This page is for aspiring authors. Here you'll find sample pitches, synopsis and high concept premise statements I use to sell my books.
BY INVITATION ONLY Harlequin Blaze Anthology out July 1, 2011.
Texas Tycoon J. D. Maynard Jr. and famous actress Holly Addison are getting married on exotic Rapture Island. And you're invited!
Exclusively Yours by Lori Wilde
In order to scoop the wedding story, journalist Olivia Carmichael feigns an engagement with infuriating writer Nick Greer. But getting-under-his-skin turns into getting-under-the-sheets….
Pitch that sold the book.
BY INVITATION ONLY BLAZE ANTHOLOGY
Breaking news from the blog, Man About Texas, by Nicolas Greer
Have you heard the word? Another good bachelor bites the dust. Playboy extraordinaire, J. D. Maynard, (yes, he is the son of James Dallas Maynard Sr., the richest oil tycoon in Texas), went down on one knee in front of Hollywood’s latest “it” girl, uber-glam Holly Addison. Rumor has it that Holly’s said yes and they’re planning a summer wedding. My heart is breaking, fellas. Say it ain’t so, J.D.! Holly is hot as a firecracker, but this is your freedom we’re talking about here. Run for the hills while you still can…
YOU ARE NOT INVITED
MR. & MRS. JAMES DALLAS MAYNARD SR.
Request the pleasure of your company
(but of course only if you are rich, powerful and socially well-heeled)
AT THE MARRIAGE OF THEIR SON
James Dallas Maynard Jr. to
Oscar-winning actress Holly Anne Addison
SUNDAY, THE TWENTY-SIXTH OF JUNE
AT THREE O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON at
Rapture Island (Why yes, this is the Rapture Island, exclusive resort vacation destination where the rich and famous flock to get away from the likes of you)
Reception to follow
(If you’re lucky, you’ll see what you missed on out takes from Lifestyles of the Hoity-toity)
MEMO FROM THE DESK OF SECURITY CHIEF WADE COOPER IN REGARD TO THE MAYNARD/ADDISON WEDDING:
This is considered the “must attend” wedding of the decade so we’re on red alert, people. The press will invade like crabs in the sand. Camera-clutching, autograph-book-hugging wannbes and hangers-on will vie for a chance to buttonhole celebrities.
We don’t want a repeat of the Presidential Inaugural Ball. Ignore the warm sun, cool ocean breezes, crystal clear waters and star-studded allure of Rapture Island. Absolute vigilance is required. If this event is crashed, make no mistake. Heads will roll. Make sure it’s not yours.
by Lori Wilde
Premise: In order to snag the interview that will save her career, a determined print journalist is forced to pretend to be the fiancé of the charming Internet blogger that she can’t stand.
Theme: You can’t judge a book by its cover
Marketing elements: Mistaken identity/pretend engagement/playboy hero
Olivia Carmichael (26) is a bit old-fashioned. Her parents were much older when she was born and she came from a long line of respected Pulitzer prize-winning journalists. She’s followed in the family tradition, getting her journalism degree from Columbia, before moving back home to Texas to care for her ailing mom. She’s controlled and resourceful, prim and proper. Dressed to repress, she was the know-it-all back in school that always had her hand up. She’s distress about the current state of journalism and abhors how her beloved profession has been highjacked by the Internet and Johnny-Come-Lately bloggers like the odious Nick Greer who once dated Olivia’s best friend and then glibly dumped her.
Nicolas Greer (28) is a charmer. He’s witty and good-looking, fun and irresistible. He’s a smooth operator. He’s single and he likes being that way. He dropped out of journalism school when his blog: Man About Texas (a humorous look at dating in the Lone Star State from the masculine point of view) took off and a publisher approached him about turning his blog into a book. Now he’s searching for a follow up project and he’s landed on the idea of interviewing famous playboys who’ve recently decided to take the plunge into matrimony, because secretly he can’t fathom why celebrities, who have it all, are willing to exchange the footloose single life for the stricture of a gold band and list of “honey do’s”.
High on Nick’s list of potential interviewees is the son of Texas’s richest oil billionaire, J. D. Maynard, who is about to marry Oscar winning actress, Holly Addison, at an exclusive Caribbean Island resort. Before going to contract, Nick’s publisher wants assurance that Nick can get an interview with J.D. The problem is, security is tight and there’s dozens of competing journalist hot on the trail of the famous bride and groom.
Meanwhile at the Austin Observer where Olivia is a junior reporter, there have been severe cutbacks and Olivia’s been pulled off the cop beat she loves and told to cover lifestyles. Her assignment; find a way to get an interview with Holly Addison. Olivia is none to happy about this, but she’s a professional. Besides, if she can pull this off and get an interview with Holly when no one else can, her bosses will be forced to admit that she’s too good to waste in lifestyles.
In an attempt to get close to J.D. Nick bribes an employee, at the private airport where the Maynards hanger their personal jets, to sneak him onto the grounds the same day the wedding party is flying to Rapture Island.
Olivia shows up at the airport as well, only to find the place thronging with reporters. She’s not going to get anywhere hanging with the crowd, so she looks for another way in. She spies Nick being let in via a side exit. She recognizes the obnoxious blogger and follows him onto the airport.
Nick and Olivia mix like oil and water. They’re in the throes of a heated argument when the wedding party arrives. The bride, actress Holly Addison, sees Olivia and mistakes her for one of the bridesmaids; her cousin “Peaches” that she hasn’t seen in twenty years.
Nick sees an opportunity in the making, seizes it and tells Holly he’s “Peaches’ fiancé. Olivia is not a liar, but she’d determined to snag the interview and get her old job back, so she reluctantly goes along with his deception, even as she worries what’s going to happen when the real Peaches shows up.
They’re whisked away on the private jet to the Rapture Island, the Caribbean playground of the rich and famous. And Nick and Olivia are given their own private bungalow on the beach. Nick enjoys himself immensely, but Olivia is nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs, fearful they’re going to be found out.
The wedding is a three-day event featuring bachelorette/bachelor parties and rehearsal dinners etc…Nick convinces Olivia to relax and she finds herself falling for his charms. They have a strong physical attraction and things quickly heat up, but Olivia reminds herself of Nick’s track record with women, and she refuses to let this weekend be about anything more than sex and getting her interview with Holly.
On the night before the wedding, Holly comes to talk to Olivia and pours out her feelings of doubts about marriage. Olivia gets the scoop to end all scoops and yet, she’s not happy. She feels like a spy and she hates it.
Meanwhile, the groom talks to Nick and tells him how madly in love he is with Holly. Rather than trying to convince J.D. not to go through with the wedding, Nick finds himself wishing he could find the kind of happiness that J.D. has found.
Then the real “Peaches” shows up just in time for the wedding. Olivia and Nick are kicked off the island. Nick has the advantage over Olivia. He can break the story right away on his blog, while she still has to write up the story and get it sent in. But things have changed for Nick and he realizes these feelings he has for Olivia are special. He decides not to write about the wedding as a way to show her he’s changing.
Olivia doesn’t trust him, but she too decides not to write about the story because she doesn’t want to hurt Holly who she’s come to care about. But to her surprise, her boss gives Olivia her old job back because she’s “lousy” at lifestyles.
Back in the real world, Olivia can’t stop thinking about Nick and finds herself reading his daily blog. She’s surprised how the tone as changed. One day, he finally talks about the wonderful woman he spent time with on Rapture Island and how she made him see how narrow his previous mindset was in regard to love, romance and relationships.
It’s a touching piece and Olivia can’t help wondering if a relationship with Nick is worth pursuing. She’s just about to go find him when her doorbell rings. It’s Nick and he’s groveling. Asking her to forgive him for being an immature dumbass and begging her to give him a chance to prove he can be the kind of man she deserves. Nick has learned that values and beliefs that once fit can quickly grow too small for an expanded heart and Olivia learns you can’t judge a book by its cover. There’s more to Nick than his happy, go-lucky bachelor lifestyle and she can’t wait to uncover his deeper facets beneath the surface.
Synopsis for The Sweethearts' Knitting Club.
Premise: A people-pleasing knitting shop owner, who can’t knit, agrees to marry the Iraq vet she’s dated for ten years only to discover that her true soul mate has just been released from prison.
Theme: The ties that bind.
Jesse Calloway’s seen nothing but the hard edge of life. His reckless mother died under nefarious circumstances when he was eight and he never knew his father. Jesse bounced from one awful foster home to the next until his busybody Aunt Patsy found him when he was seventeen and brought him to live with her in Twilight, Texas.
But he’s a brooding distrustful teen who has a hard time fitting into the idyllic little riverside tourist town. He is unpredictable, dangerous and intriguing all at the same time.
The one place Jesse excels is on the football field. He goes out for the varsity team and makes starting quarterback, dethroning Twilight’s favored son Beau Trainer.
Son of the colorful local sheriff, Beau hates Jesse on sight. Not only because Jesse stole his quarterback position, but because Beau’s girlfriend, Flynn McGregor, takes an interest in him.
Flynn can see past Jesse’s cocky, bad boy façade to the wounded soul beneath. She’d drawn to his intense nature and his dark enigmatic eyes. They have something in common. Jesse lost his mother and Flynn’s mother is slowly dying of a painful degenerative disease, leaving Flynn to raise her three younger siblings while her father seeks solace in alcohol. Jesse understands Flynn in a way no one else does. He doesn’t judge her for her smart mouth and he loves her intelligent sense of humor. She feels she can tell him anything. He advises her on how to deal with her rebellious little sister, Carrie, and gives her tips on keeping her father sober.
Beau can feel his hold on Flynn slipping. On the surface Beau is a real Dudley DoRight. Always toeing the line, always doing the right thing, but underneath it all lurks a deep insecurity. He fears he’ll never live up to his larger-than-life father no matter how hard he tries. As Jesse’s popularity at school soars, Beau’s jealousy grows.
And then one night Beau happens across Flynn and Jesse sharing a stealthy kiss on the old river bridge. Rage engulfs him but instead of confronting them, Beau formulates a plan to get rid of Jesse for good.
He sneaks into the evidence room in the county jail and steals a bag of cocaine his father seized in a raid. He plants the cocaine, along with a firearm, in Jesse’s car and then calls the cops with an anonymous tip. Jesse is arrested, tried and convicted. He’s sentenced to twelve years in the state penitentiary.
After Jesse was sent to jail, Flynn thanked her lucky stars she never went all the way with him. She had no idea he was involved with dealing drugs and it rattles her to the core. She believes she can’t trust her own judgment about people. And she hides away her secret longing and doesn’t write back the only time Jesse ever writes to her.
Flynn spends the ensuing years trying not to resent having to care for her dying mother, struggling to keep her father off the sauce and her siblings out of trouble, while at the same time running the family business—a small bar and grille on the marina. Her dreams of going to college are forever shelved. Especially after she promises her mother—a world class knitter—on her death bed that she will open a yarn store in her honor and keep the knitting club going that her mother started. It’s a big promise, because Flynn has absolutely no idea how to knit and she enlists her sister Carrie to secretly knit all her projects for her.
But while Flynn is the family caretaker, she’s not without her flaws. Sometimes a girl gets fed up always putting her own needs on hold, and when that happens, Flynn’s flippant, snarky mouth gets her into trouble.
For twelve years Jesse has thought of only two things. Getting revenge against Beau and claiming the woman who should have been his.
The Current Story:
The story opens on the day Jesse gets out of jail, hops on his vintage Harley and makes a beeline straight for Twilight.
On that very same day, Beau—who is now the sheriff of Twilight and has been patiently waiting for Flynn to get her family issues settled—gives her an ultimatum. Marry me or else!
Flynn knows Beau has been beyond understanding. He’s proposed to her five times and she’s turned him down each time, citing one excuse after another. But now she’s run out of excuses. Her sister Carrie has finally stopped acting like a wild child. Her dad’s in AA. Her twin brothers have just entered college and the family’s marina grill is hauling in nice profit. The only thing left on her to-do list is starting up the yarn shop. He’s not going to let her flip attitude stop him—Beau wants Flynn and he wants her now.
Her mother approved of Beau and encouraged her to marry him. All the women in the knitting club (except for Jesse’s Aunt Patsy) think he’s the catch of the town. And Flynn has to admit she could do far worse. Beau is handsome, wealthy and attentive. The thing is, she just doesn’t feel for him what she felt for Jesse. Is she being unrealistic? Longing for the red hot sparks of sexual chemistry? Beau’s been at her side through thick and thin. That counts for something. Beau’s a good man. And Jesse the bad boy? He’s just a common criminal.
Beau assures her he’s not kidding. If she doesn’t accept his proposal this time, he’s not going to ask again. He’s thirty years old. It’s time to get married and start a family. After much encouragement from the knitting club, Flynn tells Beau she’ll marry him, but only after she gets the yarn store up and running. Beau agrees to this one last delay as long as she’ll wear his engagement ring. She accepts and he slips the three carat sparkler on her finger. It’s too big, but she wears it anyway, just to please Beau and plans to get it sized as soon as she can. But at the knitting club, she can’t help making everyone laugh with snarky comments about the ostentatious ring.
That evening she goes to work at the bar and grill. It’s Saturday in the summer. The beer flows freely and the crowd is rowdy. She’s schlepping a catfish platter across the outdoor patio when she looks up to see…
Jesse Calloway. Drilling a hole straight through her with his sultry eyes and cocking a dead-sexy, come-hither grin.
All the breath leaves her body and she feels like she’s been struck by lightning. To combat these feelings she engages in caustic banter and a sharp-tongued-but-oh-so-lusty battle of wits with Jesse.
That’s when she realizes Beau’s ring has slipped off. In a panic she turns the place upside down looking for it. But Jesse is the one who finds it and he insists on sliding it back on her finger. The minute his hand touches hers, Flynn is a goner.
Then Jesse coolly congratulates her on her upcoming nuptials, and without another word, saunters away.
The next day, the knitting club is all abuzz with the news that Jesse is back in Twilight and he’s buying the theatre on the town square—the same property Flynn was eying to purchase for the yarn store. He’s planning to put in a motorcycle repair shop. Flynn is distressed, not only because he’s taking over the place she wanted, but because he arouses her more than ever. The man is seriously hot.
Beau is not any happier about Jesse’s appearance back in town than Flynn is and he’s just itching to catch Jesse on a parole violation. But this time, Jesse’s leading an exemplary life. Except for the revenge plan he’s got up his sleeve. First off, seduce Flynn.
To that end, Jesse offers to share the building on the town square with her. Yarn store upstairs, motorcycle shop downstairs. He buys it, she can lease from him.
Flynn is conflicted. The space in the town square is perfect for the yarn store and there’s plenty of room for the knitting club to meet, but being this close to Jesse day in and day out could prove to be her undoing. After some sarcastic repartee, she agrees.
When Beau hears of Jesse’s proposition, he goes ballistic and refuses to let her partner up with him. Flynn reminds him they’re not married yet and he can’t tell her what to do. Realizing he’s taking the wrong track, Beau backpedals, but he knows he’s got to do something about Jesse and fast.
Jesse and Flynn work to fix the place up. They do a lot of talking and flirting. Flynn confesses to him that she can’t knit. He asks her why she wanted to open a yarn shop. Flynn tells him about her promise to her mother. Maybe she can’t knit, but she keeps the group in stitches with her wry observations of life.
Jesse doesn’t understand her commitment to others at the cost of her own dreams. For the most part, people have only caused him sorrow and aren’t worth his concern.
They kiss and it’s more powerful than ever. Flynn is nervous about her feelings for Jesse and knows this might be nothing more than straight up lust, but she realizes she cannot stay engaged to Beau.
Beau is livid when Flynn breaks up with him, but he does his best not to show it. He’s got to maintain control if he’s going to set-up Jesse again and send him back to prison. He can’t tip his hand.
Determined to eliminate his rival once and for all, Beau pulls a series of stunts designed to frame Jesse, but they all comically backfire. In one attempt, he sets off powerful fireworks on the Old Twilight Bridge in a replica of an incident that happened the Fourth of July when Jesse first came to town.
Jesse’s antics that long ago night, blew holes in the runners on the old suspension bridge. As a result, the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic, but was left in place as a footbridge and for its historical value.
This time, Beau’s sabotage damages the already weakened support beams and as Sheriff, he personally condemns the bridge.
Everyone in town assumes Jesse destroyed the bridge and they’re up in arms. But Flynn knows he couldn’t have done it since they were making love at the time of the incident. However, she doesn’t want to blurt that out to the whole town. Jesse’s Aunt Patsy stands behind him and finally the townspeople back down. Jesse, however, is a little hurt that Flynn isn’t willing to come clean about their relationship in public.
To soothe jangled nerves Flynn organizes a giant seventy-two-hour knit-a-thon in the town square to raise money to restore Old Twilight as a footbridge. The idea goes over well and everyone gets excited. There’s only one problem. Flynn’s going to be expected to deliver on her promises. She’s supposed to knit several items during those seventy-two hours and her surrogate knitter (her sister Carrie) can’t fill in because she’s just broken her wrist.
Flynn is in a panic. She’s terrified everyone is going to discover her secret and she’ll be shown up for the fraud she is. Determined to see this through, she decides to use her smart-mouth to crack nonstop jokes and hope no one catches on that she’s not doing much knitting.
To do his part to raise money for the bridge restoration, Jesse is selling lemonade to spectators and tourists, while the knitters get free refreshment.
Beau—who doesn’t know Flynn can’t knit—sees a perfect opportunity to cause more trouble. He spikes the lemonade with vodka. Everyone gets drunk and does such a bad job knitting that no one notices Flynn’s projects are abysmal and that her comments are getting snarkier by the minute.
Then Flynn learns her father got hold of some of that lemonade and now he’s off the wagon. She believes Jesse spiked the lemonade to help her out of her jam. She confronts him and tells him while his heart was in the right place, his methods caused lots of problems. Jesse is cut to the quick that Flynn would believe such a thing. Besides, being around alcohol would violate his parole.
Beau wanted Jesse to get drunk so he could arrest him. Unfortunately for Beau, Jesse didn’t drink any of the lemonade. But Beau’s plan has succeeded anyway. Jesse and Flynn have broken up. Beau bides his time and slowly begins courting Flynn again.
Flynn’s first thoughts are always of her family and community. She doesn’t have time for either Beau or Jesse. In her usual facetious, but loving way, she helps her father get back on the straight and narrow and assists the town in finding another way to raise money to restore the bridge. And she tries her best to put Jesse out of her mind. But that’s pretty darn hard to do when he’s running the motorcycle shop right underneath her yarn store.
Then one rainy Saturday night on the way home from her knitting club meeting, Flynn’s car breaks down. Jesse happens by on his Harley. He gives her a ride back to her place. Jesse, unable to stay angry, kisses Flynn. They’re soaking wet, but blazing hot for each other. Jesse reiterates that he didn’t spike the punch and Flynn believes him this time. She has to believe him because she’s taking the man to her bed.
Beau comes to the house to take Flynn out for Sunday breakfast and finds the Harley in her driveway and a shirtless Jesse on her front porch. He calls Jesse out. Jesse knows better than to scuffle with the sheriff. One wrong move and it’s back to jail.
Flynn shows up on the porch in time to stop Beau from instigating a fist fight, but Beau’s not done yet. This time, he’s going to get rid of Jesse forever.
Beau learns Jesse took out a healthy insurance policy on the motorcycle shop. Using one of Jesse’s own gas cans with Jesse’s fingerprints on it, Beau sets the building on fire not realizing a stray cat that Flynn adopted is living in the knitting store.
Jesses arrives on the scene to find his building engulfed in flames and Flynn in tears over the cat. Without a moment’s hesitation, he plunges into the burning building.
Terrified that she’s going to lose Jesse, Flynn realizes how much she loves him. Jesse emerges, cat in hand. Flynn takes him to the hospital to have him checked out. They keep him overnight for observation and Flynn stays by his side. Jesse’s never had anyone that devoted to him and it chokes him up inside. Even though he’s been afraid to fully let down his guard, Flynn has wormed her way into his heart.
Beau shows up at the hospital the next day, with the fire marshal in tow, to arrest Jesse for arson. He’s going back to prison. Flynn knows Jesse is innocent. He loves the motorcycle shop and would never do anything to destroy it.
Flynn and Aunt Patsy do a little investigating of their own and learn that one of the little old ladies in their knitting club saw Beau coming out the back door of the motorcycle shop not long before the fire broke out.
Shaking with anger, Flynn goes to the jail to confront Beau. Beau admits nothing, saying the old lady is both half-blind and half-deaf. But he tells her that if she’ll agree to marry him, and Jesse promises to leave town for good, he’ll drop the charges.
His actions confirm what Flynn has come to realize. Beau’s behind everything. Dudley DoRight has done wrong. She raises her chin and dares to ask him if he’s the reason Jesse went to prison in the first place.
Beau won’t admit to anything, but the look in his eyes tells Flynn all she needs to know. She tells Beau to go to hell, then contacts the fire marshal and tells him her side of the story.
The fire marshal steps in and discovers more evidence linking Beau to the arson. Beau is out as sheriff. Jesse is released from jail and he tells Flynn about what happened the night Beau planted the cocaine on him. They have a long serious talk. It’s time to come clean about all secrets.
Flynn tells the knitting club that she can’t knit and Carrie’s been doing all the knitting for her. No one is surprised. They’ve known all along.
Flynn might not be able to knit, but through her ability to make them laugh at life, she’d bound this town together.
With the inventory salvaged from the fire, Carrie starts her own knitting shop to honor the memory of their mother, leaving Flynn free to pursue her own dream of going back to school.
And to pursue these feelings she has for Jesse. Because they’ve both learned that nothing binds the heart like ties of family, community and true love.