Category Archives: sports romance

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Carole McKee

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Carole McKee, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

What does Romance mean to me? It’s a wonderful feeling. While candlelight dinners and flowers are great, they are not true romance. Romantic? Yes, possibly.

It’s the little things that make up romance. Roses ordered from a florist are lovely, but that store-bought bouquet picked up at the grocery store, on an impulse, just means so much more to me. And nothing says ‘I love you’ more than when he interrupts a walk in the park to pick a wild flower for his lady. It’s a sweet thing to do.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

Romance is sweet. In my opinion, anyway. Subtle acts and small gestures that say “I love you.” A phone call in the middle of the day, just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” These little things are so romantic, and they mean so much. I believe that these romantic gestures lead to love.

Romance is beautiful. The whole world seems brighter; music is sweeter, colors are more vibrant, stars are plentiful, and people are happier when there is romance in the air.

Created by Freepik

Romance is love. Being romantic shows that a person cares. Just by thinking of things to do in order to make the other person happy, is a way to show loving and caring. That’s romance.

Romance can be so uplifting. It makes a woman feel special. Romance makes a woman feel pretty.

I worked with a woman who always looked sad. She was divorced, and had been for several years. Her 50th birthday was fast approaching, and to her, it was depressing. She told me she felt ugly and useless, and unloved. What this woman didn’t know was that there was a gentleman in the next department who was interested in her. He was 52. My mission? To make things happen. Now, I don’t like to play matchmaker, but I’m not opposed to spreading little factual tidbits. I told Jerry that Norma’s birthday was the following Saturday, and I just mentioned in passing that she had no plans to celebrate. Good ole Jerry took the hint. On Friday, flowers arrived at Norma’s desk with a lovely note, saying that he would love to celebrate her birthday with her and could he pick her up for dinner at 7:00 on Saturday?

Created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com

Gotta love Jerry!

I saw the biggest transformation I have ever seen. Norma’s face lost ten years right away. Her eyes lifted at the corners, as did her lips. Her face looked brighter, and actually healthier. When she showed me the note, the first thing she said was that she had to get some new make-up and get her hair done. I suggested she go all the way, and buy a new dress, too. For the first time ever, I saw Norma smile and become giddy. She emailed a positive response to Jerry. But it didn’t end there.

Surprisingly, Jerry was the romantic type. Norma and Jerry became an item, and Jerry showered her with compliments, flowers, and little surprises almost every day. I witnessed a wallflower turn into a rose. That’s what romance does for you! Oh, and by the way, Norma and Jerry are married now. They both retired and spend their time traveling, or just staying home. Isn’t romance and love wonderful?

Romance can keep a woman healthy. This may be a stretch, but I don’t think so. Happy people get sick less often. That’s been proven. And what could make someone happier than to have love and romance in their life?

Created by Whatwolf – Freepik.com

I have heard people remark that romance ends after the honeymoon. It doesn’t have to, and it shouldn’t. Why would anyone stop showing love and consideration just after committing to someone, promising to spend forever with that person?

Saying ‘I love you’ can be the beginning of a wonderful life together. Romantic gestures reinforce those three little words. But even before those three words are spoken, the little romantic things two people do for each other make those words flow easily, right from the heart.

Romance doesn’t mean the same to everybody. This is what it means to me. Most importantly, romance is what makes a woman feel cherished, special, and beautiful. Every woman deserves to feel that way.

Created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

I wish I could say that I have experienced true romance, but I was never that fortunate. Since I haven’t, romance is not a driving force in my actual life, but it is so in my writing. I know what romance should be, and my characters experience it. In my first novel, Perfect, there were plenty of romantic overtures.

Nathan and Katrina are truly in love, and Nathan is the master of romance! In all my novels my female characters get treated to wonderful romance, and my male characters get treated as I think a woman should respond to romance.

To me, this is the way it should be.

Wow! How incredibly romantic. I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Carole! Lovely to have you here! ♥

Guest Bio

Carole McKee has been writing since 1996, beginning with a short story written as a tribute to her beloved dog after he passed away. She published her first novel, Perfect, in 2007, followed by the “Choices” series. She recently published four eBooks. Her genres include Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Contemporary Romance. Originally from Pittsburgh, Carole now resides in Clearwater, Florida. Many of her stories take place in Western Pennsylvania, a place she still loves. Prior to becoming a writer, she acquired a widely diversified work history and education.  She now writes full-time, and enjoys retirement life.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Carole, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Nikki Ashton visits us on May 30th! Yay! 🙂

We may have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

5 Comments

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Romance, sports romance, Writers, Writing

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Lashanta Charles

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Lashanta Charles, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

For me, romance means life and insanity. It’s said that insanity is constantly doing the same things over and over, hoping that you’ll get a different outcome. Isn’t that what we do in our never-ending quest to find that perfect romance? In life, we search and we search and then we search just a little bit more, always trying to find that one person who completes us. That one person who will make us feel cherished. Appreciated. Needed. We want someone or something that will give us purpose, other than living, other than existing. And what could be better than that feeling of surprise and wonder that we get when we’re presented with just because gifts? Or when we’ve had the day from hell and our significant other makes it an all about you night?

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

We spend so much time vying for that moment where we can have that goofy smile and starry-eyed look, yet we fail to realize that it isn’t always perfect, nor is it always easy. Romance is just as much work as love, and what’s that old saying – love is never easy. Well, my friends, neither is romance. I’ve centered my writing career on the highs and lows of romance, and even in the fictional words and characters I create, it isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. I absolutely live for my next book boyfriend, no matter if it’s one I create or if it’s one that another author creates. Yet, knowing they aren’t real and neither are those scenes where they go all in and confess their undying love in the most amazing way possible, I still yearn for it. I swoon. I cheer them on. I laugh with them and I cry with them and when it’s all said and done, I do it all over again – INSANITY!!

I began writing romance novels because, at the time, I was missing that aspect in my life. I saw romance as the elusive and dangerous creature that I wanted to hunt down and make my tame little pet. I wanted so badly to feel the romance that I’d read about in countless books or saw in the plethora of movies I’ve watched. I wanted my very own hero to come and save me (who cares if I wasn’t in danger), my very own bad boy who reformed his ways just to make me happy, my very own prince to whisk me off to his castle where I would eventually become a queen and rule by his side.

I never got that! Insane, right?? Because I totally deserve that! What I did get was my husband who I’ve been married to for nearly a decade, and I love that man like it’s nobody’s business. Is he as romantic as I had hoped? Not a chance in hell! Would I trade him for that hero, bad boy, or prince? You bet your sweet bottom I wouldn’t! He is mine and I am his and we are perfectly flawed, but together we are perfectly phenomenal. He makes me laugh, yet he makes me cry. He makes me feel appreciated, but manages to forget things that I think are important (news flash, I’m so much worse at this than he is – guess who forgot our anniversary last year . . . not him). He tests my patience even more than our kids do, but his soul is beautiful and he chose to share that astounding soul with little old me. How romantic is that, right?!

Adapted from vector created by Freepik

I still read just about any romance novel I can get my hands on, no matter how cheesy (I’m a sucker for insta-love and paranormal romances with the whole one true mate – le sigh) and I still watch the movies with perfect romantically nice endings, getting lost in those fictional worlds, but once they’re over I’m right back to my reality, my husband. And I always realize that romance isn’t something that’s set in stone. It isn’t a written rule that everyone has to follow. It’s just you and your relationship, regardless of if that’s with a real person, one you’ve read about, or one you saw in a movie. It’s all yours and it’s what you have, so enjoy it to the fullest. And, in the meantime, if you’re in desperate need of a book boyfriend, I encourage you to meet Nico…

So true! I happen to believe that those very normal moments are exactly what help to encourage and strengthen a romantic bond. If you can get through that, while slowing down occasionally to appreciate the little things we often take for granted, then you can handle anything. 😉
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Lashanta! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Guest Bio

Lashanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Tacoma, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She’s a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, sexy alien romances, SLEEPING, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they’re extremely creepy…why do they need eight legs?!

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

Thanks again, Lashanta, for giving us your take on what romance itself has come to mean to you. Lovely! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Ricardo Mejías visits us on May 4th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

4 Comments

Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Love, Message, Readers, Romance, sports romance, Writers, Writing

Pre-order Release Feature: Heart of a Savage by author LaShanta Charles

I am pleased to announce a great new release by LaShanta Charles, an author I met during my journey! Her fascinating new adult sports romance, Heart of a Savage, officially went up for pre-order and will be released at the end of the month!

Yay! Just in time for Valentine’s Day! That’s awesome, LaShanta! :) Congrats on your new release!:)

When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for an author!

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LaShanta is giving us a look at her new, intriguing MMA romance, Heart of a Savage, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for Heart of a Savage:

Bailey Ross-O’Malley has spent her whole life catering to others. She used to enjoy it. Until her father died. In an attempt to protect her, her father chose Connor to be her husband, but that was a mistake. Connor was supposed to love her, be her rock – but some rocks need to be tossed as far away as possible. She only has one source of happiness now, her son, and if Connor doesn’t get his way, he’ll take that joy from her as well.

MMA fighter, Dominic Prince, has only one mission in life: forget his past. Forget the pain, the drama, and the loss of things taken away from him too soon. He’s guarded and secretive and that’s the way he likes it. He was doing a damn good job of keeping it that way. Until her. Bailey showed up and Dominic’s life became a minefield. He can’t decide if he wants to kiss her or shake her, but he does know that he’ll fight to keep her safe. He’ll be as savage as he is in the octagon, outside of it.

Neither of them wants to accept it happening, but the past has a way of sneaking into the present. Hearts will be shattered and bonds will be broken. Will they survive it?

And here are some teasers to entice you with.

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Thrilling!  🙂

Book Info:

Genre:  Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Sports, Suspense

Release Date:  January 31, 2017

Pre-order Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B01M7YMJK6

B & N:  http://bit.ly/2jfFWZw

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lashantacharles

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2idni2o

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32868147-heart-of-a-savage

What an interesting story! ♥♥♥ This looks like a riveting ride!😉

Thank you for telling us about your book, LaShanta! I know I can’t wait to read this new adult sports romance! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book!

2017-967-ebook-lashanta-charles-heart-of-a-savage

Author Bio

me

LaShanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off of their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Yelm, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She’s a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, SLEEPING, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, SLEEPING, sexy alien romances, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they’re extremely creepy, why do they need eight legs??

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://randomlymeandyou.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorlashanta

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/twiety01

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Lashanta-Charles/e/B0083HO95Y/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6984092.LaShanta_Charles

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/lashantac/

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/104019449563926608746

 

Well, I certainly have to agree about the spiders. LOL.

 

Thanks again, LaShanta! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, New Adult, new release, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, sports romance, Writing

A Character Interview with Zoey from SECOND HALF plus a conversation with author Monica DeSimone!

Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Vivienne Vincent’s character on August 16th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Monica DeSimone, the debut author of Second Half, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Monica in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Zoey!

zoey

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Zoey.  Please have a seat.

Character Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy: Thank you for having me, Marie.

Marie:  Of course! It’s my pleasure!

We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?

Zoey:  Sure.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation?  Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Zoey:  Founder of the Coach’s Shadow Foundation. I like to think that I am. I have a tendency to be tenacious at times so that I get what I want.

Do I like it? Absolutely love it!

Marie:  Great to hear! 😀

Tell us…what is your family like?

Zoey: Both of my parents have passed away so I’m pretty much an orphan! LOL.

My family is amazing, I have a loud, involved, often times obtrusive family that I have had from birth as well as those that I have chosen over the years.

Marie:  Oh…😦 Sorry to hear about your parents. I’m glad you have other family, though.

Let’s try something else, okay?

If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?

Zoey:  Considering that Derrick and I live there now, it is an amazing home. Traditional Cape Cod with a lot of extensions added onto it. I think my mother originally fell in love with it because she didn’t want kids. It was often lonely and cold but Claire, my sister, made it a home.

Marie:  All right.

Do you have any hobbies, Zoey?  What do you enjoy doing?

Zoey: I run. A lot. It is as much a passion for me as running the Coach’s Shadow Foundation and football.

In my down time I love watching Sci-Fi movies and reading. Oh and shoes! I love, love, love shoes! I also enjoy throwing a great gathering with my family and friends. But I hate to cook. So I do the planning and shopping, and Derrick makes my menus come true.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Nice! 😉

So, what is your greatest dream?

Zoey:  Derrick.

Marie:  Indeed! (Sighs.) I love romance…♥

Okay, back to the interview.

What kind of person do you wish you could be?  What is stopping you?

Zoey: I have pretty much accomplished what I wanted to be. It may not be in the traditional way, and I had to take a very dark journey to get where I am, with several set backs, but I’m here. I’m alive, happy and just keep going every day. The one personality trait that I wish I could be better with is not to be so ready to forgive the wrongs that have been done to me.

What is stopping me? My heart and ability to lose.

Marie: I think we all feel afraid sometimes that we’ll lose everything we hold dear. Faith gets us through it all.

I’m going to throw another random question at you now. 

Who was your first love?

Zoey:  Derrick Hendrickson.

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Marie: But you got a second chance, right? That’s great!

So…let’s try another question.

What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Zoey: At twenty-one I fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide.

Marie:  Oh no! I’m so sorry…

[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]

Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?

[Zoey nods.]

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Zoey:  No. I floundered with what I wanted to do in the months, years really, after my attempted suicide. I was so tired of people telling me that I would find my way. At the time the darkness was all consuming and I didn’t see the light. I was really good at faking things, though; so I faked my way happy. Forced myself to push through the darkness. I finished my degree in English Literature, got a job in corporate America. I loved doing what did. It allowed me to nourish the part of myself that had always felt left behind. Wanting to be a combination between Betty Crocker and a Mother Hen while allowing me to be creative yet in charge behind the scenes, because I hate the spotlight, was my end result.

I ultimately found my dream. My own happiness, which has brought me true contentment. The Coach’s Shadow Foundation was born out of sorrow and guilt. However, it was through that sorrow and guilt that I proved to myself that I am no longer the broken girl who was left behind by both her mother and lover. It took a lot for me to realize that where I am today is exactly where I am meant to be.

Marie:  Wow! Tough times.

I’m so glad you found a light to pull you through that darkness. ♥

So, who is your role model, Zoey?

Zoey:  My sister Claire. She is everything that I strive to be. Strong, independent, courageous, and kind.

Marie: Great! It sounds like your sister is a very special person.

Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. 

Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

Zoey:  I absolutely hate Matt, Derrick’s agent. I always feel as though I need a shower after being around him.

Marie:  Oh, that’s not good…maybe your intuition is trying to tell you something?

Let’s try another question.

What is your deepest desire?

Zoey:  To be loved.

Marie:  Can’t blame you there!

What is your greatest fear?

Zoey: Spending my life alone and unloved.

Marie: It’s understandable to have that kind of fear, but I believe there is a stronger force guiding us, that good things come to good people. And I know you’re one of the good ones. 😉

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Zoey. It was so interesting getting to know you!:)

(Waves goodbye to her guest.)

Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective.  We have author Monice DeSimone on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Monica!

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Author Monica DeSimone:  Hi, Marie. Thank you so much for having me.

Marie: Oh no, the honor is mine.😀

So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy, or rather, just Zoey. Quite an interesting character.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Monica: Zoey is so tenacious and vibrant. She encompasses everything that I had ever wanted to be. I think that is because she has come so far in her battle with depression. She has fought for what and who she is today. Zoey loves deeply and carries her emotions on her sleeve. The obstacles in which she has overcome, although yes somewhat self-inflicted, are an admirable quality about her. The struggle of depression is overwhelming and all consuming. For Zoey to have pulled herself out of that, yes with help, and still be a kind, loving and generous person is amazing. She gives with all her heart and truly wants the best for everyone. Not everyone has the mental wherewithal to be able to pull themselves from that hole. It is admirable. Although it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flaws as well as a bit of a mean streak. Which I have to admit that I love.

Marie:  (Laughs.)

So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?

Monica:  Zoey loves with everything in her being which feeds her ability to forgive. This can be considered a strength as well as a weakness, but forgiveness would have to be Zoey’s greatest strength. That and not willing to give up on anything she believes in.

Marie:  Definitely admirable!

And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?

Monica:  Because of her capacity to forgive Zoey is often left open to be hurt by those she believes in.

Marie:  Sorry to hear that… 😦

What are some of Zoey’s favorite foods?

Monica:  Gosh, Zoey is “technically” an overall healthy person. A lot of greens and proteins. However, if you put a bowl of Utz Cheese Balls in front of her I would watch out. She is a kind person but sharing those yummy treats aren’t in the cards.

Marie:  (Giggles.) Nice!

How about another question?

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?

Monica:  Zoey is a lot stronger then she gives herself credit for. She is the heart of her family. Not necessarily the core of it, because that is Claire, but she is a fierce protector with a strength that she often underestimates.

Marie:  Great!

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Monica: I think that most readers will appreciate how damaged Zoey is and how far she has come to pull herself out of her depression. However, I also think that it is a toss-up if people will love her or want to hit her. If a reader can understand that forgiveness isn’t a weakness, that it is truly a strength and that love often has no rhyme or reason and that sometimes, not always, “soul mates” do exist, truly exist. If they can understand that, appreciate it, then I think that they will love her.

Marie: Definitely!

And I prefer characters to be real, flawed human beings anyway. Don’t you?

Now that we have a real taste of Zoey, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Second Half?

Monica: I had been writing my entire life, so when my father passed away in April 2015, I promised myself that I would finish one of my books. I have a few sitting on my laptop. One night in December 2015, I had just finished reading A Lover’s Lament by AL Greyson and BT Urruela, and Zoey started talking to me. God, she is a pushy little thing too because it wasn’t until she finally made a deal with me – she would be quiet so that I could work and sleep if I promised to tell her story. That was January 3, 2016. I finished Zoey and Derrick’s story and sent it to my editor on May 17th.

Marie:  Interesting how the muse works, huh?

Sorry to hear about your dad. 😦

Let’s try something else.

What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Monica: I’m a character-driven writer. As such I like to be surprised. You have to remember, ultimately I’m a reader. So if I can “Holy Sh**” myself, it’s a good day.

I am totally a pantster. My mother always said that I was a fly-by-the seat-of-her-pants girl. My writing isn’t any different. It makes it difficult for Nadine Winningham, my editor, but I think it makes it more enjoyable for everyone.

Marie:  (Laughs.) Hey, whatever works for you…

I am also a character-driven writer. They often bug me before I go to sleep. 😉

So, now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Second Half or publishing it?  What would you do differently the next time?

Monica: I reached out to a first-time writer, thinking that because they were up and coming they would be receptive in offering any advice. That was a mistake. After multiple emails, I finally got a response. It was not at all generous and honestly quite hurtful. Which caused me to become blocked. That was my fault, allowing the words of someone else to affect me. But in my defense, I respected this person and what they had accomplished. I was unable to write for six weeks. It wasn’t until I met, rather apprehensively, other authors at a signing and seeing first-hand the openness and kindness within the community that allowed me to get past the block and finish Second Half within three weeks.

What would I do differently the next time? I self-published and I wouldn’t change one thing about that. I was told by a very wise woman that this is a business and that you better treat yourself and writing as such. That my first product better be as good as my most current one. Because someone will always go back and read that first book. I took those words to heart, finished the book and with the help of some amazing people put a product out there that I will never be ashamed of. Whether someone is reading my first book or being introduced to me on my tenth, God willing, book they will find a superior product that they won’t be disappointed in reading.

Marie:  Wow! Sorry you had such an unfortunate experience with that writer! 😦

But I’m glad it all worked out for you, that you didn’t let a bitter person ruin your journey.

And you’re right. Generally, there is a nice community of authors who are willing to offer advice, or at least direct you to someone who can answer those questions. So much goes into the process, and we need all the help we can get.

Thanks for the additional tips!

Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog!  And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Second Half appears to be.

Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this modern sports romance by Monica DeSimone, a very talented author! :)

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Here is the blurb for Second Half:

Zoey McEvoy is a strong, sassy, independent woman that has vowed to herself that she will never allow anyone the opportunity to determine her emotional well-being again. After a battle with depression that ended in an attempted suicide, she has clawed her way out of the all encompassing darkness. Founding the Coach’s Shadow Foundation in honor of her father, Zoey finds herself thrown back into the life of the man that emotionally destroyed her eight years earlier.

Derrick Hendrickson chose his career over Zoey and is now back to recapture the love that he so recklessly tossed away. Unaware of the devastation his departure caused, he has to reestablish the trust that he lost when he left her. With the help of their best friends and Zoey’s sister Claire, Derrick has a strong chance of proving that he never stopped loving her. However, Zoey’s trust issues are major hurdles that need to be crossed. Will Zoey ultimately find the strength to forgive and allow Derrick and love back into her life, proving that the Second Half can be so much brighter?

Monica is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!

MY ALARM GOES OFF and I don’t even remember setting it. I always use my cell phone as an alarm, never the actual alarm clock. It is purely for decoration and is actually across the room on my dresser. So the fact that it is going off right now is confusing. I roll over to get out of bed and run smack into a solid mass. I know that I had an emotional day yesterday, but not so rough that I would forget having someone in bed with me.

Derrick. I burrow my nose into his back for just a second, and burn his scent into my memory so that I have it there for later. It’s been so long since I’ve felt him next to me. But then I remember where we are, what year it is, and that he isn’t mine any longer. Jumping out of bed faster than I have ever gotten up, I’m slightly dizzy and trying to gather my bearings.

As I’m getting my feet fully under me, Derrick says, “Duchess, shut off the alarm will you? I don’t have to be at the training facility until eight.”

What the fuck? What did I miss last night? No more blue Xanax, Zoey.

Recovering quickly, or as quickly as I can, I walk to the end of the bed and shove Derrick’s foot buried under my comforter.

Rolling over, Derrick looks all sleepy, disheveled, and sexy as hell. His right arm, the one that has the half sleeve of tattoos on it, is draped over his chest. The chest that is perfectly muscled and beautiful, and that I just want to lick. As I devour him with my eyes, I notice that there is a tattoo on his left ribcage. It’s a saying or something, I can’t tell exactly from this distance and I want a closer lick, I mean look of it.

Jesus… pull it together, Zoey!

“What, Zo?” I’m literally just standing at the foot of the bed, the alarm blaring, gawking at this beautiful man. “You gonna turn that off?” he asks, shifting his head toward the noise. “Then you can come back and cuddle with me.” He’s smirking now. Bastard! He knows that I love to cuddle, and Derrick was always the best at it— warm, strong, and soothing.

“What the fuck, Derrick? Why are you in my bed? With me?” I ask, attempting to recover some of my brain cells and come back to reality. “And where are my dogs?” I’m a horrible pet mom; instead of ogling the hot half-naked man in my bed, I should have realized that Reilly and Steeler aren’t where they always are. “What did you do with my dogs, Derrick?”

“Calm down, Duchess, they’re right here.” He shifts, and I see not just Reilly and Steeler on the right side of him, but that Sam is there as well. Oh… my… God… even my dogs prefer him. Traitors.

“Can you please shut that thing off? I have a hell of a headache and that isn’t helping.”

Walking over to the dresser, I turn off the offending alarm. I still don’t know how it got set, but really, I have bigger things to worry about. Like why there is a six-foot-five-inch god in my bed. Is that a V peeking out from under the covers? Zoey! I chastise myself. I’m staring, hell I’m more than likely drooling.

Recovering as quickly as I can, I ask, “Why are you in my bed, Derrick?”

“I needed to be close to you,” he says as he gets out of bed.

The boys jump to the floor, not liking that Derrick was starting to move around, but knowing that with their humans up they will get fed and go outside. They are now sitting on the bench at the foot of my bed.

As Derrick stands to his full height, I have to bite my lip to hold in the moan. The man has a body that only ancient gods had. I notice his tattoos that are covering half of his shoulder. Yum! He is turning around when I gasp in shock. There are a pair of eyes on his left shoulder, adjacent to his heart. But they aren’t just any eyes… they’re mine.

Ooh! Interesting! I love the tension here…🙂

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01LWIPOLT

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/second-half-monica-desimone/1124603461

BAM:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Second-Half/Monica-Desimone/9781483580494

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/second-half

iBooks:  http://ibookstore.com/products.php?i=B01LWIPOLT

BookBaby:  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Second-Half

We’ll be sure to get a copy of this sporty romance, book one of the Coach’s Shadow Trilogy! ♥

About Monica DeSimone

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Monica lives in northern New Jersey with her three dogs, Sam, Reilly, and Steeler. Raised by a football coach in the heart of Texas, football is a passion that is deep rooted. Introduced to Nora Roberts by her mother at the age of thirteen, she spawned a lifetime love affair with books, all things romance and happily-ever-afters. Outside of writing, you will find Monica on her back porch enjoying time with her “boys”, family, friends, and a really good Dirty Martini.

Book:

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And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Monica DeSimone, here are some author links:

Website:  www.monicadesimone.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Monica-DeSimone-Author-859944790794911/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MonicaDe12

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2epiLco

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15808209.Monica_DeSimone

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/monicade12/

Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Zoey, a female character from Second Half, and Monica DeSimone, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by!  It was so much fun to have you here! :)

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