Writing of romance, fantasy, and love

~Permission to Forward Granted and Appreciated~

2013 Golden Claddagh Contest


Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddagh! Don’t let our chapter name dissuade you; your entry does not have to be Celtic based to enter. We have four categories for unpublished manuscripts: Historical, FF&P, Contemporary, and Young Adult.

Our contest opens on April 1st with a final due date of May 1st, 2013. Finalists will be notified by June 15th, 2013 and winners announced at the Celtic Hearts AGM at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. All finalists will be invited to the AGM, if they are able to attend.


The competition is open to RWA members and non-members. The Golden Claddagh Contest is open to published and non-published authors but the submitted work must never have been published in any format. The entry must be either a full-length novel (greater than 40,000 words) or a novella (no less than 20,000 words and no more than 40,000 words). Short stories and novelettes are not accepted.

Entry fee is $15 for CHRW members and $25 for non-members.


CONTEMPORARY: Long & Short Contemporary / Romantic Suspense / Strong Romantic Elements: Includes single title, romantic suspense, long and short romantic fiction with a contemporary setting set after 1945. Main focus is the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.

FF&P: Future, Fantasy & Paranormal / Steampunk / Alternative History: Romance novel where the mains focus is on the romantic relationship, but the future, fantasy or paranormal elements are integral to the story (includes time-travel).

HISTORICAL / Celtic: Romance novel set primarily before 1945 — any location.

YA: Young Adult / Middle Grade / New Adult: Romance novels or novellas in which young adult themes constitute an integral part of the plot. Main focus is still on the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.


Contemporary – Julie Mianecki of Penguin Books, Chelsey Emmelhainz of Harper Collins Publishing

 – Alissa Davis
 of Carina Press and Laurie McLean of Foreward Literary Agency

Historical – Meredith Giordan of Carina Press and Susie Townsend of New Leaf Literary Agency

Young Adult – Aubrey Poole of Sourcebooks and Becky Vinter of Fine Print Literary Agency

Find the Contest Entry Form and Rules at Celtic Hearts Romance Writers website.

Sign up today! You know you want to. So what are you waiting for?

~Permission to Forward Granted and Appreciated~


My delectable pirate tale is free for Kindle users through Monday, November 11! I’d love for you to stop by and liberally salt the decks with Likes and Tags. Come search for the hidden treasure of a pirate’s heart, and the truth of a young woman’s destiny.

“I will take ship with the Black Dandy, now, and forever.”


My second novel, The Black Dandy, will be released by The Wild Rose Press in 2013-release date coming soon! Read on for advance warning of my piratical invasion…

The greatest treasure is love.

Yet Victoria Barrett, illegitimate daughter of a notorious pirate, believes love is little more than a means to ultimate abandonment. Moreover, her ignoble birth all but guarantees a life of solitude. Then an unexpected meeting with a pirate overturns her beliefs.

Nathaniel Black bears no illusions about life. Captain of the pirate ship Golden Vanity, he has no fear of death, and no need for love. But when he meets the daughter of his old mentor William Kidd, his attraction to her takes hold of him like a sudden ocean storm. Then Victoria extends an invitation impossible for any hot-blooded pirate to refuse–a dalliance to learn about the pleasures of the flesh.

But someone else wants Victoria. Not for her personal charms, but for the secret she possesses. Unknowing, she holds the key to Kidd’s lost treasure. A treasure some people would kill for.




“What did I say?” Nathaniel’s voice commanded her to answer. “Tell me.”

Victoria jerked free of his hand, though his hold was none too tight. “I have no expectations, Captain. I am a bastard, remember?” She turned her back on him again, taking a precious moment to compose herself. She would not present anything but a serene countenance to her uncle, no matter how much turmoil she experienced.

“Of what matter is that? Your uncle has given you his name, his protection, his affection. Surely any man would welcome you as a bride.”

She spun back to face him, furious with his inability to understand. “What matter? What man of noble, or even genteel birth, would welcome a bride who cannot boast of impeccable antecedents? Unlike men, bastard females can expect little from life unless they possess noble birth or extreme wealth. I have neither. I am the daughter of a pirate, Captain, a man the Crown hanged for treason. When the time comes for any offer of marriage, I must force my uncle to perjure his name or reveal his beloved sister’s disgrace. He gave me a name, and a home, and what family I cherish. I will not subject him to such a choice!”

Her furious tirade destroyed any hope of serenity, as the first hot tears slid down her cheek. She had almost surrendered to a dream. Now she faced the truth of what she would be denying herself. But she wanted more than just the idle caress of a bored pirate, no matter how passionate.


A new and delicious highlander story released today! The Highlander’s Reward is the first in Eliza Knight’s new Stolen Brides series. I found the tale a truly delightful read.

When English lady Arbella de Mowbray rode with her father to meet her fiancé at Stirling, she hardly expected to ride straight into the middle of a battle. Nor did she expect to be swept off her feet by the enemy: Sutherland Clan’s laird, Magnus. Coerced into marriage for her protection, Arbella decides the union would be in name only—after all, what self-respecting English lady wants a barbarian Scotsman for a husband?

Her determination is tested as her body responds to Magnus like they were meant to be together. Worse, her heart starts to yearn for more. She wants a marriage in truth, not just in name. Magnus is strong, virile, and nothing like the barbarians she’s been told about. His gentleness and understanding take her by surprise, until she surrenders to their mutual desire.

For Magnus, Arbella is a welcome reprieve from an unwanted political marriage. Her beauty, her passion, her acceptance by his clan sink deep into his heart, and forces him to realize the truth of love’s hold over him. He does not want her to leave, now that he has found his unanticipated happiness.

But worry and misunderstanding haunt them both. And those they spurned want their revenge, coming to claim it just as Magnus and Arbella finally understand each other.

In The Highlander’s Reward, Eliza Knight has crafted a delightfully sensual love story filled with heart-throbbing tension. The bitterness and animosity between the English and the Scots during this era is well-depicted, bringing the history alive. The powerful emotions of two mortal enemies growing into mutual understanding and love are vivid and well-portrayed.

Highlander stories abound, but The Highlander’s Reward stands out. The emotional intensity and lush sensuality are sure to draw in the most devoted highland story reader. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

A little while back, I promised a look at the various hero archetypes, and why I chose to write a truly flawed hero rather than stick with the tried-and-true standards. The ultimate reason, as we’ll eventually see, is tied to my personal preferences. Yet quite a bit of my decision has been drawn from a careful review of the different hero-types.

So, The Paragon.

That pillar of virtue, the strong, unyielding, often silent Prince Charming every young maiden dreams of at night. Handsome, virile, all-knowing, compassionate, strong, and of course, awesome in bed. Let’s face it ladies, we all worship this ideal idol in our innermost thoughts. Who wouldn’t want the perfect man?

Of course, The Paragon is not really that perfect, at least not in well-crafted tales. But he is close – he’s manly, powerful, brave, with a heart of gold and some hidden weakness that makes him vulnerable to the right woman. He’s the man your mother always wanted you to marry, the guy who does the laundry, mops the floor, and holds down that awesome job in construction or wields a high-powered position as an elite businessman.

When I was sixteen, I yearned for some random prince of some hitherto unknown country to fall at my feet, smitten with love, begging me to become his princess. My heart longed for The Paragon, the man who would sweep me off my feet like Cinderella, spying the hidden beauty in my angsty teen heart. In other words, I wanted a fairy-tale prince, not a real man.

The Paragon is easy to write, but far too easily made into a fairy-tale caricature. Paragons do exist (my mother married one the second time around), but they hide their identities well, just like Superman. The true Paragon is the single dad who’s figured out the hard facts of life in raising daughters without a woman around. The businessman whose machismo is unruffled by working under a female boss, or the young man who defies his circle of friends to invite your shy, awkward daughter to the prom because he likes her smile.

It’s easy to love a Paragon. And as much as I admire (and yes, still swoon for) that perfect man, the character growth arc of a Paragon is relatively straight-forward. Despite the care used to craft 3-dimensional characters, all too often Paragons either overshadow their heroines, or are overshadowed by their heroine’s issues. When your hero doesn’t have room to grow,  it’s far too easy to turn him into a 2-dimensional paper doll that you dress up with emotions here and there. There’s no real challenge to you as a writer to create The Paragon, although he has his uses. Exercise him with caution.

Besides, isn’t it more fun to tame a Bad Boy? Now you know what’s up next…

OK, I’ve got to admit, I LOVE Regencies. Really. That’s why I wrote one. And I recently had the opportunity to read a marvelous tale by Janet Mullany, The Malorie Phoenix. If you like feisty heroines, and a good, rollicking Regency tale, visit http://www.janetmullany.com/

Jenny Smith is not your average heroine, despite her average name. A skilled pickpocket, her first encounter with Benedict de Malorie has unexpected results. The loss of a treasured family heirloom deprives de Malorie of his intended bride, but brings Jenny the unexpected gift: a child. Desperate and ill, she leaves her daughter Sarah with her father.

Years later, Jenny is approached by two men with a daring scheme: impersonate the long-lost daughter of a wealthy family just long enough for the lady to return to England and her proper place. Despite her misgivings, Jenny agrees, knowing the payment will allow her to search for her daughter.

The impersonation leads both Jenny and Benedict down unexpected and dangerous paths. Jenny’s love for Benedict is only exceeded by the exquisite torture she endures being near her daughter yet unable to reveal herself. For Benedict, trusting the former pickpocket is almost impossible, despite his desperate desire for her.

In The Malorie Phoenix, Janet Mullany has crafted an extraordinary tale with unique and complex characters. The heartrending decisions Jenny Smith is faced with reach deep into the heart, while Benedict de Malorie’s frustration, desire, and mistrust weave a continual misunderstanding between the pair.

The vivid portrayal of poor heroine doing what she needs to survive, coupled with a hero rebuilding his happiness from the ground up has certainly been done before. Yet Mullany’s unexpected twists on the expected Regency plot, her delightful characterizations, and most of all, the continuous symphony of emotions bring the tale to life in a fresh, new way.

The Hero. That paragon of virtue and upstanding manhood, whose gruff exterior belies his sensitive, courageous heart. Sometimes. Whose motivations are always pure. Usually. The gentleman who never causes harm, most especially to his beloved’s delicate heart. Maybe.

Love them or hate them, all men are flawed. Yes, that means even Mr. Darcy had his off days. After all, his overweening pride certainly got in the way of his feelings for Elizabeth Bennett for quite a while.

But what about the truly flawed hero? The man who has a weakness that has driven him to commit the cardinal sin in any romance: causing true emotional pain and suffering, not just to the heroine, but to others as well. Can such a hero be redeemed? And is it worth potentially alienating a reader to craft such a hero?

The answer is both yes and no. Which answer works best for you depends on the story you wish to tell. Flawed heroes work well in some situations, but not necessarily all. Over the next few posts, I’ll take a look at hero types, including the flawed hero, and examine the situations where I think they work best.

Of course, I’m partial to flawed heroes myself. My Regency novel, An Unintended Seduction, has such a hero, and I’ve gotten mixed reviews on his popularity. Some people consider him too flawed, others consider him adequately redeemed, and still others are happy to read about a hero who’s not the perfect, flawless peer of the realm. None of these are wrong, because everyone reads for pleasure, and what brings pleasure to a person is highly individual.

However, if you are considering crafting the flawed hero, remember, not everyone will love him, but not everyone will hate him, either. So craft him well, make him realistic and three-dimensional, and your readers might forgive his flaws and embrace his human frailties as worthy of redemption.