New title, release date, and first signing!

For several months, the main push of my publishing journey was writing the second book in my three-book series. But in recent weeks, as Carina Press puts the final touches on my first book to get it ready for publication, the big news has been coming fast and furious. Here’s a round-up!

New title and series title

While I loved the title, “The Billionaire’s Prince”, it was hard to re-create for the rest of the books: The Millionaire’s Rock Star (ugh!), The CEO’s Body Guard (worse!). The wise folks at Carina Press gave the series a title I absolutely adore:

FILTHY RICH

And then christened The Biilionaire’s Prince with its new title:

Lush Money

It’s a cheeky play on words that I think is fabulous and distinctive; distinctive is hard to find in romance titles.

Release Date

I now have the exact date you can get your hot little hands on Lush Money.

Oct. 8 for ebook

Oct. 28 for print

Click here to be notified when Lush Money is available for purchase?

First signing

Those attending the Romance Writer’s of America conference in New York City in July will be the first to get their hands on a FREE download of Lush Money. Carina Press is holding an author signing on Friday, July 26 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. While I won’t have printed copies of my book yet, I will have free USBs of the book that you can download and I will be signing postcards. Please come by and spare this newbie author from sitting there alone with that pained smile on her face!!


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Fight to Win: Inspiration for Writers at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat

On Sunday, April 14, I gave the closing speech for the Washington DC Romance Writers annual writers’ retreat. This is a meaningful weekend for me: since I was a wee-aspiring writer, this weekend was where I learned from bestselling romance writers, mingled with industry heavyweights, and found encouragement among a sisterhood of supportive authors. To be asked to give the closing speech was a knock-me-out honor. I wanted to do a good job for them. I hope I did. - Angelina

Photo credit: Jamaila Brinkley (L), Tara Kennedy (R)

Photo credit: Jamaila Brinkley (L), Tara Kennedy (R)

I began the speech by putting on the above glasses and boa, and lip syncing (I know!!!) to the song “Fight to Win” by Goodie Mob. I did everyone a favor by miming only the first verse, then taking the glasses and boa off and promising never to do that to anyone ever again.

That song is “Fight to Win” by the Goodie Mob. You might recognize the singer as CeeLo Green. When I first heard it in 2012, I immediately thought, “That’s a song about writers.” It’s been my writing anthem ever since and I hope I can inspire you with it today.

When the Washington DC Romance Writers retreat organizer called in October to ask me to give the “inspiring” closing speech of the retreat weekend, it literally was the end of the worst week of my life. I put her off, told her that my husband and I were leaving for Kenya in a couple of days and could I call her when I got back. She agreed. But while I was away, I kept thinking, “How in the world can I give this speech?”

This Business is Hard

The first verse says:

I am fighting for the liberation
Of voices with something to say
Like many before me, for glory
You have to stand in harm's way

Well, to give this speech, where I had to stand was in Nora Roberts’s incredibly intimidating footsteps.

I joined RWA in 1998, I joined the Washington DC Romance Writers (WRW) soon after, and went to my first retreat in 2003 or 04. Back then, the retreat was in Harper’s Ferry, at this huge, historical, falling-apart hotel overlooking the joint of two rivers in West Virginia. The bugs and flooding showers were not the draw of the retreat – it was Nora Roberts. Nora Roberts was an active WRW member and would take a part in the retreat weekends, hanging out with the authors, allowing newbies like me to bug her. And Nora would give the closing speech.

Now, during her closing speech, Nora said things newbie-me did not want to hear. Among authors, among friends, she cursed like a sailor in her throaty voice and she talked honestly about that “harm’s way” that authors have to stand in. She told us about the readers who said derogatory things about her books and the media who constantly nudge, nudge, wink, winked her about the sex.

Nora did not sugarcoat things for us. What she did, in this protected space, was tell us the truth. The truth: This is a business. And this business is hard.

  • You will write a book, construct the perfect baby, and the first agent or editor or beta reader you show it to will tell you that it’s awful. You will shove it under the bed crying because your characters will never have their say in the world.

  • You will do the work and have the deal and put out the books – and you still won’t be able to quit your day job.

  • You will write the books and make the money – but because of the color of your skin or the gender of who your character loves or the truth about our world that your character stands for – you will have to fight tooth and nail for what other authors take for granted.

But this is the journey. To write, to liberate your voice and say what your voice demands that you say, you have to fight. You have to fight the demons of racism and bias. You have to fight that interior voice that tells you you’re not good enough, and that you’re not worthy. You have to fight the siren of the fourth season of Schitt’s Creek on your Netflix queue tempting you out of your writing chair.

You have to stand in harm’s way.

Imposter Syndrome

The next verse of the song is:

I’m no savior, just a soldier
Soldier with an order
So I have no choice but to trust the God
Cause it must be done

Now when Angele, the retreat organizer, first asked me to give this speech (at the end of the worst week of my life), I gave this crazy laugh and I said, “Angele, this isn’t imposter syndrome. I am an imposter.”

This ‘worst week of my life’ began with a flare up of sciatica that I thought had gone away. Sciatica is a daunting and chronic back/leg pain, it’s awful and it’s boring. Blah. But I had this flare up a week before I was going to Kenya. Where we were doing a horseback safari.

Now, I began writing as a young woman. Like, of 5. Writing was always that thing I could do and in the fifth grade – as a pragmatic little Virgo – I told my mom that I wanted to be an author but I didn’t think I could make money at it. So she recommended I become a newspaper journalist. I wrote for newspapers and magazines – a story of mine is in the Newseum – but after I had children, I decided I was going to take my long-held adoration and admiration for romance novels out of the closet and start writing them.

I have been writing romance on-and-off for 18 years. Because I was raising kids, I put more energy into writing than publishing. But I worked on plot and character development and the art of ass in chair. I went to retreats and conferences and pitched to industry professional. I made amazing author friends who let me learn from their writing and publishing journeys.

I put in my 10,000 hours and with those 10,000 hours, I wrote a book about a billionaire businesswoman and a modern-day prince with an impoverished kingdom that got me an agent. My phenomenal agent, Sara Megibow.

But when Angele asked me to give this speech, I was a once-young writer who felt old with her sciatica, who had an amazing agent and book I believed in, but no publishing deal. I was an imposter to believe I could stand here and give you this speech.

But the thing about being an imposter…aren’t we all one? We make up people and towns and universes to trick readers into feeling good. If that doesn’t make us all frauds, I don’t know what does. And in this industry – and I would argue, in all of them – no one feels like they’ve “arrived.” The written-a-book writer wants to publish. The published author wants to earn out. The earning out author wants to make a list. The list author wants it to happen again.

None of us are saviors. We’re all soldiers with an order. And that awesome, awful, inspiring, pain-in-the-ass order is to overcome our imposter syndrome every day and say yes to the words, because it must be done.

Courage and Foolishness

The next verse of the song is:

You should be proud for the courage
The courage to think out loud
You’ll find your way it you’re foolish enough to be faithful

Is there any better way to describe a writer than someone full of courage and foolishness?

Three days after the flare up of my sciatica, I got a text from my agent. “Can I give you a call?” she asked. The events of the previous year had inured me to bad news, so I was ready and not ready when the phone rang. Sara said, “Angelina, I’m just going to say it, your three-book deal fell through.”

See, at the beginning of the worst week of my life, when the sciatica flared up, I had a three-book deal. It was my first deal, and I thought I’d squeaked under the wire to have my first publishing contract before I turned 45. Not so. The publisher decided that he no longer wanted to publish romance. Sara suggested that we both have drinks and we’d coordinate a plan of attack in the morning. I hung up, fell face first in the couch, and my two teenaged sons took amazing care of me until my husband got home.

I’ve been a member of WRW for 18 years. And because of all this knowledge I’ve gleaned from WRW authors willing and enthusiastic to bolster unpublished authors, I knew that this is what happens. Deals fall through, editors leave in the midst of your revisions, and agents sign you then drop off the map. It’s a business, and it apathetically and indiscriminately breaks your heart. But what I also learned from WRW, from going to these meeting and talking to these authors, is the foolishness to be faithful. WRW preaches the resiliency of continuing to do it. What I learned here helped me believe that no matter what happened, I could still make this career a reality.

Every writer who is struggling: Be proud that you have the courage to think out loud. You have the courage to put to paper and show to people what so many others can’t. So many people have the idea to write a book or they’re going to write a book or they’ve written half a book. You’re writing a book or you’ve written a book. You have the courage to think out loud and the foolishness to be faithful.

It's Surely Not Impossible

The final verse is:

Believe me, it won’t be easy
But it's surely not impossible
And if they won't listen
Save your breath and save yourself

Sara’s call was on the Thursday of the worst week of my life, so Friday found me at a commiseration lunch with my girlfriend, one cocktail in, plenty more planned, when my phone rings. It’s my 20-year-old son’s psychiatrist. She asks me if I can come pick him up because she’s not comfortable with him leaving alone. As my friend is driving me to the psychiatrist’s office, I say, “Can you imagine if the worst news I get this week ISN’T the loss of my 3-book deal?” It was prescient. The psychiatrist was doing some testing with my son, and she said that his feelings of hopelessness and self-harm were so high, she wasn’t comfortable with him leaving alone.

My incredibly intelligent, successful, plans-to-be-a-physicist son came home second-semester of his freshman year in college because he was suffering from social anxiety disorder that we didn’t know he had. Essentially when he has to deal with issues that trigger his disorder – for my son that’s professors and peers, classwork and emails – he is flooded with chemicals that tell him he is facing a bear. That anxiety-ridden fight-or-flight sensation then gets paired with, “Everyone else can do this. Why am I such a freak? I must just be a bad person.”

Him coming home changed the straight-and-narrow path he assumed for himself, the path my husband and I assumed for ourselves, and sent us into a journey into mental health that we are still on. There are great days and there are real bad days. And this day, at the end of the worst week of my life, was obviously the worst.

The weird thing is, once that scary word of suicide was out there, it released a pressure valve for him. He talked to a crisis counselor and his therapist, we all worked together with his therapist to come up with a plan when or if this happens again, and he changed medications. Most importantly, he didn’t feel alone anymore. And I was able to stop tip-toeing around this concern that had been making me short of breath since he’d come home, and get the language for how to deal with it.

What in the world does this have to do with writing?

All of this – handling the first real trauma of our little family, realigning what we thought our lives were going to look like, navigating our country’s fucked up mental health system to get our son the help he needed – happened while I was writing Lush Money (previously called The Billionaire’s Prince), editing Lush Money, submitting Lush Money, getting an agent for Lush Money… My professional life was shooting fireworks while my family life was tough.

I’ve been in this organization long enough to know how much trauma and disarray and heartbreak authors deal with while they’re writing happily ever-afters.

So on the Monday, after a week of constant pain, a loss of 3-book deal, and my son suggesting the worst thing a mother can imagine, Angele calls asking me to give an inspiring closing speech.

Of course, I said yes.

Because as unlikely as it was, as inappropriate as it was for me to even consider giving it, the request for me to give this speech was a ray of sun. It was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the courage and foolishness to believe that, since this was the worst week of my life, things could only get better. Right?

I am sciatica-free, my son is taking three classes at NOVA with plans to take a full course load in the fall, and in February, I signed a three-book deal with Carina Press. My first book, Lush Money, will come out in October.

Believe me, it won’t be easy
But it's surely not impossible
And as soon as you see sunlight again
Get up and fight to win.

Thank you.

Pics from an incredible retreat weekend

Now What? Updates on the Publishing Journey

Last month I had BIG NEWS. BIG NEWS is exciting. It gets lots of shares and likes and newsletters sign ups. BIG NEWS brings flowers.

But after the BIG NEWS is the long slow grind of being a soon-to-be-published author. It’s a grind that I’ve craved and signed up for. But there are no flowers other than the emojis I attach to my Tweets as I sit at my desk in my yoga pants.

Here’s what I’ve been up to in the month since I announced that I signed a three-book deal with Carina Press and that my first book would be out in October:

Invited to read at Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC

I was thrilled (yes, I cried) to be asked to read from The Billionaire’s Prince at New York City’s only romance-centric reading salon. Reading in New York…yes, I will be wearing my beret. The event will be July 24, during the Romance Writer’s of America conference, and the incomparable Brenda Jackson will be the special guest. Pinch me. Then come watch me read.

Headshots

headshots_angelinamlopez.png

I’ve never worn fake lashes before. New photos coming soon!

Discussing new titles and series title

One of the cool things about having a signed contract is receiving official email from your publisher asking for stuff. Yes, obviously, the allure will fade, but as a person who’s wanted this for over a decade, it’s really cool right now.

I filled out sheets breaking down the particulars of the three books in the series – The Billionaire’s Prince, The Millionaire’s Rock Star, and The CEO’s Body Guard – and editorial is currently trying to save me from myself and come up with better names for the books and series. I LOVE The Billionaire’s Prince, but the other two titles are a little lame. If anyone else can come up with titles that represent the trope twisting of the books — the money belongs to the women — I’d love to hear it!

Turned in info for cover

It’s remarkable to watch this creation you brought to life while sitting alone at your computer being worked on by editorial, publicity, marketing, sales… Publishing professionals earn a bit of their paycheck working on these letters I strung together in a Word document. Weird. I sent a dense document about my image concepts for the book and I should see my cover by the end of April. You can check out their image inspirations here.

See more images that inspired   The Billionaire’s Prince   on  Pinterest

See more images that inspired The Billionaire’s Prince on Pinterest

Writing and editing

Among all the excitement is the continued day-to-day work. I spend the bulk of most weekdays until 1 p.m. writing the second book in the series. The Millionaire’s Rock Star is about Sofia de Esperanza– the sister in my first book – and the man who made her swear off love. It’s due to my editors in late summer. In the afternoons, I work on my editor’s requested edits for The Billionaire’s Prince. I also work on my book marketing and planning my book launch – which is probably when I feel most shaky about this endeavor I’ve started on.

But I marveled recently about how…content I’ve felt while the world news has been endless amounts of demoralizing yuck. I’m exercising again after a wicked bout of sciatica, my family is safe and healthy. But mostly, I think it’s because of the words. The words, when they come well and swiftly, provide a pillow of comfort. I’m literally doing with my life what I’ve always wanted to do.

Giving closing speech at Washington Romance Writer’s retreat

In a couple of weeks (eep!) I’ll be giving the closing inspirational speech at the Washington DC’s Romance Writer’s Retreat, “In the Company of Writers.” I’ve been going to this writer’s retreat since 2003 and it means a lot to me. It’s where I’ve made my best author friends. It’s where I met my agent. It’s where I got the encouragement to believe I could be a writer. And when I started going, Nora Roberts gave the closing speech!! It’s been a few years since she’d given it, but I still feel like I have some BIG shoes to fill.

With me luck!


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Gantz Family Vineyard: Where "Lush Money" Was Born

Gantz Family Vineyards , the inspiration for “Lush Money”

Gantz Family Vineyards, the inspiration for “Lush Money”

My mother and stepfather did the craziest thing in 2009. They bought a vineyard. Or rather, they bought land with the intention of planting a vineyard.

I was OPPOSED! They had this awesome house on the beach south of San Francisco and why in the world would they want to move away from the city and farm? I didn’t get it, I didn't want to get it.

And then…I fell in love with it.

They asked me to set up a website and social media for their newly christened vineyard, Gantz Family Vineyards, and by some weird happenstance, I realized that I liked doing more than drinking wine. I liked learning about wine growing and winemaking. I liked tracking the evolution of our little vineyard. I liked being a minuscule part of this story about fruit being grown from soil and sold to one of the most prominent Pinot Noir winemakers in the United States. I liked helping my stepdad in our small, personal winery.

And honestly, who’s going to be the butthead that resists going here for family vacations?

So it was with true good fortune that I was there in 2015 when the idea of Lush MoneyWhat if the billionaire was a woman?—came to me. As I searched for a profession for my struggling prince, I looked up from my phone and saw the sunlit vineyards. Suddenly, my prince was a world-renown viticulturist (vine scientist) with a kingdom of struggling vineyards. Suddenly, I had a self-made billionaire businesswoman and a prince with his hands in the dirt.

It was simple and complex and delightful and a way to honor this crazy thing my parents had created.

Last week, I had the supreme luck to announce the sale of The Billionaire’s Prince (now called Lush Money) to Carina Press while visiting my parents at Gantz Family Vineyards. I was taking a UC Davis class for growers with my stepdad, being taught by the same academics who would have been friends with my prince. It was all a little surreal and dreamlike.

Kind of like being a midwestern girl who suddenly finds a California vineyard plopping into her lap in her 30s. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Mom and Clay! Even if I was a bit of a butt about it in the beginning…

I'm Going to be Published!!!!

Writing is always that thing I could do. Other people are good with numbers or can hit a three-point shot or can tie a scarf and instantly look Parisian. I could write. It was my thing.

In the fourth grade I told my mom I wanted to write but — a pragmatic little Virgo — I was afraid I wouldn’t make a living at it. She suggested that I pursue journalism.

So I did. I got a journalism degree at a fantastic university and went on to work for an incredible paper. Journalism forced me to write quick and with impact and — side note — it also was how I met my husband. So, bonus! I’ll never regret the side trip into journalism.

But now, after writing “arthur” when the kindergarten teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, after learning how to spell “author” and practicing at it pretty hard core for the last 18 years, after a whirlwind year of finishing a book and signing with agent extraordinaire Sara Megibow, it’s finally happened.

I’ve been signed. I have a publisher. My book — with a cover and a dedication and a price tag — will be available to purchase. And not just one book. I’ve signed a deal for three books.

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

My book, The Billionaire’s Prince (now called Lush Money), will be published fall 2019 with Carina Press. The Billionaire’s Prince is an enemy-to-lovers story about a billionaire businesswoman who makes a baby deal with a prince in muck boots. It’s outlandish. It’s a tiny little story about how hard we work to protect our hearts. It has winegrowing and greasy pizza eating. We travel from the top corner office of a San Francisco skyscraper to the vineyards of a village kingdom in Spain to a small town in Kansas.

I hope you fall a little in love with my billionaire and prince. I hope you get a little hot as they “work” on their baby deal.

Tee-hee.

You can keep up-to-date on what’s happening with The Billionaire’s Prince — and receive a free book — by signing up for my newsletter here. However, if you just want a reminder when The Billionaire’s Prince is available for purchase, you can sign up here.

Regardless, thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. Thank you for cheering me on as I’ve loved and hated this journey.

Thank you.