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    Back Forever

    The sequel to 'Bring Me Back'. eBook and Trade paperback available.

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    Hiding in the Spotlight

    He got the chart topping success. His best friend got it all. eBook out now. Trade paperback coming soon...

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    Bring Me Back

    eBook and Trade paperback available

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    Erotic Romance

    Erotic Romances published by Ellora's Cave

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    Claire’s Diary

    The prequel to 'Bring Me Back'. Download the eBook for free!

My badge of honor will be a John Taylor button. Now to bedazzle him!

My badge of honor will be a John Taylor button. Now to bedazzle him!

With conference season in full-swing, I swear that every writer friend of mine has spent the last few months formulating pitches, cranking out synopses, and strategizing about which publishing house is best or which agent they think is the prettiest. They come home from a conference PUMPED, then they send out submissions and their inbox becomes their mortal enemy. Those of you playing at home can experience the misery, too. Just query a dozen agents and wait for the fun to begin. You’ll get a ride on a rickety roller coaster, the wooden kind that rocks from side to side and makes you regret that second corn dog like crazy. If you’re new at this, you get to go on the same ride, except you get to feel like you’re getting over the stomach flu. You need advice, you crave war stories. You want to know that there’s a teeny-tiny chance that this will be worthwhile.

The first novel I wrote is Bring Me Back. That book is and will always be my baby. It is Karen on a plate. I went through months and months of querying and submitting. I did my first in-person pitches with that book, which scared the crap out of me, even though it was so exciting to have an agent say to my FACE, “I’d like to see the full.” My final tally was 89 agent rejections, or non-answers, which are the worst–you always wonder if they ever got your submission in the first place. Note to agents: YOU WILL SAVE YOURSELF AND AUTHORS A LOT OF MISERY IF YOU USE AUTOREPLY. Thank you. I had an additional 5 publisher rejections and 1 acceptance, from Turquoise Morning Press, who went on to publish the book and its sequel, as well as (insert shameless plug here) my latest book, Hiding in the Spotlight.

Most authors have an awesome rejection story (which tells you what masochists we all are). A personalized rejection that said to you, “Oh my God. I’m on to something here.” Sure, it was a “no”, but it was an amazing “no” brimming with wonderful words about your writing. Followed by a “no”. I had two of those on Bring Me Back, the most memorable of which was from an agent who stayed up all night reading my book. She said she couldn’t put it down. It was by far her favorite slush-pile submission of the year, perfectly polished, with characters that stuck with her. BUT, she didn’t think she could sell it. It was too cross-genre, I was an unproven writer, and worst of all, Mercury was in retrograde. That was that.

I thanked her in the acknowledgments of my book, because even when I felt like quitting, that rejection told me to keep going.

167672_2735329581548_496512_nIt’s always awesome to have authors do a Rock ‘n’ Roll High School post on release day, but this one is doubly perfect since my guest is Lori Majewski and her book, Mad World, which was co-authored by Jonathan Bernstein, is a veritable smorgasbord of 80s music yumminess. Featuring a foreword penned by Nick Rhodes and an afterword by Moby, Mad World is an oral history that celebrates new wave through all-new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period, alongside a parade of vintage photographs. Mixtape suggestions and fashion sidebars help fill out the fun. Participants include: Duran Duran, New Order, Tears for Fears, Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, INXS, Simple Minds, Soft Cell, Yaz, A-ha, Berlin, Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, ABC, Echo and the Bunnymen, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Waitresses, and more!

Plus, in Mad World, you’ll learn about the near-death experience that inspired Gary Numan’s “Cars”, the classic novel and pop-star crush behind Spandau Ballet’s “True”, Morrissey’s belief that the other Smiths were embarrassed by his lyrics for “How Soon is Now?”…and much more! I can’t wait to read it!

Lori Majewski, co-author of Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s 

Weehawken High School, Weehawken, NJ, Class of ’89, Currently: Author/Journalist/Media Consultant

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds. It’s partly because of The Breakfast Club, obviously, but it’s also because the words are so melancholy.”Will you recognize me? Call my name or walk on by?” You spend four years in tight quarters with the same people and then you all head off in different directions. Graduation was difficult for me — I’d gone to school with many of the same kids since Kindergarten. But there were a few I’d certainly outgrown as well. Oh, teenage angst!

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: A piece of Simon Le Bon’s t-shirt. At the end of one of Duran Duran’s Madison Square Garden concerts — June 23, 1987! — he tossed it into the crowd and a pack of wolves — I mean, a bunch of us teenagers — ripped it to shreds so we could each take home a momento. I kept it in a plastic baggie to preserve his sweat.

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Bon Jovi. It was New Jersey, and they were MEGA. I knew a few Duranies who were suddenly all about Bon Jovi, and I was like, “Gross!” And if you look at their mid-80s photos now, they WERE gross. Whereas, you look at the Durans’ 80s photos now and they were BEAUTIFUL. But if we’re talking about music, Bon Jovi were okay. I just would never have admitted it back then.

Teenage Lori and Nick Rhodes!

Best show or concert you saw in high school: Duran Duran at the Beacon Theater, NYC, on Aug. 31, 1987, and Depeche Mode at the Meadowlands, then called the Brendan Byrne Arena, June 1, 1988. At Duran, I was fifth row, JT’s side; Lou Reed and Nile Rodgers joined them onstage for the encore; and, earlier in the day, I talked to Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon for the first time. At Depeche, I had front row, it was Alan Wilder’s birthday, and it was close to a religious experience.

Best high school make-out song: “If You Leave” by OMD. I’d like to say that I’d made out to it, like Andie and Blaine did, but I can’t say for sure!

A veteran magazine editor and writer, Lori Majewski was a cofounder and editor in chief of Teen People, and an executive editor of Entertainment Weekly and Us Weekly. She is co-author of Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s. It’s out TODAY! Buy it now!

MadWorld_FinalCover

The First Kiss and the Second Take

by Karen Booth

You’re cute and everything, but I need my space.

Heather stared at the two-week-old atrocity on her phone. She should’ve deleted it, definitely should’ve stopped compulsively looking at it every day, but she was trying to comfort herself with the knowledge that she’d dodged a bullet. No decent guy breaks up with a girl with a text. And what in the hell did cute have to do with anything? That part really grated on her nerves, even more than the chicken-shit mode of delivery.

The woman who’d checked her in for the video shoot gathered a stack of index cards from her desk. “I’ll bring everyone a number in a few moments and then we’ll call you in.”

Heather stuffed her phone into her purse and collected herself. When she’d skeptically answered the ad, it seemed odd that someone would pay her money to kiss a stranger in front of a camera. She wouldn’t have looked into it at all if she didn’t need the fifty bucks to help pay for books this semester. Nursing school was way more expensive than she’d bargained on.

The recently departed boyfriend had even given his stamp of approval for the on-camera stranger-kiss. Now she had to wonder if he’d been planning to dump her all along. Regardless, she’d been single for two weeks and her body was ready to let loose on one of these guys like she’d just spent the summer at a camp for wayward girls. Hopefully her brain would let her do it.

She scanned the room. The offerings were surprisingly easy on the eye, not a bad one among the dozen or so who were there. Pretty boy with long lashes and pouty lips. Nice. Geeky dude with thick hair and chocolatey brown eyes. Beyond nice. Boy-next-door with the jeans that were apparently constructed around his perfect ass. I’d kiss him, too.

And then there was Rock guy. He was tall and lanky, definitely her preferred body type, but he was leaning against the wall and stand-offish as if he didn’t want to be there. She knew guys like him. They never liked her. Ever. Especially not when she liked them.

She had a weakness for long hair, but Rock guy’s was ridiculously long and pulled back in a messy bun. Not the most manly hairstyle. The black t-shirt and beat-up jean jacket he wore were passable. So were the black Chucks. She reminded herself that this wasn’t Whole Foods for Single Guys. She didn’t get to squeeze the tomatoes to find the ripest one. She would get what she got and there was nothing to do about that.

Index card woman doled out numbers. Heather was given “3”. A din of mumbling rose as everyone milled about to find their match. She hadn’t scoped out the girls, but now she found herself knee-deep in the bloodsport of worrying how she measured up. Was there even one guy here who hoped he’d get her? Her stomach wobbled at the thought.

She caught sight of Pretty boy’s card, a “2”. Oh well. Boy-next-door was already chatting up his stunning, giggly match. Damn. Geeky guy had a “7”. Figures. Her heart hammered the way it had when teams were picked in PE class. Stop it. Her match was here somewhere, she just had to find him.

She turned and nearly planted her nose in the center of Rock guy’s chest.

He flapped his “3” at her. “Hiya.”

“Oh. Hi.” Holy shit. His voice. Deep. Dark. Irish?

“We need everyone in the studio now, please,” Index card woman announced.

Heather was still staring up at male number “3″, struggling for a good reason to close her gaping mouth. He sported several days of scraggly dark-brown facial hair, a stark contrast to his impeccable pink lips. His eyebrows were thick and a little crazy, his hazel eyes deep and almost sad, cheekbones high and flushed. She’d always been a good girl and made do with safe guys. Gazing into his eyes, the words “that was really fucking stupid of me” sprang to mind.

Heather and her guy were pulled into the mass of strangers filing through the studio doors. She was keenly aware of him behind her, so close that she wondered if that was his heartbeat thundering in her chest.

A woman with dark-framed glasses scrutinized them all as they entered the room, squeezing her lower lip and seeming deep in thought. “You.” She pointed at Heather’s guy. “We’ll start with you.” Heather had assumed they’d go in numerical order, but apparently that wasn’t the case.

Her guy leaned down, his mouth hovering above Heather’s ear. “That’s us, darling.” Again, that voice—thick and sultry and making her want to climb inside his jean jacket. Naked. He took her hand as if he was claiming his birthright. Possessive men perturbed her more independent sensibilities, but her body couldn’t stem the white-hot rush of electricity his fingers produced when he clamped them around hers.

Heather followed him to their marks in front of the camera. They were immediately separated by a bossy man with a clipboard. Dutifully distanced by a scant twelve inches, the futility was laughable. Clipboard man had pulled apart a magnet and a steel plate. No way she and her guy weren’t erasing all space between them as soon as they had their chance.

Her guy spoke to her without a word. At least it felt that way, his penetrating gaze asking questions, leaving her exposed. It was surprisingly freeing, not scary.

The woman with the glasses gave instructions, something about being natural and listening for a beep that would warn them  when time was up. It was mostly a lot of noise. Heather couldn’t have cared less, but she definitely took notice when the woman uttered the word she’d been longing to hear.

“Action.”

They drifted into each other, stopping toe-to-toe. He cracked the faintest smile, but immediately corrected himself and refocused his intensity on her. He was serious. In charge. He reached back and pulled the tie from his hair, never breaking eye contact. Thick waves of chestnut brown hair collapsed onto his shoulders. If she’d been able to speak, she would’ve said, “Fuck, yes.”

The room went impossibly still. Breathing seemed disruptive, so she held her breath, feeding off the raw energy that radiated from him. Everything in his eyes said one thing: “You. Are. Mine.”

He dropped his head, resting his forehead against hers, his hair creating a sliver of privacy amidst their public display. Blood rushed to the surface of her skin. Every part of her wanted to be closer to him. The tips of their noses brushed. Her heart galloped. His firm hands cupped her shoulders, trailed up the sides of her neck. His thumbs caressed her cheeks while his fingers stroked the baby-fine hair at her nape. Every atom in her body buzzed and hummed as if a man had never touched her before, never looked at her twice. Her eyelids fluttered, weak under his spell.

“You’re trembling,” he said, with a hint of sweet surprise in his brogue.

“I can’t help it.” His voice made her want to do stupid, reckless things. She arched her back, flattened her stomach against his, wrapped her arms around his waist, tugging him into her. She needed to know as much of his body as possible.

He kissed her temple, her cheek, and then he finally planted the gentlest tease of a kiss. She raised her chin, needing more. His lips were even softer than she’d imagined, skating over hers, but they didn’t have time for hesitancy and toying, however much she loved it. Their moment was now and it was fleeting and if she didn’t squeeze everything from it, it would be gone forever. She had way too many regrets in her life. This would not be one of them.

She threaded her hands under the jean jacket and slipped them beneath his t-shirt, committing his lower back to memory, wishing she could see his bare skin. Their lips smashed together, tongues found each other, winding and tangling. A groan rumbled from the depths of his throat and he dug his hands into her hair, making a splendid mess. Somebody in the room exclaimed, “Yeah.” Heather and her guy laughed, but only for an instant. They were readily seduced back into the natural, extraordinary rhythm of their kiss.

The distant, dreaded beep told them they were to do the unthinkable and stop. Although lips were no longer touching, Heather and her guy leaned into each other, the conversation between their bodies continuing. Chests heaved, breaths came short, eyes slowly opened to greet each other again.

“I need a second take,” he declared, pressing his lips to her forehead.

“Sorry. One try. You two did great. Next,” Clipboard man said.

Heather’s guy shot him a dirty look. “I wasn’t talking to you.”

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the other #FirstKiss stories from this week! You can find the complete list at Audra North’s website.

25 Romance Authors25 First Kisses(1)