First, congratulations to Colleen who was randomly chosen as the winner of the ARC for A COWBOY RETURNS. Colleen, I’ll email you regarding your print vs. digital preferences. :)

Most of you who keep up with my blog, both here and on my personal site, know I’m in the process of writing a trilogy centered cowboy at the rodeo - shot backlit against dust, added grainaround brothers–cowboy brothers–set in northern New Mexico. The series, Wild Western Heat, open with Elijah’s (Eli’s) story. As the eldest brothers, he’s made a real muck of things and has some atoning to do. That story is done and I’ve moved on to the second book, COWBOY PROUD, the story of the middle brother, Caden (Cade). Cade’s life has been anything but easy, and his heroine has suffered a difficult road more recently, so they’re both a little…well…let’s just say they’re really lonely. Like calls to like, and the results are pretty darn dynamic!

That started me thinking about heroes because, in all honesty, Cade is probably my new favorite of all the heroes I’ve written. I know, I know–I love all my heroes. But there’s something about Cade, something so broken in him that his healing is both hard and heartbreaking. I encountered a major hiccup writing his story when I ended up in the hospital for a week (two weeks ago), and I didn’t see him the entire time I was there. I came home under strict orders to rest and only rest. My husband, and personal true-blue cowboy, took this a little far when he took my computer away and said, “Three days. You follow doctor’s orders for three days, Kelli, and you can have Cheese back.” (I have a Mac I named Cheese. Go figure.) I fussed and, after two days, got him to just let me re-read the manuscript so I could get back into it on the third day by using the argument I needed to be prepared. Poor guy. He caved because I was such a pest.

Cropped PI Cowboy JGP_2708pm copy 2He returned Cheese and I opened Cade’s story with admitted glee. I re-read what was, at the time, almost a full manuscript and realized I’d taken a right at one point I should have taken a left, so I backtracked and made corrections beginning the next morning. Cade’s story turned into a real heartbreaker, and I realized the story is, in truth, more about him than his heroine, so there are some edits to make before I hand my final draft over to my editor for its first pass of edits.

What makes Cade’s story so compelling? To tell you is to give away the key component of the resolution, and I can’t bring myself to do that because it would ruin the read should you choose to pick up COWBOY PROUD. However, the title pretty much hits it on the head: pride. And that’s when it hit me that one of the things I love the most about a good, contemporary western romance is that the heroes are true blue cowboys, and cowboys are proud men. Not prideful, but proud, and there’s a huge difference.

What’s your favorite cowboy characteristic? Why? What is it that makes cowboys so appealing in today’s hustle and bustle world? Leave me a comment and I’ll pick a winner for another ARC of the first book in Wild Western Heat, A COWBOY RETURNS (print or digital, winner’s choice).

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Mmm, heroes. Hot, sexy, strong.  I don’t know about you, but the hero ranks at the top of my favorite reasons that I love romance, both the reading of it and the writing of it (okay, and the living of it).  So I’m so excited to be writing 6 more heroes for Blaze in my Sexy SEAL series.  Yipppee, yahoo and yum.Strong Athletic Man Fitness Model Torso Showing Six Pack Abs.

But 6 more heroes mean finding 6 more inspirations.  So far, I know each will be sexy (with a title like Sexy SEALs, sexy is a given).  And since they’re SEALs, they’ll be ripped with that extra edge of fitness that only the military can provide, which adds so much oomph to writing those love scenes, let me tell ya! April Edward

Each of them will have to have a sense of humor, because I know my heroines and they love guys who can laugh.  Although, granted, they might not all be inspired to laugh at the same thing.  But that’s part of the fun of discovering the characters, right?

The heroes will be romantic–even if they didn’t know they had it in them.  I love  watching a hero who is tough and rough on the outside discover his inner Romeo just as much as I love a hero who is so blatantly romantic that his SEAL team actually calls him Romeo (ahem, the hero in A SEAL’s Pleasure).  The kind of hero who not only sends flowers, but who sprinkles the petals over a tub of steamibathtub of rosesng bubbles to enjoy by candlelight.

And I know each one of them will have something to overcome.  I have no idea what that would be at this point, but isn’t that part of the wonderfulness of romance? Reading about two characters who become stronger and happier through the love they share?

So that’s all I’ve got so far, which means I’m asking readers… What would you like to see in a Sexy SEAL?  What would inspire you as a reader?  C’mon, share :-D  I’ll offer an autographed print copy of any of my Sexy SEAL backlist (2013 or 2014 releases) to one random commenter.  

 

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About three weeks ago my new Fitbit arrived. I had one last year, but it has been recalled. I finally ordered a new one and I put it on. I’m going to backtrack and bit and tell you that from age five to 19 I was a dancer. Attended the High School of Performing Arts, the whole shebang. Dancing four to eight hours a day keeps you pretty fit. Though, I still worried constantly about my weight. And then in college, I hurt my back and couldn’t dance any more. Flash forward more years than I’m going to tell you, and I’m a writer. I live a very sedentary life. I’m at my computer sometimes 18 hours a day. I don’t really move.

I’m fat.

And honestly, while I don’t always like the way people treat fat people, I was kind of okay with myself. I don’t have a thyroid (it was surgically removed) and I’m diabetic, so I just look at a carb and I’ve gained 10 lbs. It sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not. I also really like food. But I was just sort of resigned to being a big girl.

Any hoo… It occurred to me about three days after the Fitbit arrived that I was going to be heading to Harry Potter Land (That’s what we call it in my house, also known as Universal Studios Florida) with my new grandkids I inherited when Jeff married Crystal. And we’d probably end up at Disney at some point. That’s a LOT of walking.  I was out of breath walking up my stairs (I still am) and walking a block wore me out. (It still does.) So I decided I’d better start moving. My youngest son and his girlfriend and the dogs all went with me. Every day. For at least fifteen minutes we walked.

Everything on my body hurt. My knees, my hips and especially my feet. I was hot, whiny and exhausted, but I did it. Every day we’d try to go a little further. The next week, the kids were busy. So I took my little dog Elvis. And then each day we tried to go further. Every day. Even though my body hurt like the dickens. I made myself do it. And then one day I took our monster dog, Harley, the 145 lb Great Dane. My pace increased and I’m so busy trying to keep her from eating other dogs, the time goes by faster. Seriously. And she helps me up the hills. For real.

On day eight, I found out I have a small fracture on my foot that healed a little funky and there’s a giant red lump on the side of my foot. Giant wall of inflammation around the bone.  That explained the foot pain, at least part of it. The doc ordered me some special ortho thing and some steroid cream, but they said I could keep walking as long as I had good shoes. So the hub and I found some great shoes for me, and I never stopped.

It’s only been three weeks. Some days I do 5000 steps, sometimes 10,000. Sometimes I walk two miles, sometimes four. But I do it. I may stop tomorrow. I may never stop. But each day I make a decision to not give up that day. Last weekend I did a fitbit challenge with my family. I came in fourth out of four people, but we were all moving and that’s what matters. :) And I started dancing again. Alone, in my office, but it feels good. It was such a big part of my life for so long and I really missed it. But I hurt every day when I walk. I hurt every day when I crawl up the stairs to go to bed. And I hurt when I get up in the morning. But I’m doing it. People keep telling me it gets better. I’m pretty sure they are all lying. And I’ll be honest – I still hate it. Like, hate it. But I do it.

If you want to be Fitbit friends, let me know. I’ll probably make you feel really good about yourself. :) I’m user https://www.fitbit.com/user/295QDS

I’d love to know what you’re doing exercise wise. Tell me. I really want to know. If it’s easier than walking, I might do it with you. :)

 

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I just read that this was the warmest winter on record, based on average temperatures across the globe. But for certain parts of the world, including where I live, in the eastern half of North America, it was the coldest winter on record. Concluding that I am an extremely unlucky person seems only logical. Hopefully my luck’s about to change because here comes April – so bring on the sun and flowers blooming, because I’m ready for some heat! Which puts me in mind of this month’s Blazes.

Apr 839 Anne

Have you ever had to keep a sexy secret? There are a lot of them in New York Times bestselling author Anne Marsh’s WICKED SECRETS, the third book in her Men of Discovery Island trilogy and our Uniformly Hot! title for this month. Mia Brandt is a former military pilot who would rather forget her out-of-character one-night stand with Tag Johnson – a Navy rescue swimmer who is pure sex. She enjoyed calling the shots that night…and it seems Tag wants his sweet revenge! Their sizzling chemistry can’t be ignored, so Tag cooks up a little fake engagement to keep the gossips of the island at bay. But one secret leads to another… For an extra bonus read, check out Anne’s prequel to this story, BEFORE HE WAS WICKED, which you can find for free on Amazon here. Anne Marsh is one to watch!

 

apr 840 kate

 

The ever-popular Kate Hoffmann returns with another The Mighty Quinns story. THE MIGHTY QUINNS: ELI shows off Eli’s search-and-rescue expertise when a pesky TV personality turns up at his aunt’s remote cabin. Why does city girl Lucy Parker think she can live in the wilderness for a year without assistance? She may have to…according to the rules of the reality TV show she’s on. But who’s going to know if there’s a bit of cheating going on—because Lucy is having a really difficult time resisting Eli’s super hotness! And guess what? There’s a twist about Eli’s background that fans of the Quinns will enjoy!

Apr 841 Tanya

 

Drumroll please…introducing New York Times bestselling author and multiple RITA™ award nominee Tanya Michaels! GOOD WITH HIS HANDS is Tanya’s first Blaze and it’s fantastic! Fans might remember that Tanya used to write sexy contemporary books, full of wit and humor, for Harlequin Temptation. Danica Yates is a woman who’s done everything right. Successful job, good friends…broken engagement. Damn. Well, what better way to cure her blues than take home Hot Architect, the gorgeous guy who works down the hall. Dani can’t believe how easy it was to seduce the aloof Bryce. Until she finds out that she didn’t seduce Bryce…she seduced Sean, his twin brother! This case of mistaken identity is a great addition to The Wrong Bed miniseries. The wrong bed…but the right guy?

apr 842 erin

 

And finally, New York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy wraps up her From Every Angle trilogy with DEEP FOCUS. So much for a romantic vacation! PR rep Melanie Ambrose is en route to Cancun with a Dear Jane letter and Hunter Ryan, her newly appointed, very built new bodyguard. And, because Melanie was supposed to be on a romantic trip, there’s only one bed. Hmmm. What will happen?? A little sun, surf, sand, and plenty of margaritas drop the inhibitions of these two strangers enough to give in to a naughty little fling! But is that all it is? Find out in Erin’s latest!

I hope you enjoy all four Blazes this month. As always, I’d like for three of you to receive a set of our April titles. So tell me your favorite Blaze cover from this month and I’ll enter you in a draw to win!

Dana was so busy writing about our #BlazeBlitz last month (http://sold.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/2015/03/blazeblitz/) that she didn’t write her post for BlazeAuthors! She’ll be back this month. In the meantime, these lucky winners will receive March Blazes!

1. Izzy Szyn
2. Gina H.
3. Heather

Comments 13 Comments »

In a blind draw, Maureen, Laurie G and Lenore1216 have each won a copy of INTRIGUE ME. Please send me your addresses at joleigh (@) joleigh.com (spelled without spaces). and I’ll send them off. Thank you all for your comments. :)

Happy reading, everyone!

Jo Leigh

 

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As a HUGE Romance reader, I’ve done this a few times: after finishing a novel I would write to a favorite author of mine and beg for her to write a story about one of the secondary characters because I liked them so much I wanted that character to get his or her own love story. Then it happened to me.

Night Maneuvers

Night Maneuvers


After NIGHT MANEUVERS came out, I started getting emails from readers asking about a secondary character, Lieutenant Neil Barrow, a Navy SEAL, and the perfect guy to drive a wedge between my heroine, Captain Alex Hughes, and the man she loved, Captain Mitch McCabe.
Readers wanted poor Neil to get his own Happy Ever After. And, even though I hadn’t originally planned on writing a story for Neil, I wanted to make my readers happy. So, I started trying to plot a book for Neil the SEAL. The problem was, he was SO perfect! And perfect guys are boring! What’s not to love? Where’s the conflict?
Finally, I realized that his perfection WAS the conflict. And FEVERED NIGHTS began to take shape. Readers might recognize the woman Neil falls for, Piper, from my most recent Blaze, CABIN FEVER. If anyone needed a super NICE GUY, it’s complicated Bad Girl, Piper.
FEVERED NIGHTS

FEVERED NIGHTS

So, now I’m excited to show off the beautiful cover art for my newest Blaze coming in June, along with some pictures that inspired the story and the blurb from the back cover. You can PREORDER HERE
Here or Here
Enjoy!
The desire to be good
The temptation to be bad…
Lingerie model Piper is a tabloid’s dream come true. She’s broken hearts, rules–even a few laws. After her last little “adventure,” however, Piper realizes her trashed rep won’t just destroy her career–it’ll destroy the one thing she really cares about. Now she’s a Reformed Bad Girl. And nothing will stop her from being good.
Navy SEAL Neil Barrow is pretty much done being The Good Guy. He’s hoping that the deliciously naughty Piper will set both his body and his reputation on fire. When they steal away for a few days, however, it becomes clear that this incendiary attraction is about more than just being bad. And Neil will have to choose between the woman he wants…and the man he really is.

Hannah Simone as Piper

Hannah Simone as Piper

South Beach, Miami

South Beach, Miami

Key Largo Sunset

Key Largo Sunset

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INTRIGUE ME is the last of my It’s Trading Men! series. You know, the Trading Card books. Wow I’m going to miss them. But it was time for me to tackle something new.

My hero, Daniel Cassidy, is a very well schooled neurologist who is working pro bono at a Bronx Free Clinic. The heroine, Lisa McCabe, is an ex cop, now a PI, whose been hired by a trading card member to check out her first pick – the doctor. Lisa ends up working at the clinic too. After a life-altering betrayal, the healing community of the clinic and allowing herself to love Daniel points to the beginning of a wonderful new life. Daniel has finally found the missing piece in his life with Lisa, but the two of them must overcome some very painful roadblocks on their journey to happiness.

What I adore about the Trading Card series has been creating small communities inside bustling New York. Each book has been set somewhere people call home. The real kind of home where it’s safe to go no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve lost. The Free Clinic is that kind of home, and working there is a gift to both Daniel and Lisa. But finding each other? Magic.

My own home is a little unusual. I’m a widow and my friend Debbi (also known as Blaze favorite Debbi Rawlins) is also a widow, and we have a house in the boonies where the rescue dogs have over an acre to run about, and the cats rule the main floor. She lives in the top floor, and I have my office, a mini kitchen, a living room, bedroom and exercise room in the walkout basement. We meet for meals, and for book help when we need it. And just to talk. Can you imagine living in the same house as your best friend and best critique partner? Of course, we’ve known each other for over 25 year. In fact we met at a Houston RWA meeting.

visit me at http://jomk.tumblr . com/ (spaces added because of hackers, not, as has been suggested, specifically to annoy you).

→ Contest ahead!

Where do you call home? What’s your special community like? Is it online, or maybe you’ve got a big old family all around? Perhaps your community is books (I lived in Harry Potter for 6 months after my husband died) or movies? Tell us about it, and I’ll pick three winners (in the continental US) to send free copies of INTRIGUE ME!

All the best wishes ever,
Jo

PS: here’s a review from RT:

INTRIGUE ME (4) by Jo Leigh: When P.I. Lisa Cassidy is sent to check out Dr. Daniel McCabe for a woman in the Hot Guys Trading Card group, she finds herself attracted to him and spends a little extra time in his company. As the two grow closer after some steamy action, they battle with the seemingly addictive hold they have on each other. As per usual with the It’s Trading Men series, the couple has an easygoing nature and the storyline flows both carefully and easily, never revealing too much or too little at any given time. Intrigue Me skews differently in that Lisa isn’t part of the group, which is a nice departure for the series.  *oops they transposed their last names*
Reviewed by:
Kim Jefferson

And here’s the cover!

Image of Intrigue Me (It's Trading Men!)

Comments 16 Comments »

Recently, Candace Havens posted about her son’s beautiful Valentine’s Day wedding. Well, this weekend I had the chance to see my sixteen-year-old daughter get married . . . on stage, thank goodness!

She was playing Cosette in her high school musical, Les Miserables. The show is a big deal in our town every year. Practically everyone turns out. I got to spend five glorious days watching her shine up there and basking in the proud mommy glow of all the accolades and compliments during intermission and after the performances.

The newlyweds, Cosette and Marius

The newlyweds, Cosette and Marius

It made me think back to when she started performing and how many lessons I’ve learned from her and applied to my writing.  The Drama Queen (an affectionate nickname, I assure you) made her first stage appearance in my arms at nine months old, and she was truly bitten by the acting bug at around six. She played all the requisite cute kid roles in community theater across the state where we live – Gretl in The Sound of Music, Molly in Annie, Mary in The Secret Garden and even Young Cosette in Les Miserables.

Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden

Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden

Then one of her friends hit the jackpot – she was cast in Mary Poppins on Broadway – and the Drama Queen decided that if her friend could do it, so could she. Thus began two long years of schlepping her into New York City, first to get an agent, then to countless auditions. There were callbacks, let downs and some successes, especially in the second year when she had the privilege of working with some stellar Broadway talent at the historic Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut – the theater that the Elm City Repertory Theatre in Triple Threat is based on.

AGYG

Nellie in Goodspeed’s Annie Get Your Gun (far left)

Then came the Holy Grail – at 56 1/2 inches tall, dangerously close to the 58″ height limit for kid roles on Broadway, she was cast as Jane Banks in the first national tour of Mary Poppins, the very show that started her quest. She played the role for eight months in cities from Boston to Seattle, and it was a magical experience from start to finish.

The Banks family

The Banks family

There were so many mantras we repeated to ourselves along her actor’s journey that apply equally to the writer’s journey. Enjoy the process, don’t focus on the end result. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Only the persistent prevail. Seeing her go for her dream without fear and grab it with both hands inspired me to do something I’d always wanted to do but been afraid to try – write a novel.

So here we stand – me with my second book, Triple Time, set to come out in June and my daughter, with another show under her belt and college auditions looming. We’ve both been so lucky and so blessed that we’ve been able to do what we love. And I’m not sure I would have done it if it hadn’t been for her example.

So what’s your passion, and how do you fit it into your life? Because I’m in a giving mood, I’ll give one commenter an ARC of Triple Time. And, again because I’m so giving, here’s a few more proud mommy pics of Cosette and company.

In My Life

In My Life

A Heart Full of Love

A Heart Full of Love

To love another person is to see the face of God

To love another person is to see the face of God

Comments 13 Comments »

First, congratulations to Summer for winning the $20 gift card to the e-book retailer of her choice! Summer, I’ll be emailing you to get your details and get that card sent out.

March 838 KelliSecond? Yes, it’s true. The final Pleasure Before Business book, PULLED UNDER, has been released into the wilds. The thump of bass music from Beaux Hommes is slowly fading away, and all the men in my mind… Oh, who am I kidding? They’re still taking their clothes off, but it’s  not for money. LOL Though Ty, the youngest Covington brother just quirked an eyebrow and began moving to a little “When You Cheat” by Carrie Underwood. He has a wild streak, this one does.

That brings me to my third point. I have a new trilogy happening! The Covingtons, three brothers from a ranching family in New Mexico, are a tough lot with too much to deal with at the moment. Their tempers and pride can definitely get in the way of what’s best for them. Luckily, though, the women they happen to fall in love with reduce the men to their most basic selves and help them stand for what they believe in when the time comes. Lucky men, yes?

The first book, A COWBOY RETURNS, is Elijah “Eli” Covington’s story, and it’s poignant in the lessons he learns and the moment that literally brings him to his knees in a stock pen full of cow pies and horse apples. If pride goeth before the fall, his went at mach 3 and the fall? Well, let’s just say that impact really, really hurts. But that’s not the point. I promise.

cowboy at the rodeo - shot backlit against dust, added grainThe point is that much of what you see and hear in these books is stuff I’ve experienced first hand. Yep, that’s right. I lived on a nice-sized ranch for the first three years of my marriage. My husband did a lot of “day work” when we first married, so I saw a lot of other operations in the area too. “Day work” is when a cowboy goes to another ranch to work for a day for flat wages or, in some cases, does a specific job for a ranch (i.e building electronic scales for a cattle squeeze chute) and is paid a flat fee for the work. And not only that, but my father-in-law (Jim)–a man who looks SUSPICIOUSLY like Sam Elliott (I never know whether to hug him or put my hands up!)–is a large animal veterinarian, so running around with him taught me a great deal too. I’ve seen things most of you wouldn’t believe if I described them, done things no one who knows me can imagine and laughed so hard I have, at times, nearly wet my pants. I’ve nearly killed Jim’s favorite cow and wished more than once I could save an animal’s life. I was spared the first and granted swift release from the pain of the second. I can drive a tractor, rope as long as you don’t expect me to catch what I’m aiming for, drive a tractor and build fence from the wrong side because that’s how I was taught. I’ve hauled hay and found rattlesnakes half in/half out of the bale…alive and pissed as hell. Now that my friends, is an experience no one needs to go through. I’ve fallen off horses…a lot. And I’ve sat down on hay hooks. O-U-C-H.

Bottom line? The upcoming Wild Western Heat trilogy is going to be very, very authentic. I hope you enjoy some of the antics we–my characters and I–go through or have been through. It’s a very fun series. Be sure to check out my Pinterest page for the Covington boys here: Wild Western Heat.

Now, I always have contest when I can. (Who doesn’t love to win stuff???) What I want to know this time around is a scene you’d love to see incorporated into a manuscript for a western novel. It can be steamy or practical, hot or not. Totally up to you. Just let me know. I can’t guarantee I’ll get the scene worked it, but I’ll try! And the winner of the contest will win an ARC of A COWBOY RETURNS — as soon as I get them! Probably May? But I’ll mail it to you the day they arrive on my porch. :)

Until next time, friends and fellow readers,

Kelli

Comments 20 Comments »

Me dancing with my boy.

Me dancing with my boy.

I promised you guys photos from the Valentine’s Day wedding. So here we go…

My dad married them. Made the dave even more special. And he did a great job. :)

My dad married them. Made the dave even more special. And he did a great job. :)

Y'all this cake was all kinds of good. Best cake I've ever had.

Y’all this cake was all kinds of good. Best cake I’ve ever had.

Here is the very happy couple. Crystal and Jeff

Here is the very happy couple. Crystal and Jeff

The Hub, the kids and me. A happy group.

The Hub, the kids and me. A happy group.

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Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.
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