#MLKDAY – A Day of Service

Today, Jan. 20, 2020, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a federal holiday that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The holiday was signed into federal law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. MLK Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

But did you know…this is meant to be a day of service? 

The holiday is meant to be “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

FOR THOSE STILL WORKING

While this is a federal/state holiday, it is not one mandated to be a day off work for all privately owned companies. Only 33% of non-state and federal employers give this time off. So if you have to be at work, we get it. 

However, you can still make it a day of service. Consider taking a moment to reach out to your HR or your department head. Make the request that even if it’s not a day off, that it be a day of service starting next year where employees can go out in groups, with company t-shirts even, to do a day of service together. (Trust me, most companies love to be represented by community minded employees this way.)

Also, there is still time after work that you can do something small. Check out the list below.

FOR THOSE WITH THE DAY OFF

For those with the day off, what are you going to do to make this a “day on.” Some great ideas are listed below.

*This list is a shortened version of the one found at https://blog.fundly.com/community-service-ideas/ to be things doable in the short term for 1 day of service. Check out the bigger list for more fantastic ideas!

GENERAL

  • Volunteer at a local nonprofit
  • Participate in a national giving or remembrance day
  • Clean up your local park or playground
  • Plant trees, flowers, or other plants
  • Repair broken household items or appliances for neighbors
  • Write and send letters to soldiers and veterans

HELP KIDS / SCHOOLS

  • Volunteer at a youth shelter
  • Donate used books to a children’s library
  • Donate your used electronics to a school
  • Donate baby clothes and supplies
  • Join a group like Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Donate stuffed animals to kids in hospitals

HELP SENIOR CITIZENS

  • Take flowers to nursing home residents
  • Cook a meal for a senior
  • Decorate doors at a nursing home for the holidays
  • Host agame night at a nursing home
  • Teach an elderly person a card game or trick
  • Teach an elderly neighbor computer skills
  • Adopt a grandparent
  • Write letters for a senior
  • Deliver cookies or snacks to elderly neighbors

HELP ANIMALS / ENVIRONMENT

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Sponsor an animal in your city’s zoo
  • Build birdhouses for your neighborhood
  • Donate to a local animal shelter
  • Collect pet food and supplies for a shelter
  • Plant trees in a local park
  • Clean up a stretch of highway/local park/common areas in your neighborhood
  • Spruce up a park trail or hiking area
  • Bike to work or school

HELP HOMELESS / HUNGRY

  • Collect household items for a homeless family
  • Give grocery coupons to a local food bank
  • Create care packages with essential items
  • Donate toys and school supplies to a homeless shelter
  • Donate blankets to a homeless shelter
  • Volunteer at and donate to your local food bank
  • Create portable first aid kits for the homeless
  • Donate gently used clothing and shoes
  • Spend time at a soup kitchen

CRIME REDUCTION & SAFETY

  • Become part of your neighborhood watch group
  • Join an organization like DARE
  • Paint over graffiti in your neighborhood
  • Start a violence protection group in your community

SPECIAL NEEDS FOCUS

  • Hold a crayon and marker drive
  • Collect school supplies for special needs classrooms
  • Help make sure your neighborhood is handicap accessible
  • Donate to a care center in your community

NEIGHBORHOOD & COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT

  • Campaign for more bike lanes and sidewalks
  • Pick up trash around the neighborhood
  • Rake leaves for neighbors
  • Join your neighborhood watch group
  • Help people clean their gutters

New Release | Landing the Lawman!!!

From Tule Publishing, I’m thrilled to announce the release of Landing the Lawman–the fifth and final book in my Hills of Texas series!

He thought he was in control until she snuck into his heart…

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Carter Hill walked away from a perfectly fine life and relationship…all for a career she’s chased since she was fourteen. Years and a PhD later, she loves her job as a water rights consultant. At the same time, now that all her brothers are happily married, she’s lonely and wanting more. But the only man in her life is Logan–super serious, no sense of humor, and friend-zoned. Or is he? Perhaps a sexy, no-strings affair with a man more driven than she is could help her move on.

Logan Cartez doesn’t date, do relationships, or worry about commitment. He’s married to his job – making sure what destroyed his family ranch and their legacy doesn’t happen to others. When Carter propositions him, what began as a passionate and unforgettable night soon develops into more. Logan finds himself doing things he swore he never would, and the feisty, brilliant, blue-eyed rancher’s daughter has him thinking about so much more than work.

* All books in this series can be read as stand alone and out of order.


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EXCERPT

Logan finished organizing things to his exacting standards, then picked up his briefcase and looked at her. “Ready?”

Carter pushed to her feet and had to hide a wince.

“What’s wrong with you?” Logan demanded.

Damn. He caught that? Carter shrugged. “Nothing that a long soak in my Jacuzzi bath won’t fix.”

He paused and stared at her with an inscrutable expression that meant he was waiting for more.

Carter sighed. “I visited home this weekend and rode Mae West for the first time in forever. I’m still feeling it in my behind.” She gave her tush a smack.

“Of course you named your horse Mae West,” he muttered.

Which only made Carter snicker. She was always quoting the actress. “Hey! Don’t knock her. The woman has some of the best life advice for women.”

“You once answered the door and asked if I was happy to see you or if I had a pistol in my pocket.”

The dry tone to his voice only had her cracking up more. “That’s a good one.”

“I don’t see how that’s advice.”

“Well, you wouldn’t.” The man was pulled tighter than a cinch on a saddle.

“Excuse me?” He paused holding the door open for her.

“You need to let loose and live a little.”

“I’m perfectly happy with my life,” he said with all the emotion of a wet blanket.

“You’re wound up like a pocket watch. I never see you put a foot wrong, but you don’t have any fun that way either. To quote Mae, ‘To err is human…’” She reached up to pat his check. “‘But it feels divine.’”

If Carter didn’t know better, she would’ve sworn those ebony eyes of his dropped to her lips. Just for a second. Too quick for her to be certain. Which was silly. This stupid—very temporary—crush was messing with her brain. They were coworkers and friends, nothing more. Even if she had made it a bit of a mission in life to make him have fun.

“I’ve had my share of failures,” he said.

“And learned all the wrong lessons, in my opinion.”


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RWA: We Should Do Better

Some of you may know about the implosion that has been happening with Romance Writers of America (RWA) since before Christmas (and really for years). For any who don’t know and are interested, there is a good recap that is a list of the daily events with links to posts or other documentation. This is being updated daily.

RWA RECAP

I have been a member of RWA since 2013 and have served on several boards and committees or helped run events through the years. I have made countless friends, established professional connections, and seen my career flourish thanks to workshops I’ve learned from, events I’ve attended, and the people who’ve helped me along the way.

And I am heart-stricken to say I, like so many, have been blind to the fact that other RWA members who fall into various marginalized groups have not had the same experience.

Here’s the thing…I can’t say I am surprised.

As a woman, I have experienced microaggressions and discrimination in many situations–as a previous professional in the male-dominated tech industry, but also as a woman dealing with (sadly) other women. Some overt, like being blocked for jobs or opportunities. Some so subtle it made me want to scream. All it takes is a look or a comment, something others in the room miss, but you know was targeted at you. Even careless remarks, unintended to hurt, can carry a great deal of sting.

Writers, of all people, should understand that words matter.

Even within RWA (with all the good experiences I’ve had) starting as a self-published author, I was made by some to feel that wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t a “real” author. And it felt awful.

How much more terrible for any person to experience any kind of exclusion or discrimination over and over and over about who they intrinsically are. In small, subtle ways and larger, explicit ones. In personal ways and from the organization that is supposed to be helping and providing a safe space for all.

In a genre promoting love and hope, why are we not seeing it for everyone? Love is love is love.

Regardless of who is or is not at fault, the ways in which both sides have handled things, and whether or not RWA as an organization can rise from the ashes of this fallout and regain the trust of its membership, it seems to me one thing is clear–we should do better.

I should do better.

As an author who falls in the white, heterosexual, able-bodied group (ADHD is something I’ve been lucky enough to learn to use for me rather than battle against, so I don’t personally count that for myself), I should work the hardest and be the most determined to do better.

I have friends and family, loved ones close to me, who fall into a myriad of marginalized groups, and I want to do better for them. As an author, whose works are read by total strangers who might then go out into the world and reflect my words, I want to do better for them. I know I will stumble and mess up and show my ignorance and get things wrong as I go, but please know that I am trying.

I am a far, far cry from perfect and, while I would sincerely hope not, have no doubt that contained in the 30+ previous works of mine are microaggressions or offenses thanks to ignorance, carelessness, or a perception of the world seen through privileged rose-colored glasses. Absolutely unintended, but that doesn’t matter if my words caused harm. If I hurt anyone with my words, spoken or written, or with my actions, I unequivocally apologize. I will also be continuing to listen, to educate myself, and to read back through my old works to fix them as I am able (something I had already started prior to this).

The situation imploding RWA is complicated, messy, ugly, and heartbreaking. It is a difficult time for members as we all decide what is best not only for ourselves personally and professionally, but for our chapter(s), and the organization as a whole. Readers, please know that we also keep you in our thoughts as we move forward and strive to do better.

2019 Accomplishments | 2020 Goals

It’s coming up on the end of the old year and beginning of the new, and you know what that means… Goals.

Look at how you did on the old ones and set some new ones to keep that forward momentum. I do this every year for personal and professional goals. Let’s take a look at those author ones.

2019 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

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I had a wonderful 2019 with new releases, new contracts, time with wonderful friends, fun at conferences, and growing my skill set. Here are some of the highlights:

PUBLICATION

I hit all my publication goals for 2019 and added a novella into the mix as well as several anthologies! 

  • 7 novels/novellas & 3 anthologies released!
    • Taming the Troublemaker (Hills of Texas #3) as Kadie Scott
    • The Rookie (Fire’s Edge #2) as Abigail Owen
    • The Rogue King (Inferno Rising #1) as Abigail Owen
    • Claiming the Cowboy for Christmas (Hills of Texas #4) as Kadie Scott
    • The Wolf I Want for Christmas as Abigail Owen
    • The Enforcer (Fire’s Edge #3) as Abigail Owen
    • 3 Anthologies as Abigail Owen
      • My Paranormal Valentine (with Her Demigod Complex)
      • Sexy Supernatural Summer (with Her Demigod Complex)
      • Christmas After Dark (with The Wolf I Want for Christmas)

WRITE BOOKS

I hit all my writing goals for the year and then some. Contracts to fulfill means a ton of words written and books edited…

  • 400k+ words written
    • 4 novels written, 1 novella written
    • 2 novels completed from 2018
    • 3 novellas/novels added to
    • edits on 11 novels/novellas
  • 3 proposals written and submitted (and 2 contracted)

CONTRACTS

Contracts were my big, wonderful surprise of 2019. My agent and I had put 3-4 proposals out there. But I’ve had proposals out before that took a year or more to go back and forth on before getting rejected, so I was hopefully pessimistic. But this year wowed me! Especially toward the end of the year. I have new editors and books now with new publishers, and my current publishers want more. A dream come true and I’m still reeling!

  • 14 books contracted
    • Snowball’s Christmas (2 books) as Kristen McKanagh – Kensington
    • Unexpected Gifts (3 books) as Kristen McKanagh – Berkley 
    • Fire’s Edge 5th book as Abigail Owen – Entangled
    • Devil’s Advocate (4 books) – redo of Legendary Consultants as Abigail Owen – Entangled
    • Unnamed Paranormal Spinoff Series (4 books) as Abigail Owen – Entangled

FUN & FRIENDS

My goal every year is to spend time with people I enjoy and make sure I’m doing my best because my team does their best for me.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this a great year. Especially those who really believe in my books and AOAD! In particular:

  • My awesome readers. Your words of enjoyment and encouragement mean more than I can express. xoxo
  • My husband & kids
  • My family
  • Evan Marshall, my agent
  • Heather Howland, my Entangled editor
  • Sinclair Sawhney, my Tule editor
  • John Scognamiglio, my Kensington editor
  • Kristine Swartz, my Berkley editor
  • The awesome teams of folks who make me a better author in so many ways @ Entangled Publishing, Tule Publishing, Kensignton, Berkley, and Wild Rose Press.
  • Every author I get the opportunity to share my love of writing with throughout the year, because y’all are my people, my friends.
  • The fantastic bloggers/reviewers who took the time to read my books an post reviews. You rock!
  • The fantastic groups I’m a part of (RWA, Austin RWA, Paranormal Romance Guild, FF&P, & Contemporary Romance Writers)
    • This year I was the Secretary for Austin RWA
  • The awesome team at Wild Rose Press who I do covers for under AOAD
  • The contractors who I get to work with for AOAD
  • The clients we get to do business for at AOAD (we hope we were a small part of your success this year!)

TRAVEL & EVENTS

I started the year with very few plans, so these were all just gravy!

  • Romance Readers Social, Pflugerville, TX
  • Book Lovers Con, New Orleans, LA
  • RWA Nationals & Signing, New York, NY
  • B&N Bookstore Signing, Austin, TX
  • Heart of Texas Reading Salon, Boerne, TX
  • Texas Book Festival, Austin, TX
  • NYC Trip with Entangled/Macmillan
  • ILVN Gathering, online
  • 2 awesome retreats with bestie Nicole
  • Several Facebook parties, online

AWARDS & HONORS

  • Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards | The Boss | 3rd place in Vampire/Shifter books
  • Taming the Troublemaker named as a Fresh Fiction Fresh Pick
  • The Rogue King listed in Ezvid Wiki’s Fiery Fantasy Novels For Dragon Lovers
  • The Rogue King named in SyfyWire FANGRRLS Pick for SFF Romance Reads July 2019
  • The Rogue King named as a Fresh Fiction Fresh Pick
  • The Prism Awards | The Boss | 1st place in Dark Paranormal Romance
  • The Rogue King named a Harelquin Junkie Top Pick
  • The Enforcer named in SyfyWire FANGRRLS Pick for SFF Romance Reads December 2019
  • Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Contest | The Boss | 2nd place in Paranormal/SciFi/Fantasy

AOAD – Authors On A Dime

  • Loved every second of working as Alyssa Day’s VPA.
  • A ton of covers completed for The Wild Rose Press.
  • Due to my writing commitments, this is where I had to pull back a bit, but still loving it!

EDUCATION & BUSINESS

  • My goal every year: Improve as an author by attending workshops. Between conferences, my awesome local RWA chapter, and online chapters, I took a ton this year. Feel like I learned a lot!
  • While this is a dream, so it seems crass to talk about $, it’s still a business that helps feed my family (about time too). This is the FIRST YEAR I have been in the black since I started in 2012! Last year I broke even. Before that I was always red. I was thrilled to see my gross income close to double for the year. What a huge blessing!

2020 GOALS

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Like last year, my goals this year surround completing contracts already signed and releasing several books that have been ready for a while. 

  • PUBLISH BOOKS
    • 8 releases this year and I can’t wait for each and every one!
    • including all the marketing shenanigans
  • WRITE BOOKS – Contracts to fulfill means a ton of words to write as well as go through the editing process on…
    • Expected word count will be around…550,000 words
    • Finish editing process and/or rewrites…
      • Inferno Rising #3 as Abigail Owen
      • Snowball’s Christmas as Kristen McKanagh
      • The Worse for Were (Devil’s Advocate #2) as Abigail Owen
      • Bait N’ Witch (Devil’s Adovcate #3) as Abigail Owen
      • A Ghost of a Chance (Devil’s Advocate Short Story) as Abigail Owen
      • All the books below except the last one…
    • Write and submit
      • A Gift of Hope (Unexpected Gifts #1) as Kristen McKanagh
      • The Defender (Fire’s Edge #4) as Abigail Owen
      • Fire’s Edge #5 as Abigail Owen
      • Try As I Smite (Devil’s Advocate #4) as Abigail Owen
      • Untitled Snowball’s Christmas #2 as Kristen McKanagh
      • Inferno Rising #4 as Abigail Owen
      • Untitled Paranormal Spinoff Series #1 as Abigail Owen (submitting in Jan 2021)
  • CONTRACTS
    • Not this year. I am booked solid through about mid 2021 with contracts and projects. Probably early 2021 I’ll start sending out proposals again. 🙂
    • My goal this year is to fulfill the contracts I have!
  • AOAD – Authors On A Dime
    • Continue as a Virtual Personal Assistant for author Alyssa Day.
    • Continue to design covers for The Wild Rose Press
  • FUN & FRIENDS – Great times with fellow authors
    • VP of Programs on Board of Directors for Austin RWA (local chapter)
    • Spending time with my awesome readers/authors/editors/agent/and friends. One of the best parts of what I do!
  • TRAVEL & EVENTS
    • Still working on my conference schedule for the year. Known events
    • A writing retreat with bestie Nicole.
    • RWA Nationals – July
    • Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy – Oct
  • EDUCATION – Get Better
    • It’s a goal of mine every single year to continue to improve as an author by attending lots of workshops.
  • BUSINESS
    • This is a passion, but also a business. A few business goals this year.
      • Cut spending by 20% YoY (already have a plan here)
      • Hold income flat YoY (I had a great 2019, and will be thrilled if 2020 does as well.)

My Parents' Happiest Place

This past Thanksgiving week, my family took a fantastical vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary!

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Disney is definitely my happiest place on earth. Between Disney fairy tales and Star Wars, my childhood imagination was formed. If you look closely enough, you can probably see that in my books.

In addition, I’m a ride junkie. Especially roller coasters. And Orlando has plenty of those. Between the 2 multi-parks, my favorite rides include… Everest, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Kong. And, despite it not being one of my favorite movies, my all-time favorite ride is Peter Pan.

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I also LOVE the immersive worlds these theme parks have started creating. Getting lost in the worlds of Harry Potter, Avatar, and now Star Wars is incredible. I could spend days just looking at all the details.

But this trip, what I loved most above all was watching my parents!

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They hadn’t been to Disney since they took me when I was 8 (so a decade or 2…or 3). At that time, Epcot was still fairly new and Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios didn’t yet exist (at least as part of Disney). Seeing them enjoy the rides and, in particular, enjoy the time with family, was fantastic. Watching them light up when we all sang them “happy anniversary” to the tune of “happy birthday” was even better.

My parents met in high school in Venezuela. Their parents were ex-pats working in country. Mom & Dad were the prom king and queen. When they went off to college, their parents happened to move relatively close together in the US, near where Mom went to school, and Dad decided then and there, when visiting for Christmas, that she was meant to be his. He proposed in Central Park.

50 years together.

Amazing isn’t it? I only hope that my husband and I can be as lucky. It’s practically a miracle that we both grew up with parents who made it to 50 years. Both sets of my grandparents also celebrated 50 years together. What an example to follow!

Here’s to celebrating true love, soul mates. 

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Halloween Decorating Obsession

So, after maxing out the way I decorate for Christmas, I’ve moved on to my other favorite holiday, Halloween. I’m a paranormal romance author as one of my other pen names, y’all. Are you really that surprised?

I LOVE the colors, and the themes, and the funny signs, and all the different things you can do to decorate for Halloween. I don’t tend to go for spooky. More colorful. But I thought I’d share some of my best Halloween interior decorating tips.

Biggest Bang for the Buck

Glittery cheap boas from grocery stores. I have ones with pumpkins, one with ghosts, and one with witches. They take up a space so nicely. You can see parts of this one behind other decorations on the mantle. They’re also good for long tables, entertainment hutches, and wrapping around banisters.

Wall Signs

The biggest impact to holiday decorations I’ve found (for every holiday) are wall signs. Something about taking down the usual stuff to put up something seasonal and unique really stands out.

Combine Smaller Items on a Larger Item

I love to put some of my smaller items together on a runner or tablecloth.

Trees Aren’t Just for Christmas

Hey, they were a pagan hold over for the jolly holiday to begin with (sorry! I know that’s a hard truth). I find that a Halloween version adds some sparkle. Thinking of doing a life sized kind.

Table Clothes Are My Jam

Tablecloths decorate a very large/long space quickly and easily. I love this tablecloth (and finding fun ones for each holiday actually. I also loved finding the pieces to make the centerpiece!

Things That Light Up

A must at Halloween. After all, the actual celebration is held in the dark.

What about you? Are you a Halloween decorating nut like me? What are some of your favorite holiday decorating tricks?

Cover Reveal + Preorder | Landing the Lawman

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this series is coming to an end. I wrote the first book, Saving the Sheriff, in 2014. Now, Carter’s story, book 5, is coming in 2020. Check out this beautiful cover!!! And preorder is now available…

COMING JANUARY 14!!!

He thought he was in control until she snuck into his heart…

Carter Hill walked away from a perfectly fine life and relationship…all for a career she’s chased since she was fourteen. Years and a PhD later, she loves her job as a water rights consultant. At the same time, now that all her brothers are happily married, she’s lonely and wanting more. But the only man in her life is Logan–super serious, no sense of humor, and friend-zoned. Or is he? Perhaps a sexy, no-strings affair with a man more driven than she is could help her move on.

Logan Cartez doesn’t date, do relationships, or worry about commitment. He’s married to his job – making sure what destroyed his family ranch and their legacy doesn’t happen to others. When Carter propositions him, what began as a passionate and unforgettable night soon develops into more. Logan finds himself doing things he swore he never would, and the feisty, brilliant, blue-eyed rancher’s daughter has him thinking about so much more than work.

PREORDER NOW!

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* All books in this series can be read as stand alone and out of order.


My Awesome Nerds



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JOIN THE AWESOME NERDS

For my superfans who want to interact with me more and don’t want to miss a thing, I have a Facebook fan group. This group is for readers who share a love for romance novels, happily ever afters, and, in particular, my books (under the following pen names / genres)!

AWESOME NERDS RULES:To make sure this is a welcoming, inclusive, lovely place to be in a social media world that seems to be getting increasingly nasty, please be aware of the following group rules: 

YOU ARE AWESOME! 💋

Please know how much I appreciate you!The fact that you loved one of my books enough to read another one, let alone bother to follow me in any way, let alone want to hang out online, blows my mind. Seriously!As every author does, I pour my heart and soul into my books, and anyone who loves them, is touched by them in some way, and is happy to join in that passion is a friend indeed!

PLAY NICE AND BE RESPECTFUL 🤗

This is a fun group filled with fun-loving folks. Because I write a variety of romance genres and heat levels, I expect that we’ll have a variety of romance readers in here who also have a variety of experiences, backgrounds, preferences, opinions, and so forth. We are HUMAN awesome nerds, and that is a cool thing.Respectful disagreement is allowed. Bickering, name-calling, condescension, discrimination and/or any other behavior along those lines will not be tolerated. Be kind and respectful. If you can’t be kind or respectful, do not comment. 

TYPES OF POSTS 📰

This is a place for folks to come together and share and nerd out. I will be posting regularly, of course. BUT I hope you will feel free to post any time you want. Funny memes, questions for me, comments for me, interactions with other group members, and so forth. Posts do not always have to be about my books, either. There are some specific restrictions below, but otherwise, have fun and make friends! 

GROUP APPROPRIATENESS – PG to R 🔥

If you are under 18, get permission from your parent/guardian to be in this group.Be forewarned, while I write sweet contemporaries and adore that world (and will definitely be posting about that in here with PG posts), I also write adult books, written for and enjoyed by adults.While the goal is that the overall atmosphere of the group will hang around a PG-13 rating, it will occasionally slide into R rated territory. That includes the occasional hard swear word, sexy teasers or excerpts, provocative pictures, and sexually suggestive jokes or innuendos. This is all intended in a spirit of fun and not to make anyone uncomfortable. By the same token, do NOT post anything X-rated. No private parts that are fully revealed. No porn.

SPOILER ALERTS 💘

Hell hath no fury like a reader spoiled! I want you to feel free to talk about any and all of my books and series, but be sensitive to the fact that not everyone in the group may be as far along as you are. With that in mind…Please put “SPOILER ALERT FOR (whichever book/series)” at the top of any posts that contain spoilers so other members know they’re reading at their own peril.

  • New Releases – Please avoid posting any spoilers until a few weeks after release.
  • Backlist Books – If a book has been out for a while feel free to post any time, but include the spoiler alert if needed.

 SHARE, BUT WITH DISCRETION 💞

I love shares and love anyone who brings new readers into the group or introduces new readers to my books! That said, please do NOT share anything outside this group if I have specified it as either exclusive content OR as a sneak peek or preview. I’ll let you know when things are ready to go live to the public! 

NO SOLICITATION OR SELF-PROMOTION 🚫

This is not the place to sell or promote anything. If you post a product or service for sale, the post will be deleted and you will be removed from the group. 

NO ADVERTISING FOR OTHER AUTHORS 🚫

This one is a little tricky, because we all love books and want to share when we find good ones. It can be tempting to post about a book you just read, because if you enjoyed it, other Awesome Nerds may too. But there’s a fine line between gushing about a book you love with your friends and actively advertising for another author.Because it’s almost impossible to create a rule that distinguishes enthusiasm from advertisement 100% of the time, there will be no posting about other author’s books or series allowed in this group. Repeated violations of this rule will lead to removal from the group.Exceptions to this rule:

  • Occasionally I will share links to books or authors I personally recommend (not as often as I do on my public FB page). Please feel free to comment on the posts when I do.
  • I will also periodically post asking for group recommendations for excellent romance novels.
  • And, every so often, I may host a guest author into the group to give you a party.

NO BASHING OTHER AUTHORS 🚫

On the flip side from the previous rule, no bashing other authors in this group or leaving dishonest reviews on places like Goodreads or book retailers in a misguided attempt to pump up any of my brands or pen names. We LOVE authors here!

FREEBIE CHASERS – THIS IS NOT FOR YOU 🚫

If you are a freebie chaser and only invite other freebie chasers, this is not the group for you.The point of this group is about loving my books and the characters and worlds I create and sharing that passion and a passion for romance novels and happily ever afters with each other. I am a big fan of giveaways (especially when I know they’re going to readers who actually read my books). I plan to do exclusive and special giveaways just for my Awesome Nerds by offering up some pretty sweet goodies, but that’s not the point. The point is the fantastic books! 

GIVEAWAY & GAMES DISCLAIMERS & RULES 🤪

Facebook is in no way associated with any of my giveaways, games, or posts in this group.All winners will be randomly drawn from participants in the game/giveaway post and announced in the comments of that giveaway/game post by the time I specificy on the post.Winners will have 7 days from the time of the announcement of winner(s) to contact me to claim your prize(s). Otherwise, prizes are forfeit.

WHEN TO CONTACT ME 📧

I want to make sure this group remains fun and easy to be part of. Please contact me at author@abigailowen.com if and/or when…

  • You think someone has posted something inappropriate for the group.
  • You have an issue with something or someone that you aren’t able to resolve.
  • You want to post something but you aren’t sure it’s allowed.
  • Any other questions you might have!

HAVE FUN! 🥂🎇This group is meant to be fun. I want you to feel at home here and to foster friendships with other members (because guess what, you already have something in common)! I want this to be one of the places you look forward to visiting every day.



Heart of ATX Romance Reading Salon

Y’all, I had the best dang time last night!

Granted, I always have a good time when I get to hang with fellow authors and with readers and friends, and that’s exactly what I got to do Friday night in Buda, TX.

Cathy Maxwell (not enough raves can I give this woman) organizes these fantastic reading salons, and I was lucky enough to be one of the authors invited this year. Located at the beautiful Assmemblage, this fantastic gallery in Buda, 50+ folks who preordered tickets came out to enjoy wine, cookies, and hear readings from the authors!

Donations and all book sales went to benefit the local YMCA and, in particular, Camp Goody, a new 85 acre location for YMCA camps, local swim meets, and more.

I joined authors Kharma Kelley, Teri Wilson, and Tessa Dare (oh what fabulous, aspirational company to keep) in reading short excerpts from our most recent books, and then spent time signing copies for folks and getting to say hello.

I apologize now for attendees about my ultra-fast, nervous reading style, and hoped you enjoyed the excerpt from The Rogue King. I was definitely the straight man in the group of ladies who had the room rolling with laughs (in a good way).

And if you’ve interacted on social media with me and I didn’t recognize you, I am sending you extra hugs. I’ve realized that most of us post book covers and memes and not images of ourselves. Lol. Mental note to go look at the tiny personal photo on Instagram before these events. 🙂

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After the readings, I now have 3 more books (and a whole backlist) that I have to read, because I have to know what happens next. I also now know what I want to be when I grow up in romancelandia–any one of the authors part of this event.

What a night!

Thank you so much to Cathy and the ladies who own the Assemblage for such a fantastic event!

xoxo

Which Hero is the Best Kisser?

Can you judge a man by the way he kisses?

A kiss is a personal thing, made even more so by how a man feels about the person he is kissing. As a reader looking for the next great book boyfriend, what kind of kisses peak your interest? Soft and slow? Hard an demanding? Tension filled and fierce? Tender and loving?

With my newest cowboy romance—Claiming the Cowboy for Christmas—out now, I thought I’d let you vote for which of the heroes in my Hills of Texas series you would want most for a book boyfriend…based on the way he kisses.

Here are the first kisses between each hero and heroine in each book. Vote below. Which is your fav?

Cash & Holly – Saving the Sheriff

As if compelled, he brushed the pad of his thumb over her high cheekbone and registered the silky-smooth texture of her skin, the warmth. He dropped his gaze to the lush curves of her lips, which were slightly parted. Needing to see her eyes, he moved his hand and tipped her chin up. 

“You can talk to me, Holly. If you ever need anything. Okay?” 

Silently, she nodded. 

Cash should have pulled his hand away. Should have led her back inside. But he didn’t. Couldn’t. 

The feelings that’d been building all night, hell since she’d come back to town, demanded action. As if compelled, he brushed the pad of his thumb over her high cheekbone and registered the silky-smooth texture of her skin, the warmth. He dropped his gaze to the lush curves of her lips, which were slightly parted. Needing to see her eyes, he moved his hand and tipped her chin up. 

Slowly, giving her enough time to pull away or say no, he lowered his head toward her. So softly it was barely a whisper of a touch, he brushed his lips over hers. 

Her small intake of breath made him shudder. “Cash,” she sighed. 

Satisfaction burned through him. He liked the sound of his name on her lips. He took the kiss deeper, knowing she was right there with him. Still soft and slow, but now he opened his mouth, his tongue asking for and receiving entry to her mouth. Their tongues tangled, igniting fire in his veins, a slow burn of need that was stoked by every touch. 

God she felt good. 

A loud burst of laughter coming from the open door to the hall brought Cash to his senses. He gave her one last lingering kiss then pulled back. She still had her eyes closed. Gently, he brushed a loose tendril of hair back from her face, and she opened them, her green eyes sparkling at him in the dim lighting. 

“We should go back inside,” he murmured. 

She blinked slowly, then her gaze cleared. “What was that for?” she asked in a husky voice that had his already raging libido sitting up and taking even more notice. 

But Cash couldn’t answer her. He’d sound like an idiot or a hormone-ridden teenager if he told her that he just couldn’t stop himself. 

He gave her a lopsided smile. “Ask me again sometime.” 


Will & Rusty – Resisting the Rancher

“Sorry I’m late, baby,” the newcomer murmured. 

Rusty only had time to register the new player in the scene was that Will guy with the blue, blue eyes before he leaned forward and kissed her. 

She gave a little squeak of protest and he released her lips immediately. The sudden absence of warmth left her feeling slightly bereft, which was crazy since he’d barley brushed his lips across hers. 

Before she could process what just happened, he leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “Follow along and we’ll get rid of this guy.” 

Realizing he was now standing between her legs, she hid the shiver sliding down her spine by giving him a tiny nod. He pulled back and smiled down into her eyes. The blue of his eyes, up close like this, was nothing short of startling. The irises were rimmed in black which somehow made the blue even bluer. She could drown in those depths, like falling into the sky, or the deepest of oceans. She had the strangest urge to trace the cleft in his chin. 

“Miss me?” he asked, loud enough for the ass on the other stool to hear. 

“Of course,” she purred. 

Some small part of her brain registered that wasn’t exactly a lie. She’d spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about him given their two extremely brief shared moments. They hadn’t even been properly introduced or exchanged more than a handful of words. 

“Me too,” he said as he lowered his lips to hers again. 

The moment their lips touched, she was a goner. Sensation rushed through her body, fizzing through her blood with little sparks. She was so attuned to him, she felt every shift, every breath. With a sigh, she lifted her arms, wrapping them around his neck and drawing him in closer. His lips moved over hers in a lazy exploration that left her breathless, and suddenly she was wishing he’d meant it—that he really had missed her. 

His tongue darted out, asking for and receiving entrance to her mouth. The second she granted it, he deepened the kiss, swirling his tongue with hers, nipping at her lips. Rusty gave a little moan. She vaguely registered the jerk behind her swear at them before he sloped off, but she was too wrapped up in Will and didn’t give a damn. 

She held on to enough of her wits to keep herself from wrapping her legs around him or rubbing against him like a cat in heat. They were in a very public place. The kiss alone was likely to get back to her father—especially with her watch dogs right there. And, although her sense of self-preservation seemed to have abandoned her for the moment, it was still engrained enough to keep her from making a complete fool of herself. 


Autry & Beth – Taming the Troublemaker

But then the dimples that had teased him as a youth came out to play, her eyes lighting with mischief. “I didn’t figure you for someone who gave up so easily. Guess I won this one.” 

With a wiggle that had certain parts of him perking back up, she turned to her truck. 

Autry stared at her back for all of two seconds, assimilating her words. Oh, hell no. This slip of a woman was not winning anything… whatever that meant. 

He was around the truck to her driver’s side in a few quick strides. Beth squealed when he spun her around by the waist. 

“I always win,” Autry said. 

He took her lips not harshly, but firmly and chastely, the scent of something light and alluring swirling around him as she gasped.  

He was tempted as sin to dip his tongue inside the warm recess of her mouth to tease hers, but he wouldn’t push it that far. With more effort than it should’ve taken, he forced himself to stop at the one peck, pulling back to gaze down into wide, bemused eyes. God, he wouldn’t mind continuing though, his body vibrating like a tuning fork. 

With Beth Cooper of all people. 

Then he went rigid with shock as Beth went up on tiptoe, wrapping her arms around his neck and putting the first kiss to shame as she showed him what kissing should always be like—her lips pliant and soft against his. He hardened in an instant, pushing painfully against the zipper of his jeans as she pressed her petite body to his, her tongue tangling boldly with his. She nipped at his lower lip, then soothed it with her tongue. With a sexy hum, she dropped back, her dimples in evidence yet again. “See. You may always win, Autry Hill, but I never lose.” 

Autry stared down at her, his chest tight. Hell, his entire body was tight, and everything primal inside of him took over. 

Scooping her up by the ass, he pinned her against her truck and tangled one hand in her silky hair so he could show her sassy mouth what kissing could really be. Beth moaned against him, wrapping her legs around his waist and giving as good as she got. Autry broke the kiss, dragging his mouth over her jaw and to her ear sucking the lobe into his mouth and enjoying how she shuddered against him, a satisfying hitch in her breathing. 

A wolf whistle split the air and Autry froze. 


Jennings & Ashley – Claiming the Cowboy for Christmas

“Oh, honey.” He’d yanked her close, wrapping her in those big, strong arms, the heat of his body warming her chilled skin. The warmth of his caring had thawed her equally frozen insides. 

He’d kissed the top of her head, and her heart had kicked up in an erratic rhythm. “I didn’t want to be right, you know. For your sake. If he made you happy.” 

Rather than push him away, Ashley had laid her cheek against his chest and absorbed the comfort he offered. In a weird twist of fate, Jennings Hill happened to be the only person on the planet who understood. 

With a gentle hand under her chin, he’d tipped her face up to his. “You’re going to be okay, Ashley Hughes. This is the start of the best years of your life, not the end. Do you hear me?” 

The tears that had been threatening had spilled over, steaking down her cheeks in cold, wet rivulets, and her lips had wobbled as she tried to hold her reaction in. 

Alarm had lit those shadowed blue eyes. “Don’t cry.” 

If a hullabaloo of emotions hadn’t overwhelmed her, she might’ve laughed at the panic in his gaze. She’d cried in front of him only once before, when they were thirteen and she’d fallen out of a tree and broken her arm, and he’d reacted the same way, like a printer with a paper jam that brought it to a screeching halt. It had been funny to think of a big, capable man like Jennings being brought to his knees at the sight of a woman’s tears. 

“Please, honey,” he’d begged. 

Need—for comfort, for connection—had pulsed through her, and she’d quieted, her tears slowing as she’d stared at Jennings, taking in the strong line of his jaw shadowed with bristle, and firm but eminently kissable lips. When had Jennings Hill gotten so stinking sexy? With a hitch to her breath, she’d gone up on tiptoe and laid her lips over his. A quick peck, but her need had burned hotter even as she pulled back. Rather than release her, Jennings had wrapped his arms around her, holding her body against the lean power of his. After a long, unreadable stare, he’d groaned low and took her lips in the most profoundly gentle kiss she’d ever experienced. 

Surprise had parted her lips, which he’d taken as an invitation—and maybe it had been unconsciously given—and he’d deepened the kiss. The man could seriously kiss too. In an instant, she’d moved from black despair to white fire in his arms. Every stroke of his tongue against hers, every sweet movement of his lips as they’d clung to her own, the spicy scent of his aftershave, the heat of his body. She hadn’t been able to get enough, wanting to climb into his lap and stay there forever as deep-seated longing bloomed in her chest. 

A gasp of awareness and realization had hissed out of her, and Ashley had jerked back, startling Jennings enough to break his hold. She’d raised a trembling hand to her mouth, which still tingled from his kisses. What had she done?