Monday, March 31, 2014

New & HOT baseball romance!

Today is Opening Day for Mindy Klasky's PERFECT PITCH, a hot contemporary romance, the first volume in her Diamond Brides Series.  Who could resist a story like this:

Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant's rules—no smoking, drinking, or "cavorting" in public. That's fine, until D.J. Thomas—God's gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam's no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.'s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss. Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam's music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.'s son begs to trade in Little League for music class. Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?

This short novel is a perfect way to celebrate spring!  Buy your electronic or print copy today!  
Here's a peek at Chapter One:

No good text ever arrived after midnight.
Samantha Winger’s phone buzzed against her nightstand, waking her from restless sleep. She groaned, knowing she should have turned off the buzzer. Would have turned off the buzzer, if she hadn’t been so exhausted when she’d climbed into bed.
She’d spent the day in a series of meetings, each less successful than the one before. Time was running out. She had eight weeks left to track down funding for Musicall, her fledgling charity to offer music classes to all North Carolina school kids.
Flexing her calves, Samantha tried to fall back to sleep. She had almost succeeded, when her phone buzzed again. And then, like a hornet’s nest knocked from a tree, a dozen more messages screamed for her attention. Swallowing a curse, Sam fumbled for her phone.
She squinted at the screen, trying to make sense of the jumble of letters and numbers. It was the same sequence, sent by half a dozen people. Touching the link, she automatically launched a video.
The picture was grainy—someone had clearly been filming their television. The sound wasn’t great either. But Sam could make out a good-looking guy staring at the camera, a broad smile across his face beneath his navy blue baseball cap. His close-trimmed hair was blond, and his eyes were a shocking sapphire blue. He rubbed a broad-fingered hand against the hard line of his jaw, and then he grinned.
“I get it,” he said. “I do. Everyone came to the ballpark expecting to see Braden Hart pitch. Instead, Braden’s got the flu, and the crowd ended up with me. It’s sort of like thinking you’re going out on a date with Miss America and getting stuck with the Summer Queen instead. No wonder they booed when I took the mound. But I’d like to think they felt better when I delivered a perfect game.”
The pitcher laughed and flung up his arm, fending off an icy shower of sports drink from a pair of laughing teammates. The camera angle jerked, and the video cut off abruptly.
Stuck with the Summer Queen.
Sam shivered, as if she’d received her own ice-filled shower. Another two texts arrived, and she pressed the little arrow on the screen, forcing the video to play again.
Yeah. It didn’t get any better the second time. Or the third.
Another message came in, with a new link. Catching her breath, she touched the screen, only to see the pitcher grin and laugh, over and over again, as one line looped in endless repetition: “Stuck with the Summer Queen.”
Sam tossed her phone onto the bed. Who was this guy, anyway? And why was half the world up at this hour, anyway, to forward a million links to the video?
Grabbing the crocheted afghan from the foot of her bed, Sam dragged herself into the living room. She tugged the blanket closer around her shoulders as she opened up her laptop. Typing in a quick query, she ignored the browser’s prompt offering of the two videos, along with a slew of other recordings.
DJ Thomas, that was the pitcher’s name. Daniel Junior, she quickly read, son of Hall of Fame pitcher Dan Thomas. A seven-year veteran, useful in the bullpen when they needed long relief.
Sam clicked over to social media. DJ Thomas was already a trending topic. The guy had saved the Rockets in a big way, going from boos to cheers in nine perfect innings. The story was going viral, even as she watched the screen scroll by.
Great for him. Yay for the Rockets.
Stuck with the Summer Queen.
Sam knew she should stop watching. She should go back to bed, get a good night’s sleep.
Because the morning would come far too soon. The morning, and an inevitable phone call from the North Carolina Summer Fair. Ten months into her one-year reign as Summer Queen, Sam knew exactly how the game was played. By morning, she needed to have the perfect response—funny and sweet, and absolutely, completely, one hundred percent family-friendly.
No one would expect anything less from the Summer Queen. No one would expect anything less from Samantha Winger.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars-Because You Have To Take More Than Books To A Signing

I participated in an author panel at a local historical society last night. It was a wonderful chance to share our love of writing with a different audience. And since they were nice enough to buy our books and listen to us for two hours, we all brought some snacks to share.

This happens all the time. You go to a book festival and need to bring treats. You do a panel, or a reading or any sort of appearance, and want to entice readers on over. My original plan was to bring lemon bars, but spring has yet to make an appearance here in Maryland, so that felt wrong. Instead, I embraced the cold and rainy weather and made ginger chocolate chip bars. Took me less than five minutes to mix before popping in the oven. Couldn't be easier, or more delicious! Thanks so much to Real Simple magazine for the recipe.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line it with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugars, using an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into 32 bars (8 rows by 4 rows).
    To store: The tight seal on a take-out container will keep the bars moist and chewy. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Awesomeness of Small, Regional Conferences for Writers & Readers

I'll admit I adore conferences. Unabashedly living and breathing and talking romance twenty-four hours straight for four days with 2,000 other people is my idea of heaven. The fancy publisher parties, the loads of free books, the excuse to get dressed up...LOVE it! I'm headed to the RT convention in New Orleans in two months, and I'm already counting the days.

But huge cons are not the only way to go. Last weekend I participated in the Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical conference, and had a blast. Here are the reasons why everyone should consider adding a smaller, regional con to their schedule:
Location and affordability. Find one close to you, preferably within driving distance. One tank of gas is much easier to swallow than a cross-country plane ticket. This particular con had a readers track for $75 and a writers track for $125. For a jam-packed day, that is a deal you can't beat.  They won't break the bank (unless you go hog-wild at the book fair).
Speaking of the book fair, that can be a huge plus. Our keynote speaker was the awesome and famous Sherrilyn Kenyon, and she stuck around to sign at the book fair. People were lined up out the door, but because it was such a smaller conference, the line was fast and reasonable. People were able to wander the ballroom and not just frenziedly shop for books. Every reader that bought one of my books stopped to chat for at least five minutes. We actually had the chance to connect, rather than just transact. That is a big benefit to both authors and readers.

Accessibility - I wandered into the lobby to grab a soda and ran into two delightful women who had just zoomed through four pitches to editors and agents. No slush pile for them! We started chatting, and I ended up giving them quite a bit of advice - kind of an aspiring writer counseling session. When do you get the chance to pick the brain of published authors? At a small gathering like this one. Everybody is there to share and have fun.

And speaking of fun, well, you put a bunch of friends together who only see each other once a year and usually only chat on social media, and you get a boatload of fun and shenanigans. Two of us went to dinner with an awesome blogger, because 1) she's awesome (everyone should check out Read Love Blog, and 2) we didn't want to be just faceless authors begging for reviews. We wanted to laugh and drink together...which is what led to this hysterical photo. Our waitress dropped an entire strawberry mojito right into her crotch. We laughed it off, but the night was truly made when she left us a note on our bill. The waitress had no idea we were romance writers, so she lucked out making this ballsy comment to us. Take the time to make moments and seize opportunities at a smaller conference. You'll be thrilled you did.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sit Down And Write!

Today I'm giving all the writers out there a pep talk combined with a stern finger wag. Yesterday a friend of mine on Twitter who is a full-time writer was contemplating the choice between a nap (it was 3 in the afternoon) or a cup of coffee. I spluttered my indignation at her. This is why people think we romance writers laze around in yoga pants eating truffles between sex scenes. This is why her own mother still wistfully talks about her getting a REAL job, even though she's a bestselling and award winning author. I was ready to jump in the car, drive to her house in Wisconsin and slap her awake. And it wasn't just bitterness that I was stuck at my day job, where they tend to frown on naps.

It was the final straw in a rant that had been gathering steam in me for a while. Writing is a job and must be treated as's the kicker...WHETHER YOU ARE PUBLISHED YET OR NOT. Because you've got to set up the rigorous habits right now. I'm moving next week. Most of the house still needs to be packed. It'd be easy for me to skip writing at night for the next week with that as an excuse. But I won't. Because writing is my job. And there are no excuses (although be prepared for me to whine a little...or a lot...about all the packing). Yes, your child is home with the umpteenth snow day and your schedule is disrupted. Yes, you are repainting the bathroom and the whole project has escalated into two weeks of non-stop home improvement. Yes, you've got a big proposal due at the day job that requires extra hours.

No, that does NOT mean that your deadline will change. The words have to come out anyway. My husband has admitted that he could never, ever work from home, because he needs the structure of an office and daily reminders of deadlines. Well, writers don't have that luxury. Our editors leave us alone for four months while we write. We ourselves have to be the bad cop, the one filling in the squares on the mental timesheet. Time you steal one week becomes time that you can't necessarily make up the next week when suddenly promo is due for a blog tour. Or when you lose hours to designing snazzy swag for a convention. Without anyone looking over our shoulders on a daily basis, we have to kick our own butts. We have to flip off the damned imaginary muse and make the words come out no matter what.

Would you nap in the middle of the day if you were a court stenographer? Nope. Would you not clock in for two days as a cop because you'd rather get your bathroom done quickly? Nope. I promise, if you turn yourself into a hard-ass boss on this whole writing thing, your life will actually become easier. The words will flow with more you write with more regularity. The stress of squeezing in the time to write a three-book proposal on top of the book that is due will even out, because you will already be on schedule with the WIP. People will learn not to call you in the middle of the day to chat, because it is your work time (or at ten at night - whenever you may put your fingers on the keyboard). Clock in five days a week. You'll end up thanking yourself.