Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Since this seems likely to be the last year that Traditional Romance will stand alone as a category in Romance Writers’ of America annual RITA awards for excellence in romantic fiction, I wanted to celebrate the wonderful authors and books who have been short-listed this year. This is who they are

Jackie Braun

Barbara Hannay

Fiona Harper

Marion Lennox

Sandra Paul

It’s Fiona’s first RWA conference, she’s up for Best First Book as well as Best Traditional Romance. Marion is flying in from Australia, too. Already a double Rita winner and a RWA veteran, I imagine that they’ll need stewards at the book-signng keep her fans in line, but it’s a long trip from both England and Australia and if you can make the book-signing – the money from all the books sold goes to the cause of Literacy -- please so make a point of stopping by to say hello.

During the week of the conference, Tuesday to Saturday, I will be featuring the five authors in the line-up. They have each been kind enough to donate a signed book – for the chance to win, all you’ll have to do is answer a simple question.

I’m taking the finalists in alphabetical order and the first up is


I loved writing this story. It's a powerful tale of redemption and not just for the heroine but for the hero. I have to say, I was a little surprised that my editor climbed on board when I pitched this book to her, and as the first book in a trilogy no less. This is a very different kind of story for a traditional romance. My heroine, Audra, was thrice-married and a failed actress. My hero, Seth, was a photojournalist who turns to a career as a tabloid photographer to pursue Audra, whom he blames for the accident that killed his family. It's my hope that readers enjoy Audra and Seth's journey to forgiveness and love as much as enjoyed writing it.

Here's the story in a nutshell --

Audra Conlan has always been flirtatious, flamboyant and wild, until fate gives her a second chance she vows not to waste. This time she'll repent her mistakes, face her estranged family and avoid men like photographer Seth Ridley, whose sexy smile and welcoming ways tempt her to fall for him hard and fast. But when the past threatens her new life, will Audra dare to forgive the woman she once was and embrace the woman she was meant to be ... a woman worth loving?

And here's an excerpt --

It was easy to have regrets about the way she’d lived her life when a man’s hands were wrapped around her throat, thumbs pressing insistently on her windpipe to cut off her oxygen supply. In truth, though, the excuses Audra had made for her bad behavior hadn’t seemed valid for a while now.
It’s not fair.

That thought registered even as her vision began to dim.

After all, she had been changing her ways -- discreetly, which perhaps explained why the tabloids’ most recent headlines had still labeled her a gold digger.

Audra didn’t like the moniker, although she supposed she had been called far worse. Still, she had married for love and, after that, for emotional security. Wealth hadn’t been the quality that had attracted her to any of her husbands, including the late Henry Dayton Winfield III. He’d been kind, undemanding. He’d been ... safe. And she had been determined that this marriage would work despite the gap in their ages. She had been determined that this time she would not fail. Marriage number three would not end in divorce like the previous two had, leaving her disillusioned and her heart a gouged out husk.
“Lying, manipulative witch,” spat the man squeezing her throat.

Audra was incapable of disputing his words. How ironic that when she had been capable of speaking out in her own defense, she hadn’t bothered.

In general, she hadn’t cared what other people thought about her or what adjectives they used to describe her, as long as they'd spelled her name right. She’d known her soul wasn’t completely black even if the rag-reading public thought differently. Since her most recent marriage in particular, she’d taken steps to restructure her lifestyle and realign the egocentric pattern into which she had fallen since coming to Hollywood. She was no Mother Teresa, but she had found great satisfaction and personal fulfillment becoming involved with children’s charities in recent years, working quietly behind the scenes lest someone accuse her of exploiting the already exploited in an attempt to salvage her flagging acting career.

While the tabloids might call her a gold digger -- and the man trying to kill her clearly saw her that way -- she had in fact made an appointment with her lawyer that very afternoon to rework her late husband’s will so that his rightful heirs would inherit the vast estate.

She didn’t need the money, nor did she feel entitled to it. She had amassed a fair bit of wealth on her own thanks to a few smart investments. Still, she could understand why some people who didn’t know her, and who only read tabloid stories about her, would see her as a candidate for stoning.

As she floated near the edge of consciousness the past thirty years played through her mind like some poorly acted made-for-television movie. That was galling, but apropos. She’d never made much of a name for herself in Hollywood, at least not the kind that could be repeated in polite company.

She’d caused her share of trouble and heartache, bitterness and outright rage, which, she thought with the brutal honesty of the dying, was exactly how she found herself in her current predicament. She’d pushed the envelope too far, thumbed her nose at convention one time too many.

At one point she’d felt she’d had good reasons for being a wild child, a rebellious teenager and then an adult who’d lived scandalously enough to become weekly tabloid fodder. Those reasons had ceased to matter, perhaps because Audra had finally realized they didn’t absolve her from responsibility or translate into happy endings.

You reap what you sow. How often had she heard that advice while growing up? Yet it had taken her all this time to understand and accept the truth of those simple words.
And now it was too late to complete her metamorphosis.
As the saying went, the chickens had come home to roost, and the head cock now had his big hands encircling her neck. With each passing second his grip grew tighter.

And tighter.

And tighter.

I’m not ready to die.

Even as that panicky thought registered anew she prepared for the inevitable, praying for forgiveness from the God she’d only recently become re-acquainted with and wishing she could seek the same from the many people she had wronged over the years. Her sister topped the list.

I’m so sorry.

The words whispered through her mind, unable to make it past her gasping lips. Surrendering to the blackness rimming her vision, Audra accepted that her apology was too little and, like her bid for self-respect, had come too late.

For a chance to win a signed book from Jackie's backlist, tell her what special qualities make a heroine memorable for you.

And come back tomorrow for a glimpse at Barbara Hannay's shortlisted book.

PS Draws for the books won't be done until after the weekend, when the travellers have returned from conference!


Fiona Lowe said...

I'm not entering the comp but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading A Woman Worth Loving. It arrived on my doorstep in January in a box of books and had me enthralled from the first few pages.

I've read all these finalist books and I wish they could all win.
Enjoy the conference.

Jackie Braun said...

My thanks to Liz for her wonderful blog highlighting traditional category RITA finalists. I'm thrilled to be nominated for this book and I wish I could be in Dallas for the ceremony. Best of luck to my fellow finalists on Saturday night. These writers are awesome and I'm honored to be in their company.

Barb said...

Wow, Jackie! Unlike Fiona L, I haven't managed to read the finalists' books, so I am very grateful to Liz for this taster. Your book certainly shows how very different the Traditional books can be. Congratulations.
And all the best to all of us on Saturday night. (grin)

Liz Fielding said...

I just wish I could be in Dallas myself to cheer everyone on. But this is fun, too -- and And I can do it in my pyjamas.

Kate Hardy said...

Fabulous tasters - thanks for sharing.

What makes a heroine memorable for me? Strength. A sense of humour. And knowing she doesn't have to be perfect - learning to be comfortable in her own skin.

CrystalG said...

What makes a heroine memorable to me is if she is strong and confident in herself.

Valerie said...

A memorable heroine to me is a women who is confident, has a lot of humour and knows what she wants and goes out and gets it. Takes no crap from the hero and takes as good as she gets...hehe!!

Very nice blog, just spent a good half an hour reading through the posts.


Eva said...

A memorable heroine is funny, compassionate, honorable, strong and confident.

Congratulations to all the RITA finalists!

JOYE said...

Heroines I enjoy reading about have a goal and a determined way to achieve it. Also a sense of humor

Sue A. said...

A heroine who can be strong without losing her values and knows what she want and how to get it is memorable for me.

Good luck at Dallas!

Becky said...

Hmmm...let's see. I like a heroine that's strong, independent, but not so independent that she can't let her man help her sometimes, plus all of the usual characteristics such as loving, caring, and understanding.

Hope you guys have fun at the conference!

Pam said...

I like an intelligent woman who likes a bit of fun, demands respect and like Val said, can give as good as she gets, lol, though still retaining her feminity.

Good luck, Jackie. I'll be waiting to hear the finals in my PJ's with you, Liz,

Maureen said...

For me, a memorable heroine is one who is not perfect but she uses her life experiences to become a better person.

Kimberly L said...

A memorable heroine is one that is strong and able to stand up to a man. One that even though she puts on a brave front she won't let anyone get her down. A confident woman that knows her strength.