Ta-dah! A shiny new cover!

After a couple of years of writing, revising, editing, querying, and editing some more, my contemporary romance The Story Between Us is inching its way into the world! Today, I’m excited to release the cover. The book will be published later this summer or early fall by The Wild Rose Press for its Sweetheart line.

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When a children’s book author gets a story idea from a young fan who’s lost his parents in a tragic accident, she knows she’s hit gold. She sees a bestseller and heartwarming keepsake. But the boy’s guardian sees exploitation.
Stay tuned for release date!
Happy reading to all!
Darlene

In Review: a Decade of New Direction

Wow! What a decade!

As I pondered a New Year’s post last night, it occurred to me that my entire career as a fiction writer has happened in this decade. My first novel, Unexpected Legacy, hit the market in January 2013. For me, the decade began in flux as I left a 21-year corporate position that, over the years, included a combination of writing and art direction.

It took a while, but I finally decided to try my hand at fiction and put on paper a few story ideas that had been bouncing around in my head for several years. I spent the first couple of years of the 2010s learning the craft of fiction writing, working with other aspiring authors, attending writing groups and conferences, and attempting to understand the publishing industry, which for the entire decade has been in a state of change. Have to say, it’s been a challenge to bull’s eye a moving target!

IMG_6646Happily, I’m ending the decade with seven published books, an essay in an anthology, a new romance in the queue with The Wild Rose Press publishing house, and works in progress that include a women’s fiction story, a general romance, and a Christmas romance.

Though the decade has had its challenging moments, I learned a lot about marketing and social media, and I met some fabulous people! Here’s a shout out to all the industry professionals, especially librarians and bookstore staff, who value and help promote local authors and reader events. Another shout out to the authors, both struggling and on the bestseller lists, who take time to make connections with other authors, to lend a hand (or a Facebook share) to help others succeed.

In 2020, I’m hoping to become a hybrid author – with books published both through the independent route and also the traditional track. I hope for time – time to write all the words and finish works in progress. And I hope for new opportunities and meaningful connections.

On a personal level, it was also a momentous decade. Both kids graduated from college – one also earning an advanced degree. Both are employed in their chosen fields and pretty much paying their own way in the world. They’re happy and healthy, and I feel I can take a mother’s proud bow for a job well done! 🙂

I’m imagining the next ten years will be some of the most exciting years yet – bringing perhaps weddings and grandchildren and more completed and published books! Goals, as usual, include spending quality time with family and friends, a little traveling, and reading more books.

Wishing all my friends, fans and followers peace, good health, and the happiest of new years!

Darlene

What are your hopes or goals as we head into the 2020s?

Trip down Memory Lane salutes Teachers

I could never be a teacher. I don’t have the stamina or the patience — and I don’t have enough control over my facial expressions. (It’s probably the eye-roll.) So I have a high regard for good teachers.

Having gone to public schools and sent two kids to school, I’ve seen a thing or two go down in the classroom. I’ve been a room parent and school volunteer. I’ve witnessed classrooms in total disarray and classrooms that function like clockwork thanks to a special kind of person who can only be described as a rock star, or maybe a saint!

I’m delighted to pay tribute to one such teacher in a new anthology that features me and 38 other authors from around the world sharing everything from heartwarming to hilarious essays about teachers and teaching. It’s called Will Work for Apples, and it released today in ebook and paperback formats.

My piece is about a favorite memory from third grade and the fabulous teacher who cheered me to one of my greatest childhood achievements! It’s called A Wagon and A Wink. It’s about jump-roping, persevering, and a little encouragement!

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Are you a teacher? An education advocate? Need a year-end teacher gift or simply enjoy true stories? You might need a copy of Will Work for Apples! 🙂

Happy Reading!

Darlene

Amazon: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESamazon
Kindle: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESkindle
iTunes: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESitunes
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESnook
Kobo: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESkobo

2018 – Year of Memories and Modifications

Well, I didn’t publish a book in 2018. I wrote one, but it’s pending an agent’s interest. I took a break from working on two other novels to write this post. One is a women’s fiction, and the other a contemporary romance that might be the first in a series. So my goal for 2019 is to publish at least one of them!

penned con signingIt was a busy year. I attended several author/reader events locally as well as the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver and the Penned Con book fair in St. Louis. Met up with writer friends, made new connections and had a blast meeting readers.

Plus, we had a lot of action on the home front. Both kids graduated in May – fortunately, a week apart. One with a bachelor’s degree and the other, her masters. Being my son’s final college tennis season, we traveled to a few more of his matches, which took us from Orlando to Kalamazoo and several places in between. Lots of fun times and memories made! And, I’m happy to report both are gainfully employed and pretty much self-sufficient! Woo-hoo! I’m calling that parental success! 🙂

That said, we are now truly empty nesters. And that feels weird. And it changes everything! No more winter breaks that last three to four weeks. No more “Spring Break.” Our daughter was home for Christmas, but only for a few days. We were only able to fit in a quick overnight to see my folks because both kids had to be back at work the day after Christmas. Our daughter flew back to New York on Christmas Day. This new reality is cramping my style, for sure!

But it’s like the old saying, “The only thing constant is change.” It just keeps coming!

I don’t know what 2019 will bring, but I’m hoping for new adventures, new connections and new books! Wishing you all peace, good health and happiness!

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Darlene

It’s book-for-a-buck month!

That’s right. During the month of July, Smashwords digital book seller is having a huge sale — and lots of books are only $1. That’s a great deal! And that means you can get my contemporary romance Something Good for only a buck!

Something Good was a Rone Award second-place winner in 2015, and also won Still Moments Magazine’s award for Best Ending. It has a 4.7 average review rating on Amazon, and some great reviews!

“… an absorbing story of redemption that’s hard to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With surprising plot twists and unique character conflict, Something Good more than lives up to its name!” – InD’Tale Magazine

Get Something Good for $1

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Grab your copy, and enjoy!

Darlene

International Women’s Day: Strong Women in Fiction

urlIt’s International Women’s Day!

I was with a group of women fiction writers last week, and someone mentioned the occasion. The authors at this meeting realized we all write about strong women. To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, each of us agreed to post an excerpt from our writing featuring one of our strong female characters. And we want to share them with you.

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverI present Kate Austen, interim principal of a suburban high school, who faces hostility from male peers in Unexpected Legacy, fiction with romantic elements.

Bruce accompanied Kate to the office where they signed the log for opening the school safe, deposited the money, and locked up again. Bruce had already turned, heading for the door, when Kate glanced at the log. Her head snapped up.

“Bruce?”

He stopped and gave her a nod. “See you Monday.”

“Bruce, wait a minute. I don’t see your signature on here for any other day this week. You said you’d put the money in the safe.”

“Yeah. I did.”

She clenched the clipboard in her hand, but resolved to keep her voice calm. Don’t overreact, Kate. “Without signing and without a second staff member verifying what you put in?”

He shoved a hand inside a pocket and scowled at her. “It’s nothing that needs to be verified, Kate. There’s no accounting on this. It’s completely outside of school business.”

She bristled at his tone. “I disagree. Any time we’re collecting money, whatever the reason, there needs to be careful record of it and personal accountability. We’re talking about several thousand dollars here, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that every dime collected is accounted for and used for the purpose it was intended.”

Bruce’s eyes shifted from her to somewhere beyond her, as if he were bored by the conversation. When he looked back at Kate, his eyes challenged her. “Are you suggesting I would mishandle funds?”

“Not at all, but if there were ever a question of propriety, we’d need to be able to show clear and accurate records.”

Bruce continued to stare at her a moment, then glanced at his watch. “Are we done?”

Kate let go of the log. “We can discuss this further on Monday,” she told him, her voice clipped. “From now on, please refrain from putting anything in or taking anything out of the safe without my authorization.”

Your authorization?” he repeated.

“Right.”

Both hands went to his hips as he stared hard at her. “District policy says another staff member.”

“I’m aware of that, but you didn’t follow district policy, so I’m adding a stipulation. For the time being, I’d like you to see me if you need access to the safe.” She gave him the sweetest smile she could muster. “Just to be sure we’re on the same page.”

To read posts from other women authors about their strong women characters, please follow the links below. Happy International Women’s Day! Enjoy!

Darlene

Joyce Brown, author of cozy mysteries

Pamela B. Eglinski, author of suspense and historical fiction

Theresa Hupp, author of historical fiction

Juliet Kincaid, author of historical fiction

Here’s to Heartwarming Holidays!

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Hey, friends!

It’s that time of year –– time for some jolly holiday fun!

Join me and several other awesome authors, in the Heartwarming Holiday Blog Hop! It’s your opportunity to meet new authors and a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7 with Alexa!

Here’s how it works:

Visit each author blog in the hop and look for their “Heartwarming Holidays” blog post. 
Look for the title that includes the words “heartwarming” and “holidays.”
Visiting each blog in this hop is mandatory in order to be eligible for the grand prize, so be sure to comment on all “heartwarming holidays” posts from each of the following blogs between December 4 – 9, 2017:
Nicole Morgan, Suzanne Jenkins, Holly Cortelyou, Darlene Deluca, Casi McLean, Sensuous Promos, and  The Book Pub.

Speaking of heartwarming, it’s one of the words that always comes to mind when I describe my novel Unexpected Legacy.

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You might fall in love with hero Matt Dalton who’s just found out he has a 16-year-old son. You might relate to the leading lady, an up-and-coming high school principal who champions her students. And you’ll definitely cheer on Brady, the teenager who’s dealing with the traumatic effects of an accident and the loss of his best friend.

It’s a heartwarming story of bravery, resilience, and, of course, love! One that will leave you with a satisfied smile! Perfect for cozy holiday reading!

 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and best of luck!

Darlene

 

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A weekend of bookish fun awaits!

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OK, who’s looking for some fun? If you’re in the Dallas area, you won’t want to miss this! Bring a friend, your book club, or just yourself and join us for Readers and ’ritas Nov. 10 -13. Parties, books, authors, scavenger hunt, swag, prizes . . . and did I mention fun?!

I’m so looking forward to this event. I love visiting with readers and chatting about books. Add in food and drink, and what’s not to like, right? And for me, another exciting plus is that the weather is Dallas is currently projected to be in the low- to mid-70s for that weekend. Woo-hoo. In other words, perfect!

Click here for the full agenda and list of authors and guest speakers.

Hope to see you there!

 

Fireworks of a Different Kind

Don’t you love feisty characters who create fireworks on the page or the screen? Those women and underdogs who stand up for their rights or fight against the establishment are often the ones we connect with. The ones who make us clap and cheer.

In honor of July 4th – fireworks day, and the day that a bunch of people said “enough,” I thought I’d take some time to think about the fictional folks who make us say, “You go, girl!”

20170513Norma-Rae1The first one that comes to mind, and I’m probably showing my age here, is Norma Rae – the classic story of a young woman (played by Sally Fields) taking on big business to get union representation. Who didn’t cheer when she shut down her machine and climbed up on that table with her sign? It’s so iconic, that I refer to these kinds of scenes as Norma Rae Moments.

Remember when Jewell Ivy in “Country” told that banker he’d better come with more than a piece of paper to take her family’s land?

Or how about when single mom Erin Brockovich took on big business over chromium contamination and won? You go, girl!

Do you like these kinds of feisty characters? One of my all-time favorite romance books also features a great Norma Rae Moment. In Paradise, by Judith McNaught, Meredith Bancroft has finally had it. After years of being pushed around by her father and later the board of directors of his company, she finds the courage to fight back, and gives a stunned group of men a piece of her mind. In standing up for her principles, she stands up for herself and the love of her life. It’s a fun read.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]In one of my Women of Whitfield novels, Second Wind, single mom Dana Gerard has a similar “I’ve had enough” moment. She’s tired of keeping her nose to the grindstone. Of not making any waves to protect her job. She’s good at what she does. She’s responsible and then some. So when her integrity is challenged, she refuses to take it sitting down.

Sneak peek without spoilers:

It was hard to keep her cool when fire flared inside. This guy was going to get his answer. Gathering her courage, Dana gripped the arms of the chair, and pulled herself erect. “Thank you. I’d be happy to address that, Mr. Newman.”

She glanced around the room, making eye contact with the other people, who shifted uncomfortably and looked as though they’d like to be anywhere else.

I know there are many, many more examples in both books and movies. Share your favorite Norma Rae Moment and let’s enjoy the fireworks!

Happy Fourth to all!

Happy Father’s Day to a fave fictional dad

Matt Dalton hasn’t celebrated Father’s Day in 16 years. That’s because for 16 years he didn’t know he was a father. Imagine his surprise when he’s suddenly called in as reinforcement in a traumatic situation.

Parenting is hard enough under normal circumstances, right? And teens? Whoa, pour me a drink. How about a hostile teen who doesn’t even know you?

Well, Matt Dalton steps up to the plate. And does a pretty fine job of it. It’s not easy, but with patience and baby steps, he manages to earn his son’s trust.

In a heartwarming tale that’s part coming-of-age and a little romance, father and son maneuver through tough times to forge a bond that strengthens them both.

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy, a compelling story of bravery, compromise and resilience:

Matt Dalton’s world is spinning off its axis. Without warning, he’s thrown into the world of parenting a teenager. Matt meets his son for the first time when the sixteen-year-old is dealing with the consequences of a tragic car accident. Not only has Brady lost his best friend, he faces disability and scars both physical and emotional.

Determined to do whatever it takes to give his son a second chance, Matt looks to his alma mater to step up and help Brady regain his athletic abilities and sense of self. But sparks fly when he meets the high school principal, the captivating Kate Austen. Kate is ready to take Brady under her wing, but to her that means helping him refocus and find a new passion – using his brains rather than his brawn. Kate fully expects the younger Dalton to come with issues and challenges . . . his father may prove to be the biggest one of all.

Though the chemistry is hard to ignore, Kate fights to keep her personal feelings and professional life separate. At the same time, Matt struggles to gain his son’s trust, and Brady must face the road to recovery and find a way to accept the changes in his life.

Click here to learn more

Do you have a favorite fictional dad?