Today I am so pleased to welcome Annabeth Albert to Joyfully Jay. Annabeth has come to talk to us about her latest release, At Attention (which I reviewed yesterday and really enjoyed!). She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

At Attention Banner


Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I’m celebrating the release of AT ATTENTION which stars a widowed Navy SEAL and his best-friend’s little brother. People always want to know where I get my inspiration from? Where do these characters come from? This is a hard question because a lot of time a character strolls onto the page in a secondary role and I squint at the screen as the first inkling arrives that this could be a person with a meaty story for a future book. Other times, I’ll read a news story or see a picture and I’ll wonder about the person and that will send the plot bunnies rolling in. But for me, the real question is how do I find the right partner for that plot bunny hero, whether it’s a secondary character turned into hero material or a plot bunny demanding a story. How do I find the right match for a hero?

Teaser GraphicThe answer always lies in getting to know one of the heroes first. In the case of Apollo, my SEAL, he appears first in OFF BASE, briefly. I knew he was a SEAL lieutenant, a respected man, and I knew he was a widower with kids.  He was hurting, but stoic. My plot bunny factory was working overtime as soon as I finished OFF BASE. But I had to find him the right partner.  Once I know the first hero, I like to ask some questions to find their match:

  • Who will drive this person crazy? Yes, I know it’s a romance, but I want to challenge them, force them to grow and change, and conflict is the meat of all romance novels. No conflict, no growth, no interesting book. So I look first for a challenge.
  • Who is the last person they should end up with? Yup. More fodder for conflict. If this person is all sorts of wrong for my hero, I want to write the book that much more.
  • Who do they want but have never had? Maybe they long for their best friend or a too-young neighbor or the one that got away in high school. All the better if the answer to this question is also the same as the first two questions. If my hero wants this person but they drive him crazy and he really shouldn’t be with them… BINGO! We have the start of their match.
  • How does my hero need to grow? What qualities are lacking in his life right now? I like to try to give some of these things to my hero’s partner to balance them out. In the case of Dylan and Apollo, I gave Dylan a sunny optimism to balance Apollo’s pragmatic grief. And above all else, I made Dylan fun because Apollo really needs that in his life in order to start his growth arc.
  • What will their happy ending require? This is similar to the last question, but sometimes yields surprising answers. I want a pairing with the greatest emotional impact, where each will grow and change, and knowing what I want that happy ending to look like helps me to flesh out the character more.

Gradually, the first hero’s match emerges and starts to take shape with an arc of their own. I flesh out the details based on how it will best serve the conflict and growth. Even simple things like how big of a family the love match has or what occupation to give them are filtered through what will serve the story the best, what will cause the other person to grow the most, what will yield that truly romantic happy ending.

Then, only when I have a good sense of the characters do I go hunting some visual inspiration and start gathering the little details and quirks that will really bring both characters to life. I like to have all this down before I start writing, but sometimes new and interesting developments crop up while writing which is always exciting.

Do you have a favorite odd-couple pairing in a book or TV show? Two characters that should drive each other crazy but are actually perfect for each other. Share! And if you’d like to find out how perfect Dylan and Apollo are for each other, check out AT ATTENTION!


Book CoverLieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Book Two of the Out of Uniform series

This book is approximately 73,000 words


Author PicAnnabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.


Annabeth has brought a $20 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky reader on her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter. 

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FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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