Thursday, September 18, 2014


Thanks for having me! I’m going to talk about research, something all authors have to do, and perhaps something that readers may not expect an author to have to do much of when writing contemporary. I’ve broken down research for Priya in Heels into three major categories.

1.) Location: I grew up in Texas and I know some places in Austin like the back of my hand, but I know those places by sight, not by name. I’ve been to Houston often, but I don’t know it well enough to write about it without research. Surrounding towns (ie: Pasadena) and highways between Austin and Houston required some research. Most places (The Harmon’s Brewery and the hospital) are imaginary. When Priya goes to India, her travels and location details are from memory. It’s fun to go off imagination and make up whatever I want, but there was still a good amount of research that went into locations.

2.) Profession: Priya is a medical resident and most of her experiences stem from my own experiences, observations, and stories told to me by some of the medical residents coming through this year. However, Tyler is an astrophysicist at NASA, which required a lot more thought and research, especially when it came to his analytical approaches to situations and physics jokes. I will proudly admit that I came up with my own physics jokes…now if they’re funny to readers is an entirely different story.

3.) Culture: I grew up in Texas, which tends to have its own culture apart from the broad generalization of America. I’m also married to an American, so that adds to the built-in understanding of Americans. Being Indian, growing up around the Indian community, festivities, and expectations offered an innate basis for Priya. However, I had to do extensive research to make sure I portrayed things accurately, especially vocabulary and spelling. My brother helped to refine diction.


A new adult title from Entangled’s Embrace imprint…

Love doesn’t conquer all…does it?

Priyanka Patel is the epitome of an obedient daughter. She’s finishing up her medical residency at one of Houston’s busiest emergency departments, and has agreed—albeit reluctantly—to marry the man her family has chosen for her. The only thing that can derail the “perfect” life laid out before her is the sexy musician down the hall who wants into her life…and into her bed.

Tyler O’Connor has been infatuated with Priya since she treated his sprained ankle in the ER, and after saving her from a brutal attack, he can't get her out of his head. When Priya puts her family's wishes before their relationship, agreeing to an arranged marriage with another man, Tyler is devastated.

But love is fierce and unreasonable and clashes with the carefully sculpted life her parents want for her. Is going after her heart such a big deal, or will it truly unravel Priya’s world?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Fat Greek Weddings.

Giveaway Alert!

One of my favorite movies of all time is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Did you love it? If you haven’t seen it you need to!

I loved the fun and the big, noisy family and the wonderful romance that unfolded. Mostly, I loved it because I had a big fat Greek wedding of my own and so much of it was gorgeously, beautifully, hysterically accurate. My parents were the quietly spoken Church of England ones who brought the bunt cake, and my husband's family were the ones serving the ‘vegetarian lamb’ and dancing till dawn.

I met my New Zealand Greek boyfriend, now husband, when I was eighteen, and mumble, mumble years later I’ve lived and worked in Greece, been married in a traditional ceremony, learned to speak the language and had four children christened in the Greek Orthodox church.

Here I am at my own big, fat Greek wedding.
It was undoubtedly this deep love of the culture that invited a Greek American family from upstate New York to take over my life and my writer’s mind for the past year and demand their stories be told.

The Bouquet List is the first in my “Weddings in Westchester” series about the Katsalos family who own a wedding hall business, and they encompass everything I love about the Greek culture, weddings and falling in love.

Here’s the blurb for book one: The Bouquet List which came out this week!

He's #5 on her Bouquet List. Tall, dark...and completely forbidden.

After a too-close call with death, Yasmin Katsalos is checking some things off her Bouquet List—things to do after you thought you were going to die. Fun fashion choices? Check. Purple hair and a cute diamond nose stud? Check, check. Now she's on to item #5: a flirty fling with a man who's tall, dark, rich...and totally out of her league.

And restaurateur Lane Griffiths definitely fits the bill.

Lane isn't just out of Yasmin's league. He's also her brother's best friend and therefore off-limits. Now that they're working together on renovations for her family's wedding hall, however, Yasmin has plenty of opportunities to bewitch, bother, and boldly seduce. He's reserved. She's relaxed. The only thing they share is a spark of attraction that's too strong to resist. But is Lane just another item on her bouquet list... or has Yasmin found something on her list that will last?

Buy Links:

The Bouquet List is available from all great e book stores here!

I have an e copy of any of my back list books: Contract for Marriage, Dishing up Desire or Last Chance Proposal to give to a commenter. Tell us something you love about the Greek culture, or a wedding in another culture you’ve been to.

Barbara DeLeo’s first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago, much to everyone’s relief. It’s some small miracle that she kept the faith and is now living her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters. 
After completing degrees in psychology and English, then traveling the world, Barbara married her winemaker hero and had two sets of twins. 

She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, with not a beauty queen or spaceship in sight 

Barbara is the author of Contract for Marriage, Dishing up Desire, Last Chance Proposal and The Bouquet List

Buy links:

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blame it all on my roots...

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots. But don’t worry, they’re super fabulous boots, because that’s how I roll. I spent a lot of years writing stories in big cities, even though I’m a farm girl from a small town. But then my roots started calling and a story started forming about Sadie, a country singer who’d gone to Nashville to try to become famous but ended back up in her small town. And when she needs a job so she can get back on her feet, regain her confidence, and return to Nashville, the only one who’s hiring is the ex she left behind. Royce is running Second Chance Ranch now, where he rehabilitates troubled teens through ranch work. While neither of them think working together is a particularly good idea, Royce needs someone who’s good with animals and the teens, which Sadie is, and she’s desperate enough to take the job. They quickly discover the chemistry they used to have is still in full-effect. Working together is only bringing them closer, and issues they thought they resolved, suddenly seem anything but. Before long, they’ll have to decide if they’re going to give a second chance to the one that got away.

While there are a lot of fun things about growing up in a farm town (open spaces, animals, hot cowboys) the work can be pretty exhausting. That meant finding a way to play while we worked, so I thought I’d share a few memorable experiences.

My sister and I were tasked to put some of the crooked bales in straight lines so the hauler (a tractor that picks up the bales and loads them so that you can put them into a hay stack) could pick them up easier. Naturally, we decided this would be the perfect time to tan our legs. Word to the wise: shorts and scratchy hay don’t really mix, and we ended up with more scrapes than color. But we also laughed a lot and made up some dance moves that will never be seen in public.

Several of the guys I went to school with were also responsible for chores on their farm. While checking on cows in labor, which can sometimes be a long process, we’d play poker. Loser buys Mountain Dew. I got pretty good at poker, and got even more addicted to Mountain Dew. 

Western movies. Ever since I can remember, western movies were popular at my house. So once we got done chasing cows, we’d kick back and watch movies about chasing cows. Lol. I’ve seen most movies staring Sam Elliot, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Selleck. My personal favorites are Tombstone and Quigley Down Under. And while those movies have cowboys and guns, they’ve also got some great romances. Those cowboys might not want to admit it, but they like a little romance in their movies, as well as their lives. And who doesn’t want to be the woman who tames a cowboy? 

Second Chance Ranch

Sometimes love is right where you left it.

Sadie Hart has a plan: return to her small town of Hope Springs so she can regain her confidence—and bank account—before giving one more shot to her country music dream. The dream that means more to her than anything.  The dream she chose over her high school sweetheart, the brooding and sinfully handsome Royce Dixon.

Royce has moved on from his memories of the beautiful Sadie. Now he’s focused solely on running Second Chance Ranch, where he rehabilitates troubled teens through ranch work. But when he needs a new employee and Sadie’s the only one to volunteer, he has no choice but to offer his old flame a job.

Whether riding a horse with the wind in her hair or mucking out the stalls, Sadie can still get Royce’s heart beating like no one else. But Nashville is her dream, and Royce can’t settle for second best.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chasing Trouble

With: Joya Ryan

One thing I love about contemporary romance is it gives me a chance to get lost in reality…only awesomer (yep, awesomer is a word today!). I grew up in a small town and there was such potential for magical, romantic moments that never came. But that’s what contemporary romance is for! Re-writing those missed opportunities. 

Chasing Trouble takes place in a small town where you have sexy good ol’ boys and strong, sassy women. Having a bon fire and beer by the lake is a standard Saturday night. But it’s when that guy with the blue eyes and devilish grin catches your attention that you ditch the bon fire, get lost in the woods, and see what his kiss tastes like. Those are the moments I love getting lost in as a reader and a writer.

With contemporary romance, another fun correlation for me is tying music to the story. When I was thinking of my characters for Chasing Trouble, I’d listen to the same two songs over and over because I felt like it captured the world and people I had in my head and played them to a rhythm. I could see Colt McCade’s sexy swagger and hear the witty banter between him and Jenna. Scenes became alive and I wanted to jump into the world and take as many people with me as I could! Because the imagination, mixed with some romance, is a wonderful place to escape to every once in a while. 

Working with my best friend and critique partner of this book, we realized something very simple, yet very important: I want to live inside a country music song, and I want to write a book that is set to that soundtrack.


Bad boys are the best kind of trouble…

Kindergarten teacher Jenna Justice has lived her life by the book—right school, right career, right image. Too bad the townsfolk of Diamond, Kansas, have a hard time forgetting that she wasn’t born on the right side of the tracks. The only way J.J. can land her dream job is to keep her wild side buried and her reputation clean. But when she finds herself in another town, one without prying eyes, she allows herself one fantasy-filled night with her best friend’s bad boy brother.

Professional bull rider Colt McCade is grounded for the summer with an injury. After their sizzling night together, he finds himself wanting to pick up where he and the prim and not-so-proper Ms. Justice left off. Problem is, she isn’t interested in his idea of “healing,” which involves ice cubes and a whole lot of heavy breathing. But the closer he gets, the more he sees that his fast-and-loose reputation could cost her the job of her dreams. He wants to do the right thing, but walking away from her could cost him everything…

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Four Things That Really Happen in Advertising

With: Amber Page

I have spent most of my adult life working in the trenches of the advertising industry. So when it was time for write my first romance novel, I took that age old advice to write what you know.

Thus the story of Becky, a star copywriter at a Madison Avenue advertising agency, and her nemesis Mark, a freelance art director with a killer instinct, was born.
And while the events of my book as a whole are crazily farfetched, there are nuggets of truth to them. 

Advertising folk do tend to be better looking than the general population. There are plenty exceptions of course (I am many things, but gorgeous isn’t one of them), but as a rule, the most successful people in advertising tend to be easy on the eyes.

A new business pitch does take over your life. When your agency is competing for a choice account, you better pack your toothbrush and put a sleeping bag under your desk, because you aren’t going to see the light of day for a while.

Every agency has its toys (real toys. Not the adult kind). In All’s Fair In Lust & War, light sabers have a starring role in a very important scene. And, believe it or not, they wouldn’t be out of place in a real agency. Agencies I’ve worked at have sported air hockey tables, hula hoops, board games, video game systems…you name it.

Sex happens. Think about it. A bunch of good looking twenty-somethings stuck together for interminable amounts of time? Of course they hook up. Sometimes even in the office. And as for the nasty break-ups that inevitably follow? Well, those suck for everybody around them.

Want to know what all that has to do with All’s Fair In Lust & War? Well, you’ll have to buy it. Luckily for you, it’s available everywhere eBooks are sold (and in physical form in the UK).

Get your hands on it here:
Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes

Mark collapsed into the black leather massage chair in the creative conference room and closed his eyes, groaning out loud when the vibrating knobs found the tight spot between his shoulder blades.

Suddenly a soft hand landed on his shoulder.

“You look lost in thought,” Becky said.

Mark shook his head to clear it. “Just relaxing,” he said, and pulled her down on his lap. 

She put her head on his shoulder and for a moment they just sat together, the vibrations from the still operating massage chair the only noise.

Then she sighed. “Being a creative director is way less fun than I thought it would be.”

He laughed. “You know, I was just thinking that. I haven’t done any actual work today, but I’m completely exhausted.”

“Me too,” she said. “But I was thinking I should try to write now that it’s quiet.”

She shifted on his lap, preparing to get up. But when Mark caught a glimpse of a black lace stocking as her skirt crept up her thigh all thoughts of work vanished from his brain.

“What’s this?” he said, running his hand up the silken material and under the lace top.

“Oh, you know… Just a little something to keep you wondering,” she said, blushing.

“Oh, I’m wondering, all right,” Mark growled, mentally picturing her riding him wearing only those stockings. “I’m wondering what else is under that skirt.”

She shrugged. “A lady never tells. You’ll have to find out for yourself.”

That was all the encouragement he needed. He let his hand wander up her smooth thigh, tracing the elastic of the garter up to where it met the satiny belt. Then his hand drifted down, toward the middle, looking for the top of her panties. But nothing blocked his way, and soon he felt the soft roundness of her mound under his fingers.

“You’re not wearing any underwear,” he said, and a bolt of lightning struck his groin, leaving him rock-hard and aching for her.

She put a mocking hand over her mouth, unable to hide her grin. “Oops, I must have forgotten.”


What happens in Vegas…is even hotter in New York!

After a fling in Vegas that was so wild even she can't believe it happened, copywriter Becky has finally gotten her mojo back. Time to get back to New York and win that promotion!

But things veer catastrophically off course when her new coworker Mark saunters in…and he's much too familiar. Even worse, Mark and Becky will be competing for the promotion—and he's just as good in the boardroom as he was in bed! So what's a girl to do when Mr. One Night becomes Mr. One-Desk-Away? Stand her ground, of course—if there's going to be a war, she's going to make sure she enjoys it!

Amber Page has been writing stories since she could write, and still counts the pinning of her "Bubble People" tale to the classroom bulletin board in the third grade as one of her happiest childhood memories. She's also an avid reader, and has been addicted to romances since she first discovered them in the dusty shelves of her favorite library as a young teen. When not penning Happily Ever Afters, Amber works as an advertising writer in the heart of Indiana, where she lives with the love of her life, their daughter, and a menagerie of furry animals. She also blogs, gardens, and sometimes even manages to sneak in a few hours of sleep.

You can find her hanging out at her internet home at, join her for a chat at, or tweet with her at @amberpagewrites.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Love In A Small Town

Who doesn’t enjoy a charming love story where the towns are small but folks’ hearts are big?  Now you can get ten of them together for just 99 cents in this Love in a Small Town book bundle courtesy of Crimson Romance

Release date: September 15, 2014

Curl up tonight with these ten down-to-earth heroes who know just how to set the neighbors’ tongues wagging with their good looks and easygoing charm. But life in a small town isn’t always sweet and simple, and love can get more than a little complicated in these heartfelt contemporary romances.

See what previous readers and reviewers are saying about these stories on Amazon:

California Sunset by Casey Dawes -
“…pulls at your heart making you feel what you didn't know you could.” 

Slow Ride by Kat Morrisey -
"The chemistry between Kyla and Copper is so hot you will need a cool glass of water…” 

Coming Home by Christine S. Feldman -
“…an emotional ride, beautifully written and developed.”

Begin Again by Christy Newton -
“…a sweet, poignant small town romance which is a pleasure to read.”

Lake Effect by Johannah Bryson
“…flirty, fun, and just right to take your troubles away for awhile.”

All About Charming Alice by J. Arlene Culiner
“…an emotional, heartfelt, dazzling experience.”

Broken Wings, Soaring Hearts by Beverly A. Rogers -
“…a sweet, deep and very inspiring and fast read with a great plot that will keep you hooked…”

Charmed by Inés Saint -
“…a charmingly sweet romance with warmth and humor that you will enjoy throughout the book.”

Angel Without Wings by Mari Manning -
A story about family, love, and redemption…

Breaking the Rules by Melinda Dozier -
“…a beautiful romance about taking risks and second chances.”

Grab the entire collection now for just 99 cents, and see for yourself just how sweet small-town love can be…

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“Who am I? Where Do I Belong?”

Congratulations to "Bn100", the winner in Heather's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I’m a love story with a happy ending.
You’re a romance novel.

My story takes place in present time.
You’re a contemporary romance novel.

My story is set on a Navy ship, with a crisis that involves Marines fighting bad guys.
You’re a contemporary romantic suspense novel.

There are ghosts aboard my ship who help the Marines battle the bad guys.
Huh? Ghosts? You’re a  . . . . paranormal-maybe-romantic-suspense-contemporary-romance novel?
Not sure.

When I signed up for this blog, I initially signed with Just Romantic Suspense. Then I changed it to Just Paranormal Romance. Then I went with my gut and chose Just Contemporary Romance.

See, I’m just not sure where I belong? Here’s the blurb. Please read it and let me know what you think:

Never Forget

With 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel melted into her bow, what if there are more souls aboard the USS New York than the sailors and Marines stationed there?
And what if those souls can help the troops defeat al-Qaeda this time?

When Royal Navy officer Gwyn Pritchard reports for exchange duty aboard the USS New York, she’s the only person who sees 9/11 spirits roaming the decks. The daughter of a famous Welsh psychic, Gwyn learns the spirits must complete a mission in order to pass to the other side. 

The sole survivor of an IED blast in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor has his own issues. But when he discovers that the British officer sees ghosts aboard their ship, he becomes her confidant—and lover. 

Passions rise to fever pitch when the New York rushes to liberate British and American hostages in North Africa before al-Qaeda’s deadline. Can the spirits gather the right intelligence to help the Marines save the prisoners? Can Gwyn help the ghosts move on to the light? And can Adam and Gwyn find the love they’ve searched the world over for?

I decided that if I could empower the spirit characters with some control over the ship, the crisis, and their destiny, they could move from victim to victor. By the way, I’ve been working on this book for two years and I still get goose bumps.

But back to my problem, here’s how I see it: Although I do have bad guys and suspense in my books, I classify them as Contemporary Single Title – with suspenseful elements. I like to read romance novels with 75% love story and 25% suspense/external conflict—just enough to jeopardize my hero and heroine. I want to curl up and be lulled by a book, until things ramp up toward the end. I’m not looking for heart pounding action through the entire story—well at least not suspenseful heart pounding action; the other kind is fine. So I’m okay with not being called “Romantic Suspense.”

But, what about the ghosts? When I think of paranormal romance, I think of other worlds and protagonists who are shape shifters. My spirits only comprise about 20% of Never Forget. When I submitted it to the 2013 Golden Heart in Contemporary Single Title, I was thrilled to receive high grades, all except for the one who checked, “Wrong Category.” However, had I submitted it to Paranormal, I’m sure those judges would be looking for other worlds.

Do I write books so they will dovetail nicely into a category? Certainly not. I write them because there’s a story to be told. But what if I chose to submit Never Forget to contests as a published book? Since you are contemporary romance readers, I’d love to hear what you think contemporary judges would have to say about a cross-genre book such as this. AND I’d love to hear if you’ve written a book that fits into several genres. I have a copy of NEVER FORGET for one lucky commenter. 

Thanks for listening and helping me figure out who I am. And where I belong.

Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation which supports wounded warriors and their families. Her debut novel, Forgive & Forget was voted “Best of 2013” by Suspense Magazine. Her Golden Heart® Final, Forget Me Not is a finalist in the Military Writers Society of America’s annual contest. She recently signed with NY Times bestselling author, Teresa Medeiros at Amber House Books, who released Never Forget on September 9th. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and two rescue cats. 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes
Twitter: www.@HAshbyAuthor
Facebook: Heather Ashby Author

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 10th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.