Teaser Tuesday: Annabeth Albert & Return to Sender

Teaser Tuesday: Return to Sender

Hi! Thanks to Sidney for hosting me! I liked Sidney’s post on Goal Setting. As I get ready for my first book release on Wednesday, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to goals. I started my first book all the way back in 2002. I finished that book in 2005, joined RWA, and set a goal of being published within the year. I saw Cherry Adair speak at nationals in 2005, and she called goals “dreams with deadlines.” So I set a lot of dreams with deadlines. But life didn’t exactly work out as I planned. I didn’t sell that year—or the next or the year after that. However, I never stopped setting goals—I learned to set more realistic short-term goals and focus on things I could control like word count and opening my work-in-progress each day, but I also never stopped working towards the big goals. Seven years, six books, and hundreds of query letters later, I finally sold novel #6 to Ellora’s Cave.

I think one of the reasons I finally sold was that I realized that it wasn’t enough for me to have goals—my characters needed them too. Being able to set concrete story goals for my characters was a huge breakthrough for me as a writer. I realized that each of my characters needed a dream-with-a-deadline—it wasn’t enough to have a meet-cute with lots of sizzling chemistry if the hero and heroine’s goals never conflicted. (We won’t discuss how many Goal, Motivation, Conflict seminars and articles it took before this light bulb finally went off . . .)

Not surprisingly, goals play a huge part in my debut, RETURN TO SENDER. Bree is the embodiment of John Lennon’s famous quote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Thirteen years ago, Bree was a high school senior with all sorts of goals and plans. Then she got pregnant, and everything changed. Now, she’s a single mother and owns a small coffee shop. She never would have made it if she hadn’t been able to adapt and set new goals for herself. Her current big goal? Provide a good example for her teen daughter. Even if that means not dating.

Her nemesis, Jack Donovan is also a goal-oriented person. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, his goals have been the same as Bree’s. He’s spent years competing with Bree—high school awards, Valedictorian, the condo-with-the-view, and prime downtown real estate. His current goal?  Convince Bree to finally give into the white-hot chemistry between them.

Watching Bree and Jack struggle when their goals collided with each other was a whole lot of fun for me as a writer. Now that I’ve sold, I have a whole new set of dreams-with-deadlines to work towards. I sold my second story very quickly after the first sale (a hot m/m Olympic swimmer story in the Going for Gold anthology), and I have a goal of selling at least one more before the end of the year and having one more on submission (two sales would be awesome, but I’m working on that whole realistic thing . . .)

Now I want to know about YOUR goals. Did you have any big goals seven years ago? Did you meet them? What’s your current dream-with-a-deadline? Do you like setting goals or do you find them depressing? If you’re a writer, do you find GMC easy or frustrating?

Interested in learning more about Jack and Bree’s goals? RETURN TO SENDER is out October 3rd from Ellora’s Cave:

Jack Donovan and Bree Hendricks have been in hot competition since their school days, whether it’s tussling over the best apartment or bickering over local leash laws. Bree never turns down a challenge, so when her new toy in its brown paper packaging is delivered to Jack’s doorstep by mistake, he seizes this perfect opportunity to make her act on the long-simmering attraction between them.

Bree is determined to set a good example for her teenage daughter, and that means no flirting, no flings and definitely no one-night stands. But a bout of saucy cybersex demonstrating her new dildo? There’s no danger in that. Unless Bree allows her heart to become involved…

Here’s a little excerpt from Chapter One:

The red dildo fell into Jack Donovan’s lap with a friendly little plop. He peered into the empty box, wondering what unlucky and obviously very horny sap was stuck cuddling the land-use management text Jack had ordered. His laugh startled the dogs from their place on his oversized leather couch. Holmes cocked his head, trying to decide if there was something worth getting off the couch for. Cocked. Jack laughed harder.

Watson, always ready for a new chew toy, came to investigate. He sat back on his haunches, craggy brown face looking just pathetic enough to merit a pat. But no way was the king of chewed-up soccer balls getting his paws on the Gladiator Stallion 900. The shrink-wrapped package announced the dildo’s name in bold red lettering embossed on gold foil. This was one expensive-looking piece of rubber. Correction, “space age, real-feel silicone therma-skin.” The back of the box had tips for “maximizing the real-skin sensations.”

“Not for you,” Jack told Watson firmly. Dejected, the chocolate lab mix waddled back to the couch.

But who was the toy for? Jack’s ass clenched. No way in hell had he ordered it by mistake. Picking up the shipping box again, he pieced the label back together. Bree Hendricks. This time his laugh was enough to get both dogs off the couch. Holmes barked but Jack couldn’t stop until he ran out of air. Bree ordering a dildo? No way. But as the shock wore off, heat rushed to his cock at the idea of his favorite coffee shop owner bent over her laptop, her auburn hair falling forward to frame her face and a rosy glow rising on her cheeks as she picked out the perfect sex toy. The image was as hot as it was improbable.

This was, after all, Bree. The woman who could write him a three page email on a simple zoning change before City Council. His neighbor, frenemy and the girl who broke his—nothing. They’d been stupid young kids was all. From the moment he’d met Bree back in Junior High, they’d been in competition. Grades and awards and every stupid dare their mutual friends thought up. And if every now and then he thought about senior prom, the smell of her hair, the slide of her satin dress against his hand, it was quickly followed by the memory of her running after her way-cooler-than-Jack boyfriend. Leaving Jack with—nothing. She’d broken nothing. Except maybe his ego.

Almost twenty years after that first dare, Bree still seemed to live to argue with Jack. And clearly all the times she’d ignored his advances had not stemmed from a lack of interest in sex. No, the Gladiator vibrating cock proved that she most certainly had a healthy sexual appetite.

A nice neighbor would re-package the toy, put it in the correct mail box and never mention it again. But Jack was tired of being nice, of pretending the air didn’t crackle every time Bree walked by. And hell if he could forget that Bree collected sex toys. Along with coalitions of small business owners opposed to expansion by Jack’s clients, and signatures to limit off-leash areas for dogs at the park. He glanced over at the dogs. Holmes snored softly, while Watson licked his butt.

“Oh yeah. I can use this.” He picked up his phone.


Annabeth Albert is a Pacific Northwest writer. She’s a big fan of public goal setting—join her on twitter @Annabeth Albert or facebook to find out more. Website: http://www.annabethalbert.com

RETURN TO SENDER is out October 3rd from Ellora’s Cave, but you can add it to your to-read list today: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16007160-return-to-sender


4 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday: Annabeth Albert & Return to Sender

  1. Edie Danford says:

    Love this, Annabeth! Awesome insight into how both goals AND the readjustment of goals are necessary. For me, my processes change and understandings change and I change and figuring all that out–and making it all fit–can be so hard. So, go you for sticking with it and reaching your dream! And can I just say how happy I am that you did? Cuz, that excerpt and that cover are HAWT! My goals are really in flux right now–but the biggest one is to have fun when I’m writing. Sometimes I have to just go back to basics, you know? Oh, and GMC = frustrating! 🙂

  2. Denise says:

    My goal is to finish my novel by year’s end, maybe even by the end of November if NaNoWriMo goes as planned. Oh, and not to tick of my crit partners 🙂

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