Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Novel Spotlight: Reality Re-Do


REALITY RE-DO
by
ALLY HAYES

Just how real is reality TV? Beth's about to find out!



Following her husband's sudden and tragic death, Beth Franklin finds solace on her couch, watching Dream House, a home improvement show—until she tires of the show's routine and writes in to the network, suggesting a plot twist.

When TV executives ask her to consider appearing on the show, she finds herself not only renovating a house but her own life when she and co-host, hottie Scott Roberts, hit it off.

With broken hearts in common, Beth and Scott take a risk on love, surprising not only themselves but the show's viewers, as well.



AMAZON // WILD ROSE PRESS


Excerpt

Hearing that voice in my ear and realizing Scott could physically be here—with me—brought back all the nerves from our first phone call. “So, you’d be here, um, here in my house?”

“That’s the plan—but only if it’s all right with you.”

Of course I wanted him here. I needed to recover fast and think of something that would explain the reservation in my voice. “It’s just that I’m not decorated.” Lame excuse, but it was true. I had no trimmings displayed to reflect the upcoming holiday.

“Decorated?” Scott sounded confused, and then scoffed, “Oh, for Christmas? Please, the less tacky the better is my motto. I can’t stand all the lights and novelties.”

I found my comfort level with him once again. “Then you’re coming to the right place.”

Nerves were replaced with enthusiasm as I ran around the house, straightening curtains, fluffing cushions, and checking expiration dates on various refrigerator items. An hour after our phone call, my bed resembled a teenager’s, strewn with cast-off clothes from desperate attempts to find the perfect outfit for the next day. I had settled on the best fitting pair of jeans I owned and a black cashmere turtleneck—then changed my mind. This time, for a different, positive reason.

It was time to stop hiding. Turtlenecks and the color black definitely constituted hiding mechanisms. I dug deep into my bottom drawer and resurrected a magenta V-neck. Satisfied with my bold choice, I finally climbed beneath the covers, weary from the effort, yet anxious for the morning. Scott, former television crush turned friend, was coming to my house.

And, hopefully, into my life.

I know it sounded crazy, but I felt like we’d really made a connection. He often told me he couldn’t wait to meet me in person. Believing he truly meant that statement carried me through the night. I closed my eyes and recalled his voice just before we hung up earlier.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Beth.”


About the Author



As the mother of three girls, Ally finds creating drama for her characters an escape from the real drama in her own home. Originally from Boston, she now lives with her husband and family outside Chicago and writes when not driving to practices and games.




Connect with Ally!

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Twitter

Friday, 17 March 2017

Six Essential Elements Every Love Story Needs

What's your favourite romance novel? Now think of your favourite scene from that novel. Is it the ending when, despite the obstacles, both leads get their happily ever after? Or is it the first kiss...or the first fight?


Regardless, there are more players on stage and circumstances that helped create the tension/opportunity/obstacle that led to your favourite scene.

Here are a few handy tips for making sure your own romance story has the right support system for those unforgettable scenes!
  

Six Essential Elements Your Romance Novel Needs

1. The Rival

There needs to be a rival for the protagonist’s romantic intentions, but this doesn't necessarily mean a love triangle. This could be someone who takes time away from the romantic interest as well.

In my upcoming contemporary romance, The Right Fit, Antony is desperate to reconnect with Maxine, but his brother Marc is a controller and feels it's his responsibility to shape Antony into a successful pro-hockey player, regardless of what Antony truly desires.

2. Helpers vs Harmers


As you can guess, helpers are characters who assist in enabling the relationship grow while harmers are motivated to keep the couple apart. It should be noted that a helper can sometimes unwittingly become a harmer. It's common in romantic comedies to have a character who is truly invested in the couple's happiness, but ends up becoming bad luck by always doing or saying the wrong thing at the worst time, thereby taking the role of harmer.

In my novel, Maxine has enthusiastic support from her younger sister. However, in the end it's her own self doubt that is the most destructive harmer to her relationship with Antony.

3. External Need


This mechanism acts as a motivation that brings the two characters together.

As an example, Antony is certain his new found luck on the ice is entirely due to his one night with Maxine. Desperate to stay in the professional hockey league to pay his brother's medical bills and support them both, Antony pursues Maxine at all costs, including keeping his true identity a secret. As a result Maxine is overwhelmed by his attention and begins to believe she can love again after having her heart broken by her ex-fiancĂ©.





4. Secrets


One or both leads are keeping something from the other. The motivation for not telling the truth must be greater than the risk to the relationship.

In The Right Fit, Antony is not only keeping his true identity a secret, but also the fact that he considers Maxine his good luck charm and is using her to keep his hockey career on course. Meanwhile, Maxine considers Antony a rebound, as a way of getting her confidence back and helping her forget about her ex.

However, it's important to acknowledge that characters often lie to themselves to justify their actions/decisions.


5. Rituals



These are the cute little idiosyncrasies a couple naturally develops with each other, those shared intimacies that only they know about.

It's most effective to use when the couple is apart and something triggers the memory for one of the leads. This can motivate a change of heart at the realization that they truly need that person in their life. *cue the rush to the airport to stop their true love from leaving forever*

As a result of mistaken identity, Maxine assumes Antony's name is Ace. This leads to a nickname which creates a moment like the one described above as the name 'Ace' pops up when Maxine least expects it.   
Maxine rolled her eyes and instead told her to pick out a nail color for them both. It was a bright ruby shade and when Maxine looked at the name on the bottom of the bottle, her heart filled and then slowly deflatedAce of Hearts.


6. Moral Weight

In essence, the moral weight is how the lovers changed for the better over the course of the novel. It's always satisfying for the reader if the ending scene is a mirror opposite to the beginning where their flaws were highlighted.

At the beginning of The Right Fit, Maxine was still trying to find a way back into her ex-fiancĂ©'s arms convinced he was the only man she could have a life with. And Antony was carrying a secret guilt fueled by the belief he didn't deserve to be loved. By the end of the story, Maxine realizes she's beautiful and desirable enough for any man and Antony's past sins didn't preclude him from happiness.





Thanks for reading. I hope you found this useful! Happy writing! Please enjoy the book trailer for my upcoming release,
THE RIGHT FIT, due April 12.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Novel Spotlight: A Legacy of Love and Murder


A LEGACY OF LOVE AND MURDER
by Brenda Whiteside




In Austria to meet her great-grandfather and explore his castle estate filled with priceless art, August Myer arrives to find he’s died suspiciously. As one of the heirs, her life is in danger, turning this fairytale Alpine adventure into a nightmare of unexplained accidents, neo-Nazi threats, and murder.

Inspector Tobias Wolf splits his time between his profession and fighting the spread of neo-Nazism. But when the beautiful, intriguing American crosses his path during a murder investigation, ensuring her safety challenges his priorities…and his heart.

When August learns the handsome inspector’s involvement with a major female Nazi is more than he’s admitted, and the death of her great-grandfather is somehow connected, she takes the investigation into her own hands. The outcome could be the death of both of them.




Excerpt

Tobias shot him a look. "She's lying."

"She's convincing."

"You don't know her."

They'd reached the landing and the Great Hall.

"How well do you know her, Tobias?"

"I know her enough to know she's not to be trusted. Her aspirations--"

"I trust your gut." Albert opened the Great Hall door. "Maybe the nephew can tell us more."

Tobias led the way, glanced into the shadows, then made his way around the table and into the main room. He jerked to a halt. "Who the hell?"

He trotted to a prone figure, face down in the middle of the hall. Albert, huffing, drew up beside him as he squatted to get a closer look. Tobias put fingertips to the man's neck, but the pulse wasn't there. His hand grazed a red silk scarf, detected a faint scent, and confusion washed over him. August. She'd worn a red scarf the first time he'd seen her.

"He's dead?"

"Very."


Albert glanced around the Great Hall. "I wonder how he went undetected."

"It's actually the perfect spot." He scanned the body for any other details as he spoke. "This room isn't used by the family. The castle is closed to tourists right now. No need for the staff to come in here." His gaze rested on the scarf, and he wondered where was August.

As Tobias stood upright, the cell in his breast pocket chimed.
"Hello."

"Inspector," Dorner's droll voice addressed him, yet the news he imparted was anything but droll. His body went rigid, already focusing on his partner to take over here.

"I'm on my way. And send investigative backup and forensics to Castle Luschin. There's been an apparent homicide. Yeah. Right." He shoved the phone in his pocket. "You'll have to handle this, Al."

"Where're you going?"

"The hospital." The personal interest he had in this case charged every nerve in his body. "Lacy's had another attempt on her life."






About the Author



Convinced she was born to be an artist, Brenda never took her love of writing seriously. And then one day, sometime after college, after marrying a man doing a stint in the army, and after the birth of her son, she found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color.

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Currently, they split their time between the prairie in Northern Arizona and the RV life. At home or in the RV, she spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.


CONNECT WITH BRENDA!

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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Nail That Query!





Ah, the query. Your five second, foot stuck in the door, give it all you got, audition. Writers have lost sleep and hair follicles trying to get it right. Since subjectivity plays a huge role, each agent will be intrigued or discouraged by certain elements. However, there are definitely things you need to AVOID in your query letter.

1. Never write 'dear agent', or worse, another agent's name. And please, check the spelling.

2. Never mention how many rejections you've already received. Why would you do this? It's like asking someone to the prom by saying they were the only one left who hasn't said no.

3. Never say your book will be the next...Harry Potter or Twilight. That's why kids don't sing Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand songs on American Idol. Your book may be a huge world wide best seller, but that's putting a lot of pressure on the rest of your query. If those next sentences don't blow away the planet, then you're looking at a rejection.

4. Avoid rhetorical questions and cliches. It distracting, and the agent is going to assume your manuscript is the same. Also, it takes up precious word count. Just tell what the story is about.

5. Only add credentials that are pertinent to the story. It's great that your Aunt Mary loved the book, but unless your Aunt Mary is senior editor at a publishing house, leave it out.

A good query should have three things.


CHARACTER—your MC's name profession, and a sense of what they're like. Are they popular? Bossy? Superstitious? A total control freak, but secretly drooling over their new co-worker?
 

CONFLICT—what your character wants but can't have.

CRISIS—what will happen if your character does/doesn't go for what they want.

The first sentence should be the hook. Think of a tag line from a movie that's similar to your book. Then follow with the 3 C's and end with the cliffhanger. But the number one rule is BE SPECIFIC. After reading your query I should be able to answer the 3 C's.

Let's use
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as an example.

Magic can change everything. Living with his spiteful Aunt and Uncle since his parents were killed in a car accident, eleven-year-old Harry Potter doesn't think being bullied by his cousin is inescapable, until he receives an invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


He leaves his neglected home life for a castle full of of moving staircases and secret passageways. Clueless about magic wands and spells, Harry desperately tries to fit in, and is shocked to find the other students already know his name. He learns his parents died protecting him from the most evil wizard in the world, The Dark Lord. Since that night, The Dark Lord had been rumoured to have died, unable to defeat baby Harry.

Harry's new found stardom and natural skill with a flying broomstick, make him an instant hero at school. But fame comes with a price as Harry uncovers one of the professors is working to bring to Dark Lord back to power, and to finish what he started eleven years ago by finally killing Harry.

There are so many ways to write a great query for this story, this was just my take. Try it yourself.

One of the best things you can do for your query is give it to someone who knows nothing about your book. 
Querytracker is an excellent site and it's free!

Happy writing!




Thursday, 9 March 2017

Novel Spotlight: A Kiss To Build A Dream On

A Kiss To Build A Dream On
by Katie Baldwin

A womanizing actor meets a small town librarian—what could possibly go wrong?



Bethany Michaels leads a fairly isolated existence, but she longs to be an outgoing and sexually confident woman. When her celebrity crush comes to town, and literally falls at her feet, her prayers seem to be answered. But can she protect her heart while still experiencing true passion?

Hollywood celebrity Aidan Shannon, drunk and lost in small-town Virginia, finds himself in the home of a beautiful woman, and he finds her more than just a little alluring. Bethany is voluptuous and nurturing, fragile, yet steely. And that is a problem for a man who never wants to be tied to another woman again.

Living in the now is good enough for Aidan and Bethany for the short term.  When the universe steps in and shows them what’s important, will Aidan take a chance on love a second time around when his girl needs him?

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Barnes&Noble

Excerpt

Well, either she was a crazy fan about to poison him or she was a shapely woman who was about to save him from a diabolical hangover. In for a penny, in for a pound. He eyed the tea one more time before making a decision.

Aidan carefully sipped the tea, unsure what to expect. Before the liquid touched his lips, his stomach clenched. This was going to be dreadful. Not even someone with his acting skill could pretend this tasted good.

“Drink it all, Mr. Shannon, or it won’t help,” the sweetly militant voice cautioned.

“It tastes worse than it smells,” he said, trying not to whimper. But then he realized she had said “Mr. Shannon.” He sighed. “It appears you know who I am.”

“Are you kidding?” The woman before him giggled softly. “The entire town is in ecstasy because you guys are filming your movie here.” She paused as she narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute. Don’t try to distract me; drink your tea. How about this…? If you drink it, I will make you some eggs.”

He considered arguing but drank the whole thing down like a shot of whiskey.

“Good!” She looked as if she were trying not to laugh when he immediately grabbed the bottle of water and drank a giant slug from it.

“I left a towel and a new toothbrush in the bathroom. Why don’t you take care of yourself, and I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

“Well, thank you, Ms…?”

The woman smiled. “I’m Bethany Michaels, Mr. Shannon. You are in my home. I found you singing away last night on a bench by the library where I work. I didn’t recognize you right away, I’m sorry to say, but once I did, I tried to get a cab to escort you back to your hotel, but you refused to go. You see…” She paused, as a sweet blush bloomed on her face. “You apparently thought that you and I were going to…to…well, you know. After convincing you that I did not want to “ride the Aidan train,” as you so delicately put it, you somehow convinced me to take you to my place—I’m still not sure how you did that—and you ended up asleep in my guest bed.”

Aidan grimaced. “Ms. Michaels, I—”

“Call me Bethany,” she said, patting him soothingly on the shoulder.

“Bethany, thank you for taking care of me. It means more than you can possibly know.”

“You’re welcome. I admit I’m a fan and am happy to help. I’ll give you some privacy now.”

“Bethany, you’re to call me Aidan then, right? I’m terribly sorry about the ‘train’ remark. Whiskey makes me incorrigible,” Aidan said, smiling.
“Let’s pretend it never happened, shall we? I’ll leave you alone so you can shower.”

“No need to leave, I mean…”—he glanced beneath the sheets at his unclothed body—“you’ve seen me naked so…”

“No! Mr. Sh—I mean Aidan, I most certainly have not! You disrobed yourself after I had already closed the door.” Then she paused, her face reheating. “I mean, well if you don’t count seeing you naked in Robot Warrior. But of course, you don’t mean that. I should go.”

“Bethany, a movie or last night, you’ve already seen me. No need to leave.”

“Are you still drunk? Because you still seem pretty incorrigible to me.”

About the Author
  
 

Katie Baldwin has a secret life. During the day she is a mild-mannered administrative assistant at a prestigious University. By night she writes fantastical tales of romance and mystery. When she is not pacing her home working out dialogue in her mind, she is baking scones and working out dialogue in her mind. Aside from writing, she has a ferocious passion for the Green Bay Packers, Nutella and her MinPin/Chihuahua mix dog-baby, Marley. She can be found on twitter waxing eloquently about all of her passions.

Connect with Katie!




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