sunday April 6. Tune in for Eileen’s post on the ups and downs of publishing.

Golden Heart – I didn’t final, but I won.

March 26, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Bria, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, motivation, romance, writing | 6 Comments

I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d be ready for the Golden Heart deadline and, being the superstitious Boston Irish that I am, I feared I’d final.But I didn’t. No surprise there.

The happy surprise is that, while not moving on to the final round for the national award, I’m pretty sure I won.

When the first deadline came about in December, I had been writing for about six months. I loved my story. I loved my characters. I liked my writing. But I had a lot to learn, and in the last several months I’ve submerged myself in it.

Craft books, workshops on CD, self-editing guides, reading for more than just enjoyment, working with amazing women on the Diva board (the entry never would have been in the mail without Mamad, Kaige, Lanie, Neith and a lot of help from those as I did chat drive-by’s) and partnering with the Lovely Ann as my CP.

The experience has been hair-raising. My Murphy’s Law fear pushed me to be as close to complete and polished as possible. My availability pushed back. And the friction that caused – well, it bettered my writing by an unimaginable amount.

Sentence structure, word choice, tight prose all became more consistent.

And now for the big “author confession” – I’m dyslexic. I can’t see those mistakes that are obvious to everyone. And I thank God every day since January when we started for my CP Ann. She corrects errors and points out potential errors. She also asks the hard questions and tells me straight forward when something doesn’t work or she just plain doesn’t like it.

So, my advice for those aiming for the December’s deadline:
o Get a Critique Partner. Don’t know how to set that partnership up? Read these guidelines
o Don’t fluff the deadline – strive for it as if it were publication, not a contest
o Plan ahead – start NOW
o But most of all, do it for the joy.

I’d like to take this moment to give a very special shout out to KRISTAN HIGGANS – our very first Honorary Heartlette. Kristan finalled in the published author’s equivalent of the Golden Heart – the RITA.

So, pick a goal and run at it, but mostly, Go Write.

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