Cover Reveal of WANDERLUST!

I love cover reveal days. :) And today is particularly special because this is a contemporary romance I wrote a long time ago (and revised 3000 times since, lol). If you followed me on Blogger way back when, you might remember me talking about WANDERLUST. But the point is, I have been imagining covers for a Very. Long. Time. (since 2008) And I have to say, I love what Berkley came up with. It's got the rockstar thing but is also sweet and sexy and romantic. And I love the summery tones.

Here it is!

About the book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Loving on the Edge series and Off the Clock, a story of sex, love, rock & roll, and a reporter who’s about to learn a new meaning for staying on top of her assignment...  

Restaurant critic Aubrey Bordelon is never at a loss for words to describe her meals in the fancy restaurants of New Orleans. But after her magazine’s high-profile music reporter falls ill, she finds herself out of her element and in a sea of screaming fans awaiting Wanderlust’s lead singer, Lex Logan. The sound of his voice gives her goosebumps, and the stage presence of the hard-bodied rock star takes her breath away. So when he pulls her onstage for a sexy stunt, she knows she’s in real trouble.

Lex doesn’t want to pretend that the sparks on stage between him and Aubrey never happened, but it certainly makes the fact that she’s writing a story on his band all the more dangerous. The last thing he needs is some nosy reporter revealing their problems to the world. But the sexy Southern belle doesn’t give up easily, and soon he’s wondering if the best way to chase her off the story is to coax her into his bed… 

You can pre-order your copy for only $3.99! And this is not a novella, it's a 60k word novel. :)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play 

So what do you think? :)

Teaser Tuesday: Sam & Gibson from BREAK ME DOWN

 


It's Teaser Tuesday time! How about a new snippet of Sam and Gibson from BREAK ME DOWN, the novella coming out in October?

Sam set the beer in front of Tessa and then finally turned to Gibson. She kept her smile poised, but it took everything she had to keep her composure when Gib looked up. He’d let his jaw go a little scruffy, and the dark shadow of a beard only made him more edible. But the look in his eyes was what sucked the air right out of her. So this was what a gazelle must feel like when a starved lion caught site of her. Hunger had flared in that deep blue gaze—open, naked, and without apology.

God. A jolt of desire went straight downward, like a rope being tugged. Hello. Lady parts officially engaged.

 She must’ve reacted, showed some chink in her expression. Because as soon as that look was there, he shuttered it, glancing away and offering a flat, “Hey, Sam.”

Everything inside her deflated—the pin of reality popping the balloon of hope. Ugh. Stupid, stupid man. She wanted to grab that thick dark hair and make him hold the gaze, force him to show her the truth. To be real with her. But of course, she couldn’t touch him anymore. And well, that would look a little weird in the bar. Sexually frustrated manager grabs customer by the hair, makes demands. She swallowed past the tightness in her throat, completely forgetting her plan to look seductive and so over him. “Crown and water.” 

She plunked the glass on the table without grace, causing some of it to slosh over the top.

“Thanks,” he said gruffly. 

Silence ensued and Tessa cleared her throat. “Um, do y’all still have those potato things with the bacon? I’m starving.”

Sam snapped out of her daze and turned to Tessa. “Potato skins. You bet. I’ll tell Angie to put in an order. She’ll be handling your table. I just wanted to come over and say hi.”

Gibson took a long gulp from his glass and then brushed a hand over his wavy hair, trying to smooth the unsmoothable. A move she’d learned was his sign of discomfort. God, this was so ridiculous. 

And she was done with it. So things had gotten a little out of hand during that last training session. He’d been helping her out, bottoming for her so she could learn how to use a whip. They’d been through a few weeks of lessons and everything had gone well. All had been done under the assumption that he was a fellow dominant who would be guiding her from the bottom—a friendly exchange. He wasn’t supposed to get hard when she whipped him. And she wasn’t supposed to get so turned on at the sight of him. And they weren’t supposed to kiss. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to let him push her against a wall and put his hand beneath her skirt to get her off.

But all that had happened, and when she’d tried to wrest control back and take him to bed as her submissive, everything had exploded in her face. He’d snapped out of whatever spell he’d been in from the whipping and had told her that nothing could happen between them because they were both dominants. That he had a masochistic streak not a submissive one. The training had ended right there. And she might’ve been able to let it go, to buy that he was just a dominant with a taste for pain, but her instincts were telling her it was far more than that. Not that it mattered what she thought. For whatever reason, he wasn’t going to take the submissive role. Period. End of sentence.

She wasn’t worth the risk to him.

Fine.

“Is there anything else I can get y’all for now?” she asked, her voice coming out a little too bright, too twangy. Damn, she was going Dolly Parton on their asses. Usually that only happened when customers pushed her to her politeness breaking point. Of course I’ll get your hamburger recooked a third time, sugar. I should’ve known when you said medium you meant fossilized.

Tessa’s brow went up, seeing right through Sam’s act.

“No, I think we’re good, Sam.” Kate cut an annoyed look his brother’s way.

Sam hustled back to the safety of the bar, cringing at how easily she’d gotten knocked off her plan. Damn that man.

 

 

Pre-order the book:

Nook | Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle Canada | Kobo | iBooks |Google Play

 

Hope you enjoyed it! Have a great Tuesday! I'll be starting chapter one, page one, word one of a new book today. Always terrifying. :)

 

 

Teaser Tuesday: Pike from CALL ON ME in all his cocky glory

 

Pike is here in only two weeks!!! Are you ready? Here's a snippet from the king of cockiness...

 

From CALL ON ME:

She startled and stiffened, instantly yanked out of her less than PG thoughts. “What?”

He leaned back in his chair, vague confusion on his face. “I asked if wanted to keep working in that back room? We could rehearse at the studio once they’re close to being ready to record. But until then, it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to cart everyone over there. It’s not that big of a place.”

“Rehearse in the back room?” she repeated, running the words back in her head to make sense of them. “Oh, right, yes, that’s fine. I’m sorry. I thought you said something else.” 

She eyed the small bellini she’d ordered with her meal. Maybe that had been a bad idea. She was hearing things now.

Screw in the bathroom? How the hell had she gotten that out of what he’d said? Of course, now all she could think of was him doing just that—taking her by the elbow and leading her to that dark alcove at the back of the restaurant, pushing her up against that wall with the faded Italian flag on it and putting his hands all over her. She licked her top lip, tasting the sweet remnants of her drink. Pull it together, woman.

Apparently, once her libido had been brave enough to peep its head out, it had decided it was Groundhog Day and needed to run around, declaring spring was coming early. She hated to break the news, but nothing and no one was coming anytime soon.

“What did you think I said?” Pike took a long sip from his drink, his snake charmer eyes never leaving hers.

She followed suit, hoping the fruity drink would cool off more than her throat. “Doesn’t matter.”

His lips twitched. “You’re all red.”

“I think it’s the bellini. I don’t drink very often.”

“No way.” His expression turned smug. “You thought I said something dirty, didn’t you?”

“Huh?” She smoothed her napkin in her lap, trying to loosen the tightness in her voice. “No. Why would I think that? You’ve been very professional since we got here—which I appreciate by the way.”

His gaze slid lazily down her body, like butter melting over toast, and goddamn it all to hell, she could feel her nipples go hard and obvious beneath her bra. No wonder he’d figured it out. Her body was waving all kinds of flags in his face. Hey! Over here! Horny girl, booth eight!

“I am capable of being professional, you know,” he said, but his tone was all sex and sin. “I’m also more than happy to turn that off when the occasion calls for it. So why don’t you tell me what you thought you heard and why it’s gotten you all flushed and nervous?”

“I’m not nervous.”

He grinned.

Dammit. She schooled her face into a stoic expression. “The music is too loud in here. I thought you propositioned me to defile the restroom.”

Hie eyebrow ring twitched. “Now you’re just trying to turn me on with those big, stiff words of yours.”

All she heard was big and stiff at first, but she managed to rein in her temporary insanity. “We’re so not going to do this.”

“Well, probably not here, you’re right. I saw those bathrooms. But—“

“No, I mean, any of this. Flirting. Teasing. Whatever this is.”

He leaned onto his forearms, looking all too pleased that he’d gotten a confession out of her. “You got a guy?”

“No,” she said before she could get wise and fib.

“Then why can’t we do this?”

“Because I’m not interested.”

“Liar.”

She huffed. “Are you always this cocky?”

“No, it’s dialed down right now. I can get way worse.”

She stirred her drink. “Not. Possible.”

His lips spread into a menacing smile. “Challenge accepted.”

***

Pre-order the book: AmazonNook | Kindle UK | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

 

**Note: The paperback version will contain an addtional short story that will feature Dr. Theo Montgomery who has show up in previous books. 

The Journey to Debut Authorhood by Jamie Wesley (plus WIN a Kindle!)

I have a very special guest for y'all today. When I decided to start writing again for real back in 2008-2009, one of my big get-over-my-shyness-and-take-this-seriously steps was to go to a local RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting for the first time. I remember I was so nervous because I'd never really said out loud to anyone besides my immediate family that I wanted to be a writer.

But when I walked in, I took a spot next to someone who seemed to be on her own and not in one of the already established groups of women. Somehow (despite us both being quiet people) we struck up a conversation and I found out it was her very first meeting as well. Sometimes, you just click with people and that's how it was with Jamie.

Since that first meeting, Jamie and I have been friends, each other's writing cheerleaders, and roommates at every national RWA conference. She's cheered me on as I went from unpublished newbie to agented to multi-published. And I've shaken my pom-poms for her as she went from unpublished newbie to Golden Heart nominee to now *drumroll*...debut author!!! She has worked so damn hard to get to this point in her career, and I'm almost as excited for her debut as I was for my own, lol. So without further ado, I'll turn it over to Jamie.

Read it. Enter her contest. And buy her book. (It's only 99 cents for debut week!) You won't be disappointed.

 

 

GUEST AUTHOR: Jamie Wesley

A few years ago, Roni asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest post for her blog while she was on vacation. Before finally agreeing to do it, I hemmed and hawed (and got on her nerves, I’m sure) because I was unpublished and I knew she had all these blog followers. What could I, in my unpubbed glory, offer them?

Fast forward to today. I’m still not sure I have anything of substance to offer, but, as of today, I’m no longer unpublished. The dream I’ve been pursuing for the past five years has come true. After many close calls and frustrating setbacks, I am finally a published author with TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD. And I couldn’t be happier. Or more nervous.

To be perfectly honest, it’s all a bit surreal. To dream and work hard while never quite knowing when you’ll achieve your goal is the name of the publishing game. You work and work for it and then it happens and it’s like “Crap. What have I gotten myself into?”

I write stories that I want to read. I’ve always assumed that if I’m interested in the storyline, then surely someone else will be, too. So I wrote. And now I have to put that theory to the test. It’s scary, but I wouldn’t change anything about the experience. Because this is what I’ve always wanted. I’m living my dream and I’m so grateful. I firmly believe that life is about pursuing your dreams and not having (many) regrets. In 2006, I decided I wanted to work in sports, so I quit my job, moved to a new city, and went to grad school to get a degree in sport management. Now, I work in the sport/entertainment industry.

Following your dreams is a lesson my characters, Noelle and Tate, take to heart. For Noelle, helping people as a psychologist is her dream come true. For Tate, things aren’t so clear, but things don’t stay that way for long. J  

Am I done dreaming? Heck no. I have to visit Spain, a dream I’ve had for twenty years ever since I visited Europe after my eighth grade and we went everywhere but Spain. I was so upset I couldn’t use my two years of Spanish. Just a few days ago, I decided that Spain will happen in 2015. I also want to attend Wimbledon. And the Olympics.  

And yes, I want to publish more books. I can’t wait to get started in making these dreams and more come true. :)

To celebrate the release of TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD, I’m giving away a Kindle. To enter, please answer the following question and fill out the Rafflecopter:

What’s your dream? What did you do or plan on doing to make it happen?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD, the first chapter is posted on my website. 

Book Blurb:

Two radio show hosts. One show. Who will come out on top?

In a moment of restlessness, Tate Grayson sold his multimillion-dollar company and spun his love of sports into a radio talk show. Life, and love, is too short to take seriously—a fact he enjoys rubbing in uptight radio host Noelle Butler’s face.

After the death of her parents, a tragedy she blamed on herself, Noelle vowed to live a controlled, focused life. Now a psychologist, she channels her need for connection into her radio show. But when the arrogant sportscaster next door tells listeners men shouldn’t get married, she’s all too happy to yank the silver spoon out of his overprivileged mouth.

Their heated on-air arguments are a hit, but when the station director forces them to do a joint show for two weeks, Tate and Noelle object. They can’t stand each other, despite the attraction sizzling beneath every interaction. But if they can’t pull the struggling radio station back from the brink, they’ll lose their jobs. Or worse, their hearts.

 Find the book: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads   

Jamie Wesley has been reading romance novels since she was about 12 when her mother left a romance novel, which a friend had given her, on the nightstand. Jamie read it instead, and the rest is history.

She started her first manuscript, a contemporary romance, after she graduated from Northwestern University in 2002 and couldn't find a job. Life got in the way as it often does, i.e. she found a job, and she didn't finish the story. However, she never forgot about it and finally got serious about completing it in 2009. She’s been writing ever since.

Jamie holds a master’s degree in sport management (yes, that's a real thing :-) ) from the University of Texas at Austin, so it probably comes as no surprise that she loves sports and spends an inordinate amount of time rooting for her hometown Dallas’s pro sports teams and her alma maters.

She also adores Walt Disney World, shopping, and pop culture. Want to know if your favorite TV show is going to be canceled or what the newest Disney attraction is? Ask Jamie. She'll probably know the answer.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter

 

Fill Your Shelves for Fall Book Giveaway (Day 2) - 10 Paranormal Romances!

If you missed it yesterday, I'm doing a huge giveaway of over FIFTY romances this week. Each day I'm featuring a different subgenre. Yesterday was contemporary romance, and there's still time to enter that one as well. But today is the day for Paranormal Romance.

Today's prize pack includes TEN Paranormal Romances plus a signed copy of my book, Caught Up In You (erotic romance).

Paranormal Prize Pack: 

 

* Heart of Evil by Heather Graham is not pictures but is included. It was a late addition. :)

AND

 

To Enter: You MUST fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Simply leaving a comment will not enter you for the contest. Contest ends Friday Sept. 20. Winner will be chosen and notified the following week.

Note: Contest for U.S. and Canada Only. Some books in the prizes packs are used. Signed books (besides Caught Up In You) are signed To Roni since these are books from my personal library and were not donated by the author. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


 

*You can enter as many of this week's contests as you would like. You're not limited to only entering one. So be sure to stop by throughout the week. :)

THE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK:

  • Monday: Contemporary Romance
  • Tuesday: Paranormal Romance
  • Wednesday: Erotic Romance
  • Thurday: Young Adult
  • Friday: Historical Romance and A Mixed Genre Grab Bag

 

Reading Sexy Books For or With Your Partner & A Message to the Dudes

Photo by M31 (flickr cc)Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 

Today, I ran across a post by Maisey Yates over at the Peanut Butter on the Keyboard blog on why it's important to keep the sizzle in your marriage. And I ended up having a sideline conversation with her about it where the topic of romance novels came up. Obviously, we both write romance, so we're a bit biased, but both of us see them as relationship enhancers rather than detractors. Life can be crazy and busy and exhausting. And sometimes when we finally roll into bed at night, the last thing on our minds is sexy times. We can forget how nice it can be to lose ourselves in the touch of the person we love most.

And sometimes all we need is a little nudge or reminder. Taking a few minutes in the evening to decompress and read a book that focuses on the greatness of romance can be just the thing that puts us back in the right frame of mind. It reminds us how transcendent kissing and touching (and kinky things, if you're reading one of my books) can be with someone you love. It provides space in our minds again for romance and sex, shoving out all those other things--the dishes, the kids' homework, the pound we gained this week, the project at work-- at least for a little while. It can remind a woman what a sacred space we can create when it's just you and the person you love with nothing else between you.

So when I hear some guys deride romance novels or worse, get jealous of them, I kind of want to smack them on the back of the head. The logic goes something like this: "I should be enough. I don't want her lusting over some fictional dude to get turned on for me." Come on, guys. It's not about wishing you were some other dude. Women need to be in the right state of mind for sex and often it's harder for us to block out the other stuff and focus--reading a book and getting swept away in some sexy story can help refocus us. It makes us fall for you all over again and reminds us--hey, we have this guy we love sitting over there and all this sexy stuff that is going on in this book--well, we can have that too. Right. Now. Hello, there.

It also can make us more adventurous and open to new things in bed. I'm sure there are many men out there right now (especially after the surge of BDSM romance out there now) who are smart enough to not make fun of the thing that made their women say--so, hey, honey, maybe you could tie me up tonight and tell me exactly how to please you. Lol. 

I've had a number of my readers tell me that they even pick out their favorite scenes from my books and read them aloud with their partners. How fun is that? It's a sexy activity and it provides a more comfortable way to convey--hey, maybe we could try something like this. AND, it conveys to the woman that her guy is totally secure in himself and their relationship and is willing to hear her fantasies without all that judgey-ness.

And nothing is sexier than a guy who is confident and secure enough to know that there's no way a fictional hero could compete with him in his woman's eyes. Promise. That. Is. Hot.

So go forth and have a fantastic Valentine's Day!

Blatant self-promotion alert: And if you're looking for a sexy, short read for you and your partner to try out, STILL INTO YOU, my novella, is about a married couple re-kindling the flame by getting a little sexually adventurous and is only 2.99.

Anyone read steamy books with their honey? How does your partner feel about your reading habits?

Must-Read Monday: Give Me Your Old School Romance Picks

I have a confession to make. Despite my love for the romance genre now, I didn't grow up reading classic romance. My mom wasn't a romance reader. So for the longest time, I didn't even realize that the genre existed. But anything I read--suspense, YA, horror--it was the relationship parts that always drew me the most. So when I finally discovered romance, I was hooked.

But what this means is that I missed out on a lot of those "classic" romance authors from the 80s and 90s. And I still haven't read a Nora Roberts. So when my romance friends are discussing their all-time favorite old school romances, I have no frame of reference. Therefore, I am fixing this. : )

This past week I read Whitney, My Love  by Judith McNaught (published in 1985). I had originally picked this one up because it is always referred to as one of the notorious "bodice rippers" that let a hero get away with a rape. And yes, that happened. It was not "forced seduction" that is sometimes used in historicals. It was rape. Period. The hero even calls it such. And even when I knew it was going to happen, I still found myself hoping the hero would stop at the last minute. I will note that the author has since released a revised version that changes that scene and a few others (including a riding crop/punishment scene that I actually thought was hot and would be sad to see go--but I write BDSM so take that for what it's worth, lol.)

This is the current/revised version.


This is the original 1985 version I read.

But despite that scene, the story itself had me freaking captivated. I couldn't stop reading. It was intense and spanned so much time that the whole thing felt epic. So I "got" it. I got why this book was so popular. And it made me go buy a few more McNaught's (based on recs from friends on their favorites, which I have been assured are not "rape-y".) So even with the things that wouldn't be kosher in books today (head-hopping, "big misunderstanding" conflicts, and a hero committing an irredeemable act), I still loved the book. 

And it got me in the mood for more old school romances. So I went to the used bookstore this weekend to scan the shelves. I was overwhelmed, though, because I don't know which is good and which isn't, etc. I ended up leaving with nothing. But when I walked out, I saw that outside they were selling romance flats for 15 dollars. (42 romance novels for 15 dollars!!!) Because my TBR pile is out of control, I forced myself not to buy them. It was painful to walk away, but I was trying to be a good girl. : )

Later, I tweeted about the books and how much I really wanted them. My dear hubs (@TheMrLoren) saw my tweet. He was downstairs, and I was upstairs with kidlet at the time. Well, he snuck out of the house, drove back to the bookstore, and bought me both flats to surprise me. When I came back downstairs, he was walking in with two giant boxes of old school (and some new) romances. In my world, this is more romantic than getting a diamond ring or something, lol. Best. Hubs. Ever. 

Aren't they pretty?

(click here if you want to see bigger pic to read titles)

So now I have a treasure or 84 romances by mostly NYT bestsellers and have no idea where to start. Authors included are Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter, Julia Quinn, Susan Wiggs, Mary Balogh, Fern Michaels, Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick...

The mind boggles.

This is where YOU come in. Old school romance readers, I want to know your favorites, not just from this list.

  • What are your favorites of all time, those books you still remember from years or decades ago?
  • What should be on my syllabus for catching up on the great romances of the last few decades?

 

Should You Write That Potentially Controversial Scene?

Photo by CarbonNYC (Flickr cc)Writing any story is a risk. You're putting your heart there on the page, and people may hate it. And, of course, we want everyone to love our stories, right? But here's the thing: it's an impossible task. There is no book that is going to resonate with everyone. Even the greatest works of fiction have their critics.

So when you sit down and are writing your story and you hit that scene where you think--should I go there? Will this offend/freak out/piss off this A/B/C group of people?--do not cower. If it's right for the story and those characters, then write it. 

Inevitably, in each of my books there is THAT scene--one scene that divides my readers between two camps. Some of my more traditional readers think the scene went a little too far, and then my more seasoned romance and erotic readers declare the scene their favorite. It never fails. What one side hates, the other adores. Though, I do get a lot of converts over from the traditional side with each book, lol. *evil grin* But regardless, there's always that scene. In STILL INTO YOU, it's the scene with my married couple and Ian. In MELT INTO YOU, it's the scene between Andre and Jace. And now with FALL INTO YOU, it's a scene involving a "make me" role play between the hero and heroine.

Do I know these scenes may push some buttons when I'm writing them? Yes. Do I still put them in? Yes. Because that's part of what makes the story interesting. It's not controversy for the sake of controversy, but it's those scenes that make the reader wonder in your next book and keeps them guessing. If I always wrote the safe way, then you'd know exactly what to expect in each book. Who wants that? That's why I love Tiffany Reisz's books so much because I know she's willing to go wherever the hell she wants, lol. So as a reader, it keeps me on my toes. And recently, I read Reflected In You by Sylvia Day. I'm not going to give away the ending, but what she did there at the end made me go all 0.0  I was like--oh, she WENT there. And I loved that. It made the book so much better because she didn't shy away from a truly risky move.

So when you come across that controversial scene in your own book, don't worry about what will so and so think. Put on your big girl (or boy) underoos and write what fits the characters and the story. That's your job. 

Have you ever worried about a scene being too controversial in any of your stories? How do you feel when you run across those scenes in the books of others and it pushes you out of your comfort zone?

Fill-Me-In Friday: Best Writing Links of the Week

Bellagio Fountains

So it's that time of the week. I missed it last week because I was on my mini Vegas vacation (hence the photos), so this will include links from the last two weeks.

Also, you may have noticed (if you're particularly observant) that I've been a bit quieter on the blog and on Twitter lately. This has been by design because I'm under a tight deadline right now and have to put most of my time into that. BUT, it's working. I just tallied last month's word count and I wrote 40k in September. Woot! That's definitely a record for me. Now I have 35k to write by Nov. 1. *breathes into paper bag* So posting may be continue to be a little less regular for a little while longer. 

Alright, on to the links...

*First, I've posted an exclusive snippet of FALL INTO YOU on facebook if you'd like to check that out. (And if you want to follow me there, this is the place I focus on more reader-oriented vs. writer stuff.)

On Writing/Publishing:

What a Concept! Plotting Your Novel Conceptually via Janice Hardy

real actual hilary: Why writing with a book deal is a whole different game

delilah s. dawson: 10 Tips for Barfing a Book

Penguin, 3M E-Book Pilot 3M Goes Live <--Penguin working with a new library ebook service

How to write a bad review - Salon.com

Book Piracy – An Insiders Perspective - Stacey O'Neale's Site

Comparison Doesn’t Work - Books & Such Literary Agency : Books & Such Literary Agency

Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly via Rachelle Gardner

Our hotel bed looked like it should be at The Ranch

Calls for Submissions:

Submissions opportunity: one week only…feedback & 6 week response time via Carina Press -- Great opportunity to get feedback

Now acquiring: Contemporary crack at Carina Press <--after reading Angela James' discussion of contemporary crack, I'm starting to think this is what I write, lol. The drama! The angst! The smex! :)

Now acquiring: New Adult at Carina Press <--I just talked about this genre in a post last week (linked below) and here you go, a publisher actively looking for it

 

On Social Media/Promotion/Marketing:

Is Your Author Website Helping You or Holding You Back? | BookBaby Blog

Why Content Marketing is the New Branding | Copyblogger

Does Social Media Sell Books? « Writerland

 

For Gits and Shiggles (and a little panting):

Channing Tatum opens his New Orleans bar “Saints and Sinners” this weekend - NYPOST.com <--why oh why didn't I plan a trip home to New Orleans this weekend??? I'm tempted to send my mother out to the opening with a camera. ;)

Ten Tips for Bringing BDSM Into Your Bedroom by Joey Hill | TheCelebrityCafe.com <--I get asked about this privately pretty often since my books make some readers curious about how BDSM can work in real life. These are some great, practical tips on getting started.

 

At the Marilyn Manson (and Buckcherry) concert

What You May Have Missed Here:

The New Adult Genre: Here To Stay This Time?

Natalie Bahm and Agent Sara Megibow On Self-Pubbing For a Good Cause

7 Things That Make the Chronic Finisher Put Down a Book

Book Deal Squee-ing: More Loving on the Edge On the Way! <--in case you haven't seen me squaking about it all over the interwebs. :)

 

 

That's all I have for you this week. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

7 Things That Make the Chronic Finisher Put Down a Book

Tired Runner

Photo by Rennett Stowe

I spent the weekend in Vegas for my birthday and had a fabulous time. It was a short trip but a much needed mental break in the middle of my deadline hell. : ) But this also means I'm a back an older post. This problem I talk about in this post is ongoing for me as I find myself less and less forgiving of an opening that doesn't hook me. 

This year I'm doing the 50/50 Challenge (50 books and 50 movies in a year), and I've been doing decent on my pace--though I probably won't hit 50. But I definitely have put down at least ten books that I started and never went back to. So I'm updating this older post with this year's experience.

***

So up until about a year ago, I had this problem when I started reading a book. Once I peeled back the cover of one, I was compelled to finish it. No matter if I was fully enjoying the book or not. It felt like starting a book was like signing some contract. I bought this book. I've chosen to read it. And now I must read it all. I was the Chronic Finisher.

But then a lot changed in my life. I got a book deal and started writing on deadline. My then angelic two year old turned into an intense three year old. And my reading time shrunk to this minuscule sliver of time. So I found myself putting down books that didn't capture my interest. And then I wouldn't get any reading done because I felt like if I was going to read, I needed to finish whatever book I had started. But I wasn't into that book so didn't pick it up at all.

Well, finally, I came to the conclusion that I had to put the Chronic Finisher in rehab. I was missing out on good books by forcing myself to read ones I didn't love. My reading time is too short and my TBR pile too big to be doing that. So lately, I've been giving myself permission to give up on a book if it hasn't grabbed me by page 50 or so. (I know many of you are less forgiving than that, but three chapters or 50 pages feels about right for me. I give it a shot in case it's a slow starter.)

And each time I put down a book in the DNF (did not finish) pile, the writer in me wants to evaluate WHY I didn't feel compelled to finish it. What was bad enough to defeat the chronic finisher? Here's what I've discovered.

What Makes Even the Chronic Finisher Put Down a Book

 

1. Didn't connect with the characters

If I can't relate to the hero or heroine at all or if I don't like them, I find it next to impossible to get into the book. I must be emotionally connected by chapter 3 at the very latest. This is probably the most common reason I put a book down.

2. There was no chemistry or not enough build-up between the hero and heroine in a romance.

Obviously, I write sexy romance and enjoy reading it. But nothing will bore me quicker than throwing two people together when there hasn't been any tension or chemistry set up beforehand. This doesn't mean you can't have the characters get together quickly, but the author better have done a fabulous job building up that tension. (Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun comes to mind for a great example of how to do this right. The characters have a love scene very quickly, but the setup and chemistry are FABulous so it feels like the right time.)

3. This feels familiar...

Tired plots and clichés. Last year, this has happened most in the YA paranormal genre for me. If a book is going to have a girl meeting dangerous, mysterious new guy--there better be a helluva twist to make it different from all the other stories out there like that. 

4. The BIG secret is the only sense of tension in the book.

I am fine with a secret in a plot. That can be great. (And by secret, I don't mean twist we don't see coming. That's something different. I mean we, the readers, know there is a secret.) But what I will not put up with for long is a book that drags out revealing what the BIG secret is to the reader for no apparent reason but to pull you along. This is when characters keep almost revealing what the big, bad thing is, but then someone walks into the room and interrupts them. Gah! I'm much more a fan of where the reader may know the character's secret early on, but the hero or heroine is keeping it from another character for good reason.

5. Bad writing

I know I'm picky. I'm a writer so I'm going to see things now that I wouldn't have probably picked up when I was only a reader. For instance, an opening scene where the character is looking in a mirror and describing herself is cliche. Writer me groans. A reader may not care. Or if there is lots of telling and no showing, I'll get turned off by it. A few of these things here and there won't necessarily make me put down a book, but a consistent appearance of things like that will make me close the book. (And if it's exclamation points on every page, I'll close it regardless since it's a pet peeve of mine and usually indicates beginner writing.) With all the publishing options out there, I've grown a bit more careful and am reading sample pages. Because some books are edited and some you can tell are by a first time writer who let their Aunt Ruth "edit".

6. Nothing to get passionate about

This one is new for me and a little harder to define. I've started to read books that were...fine. The writing was good, the characters were interesting enough, there wasn't anything I could point to that was bad. BUT at the same time, when I put these books down, I didn't find myself thinking about the book or that desperate to get back to it. I didn't feel passionate about anything in the book. It's kind of a "I could take it or leave it" feeling. Like, if I had nothing better to do, I'd read it. In the past, these would've been books I'd make myself finish. Now I'm at the point that I just move on. The TBR pile is too big to waste time on something I'm ambivalent about. (This is also the one that drives me most crazy as a writer because I want to know WHY I'm ambivalent so that I don't make those mistakes in my own writing.)

7. *Yawn* Boring....

This one is obvious I'm sure, but I need a book to hook and excite me. If I'm at page fifty and I don't give a crap what happens, then you've bored me. You should have me by chapter one. If the book goes on and on with description and setting up characters and not giving me any true action or conflict, I'm bored. Maybe that's a result of our fast-moving culture, but it is what it is. A book is entertainment, so entertain me. Dance, monkey, dance. :)

All right, so those are my top reasons for putting down a book. What are some of yours? How long do you give a book to hook you? Are you a chronic finisher?

The Movie You Wish You Could've Seen on the Big Screen

 

Photo via Endless Inspiration

Hope everyone had a great weekend. And happy belated Father's Day to any of you dads out there. : )

So, if any of you have hung around here for a while, you probably know that my favorite movie of all time is Dirty Dancing. In fact, I credit that movie with planting the seed that would eventually grow me into a romance writer. But even though it's my most fave movie ever, I'd never seen it on the big screen. When it came out, I was pretty young (too young to even know what most of the stuff in the movie was except the dancing), so I only saw it on video probably a year after it came out.

Then last week, I found out that my local theater was showing Dirty Dancing on the big screen one night only and for only a dollar. How awesome is that? So of course, I emailed my friend Jamie Wesley, an equally die hard fan to go with me.

It was so much fun to see the movie in all its full screen glory. The theater was sold out and more than one of us were lipsyncing lines and the songs. And of course there was clapping for "I carried a watermelon" and "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." And I think my movie date (I'm looking at you, Jamie) may have recited the entire monologue of  Baby's "I did it for nothing?!" speech.

A good time was had by all. : ) I think the theater is doing Sixteen Candles like this soon too, so I'm going to try to go to that one as well. LOVE that movie. And it's another I've never seen on the big screen.

This weekend I also managed to finish one book and read another short novella (novelette?). And as always, when I enjoy something I want to pass it on. Here's what I read:

Blurb:

A friend’s duty. 

Tyler Murphy was an LAPD detective, single and happy—until a near-fatal tragedy crippled his friend, fellow detective Eric Catalano. While Tyler supported Eric, he also became a shoulder for Eric’s wife, Delaney, to lean on. But with one naughty suggestion from Eric, a drunken night with Delaney spilled into erotic abandon. Before it was over, Tyler saw his best friend’s wife as a woman and yearned for more. When Eric struggled to deal with the aftermath, Delaney begged Tyler to leave. Crushed, he fled to Louisiana, hoping to escape his longing for the one woman he could never have again…and unaware of what he’d left behind. 

A lover’s desire. 

After two years of living with regret, Tyler finds Delaney on his doorstep, her husband having abandoned her long ago. She’s protecting a shocking secret and desperately needs refuge from a stalker determined to see her dead. As they fight to stay alive and catch the killer, they struggle to resolve the guilt of their past pleasures. But they can’t deny that what was once a spark is now a flame burning out of control. To possess Delaney—body and soul—Tyler must heal her pain and thwart the evil that’s a mere breath behind her…

I always love Shayla's books. If you haven't read her Wicked Lovers series, definitely check them out. This one is far along in the series but can stand alone. If you want to start from the beginning, Wicked Ties is the first one.

And then I also read this short little novella--Restraint by Charlotte Stein. It was funny and awkward and sexy all at the same time. The cover is a little...retro, but don't let that scare you off. :)

Blurb:

Marnie Lewis is certain that one of her friends – handsome but awkward Brandon – hates her guts. The last thing she wants to do is go on a luscious weekend away with him and a few other buddies, to a cabin in the woods. But when she catches Brandon doing something very dirty after a night spent listening to her relate some of her sexcapades to everyone, she can’t resist pushing his buttons a little harder. He might seem like a prude, but Marnie suspects he likes a little dirty talk. And Marnie has no problems inciting his long dormant desires.

Good books and good movies. I'd say that was an all around awesome week. :)

So tell me, what movie do you wish you could see on the big screen?

Xtra, Xtra: Best Writing Links of the Week #atozchallenge

 

 

It's that time of the week again--best links! (And yes, I'm stretching the a to z challenge thing today, but come one--it's X. Ugh.) So here we go...

On Writing/Publishing:
For Random Fun and Info:
What You May Have Missed Here:

(my post at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard)
Alright, that's all I've got this week. What have been some of your favorite links of the week? 
Have a great weekend!

Testing Your Opening Scene - 5 Steps #atozchallenge

Photo by Tawheed Manzoor (click photo for link)This weekend I had the privilege of critiquing a few opening pages for two friends (along with revising my own opening scene). And as I was critting/revising, I was reminded just how hard it is to work everything you need to in that crucial opening scene without weighing it down with things like backstory.

It's a very delicate dance, getting that opening scene just right. And it's an important one because those first 5-10 pages may be all you have to impress an agent...or later on, a reader. So even though every page of your book deserves a critical eye, the opening needs to be honed and molded to near perfection.

One of my favorite writing books is Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan Rosenfeld (If you don't have it, get it. The book breaks down the elements of a scene and also goes over types of scenes--dramatic/contemplative/action/flashback etc.) Anyway, the book also has a great litmus test for what needs to be present in an opening scene.

This doesn't cover everything like what NOT to put in an opening scene (loads of backstory, endless setting descriptions, having your character wake up for the day, having your character looking in the mirror to describe herself, etc.)

But below are the basic components. 

 

Litmus Test for Your Novel's Opening

I'll put my novella, STILL INTO YOU (releases June 3), to the test as an example.

1. A challenge to your protagonist's status quo.

My hero realizes that he and his wife skipped their usual, unstated appointment to make love. (They've been married, have children, and have settled into a routine of a certain night once a week.) Instead of being with each other, they'd chosen to watch Letterman and he hadn't even noticed until the next morning

 

2. An antagonist for your character to encounter. (Doesn't have to be THE antagonist.)

Though there is a human antagonist eventually in the story, the real antagonist in the opening scene is the looming threat of the marriage failing.

 

3. Introduce your protagonist's immediate intentions.

My hero intends to do everything in his power to keep his marriage together. He still loves his wife and is going to prove that he's still the man for her. 

 

4. A glimpse into your MC's history/personality/motivation.

I always try to open with a "glimpse into ordinary life". A BRIEF glimpse. In this case, we see the couple getting ready for work--talking, but it's stilted, routine, distant. You see the hero trying to get his wife to talk about the previous night but she's on autopilot trying to get out the door.

 

5. The protagonist makes a decision that leads immediately to more complications.

Seth, the hero, decides he's going to show his wife that there is still something between them besides mutual respect. He's going to go to his brother-in-law, Jace (from CRASH), for help. Seth's initial plan is pretty mild, but it's going to lead to something much bigger (and of course, more complications.)

 

Therefore, even though my opening scene is only the jumping off point of the story and doesn't introduce the broader hook, it's the setup of the plot and enough conflict and action to whet the appetite to keep turning the page (hopefully!) to see how much more complicated things are going to get. 

These five points can't also be recycled and used to test out your Act 1 (or the first 1/3 of your book). Act 1 mimics this structure on a broader level. 

And once you embed this structure in your brain, it will eventually come naturally without even thinking about it.

So what do you think? Are these components a good summary of what you like to read/write in an opening scene? Think back to your favorite books or movies, do they follow these guidelines? Can you think of any other "must haves" in an opening?

*This is a revamped post from 2011

Round-Up Time: Best Writing Links of the Week #atozchallenge

 It's that time of the week again. Time to round up the best writing links I've come across this week (and last week since I missed doing a round up while I was out of town.)

Here we go...

On Writing/Publishing:

Sara Megibow Sells Romance – What Do You Need To Know About Submissions? | Romance University

Four Secrets About Writer's Conference Faculty - Marcy Kennedy

Pens for Paws Auction <--Check out a good cause

Reading and Writing Negative Reviews | Wistfully Linda

Writing Conferences–Beware of Crossing Deer « Kristen Lamb's Blog

Julie Anne Lindsey | Don’t Quit Your Day Job «Musings from the Slush Pile

Sierra Godfrey: Back away slowly from 1-star reviews

Sierra Godfrey: A year of baby and writing

Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller | The Red Pen of Doom

Romance novelists are secret, epic army of man boosters | The Red Pen of Doom

My favorite quality in a romance novel - Kat Latham

 

On Blogging/Social Networking/Business:

58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love | Copyblogger

What Mascara, Thai Food & Julia Child Can Teach Us About Social Media Success - Kristen Lamb

The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People | Copyblogger <--LOVE this

 

What You May Have Missed Here in the A to Z Challenge:


 

Got Rhythm? Finding It In Your Story

 

 

How To Dish Out Backstory In Digestible Bites 

 

 

Ian Somerhalder - Boyfriend of the Week

 

 

Kink & BDSM 101 - What It Is & Why It's So Popular In Books

 

 

Like Me! - How to Create Sympathetic Characters

 

 

Man Up: Writing Male POV

 

 

The (Not So) Dreaded Synopsis

 

 

Orlando Bloom - Boyfriend of the Week

 

 

Picky, Picky - The Danger of Authors Being Too Clique-y on Twitter

 

 

Question: Book Series/TV Show You Wish You Could Experience Again for the 1st Time

 

Whew, all right, that's all two weeks worth. What have been some of your favorite links this week?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

 

Orlando Bloom - Boyfriend of the Week #atozchalleng

I'm back from the RT Convention. It was a lot of fun, and I went to some super fabulous workshops. Plus, the food in Chicago is just ridiculous--some of the best food I've ever eaten--and I'm from New Orleans, so that's saying something. But I'm definitely exhausted and ready to get back to my normal routine, which in this case is madly revising my book so I can turn it in.

But also part of my routine...the Boyfriend of the Week. : ) And since I'm still doing the A to Z Challenge, I needed a boyfriend that started with an O. Luckily, Mr. Orlando Bloom was available. : )  Enjoy! 

Any Orlando fans out there?