Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Get Lost in the Strawberry Hearts Diner from Bestselling Author Carolyn Brown

Hello all y’all! And thank you for inviting me back to talk about The Strawberry Hearts Diner, which came out last week. Jancy is finding herself between the old proverbial rock and a hard place at the beginning of the book. And it doesn’t get any easier as time goes on...

Giving up wings for roots isn’t always easy.

Being broke, unemployed, and stranded back in the tiny town of Pick, Texas, was not part of Jancy Wilson’s plan. Yet here she is, watching her car literally go up in smoke—along with her last-ditch hope of staying with her cousin in Louisiana. When Jancy spies a Help Wanted sign hanging in the window of the quaint Strawberry Hearts Diner, the memories of the two years she spent there as a teenager—and the lure of the diner’s beloved strawberry tarts—are enough to draw her in and plant her feet…but only temporarily.
Raised by parents who refused to settle anywhere for long, Jancy has never known what it is to have roots. Now that Jancy’s swept up by the warmth and character of this quirky little community—and by the pull of an old crush—it’s beginning to feel like home. She’s making friends and even discovering the sweetness of falling in love. But when the town is threatened, Jancy knows it will take more than its legendary tarts to save it. Can she fight for this little Texas town—knowing she might not stay forever?

Here's an excerpt: 

    Jancy caught a whiff of bacon as she drew near to the diner. Her stomach grumbled, but then the strong smell of smoke filled the air. She first thought that someone must be burning old tires back at the junkyard, but then the smoke began to boil from the vents. By the time she braked and swung into the diner parking lot, her eyes were watering and she was coughing so hard that she could hardly breathe. Then she saw flames shooting out from under the hood.
    She grabbed her purse and hurriedly made her way to the back of the car. Her hands shook as she unlocked the trunk and started throwing the four duffel bags and a suitcase as far as she could. If the fire hit that full gas tank, the people in Pick would think that a bomb had gone off. Was it parked far enough out in the lot that it wouldn’t damage the diner? She broke out in a run for it. Someone had to call the fire department.
    God was finally punishing her for the past. Her car burning right there in Pick, Texas—that was too much to be coincidence. It was karma in the purest form coming back around to bite her on the fanny the very week after she was allowed to leave the state of Texas. Two days ago she’d finally spent her last day in Amarillo and couldn’t wait to get on the road to Louisiana to Minnette’s place. Now all her plans were going up in smoke in front of her eyes.
    When she heard the sirens, she plopped down on her old green duffel bag. With her head in her hands, she wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Never, not once, in all her wandering had she been so destitute. She had sixteen dollars in her purse, half a pack of gum, and a Texas driver’s license that was only good for eight more months. Good luck renewing it without a place to live.

Of all the places in the state of Texas—for that matter, the whole world—Pick, Texas, was the last place she’d want to be stranded with nothing.

Meet Carolyn

With more than 3 million copies of her books sold, Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. She’s won the National Reader’s Choice Award three times, the Bookseller’s Best Award and was awarded the prestigious Montlake Diamond Award for selling over a million books.  Her books include romantic women’s fiction, historical, contemporary, cowboys and country music mass market paperbacks. She and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, live in Davis, Oklahoma that only has one traffic light. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing she likes to sit in her back yard with her two tom cats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts and spiders.

I understand that you have some questions for me. I’ve got peach tea, my newest favorite in my hand, so fire away and I’ll do my best to answer them...

E.E.: Be honest, when reading, do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?
Carolyn: I think we all do that as readers but when I read from a writer’s stand point, I often put myself in the POV that I’m reading in. I’ve cried as much with heroes as with heroines and laughed at guys funny jokes as much as I have the leading ladies. If there’s emotion, we should feel it even from a secondary character. That’s what makes a writer go from telling a good story to a great one.

E.E.: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
Carolyn: I always promise myself one week to do nothing but what I want when I write THE END at the last of a book. The first day I clean the office that by that point looks like a wild Texas tornado jumped over the Red River and dumped all the paper from a factory into my office—sticky notes, notebooks, maps, calendars, research stuff everywhere. After I do that then there’s six days left. On day two, I pick up a notebook and start outlining the next book. Evidently, what I want to do is write another book.

E.E.: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
Carolyn: A note from a reader. I love, love hearing from my amazing readers. Recently I got a note stating that I’d hit the nail on the head with The Lullaby Sky. She’d lived in an abusive situation and could relate to each feeling in the book. I heard from one not long ago that told me she got so tickled while reading The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop on an airplane that folks were turning around to look at her. I can’t wait to hear from my readers about The Strawberry Hearts Diner!

E.E.: What’s the best birthday (or any holiday) present you ever received?
Carolyn: It’s a little bit of a story but I’ll tell it. When Mr. B and I were first married, he bought me gorgeous peignoirs, always black and silky, for my Christmas present. Then we had children and I told him that those weren’t what a mother wore to make breakfast or lounge around in, so they got relegated to a separate dresser drawer for memories. The next Christmas I opened my present to find a flannel granny gown—white with pink roses, long sleeves, buttons up to my neck and a collar. (Side note, Mr. B is a photographer and in those days we used film that came in a little black canister.) But right there in the bottom of the package was one of those little canisters with a screw inside it. That canister is in the drawer with all my pretty sexy nightwear and remains my favorite present ever. (One more side note: I hated that flannel nightgown and never wore it but my grandmother loved it.)

E.E.: Describe an absolutely perfect day.
Carolyn: No distractions. No phone calls. No appointments. And I meet my goals for writing that day. Then in the evening I can sit back and enjoy a perfect time with Mr. B and the two tom cats.
Thank you so much again for letting me stop by today and visit. Have a wonderful day! I’m at RWA in Orlando, Florida today having breakfast with some of my favorite author folks. Here’s hoping you are enjoying a perfect day and have The Strawberry Hearts Diner on your TBR list. 

Speaking of your TBR list, what are you reading right now?

Today, Carolyn is giving away a copy of Strawberry Hearts Diner (ebook or paperback, reader's choice). Just enter the rafflecopter (and don't forget to leave a comment!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lena Diaz & the Golden Heart

Read a little -- Buy the Book
THIS WEEK soon-to-be-published authors are gathering in Orlando to see who wins the RWA Golden Heart award. I met Lena Diaz in 2010 when we became GH sisters. Lena and I became friends...and I'm so grateful for her constant, uplifting support.

I asked her to share today about being a finalist and how it changed her career.

How Does a Writer Measure Success? And How SHOULD They?

Over 2,000 romance writers will soon converge on Orlando, Florida for the annual Romance Writers of America® conference. I’ll be one of them. I was there in 2010 too, as an unpublished hopeful, the last time the RWA conference was in Orlando. But since then, EVERYTHING has changed. For ALL writers. 
In 2010, the publishing industry was all about traditional New York publishing houses. The only viable alternative was “vanity publishing”, where you paid to produce a book. Vanity was considered second-class, taboo, the route taken only by those who couldn’t get a trad contract. Ebooks were considered a fad that might never really catch on.
Skip ahead seven years.

Print as a format is suffering. Borders is gone. Barnes and Noble is struggling. Amazon has blasted through barriers, allowing an explosion in the digital realm. Ebooks are here to stay. The stigma of paying to publish your book is gone. Now it’s called independent-publishing, or Indie. The tiers of newbie, mid-list, and mega-star that have always existed in traditional publishing now exist in the Indie world too, including Marie Force, Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Lilliana Hart.

But with change comes uncertainty, confusion, and fear. Both the path to success and the definition of success continue to evolve. In 2010, my goals were to get published with a trad house, hit the New York Times best seller list, and earn enough money writing to quit my day job. Did I achieve them? I’m published with two trad houses. But the other goals remain unattained. Am I a failure? Let’s look at what I’ve done in the past seven years and see.

·         Became a Golden Heart® finalist in 2010
·         Signed with an agent
·         Sold my Golden Heart book to Avon Impulse and saw it published in 2011
·         Sold to Harlequin Intrigue in 2011
·         Got a very lucrative print deal in Germany through Avon Impulse in 2011
·         Avon and Harlequin translated and sold my books in many countries
·         I “graduated” to Avon Books in 2014 (moved from digital-first to print)
·         Won the Daphne du Maurier award 3 times
·         Won the Booksellers Best Award
·         Won the Tara, the NERFA
·         Was a finalist in other awards like the Carolyn Readers Choice and the Holt Medallion
·         Had a Top Pick in RT
·         As of today, I have 18 books published with two more slated for release in 2018

So, am I a failure? If I measure success against my goals from 2010, the answer is—yes, I’m a failure. But looking at that list of accomplishments, I have to say, I did pretty well. Maybe the problem isn’t what I did or didn’t do. Maybe the problem is that I set some really sucky goals. And because of that, I have a hard time taking pleasure in the things that go right in my career. I know I’m not alone here. Imposter syndrome anyone?

Writers, whether they’re published or not, Indie or trad, newbie or megastar, all struggle with some of the same fears. We can be insecure, especially with the industry changing so much, so fast. We can be negative and feel like nothing is going our way, and really put ourselves down because of it. We can look at others, who seem to be doing so much better than us, and feel like nothing we’ve done really matters. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. What’s the lesson? We need to cut ourselves some slack and set better goals!

Instead of being our own worst detractors, let’s work at becoming our own best champions. I challenge all of you to examine what’s really important, something that you can control. Then define new goals to measure your success. Here are some suggestions:
·         Finish a manuscript!
·         Take craft workshops to improve your skills.
·         Read craft books.
·         Learn about the industry.
·         Network! Meet fellow writers and learn from their experiences (like at this upcoming RWA conference.)

But don’t stop there. Look at your non-writing goals. Make them measurable and attainable. Here are some of mine. Feel free to borrow them.
·         Make someone smile today
·         Help someone in need
·         Read that book you’ve been wanting to read for ages
·         Be nice and open to other peoples’ points of view

Being successful is really as simple as living life to its fullest and not being so hard on yourself. To all of my writer friends going to conference this week, I strongly urge you to set conference goals that you can achieve, and ENJOY the experience.

Smile. Don’t worry. Be happy.

Easier said than done, I know. But we’d all be a lot better off if we could go easier on ourselves, and each other, and just have fun. After all, life isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. Enjoy the trip!

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Twitter @LenaDiaz     
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Get Lost on Facebook   @GetLostInAStory  #GetLostStories
AND OUR Facebook Group: The Readers’ Spot


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Celebrate Cowboys Rafflecopter Winners

with us on Get Lost in a Story

Here are the winners 
of the 
Celebrate Cowboys Rafflecopter. 

Glass boot filled with chocolate,
Western book charm and signed copy of Maybe Baby
from E.E. Burke

Readers choice Kinnison Legacy books, 
Last Hope Ranch books, or End of the Line books
from Amanda McIntyre

Three $5 Amazon gift cards 

Premium swag packs with books 
from Beth Williamson 


Silver Boot Earrings

a cowgirl hatpin

Books 1 & 2 Men of Legend series from Linda Broday

Five copies of Toughest Cowboy in Texas from Carolyn Brown

Three copies of Wicked Cowboy Charm

a $25 Amazon gift card

a $25 gift card to Longhorn Steak House Restaurant

Texas wine charms & autographed copies of 
including Protecting Their Child, The Sheriff, The Cattleman & The Ranger 
from Angi Morgan


$5.00 Winners from THE READER'S SPOT
Bertha, Anita, Theresa, Therese, Theresa 

Get Lost on Facebook   @GetLostInAStory  #GetLostStories
AND OUR Facebook Group: The Readers’ Spot

Mark your calendars...Cowboy Week will return next year. 
Are you interested in chatting with real cowboys?