Monthly Archives: May 2015

On letting go

1155x510-amsterdam-6About a month ago, I did something I swore I would never do. With only 15,000 words to go until The End, I walked away from a manuscript. Just…closed the file and let it go. I guess you could say I gave up on it.

It’s not that that story wasn’t good, because it was. But with two published books under my belt, I now know a book is not just about the words on the page. It’s about a solid hook and unique characters and market trends and a pretty cover and all those millions of things big and small that all add up into a publisher’s ability to sell that sucker. And as much as I loved this story when I set out to write it, somewhere in the process it lost a little of its sparkle. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost the thrill in writing it. Even so, I was determined. Finish or bust, because the alternative seemed so much worse. All those words and time wasted.

And yet?

And yet.

Around the same time, a new idea began brewing in my head. The characters were real, and boy were they vocal. They began talking in my head, and they wouldn’t shut up. The stories they tell me are heartbreaking and shocking and so much better than the story I was struggling to finish. Any writer will attest: when characters like that come along–when a story grabs you by the guts and refuses to let you go–you better believe you sit down and write it. I opened up my laptop, and the words started flowing. This new story is killing me a little to write, but then again, those are the best stories.

Maybe I’ll pick up that old story again, and maybe I won’t. But first I’m going to finish this one, because it’s awesome.

ps. What does that picture of Amsterdam have to do with my new story? Absolutely nothing. But it was pretty, and I thought you might like it. 😉

Riding with Respect, Riding for Freedom

A couple Saturdays ago, I was happily cruising down the interstate (fortunately I was ahead of schedule) when two speedy cops cut off the car in front of me, stopped beneath the immediate bridge, and—while making my heart kick into high gear—stilled all south-bound traffic.

That’s when they came. Motorcycle after motorcycle, making a loud and powerful statement as their procession accelerated down the entrance ramp and took the road.


6th Annual FreedomRide | Armed Forces Day – May 16, 2015 | Photo courtesy W.A.R.


It was an impressive sight.

Once all 85* of them were on I-35, we (me and the other cars) were allowed to resume driving, and we followed them for miles. I could feel the reverence, thick in the air above us and drafting these police-escorted bikers.

I could only assume it was a benefit ride, or maybe the Patriot Guard Riders.

Later, my first attempts to find details, some cause for this occurrence, returned nothing. But then I hit on the right search terms and found a Facebook page for the Kansas City-based Warrior Appreciation Rally, the ride’s sponsoring group.

I learned that (because it was Armed Forces Day) I’d witnessed the 6th Annual Missouri National Armed Forces FreedomRide. Their site references the event as “the day we honor, show support, and raise awareness for those who have served.”

The ride begins at a Harley-Davidson in KC North and, with law enforcement escorts the entire way, travels dozens of miles to an area veterans’ home, where they spend hours visiting and honoring those who have done so much, before “saddling up” once again and making the return journey. (The photo above is from early in their trip that day.)

I found myself appreciative of their appearance, and fully in sync as my journey for just a time overlapped theirs.

Soon enough my exit came and I broke away from the pack.

They kept on riding. Because it’s what they do, and for good reason.

Have you seen anything like that before?

*This number was confirmed by a Warrior Appreciation Rally source. I was told they’d have had more if the weather had been more cooperative. Their Facebook page admin said, when I asked for his or her name during our messaging exchange, “We usually refer to ourselves [only] as W.A.R., or the W.A.R. Crew, preferring to keep the spotlight on what we’re doing to honor others and generate attention for the organizations that help our men and women in uniform.”

That, too, is for good reason.

Winner of All the Right Places

winner winnerThe randomly selected winner of a copy of Jenna Sutton’s ALL THE RIGHT PLACES is Jennifer Schultheis.  Congrats Jennifer!  Please email me at tracy (dot) tracysolheim (dot) com with your information.

We’ve got a few more debut authors and fun new releases to introduce you to this summer, so stay tuned.  Have a great holiday weekend everyone.

Are You a Re-reader?

I LOVE rereading some of the books on my keeper shelf. Recently, I was amazed to discover during a conversation with a friend and avid reader that she never rereads books–even those she adored. “There are so many books,” my friend said, “why would I reread one I’ve already read?”Books

There are so many reasons!

  • I may have forgotten more about the book than the basic plot.
  • Sometimes, I may have forgotten the plot.
  • I may have forgotten what it was that made me love the book so much that I had to keep it.
  • Rereading a favorite book allows me to not rush through the chapters in search of ‘what happens next’ and enjoy the prose.
  • I discover new aspects of the book I never realized were there before.
  • If it’s a favorite author, I can plot his/her growth as an author.
  • Figuring out what I love about a book helps me become a better writer.
  • I can fall in love with the book all over again!

My friends still wasn’t convinced, but I hold firm in my enjoyment of rereading favorite books. What about you? Do you reread? If so, why? If not, why not?

Spotlight On Debut Author Jenna Sutton

I’m wrapping up book 2 in the Second Chances series, but while I was writing, I took a short break to preview a hot new book by debut author, Jenna Sutton.  The book is called ALL THE RIGHT PLACES (Berkley Sensation, June 2, 2015) and it reminds me of some early Rachel Gibson books–the ones that made me fall in love with the romance genre–with a hint of Julie James’ sophisticated banter thrown in for good measure.  I enjoyed this book so much that I wanted you all to meet Jenna Sutton, the author.  Here’s a little background on Jenna:

jsuttonauthorphotoJenna Sutton spent most of her career as an award-winning journalist covering business-related topics including healthcare, commercial real estate, retail, and technology. Nowadays she writes about hot, lovable guys and the smart, sexy women who make them crazy. It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream, and she feels so lucky to be able to do it. Jenna has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas Christian University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. She and her husband live in a 103-year-old house in Texas. All the Right Places is her debut novel.

Tracy: Welcome to Women Unplugged, Jenna.  First and foremost, can you tell readers where they can find you on social media?


If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be and why?

Insatiably Curious. My favorite words are actually questions: what, why, who, when, how, and where.

What are 5 things readers should know about you?

1. I’ve worked as a journalist for most of my career, so I have been writing for a long time… fact, not fiction.
2. I am blessed to have a fabulous husband, a loving, supportive family, and a great group of friends.
3. I started reading romance novels way too young. And though it may seem counterintuitive, I think reading romances actually kept me a virgin longer than other girls my age!
4. After a lifetime of hating sports, I suddenly love football. And I’m increasingly interested in hockey, although I’m sure all the new hockey romances have something to do with that.
5. Every time I go out to eat, the tines of my fork are uneven. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating at a casual restaurant or a five-star bistro, crooked forks always find their way to me. I see them as a sign that the universe is in balance.

What is the significance to the title ALL THE RIGHT PLACES?
The title has a double meaning. The perfect jeans fit in all the right places, and my characters touch each other in all the right places, both emotionally and physically.

Please share a few random facts about ALL THE RIGHT PLACES.

• It’s the first book I ever wrote
• It took me about nine weeks to write the manuscript, but it took two plus years for it to be published
• It’s the first in the Riley O’Brien & Co. series
• I got the idea for the book from a bumper sticker
• The fictional jeans company in ALL THE RIGHT PLACES is based on a real company. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out which one.

What was your favorite scene to write? Why?

I had a lot of fun writing ALL THE RIGHT PLACES, but I think my favorite scene is the one where my hero, Quinn, sees the heroine, Amelia, wearing a piece of clothing made by his biggest competitor. Here are a couple of lines from that scene:

Aggression flooded his veins. He had the ridiculous thought that if Amelia wanted to brand herself with someone’s name, it damn well better be his name. He felt like pulling her down across his lap, jerking up that damn skirt, and spanking her sweet round cheeks right where his competitor’s logos were located.
Before his mind could even think about what to do next, his body moved toward her. When she saw him coming, she pivoted and darted toward the exit. He reached her just as she opened the door, slamming a palm against it and forcing it closed with a bang.
Her lush little body was sandwiched between him and the door, and he crowded even closer until she had to turn her head to the side to keep from smashing her nose. He put his mouth to her ear.
“Don’t ever wear another piece of denim that doesn’t have my name on it,” he growled.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
I’ve always thought a scruffier, taller Henry Cavill would be a great Quinn, although his eyes need to be a little darker, the color of a blueprint. Or maybe a younger, taller James Marsden. He seems to get hotter as he ages. As for Amelia, it’s hard to cast her, but the closest I can think of is Isla Fischer, but with freckles and curlier hair.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I’d tell them to have a little faith. Both of them suffer from self-doubt, and Amelia doesn’t have faith in a lot of people.

What are you currently working on? What other released do you have planned for 2015?
Book two in the Riley O’Brien & Co. series, Coming Apart at the Seams, is scheduled for release on Dec. 1, 2015. The third book, Hanging by a Thread, is due to my editor in the fall, and it is scheduled for publication in spring 2016.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today, Jenna!  Because I loved this book so much, I’m giving away a digital copy to one random commenter.  It’s easy to win, just tell me how long you’ve had your favorite pair of jeans.  It takes me a few years to get them broken in the way I want them. 🙂

AllTheRightPlaces_hires purpleAmelia Winger is a small-town girl with big dreams of becoming a successful designer. So when she gets a gig designing accessories for denim empire Riley O’Brien & Co., it’s a dream come true. Amelia can handle the demanding job, but she isn’t quite prepared for sexy CEO Quinn O’Brien. She’s doing her best to keep things professional, but the attraction sparking between them makes it personal. And so does the secret project she’s working on behind his back…

Quinn’s not interested in the new accessories, but he is interested in the woman designing them. Amelia is smart, sexy, and talented, and he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about her since they met. Mixing business and pleasure isn’t wise, but that doesn’t stop him from coming up with excuses to spend time with her. He thinks he understands the risk he’s taking when he gets involved with Amelia. But he doesn’t know he’s risking a lot more than his heart.

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