Thursday, April 24, 2014

Think you know romance? Think again!

What’s a romance? You may think you know, but…

The standard definition of a romance has been undergoing some change lately, but the definition of romance has always been changing.

Right now, most of us see a romance as a love story between a man and a woman that contains a happy ending, with the heroine going off with Mr. Right. But that wasn’t always the case.

Centuries ago, people married for reasons other than love. They married for money, status or property, and love was something found outside marriage. Romeo and Juliet is a pretty famous romance, but it doesn’t have a happy ending, unless your idea of a good HEA is uniting in the afterlife.

Other forms of art reflected the belief that love was found outside marriage. Medieval troubadours traveled from castle to castle and sang about the joys of courtly love and romantic love. Art often depicted the clash between marriage and love, such as Tintoretto’s Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan (1545).

When did romance change, and why?

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) by Samuel Richardson, is often mentioned as the first romance novel. The main point, however, was not that the title character had found love but that her persistent rejections of the so-called hero’s attentions finally got her the prize: marriage.

A less moralistic novel, and one that’s often cited as the best of the genre, is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). Despite its somewhat archaic style, it’s one of the most popular novels in English Literature, and for very good reasons. It doesn’t preach the way Pamela does, but instead reflects the real concerns young women had during the Regency: marrying well and marrying for love, or at least respect. Although arranged marriages for the purpose of uniting property or increasing wealth were still a custom in our culture, the desirability of gaining a life with a partner founded on love rather than money was taking hold, and is reflected in the literature of the time.

Each era has produced literature that’s reflective of its time, and romance novels reflect their eras, too. As the love ideal took hold, more romances were written that reflect the joy of love rather than its discouraging end, and cautionary tales took back seat to entertainment.

As time went on, and as mores altered, romances became steadily more erotic. The Flame and the Flower (1972) by Kathleen Woodiwiss is viewed as the first modern romance novel, even though it’s a sequel to Petals on the River. Both are quite racy compared to, say, Austen, and reflect changed attitudes regarding sex before marriage.

Our century

Perhaps the greatest changes have occurred in the last few years. First came chick lit, in which the heroine’s goal is not finding Mr. Right but hooking up with Mr. Right Now. Then writers of digital romance broke the hetero barrier and started writing LGBT romance, which doesn’t require the love story to be between a man and a woman. I’m reliably informed that the biggest consumers of M/M romance aren’t gay guys but hetero females. Go figure!

~~~oOo~~~


Rakes in Tartan

Set in 1816, my book reflects the mores and customs of the Regency. Heirs to their clans’ lairdships, Andrew MacReiver and Tor Kilburn must find suitable brides. As did many noblemen of the time, they journeyed to London for the social season after attending Oxford. They hoped to find love, but not a Nordic fairy, a dragon and a vampire assassin.

But, being a book written in the 21st century rather than the 19th, Rakes in Tartan ends happily.

Here’s what some reviewers have said about the previous books in the Highland Vampires series--These are customer reviews from Amazon.


By jmaze
Temptation in Tartan is the first book I've read by Suz deMello. It won't be the last. The book is well written, easy to follow and easy to read… I would highly recommend the book and I hope that she plans another book to follow in this one’s stead.

RE: Desire in Tartan:
Five stars..."Engrossing... I was grabbed from the start of the book..." 
--S.J. Foulkes (Amazon.com)
Five stars... "Super Read!!!... I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. I couldn't put it down and read it in one day." 
--Becca (Amazon.com)
Five stars..."Such a wonderful read!!!... Such a wonderful book... Love this series!" 
--Kimberly Jaksina (Amazon.com)





About Suz deMello

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello has written seventeen novels, plus several short stories and non-fiction articles. She writes in numerous genres including romance, mystery, paranormal, historical, contemporary comedy and erotica. She’s a freelance editor who’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, Liquid Silver Books and Etopia Press. She also takes on private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in PW, Kirkus and Booklist, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, she resides in northern California. Her passion is world travel, and she’s left the US over a dozen times, including stints working overseas for many months. Right now, she's working on her next manuscript and planning her next trip.


Her blog is at http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com. Find her reading picks @ReadThis4fun on Twitter, and befriend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SueSwift ). Her sites are at http://www.sue-swift.com and http://www.suzdemello.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#WriterlyWisdomWednesday: Vonnie Davis on Dialog #WriteTip



HOW DO YOUR CHARACTERS TALK?

Thank you, Terri, for allowing me to visit your blog today to discuss the backbone of any good story—the dialog. Can you imagine reading a book without hearing the characters speak? Dialog doesn’t just add verbal liveliness to a story, but tells us about the person talking and a little about the person being spoken to. It also drives us through the literary dream world we’re creating for our readers.

To write dialog that pulls the reader deeper into the story, there are some things the author must know about the characters.

Age—Teenagers use slang that grandmas, like me, seldom use. “You see what I’m sayin’?” “True that” I love it when an author takes the time to incorporate a young child’s speech patterns into a story. “But, Mommy, I like da wed shoes.” Let me tell you, I’m in love with the child already and I’m reaching for my charge card.

Sex—Men speak differently than women. They typically use shorter sentences or grunts. Sometimes, a stronger peppering of cuss words too. Women will often use the phrase “I feel like…” A man, not so much. Also, we talk differently around members of the opposite sex than we do around a group of our own sex. Listen to people talk in the mall or in a restaurant. There’s “girl talk” and then there’s “woman to man” talk. No, it doesn’t always contain flirting, but there are subtle differences.

Education—Has your character graduated from high school or college? Vocabulary levels will differ to a degree between the two education levels, not much, but enough to be noticeable.

Character’s Background—Different parts of the country speak differently. Some say soda; some say soda pop, or simply pop. Some areas drop the g’s off the endings of words (something more prone in an older person than someone younger). English speaking people of other nationalities are less prone to use contractions.

Location of Your Story—If your story takes place in another country, pick a half-dozen to a dozen words to use in that country’s native tongue. Words readers will find easily recognizable. For example, in my stories set in Paris, I used oui for yes, cherie for sweetheart, mon ami for my friend, or cafĂ© au lait for coffee with cream. In my Scottish paranormals, I made a list of words to consistently use to add flavor and sense of place. Remember any words written in a language other than English go in italics.

Dialog tags are a sign of weak writing, so avoid them. I was shocked the first time my agent sent back a manuscript with every dialog tag crossed out and a note in the comments section—“You can do better. This is a sign of weak writing. Use your action beats to indicate who is speaking. This will strengthen your writing.”

Well, folks, I didn’t even know what an action beat was! I had a good pity cry over that…and I don’t mean a few weepy tears, either. How was I to keep dialog straight? My readers would be confused? How would removing “he said/she said’s” strengthen my writing?

So, I practiced and worked and rewrote until I could turn an 85,000 word manuscript over to my editor for her to read and edit with zero said tags. My biggest challenge was the tag “he/she whispered.” I don’t know why that one was so hard for me to master, but I was all kinds of tickled when I finally figured it out.

Yes, writing without said tags requires more work for the author, but it creates a more vibrant visual for our reader. Let me give you a quick example.

1.) “Was that Aaron’s truck I just saw leaving?” Taylor asked when he stormed in.


2.) Taylor stormed into the kitchen and tossed his keys on the counter, their clanging disturbing the quiet and making Emma wince. Taylor’s brown eyes narrowed and his face reddened with anger beneath his dark scruff of beard. “Was that Aaron’s truck I just saw leaving?”

Now, which example gave you the better visual? The deeper emotion—both his and hers? Which one drew you deeper into the scene? Hopefully, the one without the “said tag.” Yes, example 2 was more work for me, but my goal is to create page turners that pull you deeper into the literary dream world I’m creating for you. To do that, I must work at it, even if it means rewriting it a dozen times.

As a reader, I find dialog tags annoying, especially the he/she said after a question mark. Think about it. A question mark only has one function. One. To indicate that the previous string of words were asked in a questioning manner. So why would you insult your readers’ intelligence by slapping on he/she said afterward as if they were too dumb to know what that “?” meant? We cannot insult our readers this way. We entertain, we transport them to other worlds, we even educate to a degree, but we never, ever insult their intelligence.


~~~oOo~~~


Vonnie Davis is an award-winning, international author who likens herself to a French croissant: warm, crusty, wrinkled and a tad flaky—and best served with strong coffee. With an English degree and a career as a technical writer, making the shift to romance writer should have been a breeze. Too bad she hadn’t a clue. Now she realizes the learning curve of a good writer is continual. She began her career with smaller presses, but now writes paranormal and contemporary romance, both with a splash of suspense, exclusively for LoveSwept/Random House and HarperImpulse. She lives in southern Virginia with her husband who doesn’t seem to mind her craziness; perhaps because he’s a writer too.

Although the title to this novella is Santa Wore Leathers, it is a romance for all seasons. Plus it kicks off my Firemen’s Wild Heat series with many of the hunky fire and marine rescue personnel you’ll meet in this novella.


Take one man-shy reporter, a gorgeous ex-Navy SEAL turned firefighter, add in a thong-stealing dog… and Christmas will never be the same again!

There’s only one thing on Becca Sinclair’s Christmas list this holiday season – her very own column in the local paper. And if she can build a huge blog following, her wish just might come true.

Enter Dan ‘Wolf’ Wolford aka the man-whore next door and the new star of Becca’s popular, post-divorce blog about men. A Navy SEAL turned commander of the Florida Marine Rescue Unit, Wolf’s the very definition of the word alpha – and with an endless rotation of women on his doorstep, this hunk on a Harley has Becca and her female followers all hot and bothered!

All Becca wants for Christmas is her newspaper column, right? But when she finds herself the target of Wolf’s irresistible attentions, her snarky comebacks become less and less convincing and, suddenly, she’s not so sure anymore…

BUY LINKS: 



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Where There is Will by Monica Epstein #Romance

WHERE THERE IS WILL by Monica Epstein
Genre: Women’s fiction/Romance
Word count: 88,000
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication dates: World-wide release April 11, 2014 (Currently available for Kindle)

When she moves to London following her divorce, Michelle Loeser has no interest in looking for love. She needs to focus on surviving without her ex’s six-figure income, coping with a severe fear of heights, and rebuilding her confidence. And if she keeps her promise to her best friend, she’ll pursue her passion for writing too.

Will Sheridan found his passion early in life. At age eleven, he was cast in the starring role in a film series. Now, at the age of 25, he’s a celebrity at a crossroads in his career. He has no time for women who don’t understand his priorities.

When Will offers to help Michelle acclimate to the unfamiliar city in exchange for cooking lessons, she figures what’s the harm? But jealous fans and coworkers, eager paparazzi, and a distrustful mother see it differently.

Buy Links:

Amazon US Kindle edition: http://amzn.com/B00HJE46UA
Amazon US Paperback edition: http://amzn.com/1628302291

Amazon UK Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HJE46UA


~~~oOo~~~


Excerpt:

Because we had a product release to the American market fast approaching, I stayed late at the office, picked up a bite to eat before boarding the Tube, and headed straight to Caryn’s for mah jongg. I walked into her flat and knew something was wrong immediately by how quiet my friends were. “What’s happened? Or have you been talking about Will and me?”
Penny turned to Amanda, who looked at Caryn.
I settled my gaze on Caryn. “Well?”
“We have, but there’s more to it.” Caryn faced Amanda.
“Will you three stop looking at each other and tell me?”
“I’ll tell because I saw it,” Amanda volunteered. “I was watching an entertainment news program while eating dinner.”
Penny snorted. “A gossip show.”
“Call it what you like,” Amanda said, “but the point is you and Will were mentioned.”
I brushed my hair away from my face. “What did they say?”
“They showed a picture of you and Will entering your flat, and one of him leaving it the following morning.”
“How could you tell it was the following morning?”
“The one with both of you was definitely taken at night. It was dark and the street light was on. The one of Will alone looked like it was taken in daylight. And he was dressed the same, so I figured it was the next day.”
I shrugged. “So what? That’s no worse than the towel picture.”
“There’s more,” Penny said.
I dropped into a chair at the table.
Amanda continued. “They mentioned your name, what you do for a living, where you live and work, and that you’re a forty-five-year-old divorced American.”
“I won’t be forty-five until the end of next month,” I corrected, although it wasn’t important. “How do you think they found all this out about me?”
“I imagine it’s public record who rents flats where,” Caryn said. “I can call the management company to see if anyone has inquired about you.”
“Maybe they followed Will and me. We were together last night. They either saw us at the restaurant and followed us to my flat, or they had been following Will all evening—from the studio, to my place, to the restaurant, and back again. Seems like an awful waste of time.”
“Those pictures can be worth a lot of money to them,” Amanda pointed out.
“Do you think someone camped out in front of your flat all night?” Caryn asked.
“That’s a frightening thought,” Penny said. She gave my arm a comforting pat.
“I think you should tell Will,” Amanda suggested. “He should be on the lookout for someone following him.”
“But now someone could be following Michelle too,” Caryn added.
My stomach was as tight as an overstretched rubber band. “Will warned me there would be issues if our relationship was out. He’s always been so careful not to do anything in public that might be construed as personal.”
“Except for running around in a towel,” Amanda mumbled.
My glare caused her to smile. “I was trying to lighten things up a little. And for the record, I’m glad you gave in to your desires. How was it?”
“Amanda,” Penny said, “our friend’s private life was revealed on telly, and you want to know how the sex was?”
“What’s wrong with that?” She turned to me. “Well?”
“It was wonderful, fantastic, better than I dreamed of,” I said offhandedly. “But I’d still like to know how the reporter found out so much about me.”
Caryn put her arm around my shoulder. “It’s unnerving, but I’m sure you’re not in any danger. Isn’t that right, ladies?” She turned to the others for backup.
“That’s right. They’re not out to harm you,” Penny reassured.
Amanda remained quiet, and Caryn gave her the eye.
“I don’t think they intend any physical harm,” Amanda began, “but, undoubtedly, there have been instances where harm has been done by paparazzi.”
“We’re not talking about blood-thirsty paparazzi,” Caryn growled. “Let’s not scare Michelle. Can we play now?”
Penny and Amanda began shuffling the mah jongg tiles. I joined them, but my mind wasn’t on the game. Now I understood why Will liked to keep his girlfriends out of the public eye.
I took the Tube home from Caryn’s like I always did, but this time I was more aware of my surroundings: the Indian woman dressed in a sari, a cute little girl beside her; the man wearing the herringbone ivy cap, reading the newspaper; and the two teenage girls covered in tattoos and piercings, talking too fast for me to determine what language they were speaking.
As I walked the short distance to my building, I kept glancing over my shoulder, feeling like someone was there. By the time I engaged the deadbolt, it felt like someone was playing the bongos in my chest.
Despite sleeping alone in my apartment every night without any concerns, tonight I placed a chair against my front door and kept my phone within easy reach, just in case.

~~~oOo~~~



Monica Epstein writes about topics that appeal to women like herself—over 40 and nowhere near ready to throw in the towel and call it a life. Her first novel, Where There Is Will, is published by The Wild Rose Press.

A mother of three, Monica lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with her husband, their teenage daughter, and a small collection of hats and fascinators. She dreams of being the Queen of England in her next life.



Social Media Links

Email: epsteinmonica@gmail.com (For personal use only. Please do not share on the Internet)


Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Book Birthday Love's Sorrow! #Historical #Romance by @TerriRochenski



Happy Book Birthday to Love's Sorrow!

Today marks the kick-off of Love's Sorrow blog tour AND part one of ...

 a sneak peak at the entire first chapter!

Follow along during the tour for parts two through ten, and be sure to check out the rafflecopter below for some Love's Sorrow goodies!





Love's Sorrow
Means of Mercy #1
Historical Romance
Release Date: April 21, 2014
Publisher: Roane Publishing

Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.

Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow's unrelenting waves of grief.



Purchase Links:

Roane Publishing

Print
Createspace (Best Option)
Amazon

eBook
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Bookstrand
Smashwords


~~~oOo~~~


Chapter 1 / Excerpt 1

With a loud grind and clanking, the train came to rest at King’s Cross Station. The engine car let out a hiss like the sigh that escaped my lips every night when I laid on my pallet after a long day’s work.

Pressing my face to the window, I stared in amazement at the mass of moving people. When boarding the train in Birmingham, excitement kept me from giving the well-to-do folks more than a mere glance, but I sat captivated as my fellow passengers disembarked around me.
Lavish bonnets and bright-coloured dresses of silky material made me ashamed of the threadbare gingham frock and tattered straw hat I wore.

Aunt Martha and Mary always tried to keep up with the latest fashions by ripping and sewing old dresses—garments beyond repair became an extra flounce or two, and the nicer threads unwoven and made into lace collars or cuffs. I hadn’t ever been allowed time for such frivolous activities, so I made myself content with proper skirt length and suitable patches for worn elbows.

Content, until I gazed upon the ladies of London in all their finery. Aunt Martha would say those folks sinned by squandering their money in such a way.

For about the tenth time, I imagined my aunt’s kitchen minus its scullery maid and target for hurled objects. I choked back a giggle for what must have been the fifth time that morning. My days of being a slave were over, for I had been offered employment.

Fingers trembling, I stood and wrapped my thin shawl tight around my shoulders, clutched my bundle closer, and walked the train’s narrow aisle. I stepped onto the platform and peered around the sea of faces for Joanna Telford.

I had never met my cousin from London. Until a few weeks earlier, I wasn’t even aware I had family beyond Uncle Edward and Aunt Martha. Mrs. Telford wrote to tell me she and her husband were in need of a nanny and governess for their two young sons, and being the merciful guardian he was, Uncle Edward decided to send me away from his wife.

Without her knowing.

Another smile lifted my lips, and I shifted on my feet, moving my tied bundle from one hand to the other. I grimaced as a whiff of body odour rose. Aunt Martha allowed me to bathe once a week, which would have been on the morrow, but asking to do so early certainly would have aroused suspicion. Sneaking away from her house before sunrise as I did would never have occurred with success.

No one spared the poor farm girl a second glance, and insides buzzing like a honey bee, I stood unmoving, a white-knuckled grip on my worldly possessions.

Minutes moved passed slower than a lazy stream and the surrounding crowd began to disperse. I waited. Despair crept closer with every passing heartbeat.

A stooped man in black livery made eye contact with me, and a pleasant smile lit his face as he started my way.

“Miss Tearle?” His voice rasped like a rusty barn door hinge.

“Yes. I am Anne Tearle.” I was grateful to my aunt for one thing. My accent matched almost perfectly with those buzzing around me. Aunt Martha's hatred of the Black Country we lived in and the cane across the back of my legs every time I slipped into the bouncing regional lilt had eradicated all but the barest traces of it.

The elderly gentleman removed his hat, tucked it under one arm, and dipped his head. "Welcome to London, missy.” His smile widened and the skin around his watery blue eyes crinkled. “I’m the Telfords’ coachman, Emanuel. The missus has sent me to collect you.” 


~~~oOo~~~


About Terri Rochenski

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.




Tour Schedule

Book Blitz and Tour-wide Giveaway
Signed paperback copy of Love's Sorrow, 
$10 Amazon gift card, & swag package.
Ends 5/16/2014


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.


~~~oOo~~~

There's also a paperback copy of Love's Sorrow up for grabs on Goodreads.

Click below for a chance to win!


Goodreads Book Giveaway


Love's Sorrow by Terri Rochenski

Love's Sorrow

by Terri Rochenski


Giveaway ends May 16, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win