Monthly Archives: June 2015

Winners of Again, Alabama

winner winner Again, Alabama is out today!  Here are the two randomly selected winners of a digital copy of the book:

Wanda Walker and Lee Ann Freeman.  Ladies, send me an email at tracy (at) tracysolheim (dot) com with your email information and I’ll get those digital books to you.  Have a great weekend everyone!

When Lightning Strikes

On Friday’s blog, Tracy segued perfectly into today’s post about Chris Norton, who, along with his dad, Terry, are the subject of the upcoming release, The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes. I’ve spent the last year + working on this book with Chris and Terry, and let me tell you, it’s been one of the greatest joys of my life. Background on my involvement with this story can be found here.

Chris graduated from college last weekend, walking across the stage to accept his diploma with the help of his fiaThePowerofFaith_coverfinalncé, Emily Summers. Word of his accomplishment grew quickly from local coverage to national and international news. The highlight of the week was a whirlwind trip to New York City for a morning appearance on Good Morning America.

The book is nearing completion and will be available around the time college football stadiums come alive with fans. The coverage was so unbelievable, so unexpected, and so deserved, I couldn’t wait to share.

Take it from me, the next time God taps you on the shoulder and sends you in a direction you never expected to take, do yourself a favor and follow along. You won’t believe the ride!

Author Spotlight – Susan Sands

RWANYCI’ve got another author to introduce you to!  But first, a story.  The journey to publication is different for everyone and never, ever, predictable for any writer.  When I first started out in this business, I decided to find my tribe, so to speak, at the local RWA chapter in Atlanta.  As luck would have it, I met not one, but two, dear friends through those meetings. Both have walked beside me on my path to being an author.  If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you already know one of those amazing women–Christy Hayes–who blazed her path differently than I did, achieving success much more quickly.  In fact, if you’ve been following social media or the national news these past few weeks, you’ll see her name on the cover of an upcoming book that is garnering a lot of national attention.  But I’ll let her tell you about that when it’s her turn to post.  I’ll just say here that I’m so stinking proud of her!

Today, I want to introduce you to our third partner in crime, debut author Susan Sands.  Like Christy and myself, she’s a wife and mother, first and foremost, but she’s also a wonderful story teller with a strong Southern voice and great wit.  And, as an added bonus, when we go on our writing retreats, she’s the mother hen who cooks all our fabulous meals and desserts.  Susan’s first book, AGAIN,ALABAMA, will be available for digital download beginning next Friday, June 12. The print version will be released August 26.

susan sandsAbout Susan:

Susan Sands grew up in a real life Southern Footloose town in Northwest Louisiana, complete with her senior class hosting the first ever prom in the history of their tiny public school with half the town chaperoning. Is it any wonder she writes Southern small town stories full of porch swings, fun and romance?

Susan lives in Alpharetta, Georgia surrounded by her husband, three young adult kiddos and lots of material for her next book.

Thanks for stopping by today, Susan!  We can’t wait until next week when the book is released.

Where can readers find you?
My readers can find me on my Facebook Author page
On Twitter @susannoelsands
On my blog, Sweet Home Alpharetta at

If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be and why?
Hmmm. Maybe, Country Girl Come to Town. I grew up in a tiny town in Louisiana and now I live in suburban Atlanta. But I guess I’ve been out of the country for a long time. My current lifestyle is vastly different from how I grew up.

What are 5 things readers should know about you?
1) I love to cook but hate to clean. 2) I’m shy in a big group, but love people. 3) Family dynamics of all sorts fascinate me. 4) I hate cardio. 5) I love the beach and the lake.

What is the significance of the title AGAIN, ALABAMA?
This book has taken many forms. The original title was Misery, Alabama, but my publisher rightly pointed out that it wasn’t a very romantic title. Again, Alabama is apt, as my heroine is dragged back to her small town—again.

Please share a few random facts about AGAIN, ALABAMA.
I drew upon my experiences growing up in a small town to write this story.
My heroine’s family looks like how I imagine it would be to have a gaggle of crazy siblings. I only had one brother, who is now deceased.
The secret ingredient in my heroine’s award-winning pecan pie recipe is white chocolate.
The therapy scenes came natural to me. I had my friend, a clinical therapist, look them over. I often wondered if I should have gone into the field of psychology/mental health.

What was your favorite scene to write?
Scarily, the Bean Family Reunion.

It came from a real scenario where my cousin, Ruth, and I saw a sign in a New Orleans hotel for the Bean Family Reunion. We began to wonder what sort of beans might be in attendance. We met a few. They were lovely.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
I would always go for Matthew Mcconaughey as my leading man, Grey. It’s the drawl, y’all, oh, and his fantastic everything else. I think I would choose Jennifer Garner for the leading lady because she has such a fresh face. Her persona reminds me of Cammie.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Chill, y’all. Things have a way of working out.

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I am writing the next two books connected with AGAIN, ALABAMA.

To celebrate Susan’s book birthday next week, I’m giving away TWO digital copies to randomly selected people who comment. Just tell me your favorite book set in a small town. Be sure and leave a comment before June 12th.  And check back here next Friday for the winning name!


Cammie Laroux is back in Alabama—again.

Dragged back to her small town to help her mother recover from surgery while rescuing the family event planning business should be a cinch. Even for a disgraced television chef, right? Wrong.

Among the many secrets Cammie’s family’s been hiding is the fact that their historic home is falling down. Oh, and the man hired to restore the house, Grey Harrison, is the same high school and college love of her life who thrashed her heart and dreams ten years ago. Yeah, that guy.

Grey, a widower with a young daughter, has never stopped loving Cammie, and when they are face to face once again, the chemistry is off the charts. Cammie may be in full-blown denial, but letting go is no longer in Grey’s vocabulary, even when winning Cammie’s forgiveness and renovating their love may seem like an impossible build even for a master architect and carpenter.

As Cammie finds herself forgetting all the reasons she can’t trust Grey or love again, he finds himself remembering all the reasons he wants her to stay with him in Alabama… forever.

This book will be released digitally on Friday, June 12.  Go to Tule Publishing for buying information. While you’re there, pick up the great Father’s Day Romance Bundle for .99!

Father's Day Bundle FRONT

The Ego Struggle: The Core of the Romance Storyline

man offering flowersPeople who don’t read romance might think it’s all about falling in love and living happily ever after.

It’s not.

That’s how the book ends. But to earn that ending, the characters have to endure a struggle. Specifically, an ego struggle. A journey that takes them from being two independent individuals to an integrated couple.

Let’s use Fifty Shades of Grey as an example, since so many people have read it. In fact, one of the reasons for its popularity may be the strong, stark ego conflict between the hero and heroine. Christian wants a submissive partner who will relinquish all decision-making authority, allowing him to control even what she eats and when she exercises. Ana, on the other hand, is like “Dude, the sex is hot and all, and some of the sensation play is fun, but you are totally not the boss of me!” (Okay, that sounds nothing like Ana, but you get my point.)

These two people, who are incredibly attracted to one another and seem to share a spiritual connection, want completely different things. And so the negotiations begin. Each of them has to decide what they’re willing to give up for the sake of the relationship, versus what they need to keep because it’s essential to their happiness.

Sometimes these negotiations are overt, as they often are in Fifty Shades, and sometimes they’re more subtle, as in a book like Pride and Prejudice. The decisions are made incrementally and often unconsciously, as the romantic couple grows closer—until  the end of the novel, when they finally shed their illusions and choose each other over things they thought mattered more.

Through this struggle, their sense of identity changes. Their ego is dismantled and rebuilt. It’s a painful process, and one the characters inevitably resist. But it’s only through the experience of the lovers stripping away the non-essential parts of themselves, and coming together as a couple with shared goals and values, that the reader can trust in their union. They’ve been tested, and they’ve proven themselves worthy.

In that sense, romance fiction isn’t so different from any other quest story. What makes romance unique is that the ultimate goal of the lovers is (usually) to form a family—whether that family includes just them, eventual children, or an extended family clan. That’s a noble goal—one with important social significance.

In the book you’re currently reading, what ego struggles do the main characters undergo? What important things do they have to give up in order to succeed in their quest?

HANDLING CYNTHIA, the latest novella under my pen name Andrea Dalling, includes a strong ego conflict between heroine Cynthia and her old high school crush, Trent. When she pursues him at their five-year-reunion, she finds him willing—but on his terms. How far is she willing to go for love? 

Photo Copyright: bugphai / 123RF Stock Photo

Juggling Act

These days I find myself juggling hats. Genres, actually, and very different ones at that! And when I say different, I mean it. This year, I’ve decided to publish a children’s fiction series that’s been simmering in my heart for several years. Centered around my love for gardening, my love for children and the discovery of all things new and nature, Show Me The Green! is the result. It’s a middle grade novel filled with real-life adventures in the garden, inspired from my years volunteering in my kids’ school garden. Intended as a fun but educational read, I think of it as “Judy Moody meets the Magic Tree House.”

1_farmer's market image

Kids will learn the basics of organic gardening as they follow the adventures of Lexi and Jason Williams. It’s completely different from my adult romance novels, but equally as compelling a story for me to write. So much so, I’ve three other books already outlined and ready for some keyboard action!

However, the process can be exhausting. The ebook format will be full color which required a lot of thought and collaboration with illustrators. The new website has also proven a challenge, as I had to conceive a completely new look. The good news? It’s been a lot of fun. The bad news? It’s put my current romance series on the back burner which is NO fun. I mean, I’m excited about it, too, but a gal only has so many hours in the day to write and create and, oh yeah, be a mother and a wife on the home front. Enter summer break, and we’re talking serious challenge juggling the three. Can I do it?

Do I have a choice?

Simple answer, no. When the muse strikes, an author will follow. When the family calls, a mother will answer. It’s just the way I’m wired. I will say it keeps me young. (And at my age, that’s a good thing!) Wanna know more about my new children’s books? Check out D.S. Venetta

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