Gorgeous Graphics

I wanted to share two teaser quotes from my upcoming release, HOT SHADE. Aren’t they gorgeous? The wonderful artist at Bookin’ It Designs made them. I’m so thrilled with how they came out. Feel free to download and share on social media! And if you’d like to order the book, click here for the Amazon Pre-Order site:

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Weekend Writing Warriors #8Sunday 8/23/15

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Wow, so it’s been a really amazing week for my book, with USA Today’s HEA blog featuring the excerpt and cover.

Here’s another small snippet from HOT SHADE, my upcoming book with Boroughs Publishing Group. This is part of the WeWriWa, a weekly blog hop. Check out the site for other great authors.

This ten-sentence selection from my book is part of the first chapter, when Luca and Skylar are getting acquainted following a plane crash. While having a glass of wine in the pool. As one does.

“Corruption and weird shit happens in Florida all the time. It’s what my editor and all the reporters at the paper say. Everyone tells me I’ll eventually witness it for myself or write about it if I stay in Florida long enough,” she said.

“Well, that’s something to look forward to.”

They both laughed. Luca was funny and handsome. She worried that her voice was too excited. Her laugh too eager. Her eyes too interested in what he had to say. Her weakness had always been men who told good stories and made her laugh.

Want to pre-order HOT SHADE? Amazon link here.

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Weekend Writing Warriors – 8/16/15

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So here’s another excerpt from my upcoming book with Boroughs Publishing Group. This snippet is part of the WeWriWa, a weekly blog hop. Check out the site for other great authors. For more about my book, and a sexy video trailer, see below. Pre-order links coming soon!

This ten-sentence selection from my book, Hot Shade, is part of the first chapter. It’s where the hero, Luca, meets the heroine, Skylar. She’s a rookie reporter covering a plane crash on a Florida beach, and trying to wring information out of him. Unsuccessfully.

Skylar grinned and rummaged through her straw tote bag then handed him a business card. Plucking it from her fingers, Luca studied every inch of her face. Even the freckles on her nose were adorably sexy.

He glanced down and read her card aloud. “Skylar Shaw. The Palmira Post.”

She took a pen and notebook out of her bag. The pen’s end was frayed with bite marks. Luca arched an eyebrow. He longed to flirt but knew he shouldn’t, for all sorts of reasons.

Weekend Writing Warriors #8Sunday 8/9/15

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Thank you for checking out this week’s snippet from my soon-to-be-released romantic suspense novel that’s in the capable editing hands of Boroughs Publishing Group. I’ll have info on the new title and a release date soon. Plus, a cover!

I’m putting up this short except as part of  www.wewriwa.com — Weekend Writing Warriors. Be sure to click on that site to see more work from other talented authors.

“Skylar, you have pen on your chin,” Luca said matter-of-factly, jarring her from the kissing fantasy.

“Where?” she asked, her hand flying to her face.

“On the left side of your mouth.”

Skylar rubbed with her fingers, trying to appear dainty but she was certain she looked stupid, or worse, coarse.

“Um, no, the other left,” he said, stepping forward and taking her chin in his hand. Luca’s thumb grazed her skin and set her cheeks ablaze.

Luca’s thumb shifted and brushed her bottom lip. One slow stroke to the right. Another to the left.

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RWA-NYC

So I’m headed to my first Romance Writers of America conference. It’s in New York City. Four days of writing workshops, meeting new friends and getting to know the people at Boroughs Publishing. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sneak over to the AP and say hi to everyone there, as well.

Good stuff.

I’ll be Tweeting throughout the week at https://twitter.com/tamaralush

And posting photos on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tamaralushwrites

Fiction update

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I’m thrilled to report that I’ve signed with Boroughs Publishing Group for Uncovered, my romance novel. Kudos to my agent, Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates, for handling the contract.

Going with this publisher is serendipitous. When I first started writing romance, I decided that I should take a class. I didn’t have the confidence to craft a fiction tale. My background is in journalism and news writing. In college, I took broadcast news writing classes, not literature courses. Hell, I never took a fiction writing class, although in retrospect, I probably should have, since my school has a great writing program. I was focused on being a journalist.

I love to read, but me? An author? No way.

But after a series of extremely difficult and tragic news events, I felt like writing a story that ended happily. I wanted to write a sexy love story set in Florida.

So I looked around online and found a class through Media Bistro. The 12-week romance writing class was taught by Susan Squires, the author of many award-winning romance novels. I was convinced that she would laugh at my writing. She didn’t. Instead, she was the kindest, nicest teacher and mentor one could hope for. She encouraged me to write a full draft, then go back and edit. She painstakingly read my story and made suggestions. She got me to think about emotion and conflict.

Susan helped me become a better writer and a better journalist.

During class, she would often talk about her first editor, a man named Chris, and how he took a chance on her at Dorchester Publishing years ago. She talked about how much she learned from him during the editing process. I hoped I would someday have a similar experience.

I began querying Uncovered in November. I participated in Twitter pitches, online events and sent it unsolicited to various agents and editors. In the end, I received 10 publisher rejections, two solid revise and resubmits and four offers. One of the offers was from Boroughs. What I didn’t know when I queried Boroughs was that Susan’s first editor, Chris Keeslar, was now in charge of that publishing house.

When Chris made the offer of publication to me, I had one question for him: Will you be my editor? He said yes, and I was ecstatic. I know my book needs work, and that he’s taking a chance on me.

I suspect that the difference between a mediocre novel and a good novel is a solid editor. I’m really looking forward to working with Chris and the rest of the Boroughs team to create the best book possible.

Today’s news

Same-sex marriage is legal now in Florida. Here’s my story, written with AP’s Curt Anderson:

Lesbian and gay couples were married in Miami on Monday by the same judge who said she saw no reason why they couldn’t immediately get their licenses ahead of Florida’s coming-out party as the nation’s 36th state where same-sex marriages are legal statewide.

The addition of Florida’s 19.9 million people means 70 percent of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is legal.

It also reflects how much the nation’s third-largest state has changed since the days of Anita Bryant, the former beauty pageant queen and orange juice spokeswoman who started her national campaign against gay rights in Miami in the 1970s.

A confession, of sorts.

So I’ve been a journalist for…let’s see. Almost 23 years. I started my career in radio, then worked at a really small weekly newspaper in Massachusetts, then at small dailies in New England. Eventually I made my way to the (then) St. Petersburg Times and to The Associated Press, where I am now.

Along the way I’ve thought about writing books. Non-fiction. True crime. And romances. I’ve always been a fan of the romance genre. I like sexy, smart books. Even as a teenager, my favorite book was Fear of Flying by Erica Jong – not exactly a romance, but almost. The romances with strong heroines are my catnip. I’m of the firm belief that writing a romance novel is a feminist act.

As author Sarah MacLean says: “the heroine is the hero of the story and she is taking action.”

This summer I began toying around with a romance story. I somehow had the space in my brain to think about a fictional tale of two young reporters. I wrote the first chapter, then another, then another. Eventually I enrolled in a Media Bistro class taught by the very talented Susan Squires, who has published lots of smart romance novels. She was kind and encouraging and didn’t laugh at me. I’ve learned a lot from her about conflict and story structure.

Fast forward a few months. My first few chapters are a finalist in a contest. An editor at Entangled Publishing has asked for the full manuscript. I actually finished the manuscript. I’m tweaking (thanks to my talented copy editor Carol Druga) and rewriting the manuscript and have an idea for a second book. It’s pretty damned exciting.

I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and met lots of really wonderful and talented women (Hi Kate, Tina and Leona!) and have learned a lot about writing just for fun, not because there’s a deadline. But I’m also looking at journalism in new ways. If nothing else comes from this project, I have a renewed sense of excitement about my job as a reporter because I’m writing creatively in my free time.

My novel, Uncovered, is about a rookie reporter in Florida who meets a mysterious Italian man while covering a plane crash. (No. It’s not an autobiography). It’s in the New Adult romance genre, which means it’s a coming-of-age tale about a young woman in her first job, falling in love for the first time and breaking away from her family’s values and traditions.

The heroine is Skylar Shaw. She’s 22. She in love with Florida, her job at a small newspaper and a handsome Italian man.

Here’s an excerpt.

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I turned off my car and hobbled into Greenway, the upscale health food store that smelled like fresh-cut flowers and strawberries. Note to self: don’t wear three-inch heels to press conferences in Florida in August. My feet were swollen and achy.

I scooped up a container of my favorite greens at the to-go counter and wandered over to the produce department. Fresh guacamole and tortilla chips sounded like good comfort food. I dropped a bulb of garlic in the basket. Shopping here was like a religious experience because the vegetables and fruits always seemed to sparkle while gorgeous Baroque music wafted throughout the store. I was squeezing the Haas avocados for ripeness when I heard a voice.

“Skylar Shaw.” I looked up, startled. It was him. The guy from The Sanctuary who wouldn’t talk to me after the plane crash.

I froze, my hand on an avocado.

He gave me a full, seductive grin. It was the first time I had seen him smile, and oh my God, it was glorious. Like someone had sent the best-looking man to the health food store for my viewing pleasure. The produce misters blasted fine spray onto the nearby organic micro-greens, as if the guy was so hot that the sprinkler system came on to extinguish an invisible blaze. I suppressed a giggle at the thought.

I wondered if he was going to be a jerk again. He looked happy to see me.

He wore dark blue gym shorts and a white t-shirt that had the word “Napoli” in black on the chest. I saw a few letters of his tattoo peeking out from his shirtsleeve. He wore flip-flops and unlike the other day, he had dark stubble on his face.

I lamely attempted to flirt. Why, I’m not sure, since my effort had been so dismal after the plane crash.

“Oh. Hi. I didn’t recognize you with your shirt on.”

His eyes widened. He liked that. I could tell because he laughed.

“You’ve been doing a great job with all of the plane crash stories,” he said in that sexy accent. “I’ve been reading you in the paper every day. Your articles are very detailed and well written. Lots of sources. Impressive.”

He’s been reading me in the paper. That might be the hottest thing any guy has ever said to me. My words. In his brain.

“No thanks to you,” I said, laughing. “For all I know, you were the best source there.”

“Maybe I was. But I owe you an apology. I’m afraid I wasn’t polite to you that day. I’m sorry.”

I shrugged. “Oh. It’s okay. I’m a reporter. I’m used to people saying mean things to me. Or weird things. Or nothing at all.”

“I’m just glad you didn’t put me in the paper. Thank you for that.”

I tilted my head and opened my mouth to ask a question but he derailed me by sticking his hand out.

“I’m Luca. Luca De Rossi.”

Luca. What a sexy name. Italian. I rolled it around in my mind. Luca.

My hand was still on the avocado, squeezing it in a death grip. He looked much friendlier today, and I wondered why, since I was a sweaty mess.

I released the avocado and slipped my palm into his. Luca’s hand was big and swallowed mine in a firm grip. I wondered what it would feel like if he grabbed my body with that kind of force.

“I’m Skylar,” I said. I had momentarily forgotten that he already knew my name. It was embarrassing that I was giggling out loud. Raised by a feminist, I was not brought up to giggle like a helpless girl around men.

I conjured my best, professional voice and looked deep into his eyes. “You already knew that, though. From my byline.”

“Yes,” he laughed. “You’re in the paper every day.”

He didn’t let go of his hand when we stopped shaking. I didn’t, either. A warm tingle spread from my fingers, up my arm and into my body.

“I’m just getting off work. The governor was on the island today at a memorial for the plane crash victims and I had to cover the service and news conference. I think it was totally more of a campaign stop for the governor, though. He didn’t seem like he cared too much about the victims.”

Like he’s interested in the governor. Maybe I should shut up now.

He still had that delicious half-smile on his face. “Politicians. Can’t trust any of them. They’re all the same, in every country in the world, no?”

His eyes unlocked from mine and his gaze traveled to my lips, then my breasts, then further down to my hips. He quickly looked up at my face. I was a little shocked that he checked me out so obviously.

“I’m glad to see you aren’t in tatters today, Skylar.”

I bit my bottom lip and smiled. He seemed so casually confident, with more than a touch of ultra-masculine edge in his voice. Even though he wore gym clothes, he commanded attention with his dramatic features and amused half-grin. I wasn’t used to a man being this bold with his eyes or his words, and felt like I only had dealings with college boys up till this moment. Boys being the operative word.

I was warm all over, even though the market was air-conditioned. Was that a bead of sweat running down the back of my neck? I had a vision of his tongue in the same place.

Since he was being flirtatious, I would be too. Or at least try. Flirting usually doesn’t come easily to me. I’m more of the serious type.

“I didn’t have to slip through any fences today, so my clothes are intact.”

He grinned again and looked like he wanted to consume me.

“And what are you making for dinner tonight, Skylar?” He glanced in my basket. “Garlic. Well. You won’t be going on any dates tonight.” He opened his mouth in a lazy smile and his tongue slowly licked the corner of his mouth.

We could fix that, I wanted to say. But didn’t.