Tag Archive | contemporary romance

Heal Your Heart Before You Complete Mine–Hazel Robinson’s New Release, Something Missing

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Author Interview


1) What makes Something Missing stand out among other romance novels?

For me it stands out because it focuses on real life imperfections and them rolling out those imperfections to find the happy ending everyone deserves. It shows that not every love story has a beginning, middle and end.

 

2) In your bio, you state that you are a Supernatural fan. Sam & Dean have really had hit and miss relationships throughout the series.  What kind of storyline would create for them to find the perfect love?

OO! I think that Dean should have his happy ever after with his old girlfriend Lisa. I mean he was happy living the normal life with her. It would definitely be him riding up in his car and taking her in his arms moment. He needs someone to take care of him for a change.

For Sam, well, I think he likes to feel like the hero, so for him I think he would need a damsel in distress that he can rescue and then they fall in love. He needs someone funny and strong.
3) What can readers expect from the True Love series?

Well, the True Love series will contain gritty storylines with lots of ups and downs. Some love stories are straightforward and that’s fine, but what about the love stories that go wrong? What about the love stories that don’t come that easily? That’s what the True Love series is–it tells different love stories, each with their own tragedy/heartache; it tells about true love in its pure form. Not just the words ‘I love you’ but the feeling of love and what it does to people.

4) Max & Susan are childhood friends who are embarking on a new romance.  Can friends truly be lovers?

I think that when two people are meant to be together then they will be together, I definitely think that if you have a strong connection with someone it doesn’t matter if you are friends.

 

5) How would you describe your writing process?

Hhmmm. Well, this book took me a year to write. I spent a lot of late nights (some all-nighters). I would tuck myself away in my invisible box with my music on and just write what came to my mind. I always have a notebook with me and always tuck a pen in my hair!

6) What are five things that a good romance must have?

You need to have a strong connection between your main characters; you can’t just throw them together.

Your reader needs to get butterflies when they read about the first kiss.

Complications are good. No romance is easy in real life; it takes hard work.

I’m a sucker for tragedy in a romance. And of course sex but not overdone, less is sometimes more. You want your imagination to work while you’re reading.
7) How has technology changed romance in real life?

Good old fashioned love letters have been exchanged for texting and emails. There isn’t any romance in technology really. No one sends a bunch of flowers expressing their feelings for someone; they tweet it or change their Facebook status. And in some ways technology can ruin a romance.
8) What tips about the publication process would you give to writers?

Well, I have been lucky enough to have my book published through a publisher. I would advise NEVER give up, get as many contacts as you can, make your book known. It’s not an easy ride; it’s a lot of hard work, long emails and tears. I suggest making a lot of friends on places like Facebook and Twitter, join author and blogger groups; they will help each other out. Also find someone that has a similar style to you and become writing buddies. You will be amazed how much motivation you get for having a writing buddy.

 

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BIOGRAPHY: I’ve always had a passion for reading but over the last several years it has become an obsession, a few months ago I decided to put fingers to keys to keyboard (or pen to paper!) and write “Something Missing” a story I’ve had hidden away in the back of my mind for a long time.

 

Hazel lives in the small town of Rishton in Lancashire. England, with her husband, three children, two cats, dog, rabbit and lizard. She fills her days dashing between school runs, pets and housework and at night she comes to life either writing or watching her favorite program ‘Supernatural’ (yes she is Supernatural obsessed)

Her road to writing started with a love for paranormal romance novels, and after finding a passion for tragic romance she set out on the mission to share her own story. After long nights writing and a lot of ‘Supernatural’ episodes she is finally ready to share ‘Something Missing’. Hazel loves nothing better than sitting with a cup of tea, a chocolate biscuit and a good book.

 

SYNOPSIS: When Susan is left orphaned, she begins a harrowing journey through the care system. Left with both mental and physical scars, Susan approaches adulthood with a self-destructive impulse. However, there is hope in the figure of her childhood friend, Max; the first boy she ever kissed.

 

Now a grown woman, Susan returns to her childhood home of Winchelsea, where she hopes she will find the answer to the gap in her heart that she’s carried with her since she left. With Max by her side, she attempts to find the path her life should have taken, to build a home, to heal old wounds, and to finally create a family that will stop the terrible feeling of something missing.

But Max has a secret, one that risks destroying all hope of a happy ever after, unless they can find a way to heal one another.

 

 

AVAILABLE FORMATS: e-Book on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and Paperback available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. (It will be available for other retailers after December 2014.)

 

EXCERPTS: (1) Susan breathed in deeply; even now the emotions were raw.

“A long time ago he was my best friend; we were inseparable. From the age of like, two, we never went anywhere without each other. When my grandmother died he protected me from the pain. But after the funeral they came to take me away. Max wanted me to run away with him but I said no. We were just children.”

 

*

 

(2) Instead of heading back to the house she went to the beach. She’d spent a lot of time wishing to walk on it again; it held so many happy memories for her. As she walked along the shore, she watched the sun setting in the distance. She thought back to the night she had discovered she had to leave. The memory was painful and she felt a tear slip down her cheek. No one could have imagined what would happen to her when she left, and no one could have stopped it. Not really. Feeling in need of that drink, she turned in the direction of home. That’s when she saw him. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as the tall, dark-haired man walk towards her.

Max had seen Susan a few times over the weekend, and he had desperately wanted to go over and say something to her, but he hadn’t known what to say. When she’d walked past the garage earlier, he almost plucked up enough courage, but something had stopped him. She looked amazing, way out of his league, but he plucked up the courage now there really was no way of avoiding her.

“Hello!” he said, smiling awkwardly, and stuffing his hands deep into his pockets.

 

 

CONTACT:

Please contact either

Hazel Robinson at h.f.robinsonbooks@gmail.com

FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HazelfRobinson

WEBPAGE www.hazelrobinsonbooks.weebly.com

 

or

Kitty Rackham at

littlebirdpublishinghouse@yahoo.com

 

 

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Killing Me Softly With His Wrongs–It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller

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Winner of Chick-Lit Pad’s 2013 Best Upcoming Fiction Contest

Time waits for no one. Neither does Curtis.

What’s a girl like Jazzy supposed to do?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. . .

Read about the ruse of roller coaster love

in Quanie Miller’s new romantic comedy, It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy!

I locked the love

I felt for you

inside my heart

for safe keeping,

for a later reaping,

thinking,

I had time to reclaim it.

Book Blurb:
Jazzy secretly wants to get back together with her ex-boyfriend, Curtis, so when he calls and reveals that he’s got something important to tell her, she’s got no idea that he’s about to propose—to her first cousin and bitter rival, Mercedes.
The annual family dinner is coming up, and fearing that she will spend the evening seething while Mercedes flaunts her four carat engagement ring in her face, Jazzy asks Reggie, an Adonis she met at the mall, to accompany her. As fate would have it, not only did Reggie and Mercedes used to date; that backstabbing, leopard print wearing cow is still carrying a torch for him! Revenge. It’s never been so sweet.
But falling for Reggie? Holy crap! That wasn’t part of the plan! She’s got enough on her plate as it is; restaurant shootouts, a neurotic boss, a mother who spies on the neighbors, and a sister and best friend with man problems that could land them on Jerry Springer. Who has time to fall in love? So when Curtis comes sniffing around again—this time, with an accusation that sends her blood pressure shooting through the roof—the one good nerve that Jazzy’s got left has just about run its course.
Author Interview

1) What makes you unique as a writer? Where do you get your inspiration?

I think I’m unique as a writer because my reading was so varied growing up. I read everything; funny stuff, scary stuff, the in between stuff. As a result my work is a hodgepodge of all those things.

I get inspiration from everywhere. From listening to conversations, to people watching, television, music. Ideas are born from pretty much anything. I could probably sneeze and say, “Hmm. That gives me an idea…”

2) What makes It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy stand out among other books in its genre?

The main character is African American and the book is romantic comedy— but heavy on the comedy—so I think that’s what sets the book apart. There are a lot of laugh out loud moments.

3) The MTV Show, Catfish, is very popular today.  How would Jazzy react if a potential mate was being investigated on this reality show?

Ha! Well, I don’t think she’d need Nev and Max! I think that her, her best friend (Serai), and her mother would launch their own investigation. They would probably tail the guy for a few days, figure out his schedule, rent a van, and camp outside of his job with surveillance equipment. Then Serai would turn the tables on him by being a catfish herself; she’d friend him on Facebook, invite him to coffee, and before he knew what hit him, there would be Jazzy and her mother, with cameras in his face (Cheaters style), demanding answers. They’d probably have their own show; Catfish, Reloaded.

4) How would readers relate to Jazzy’s experiences with love in this novel?

Jazzy goes through it all; wanting to rekindle an old flame, getting over that and embarking on a new relationship, having trust issues with the new man. I think readers will totally be able to identify with that!

5) Speaking of reality shows, there has yet to be one about the writing profession.  If you could create a writing reality show, what would it be?

It would definitely be about writing workshops but it would be more like the TV show Survivor. You’d have to scheme and form alliances but ultimately, the person with the strongest manuscript would win.

6) What’s next for you in your writing projects?

Well, right now I’m in the outline phase for the follow up to It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy. I’m also going to release a paranormal novel next year (but under a different name).

7) What author/literary work has had the most impact on you?

For humor I’d have to say Dave Barry because he’s probably the funniest person on the planet. I’ve also been impacted by sitcoms like Girlfriends, The Golden Girls, and Living Single (anything with funny women getting into trouble!). I read a lot of RL Stine and Christopher Pike growing up and that definitely impacts the paranormal stuff that I write.

Quanie Miller PictureBio:
Quanie Miller grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. She fell in love with reading at an early age and spent most of her time at the Iberia Parish Library discovering new authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike (she was often found walking back home from the library with a stack of books that went up to her chin). She holds degrees from Louisiana State University and San Jose State University. She has been the recipient of the James Phelan Literary Award, the Louis King Thore Scholarship, the BEA Student Scriptwriting Award, and the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. She loves writing humorous stories about strong willed, sassy women who can’t keep themselves out of trouble. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and is currently, as always, working on another novel. To find out more about Quanie and her works in progress visit quanietalkswriting.com.
Book Excerpt:

 I parked on the street and realized that my palms were sweaty, so I wiped them on the seat and took three deep breaths. When I got out of the car, I tried to remain calm, but by the time I reached the door, the butterflies in my stomach had turned into bats. I knocked. A few seconds later Curtis answered, and I stood there, shocked. He looked so damn good I had to stop myself from taking a flying leap and wrapping both my legs around his waist. He had a beard (he was always clean-shaven when we were together) and was actually dressed….well….nicely! He was wearing a white button down shirt with khakis instead of those blue jogging pants with the yellow paint stains and the white muscle shirt with the holes in it. And for once, he smelled like he hadn’t bought his cologne from some guy in a beanie on a street corner. He even had the nerve to look like he’d been hitting the weight room, which shocked me because the whole time we were together, the only exercise this man got was running from bill collectors. Before I knew it, I felt a tingle in the part of my body that’s off limits to everyone except my gynecologist. Then, I got pissed. How dare he open the door looking like a chocolate wet dream? I, the dragon slayer, did not get slayed. I did the slaying. I regained my composure. “How are you, Curtis?

“Fine, Jazzy. You look good.”

I wanted to say, “Chile, this girdle is cuttin’ off my circulation like you wouldn’t believe.” But instead, I smiled and said, “Thank you. So do you.” We walked inside the beautiful foyer and, as always, the winding staircase took my breath away. I followed Curtis into the living room and immediately noticed that it had been remodeled. The carpet had been replaced with hardwood floors, the walls painted a deep red, thick curtains were draped over heavy rods, an oil painting hung over the mantel piece, and a glass coffee table stood between two full-length leather sofas. I was so busy marveling at the decorating that it took me a while before I noticed the atmosphere in the room: cake, balloons, and all the children doing cartwheels. For a second, I thought I heard some of the kids singing, “Ding dong the wicked witch is dead.” The adults seemed happy (but maybe the cocktails had something to do with that), and no one, except for me, was wearing black. It didn’t seem like a repass. It seemed more like a celebration.

I said, “They seem to be taking it well.”

He shrugged. “I think they’re grieving on the inside. Do you want something to drink?”

“Do you have lemonade?”

“Yes.”

I didn’t want any alcohol. When I got even just a little bit tipsy, for whatever reason, I became a rock star in my head. The last time, at karaoke night at some dive bar, I really got down with my bad self. I ended up on stage singing “Shoop” by Salt-n-Pepa. The next day, to my horror, it ended up on YouTube. For weeks, people walked by me singing that damn song and laughing and pointing at me. It even ended up on the six o’clock news in the segment: “Local woman gets down with her bad self”. I was humiliated (they still play it sometimes in a segment called “Dopey clips you might have missed”).

Curtis brought me a glass of lemonade and said, “Let’s go somewhere we can talk.”

We went to the sitting room where a huge picture of Grandma Laney and her shotgun looked down at us. Curtis cleared his throat. “As I told you on the phone, there’s something very important I need to talk to you about.”

“Okay.”

He looked me right in the eyes. “I’ve done a lot of growing since we broke up. I finally know what I want to do with my life, and I’m on my way to financial stability for the very first time. I’ve changed, Jazzy.”

“Okay….”

“And, well, there’s something I need to ask you.”

At this moment, his mother, Ms. Kay, stuck her head in the room. She was a triathlete and had a body like Angela Basset when she’d done What’s Love Got to Do With It. I knew that even in her fifties, I’d be eating her dust in a footrace. She smiled when she saw me and I hopped up to give her a hug. “Ms. Kay! How are you?”

“I’m fine. Thanks for coming.” She nodded to Curtis. “Can I see you for a second?” They left the room and I walked around looking at all the pictures of Grandma Laney. She was frowning in every single one. Even in her wedding picture where she wore a long, black dress and scowled with a cigar in one hand. I shuddered, thinking what that honeymoon night must have been like for the poor groom. I sat back down and noticed that underneath a lamp sat a light blue box that looked like it might be carrying a set of earrings. Curious, I opened it and was shocked to discover a diamond engagement ring. I sniffed it. Holy shit, a real diamond! It must have been at least four carats! I sat the box back then stood nonchalantly as I heard Curtis saying something to a relative as he walked back towards the room. When he got back inside he said, “Sorry about that.”

“That’s okay. Curtis, what’s this about?” I gasped because it hit me: something to ask me, him looking good enough to eat, and the ring. Sweet Jesus, this man was about to propose! I hopped on a chair and threw my hands in the air. “Wait!”

He looked confused. “What?”

“You have to ask me something very important right?”

“Right.”

“And this could affect both of our lives forever?”

“Yes.”

Dragon slayer my ass. I was getting married! “Hold that thought.” I hopped off the chair and ran to the bathroom because I wanted to make sure my breath wasn’t funky and that I looked as stunning as I did when I had left the house. Who’d have thunk it? Me, getting married! How unexpected! I knew that we shared a bond and that there was something still lingering between us, but I had no idea he was thinking about making me his wife! I was proud of myself. All of that tough love I gave him, telling him he needed to get his finances together, refusing to loan him money, drafting a one year plan so that he could get caught up on his student loans; and now, he was financially stable and wanted to thank the woman who had made it all possible. I got teary eyed thinking about how I almost gave up on him. I checked myself one more time, and when I realized that I wasn’t going to get any more stunning, I headed back to the sitting room.

I walked over to Curtis and said like a sweet little angel, “Please. Go on.”

He took a deep breath. “I just wanted to be the first to tell you that I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.”

Enough with the small talk, buddy. Gimme the ring already.

“And well…” He wiped his forehead. “This is harder than I thought!”

I grabbed his hand. “You can tell me anything.” Now stop your yappin’ and give me the damn ring!

Suddenly, I heard the clicking of heels on the wooden floor. Curtis looked up at the same time that I did, and there she was. Decked head to toe in a leopard print dress and donning a hat that you would expect someone to wear to the Kentucky Derby. She was cradling her black Chihuahua, Kee-Kee, and dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex. She sobbed. “Oh, Curtis!” It was my cousin, Mercedes (or, as I sometimes liked to call her behind her back, Broke Ass Pinto).

When she finally noticed me she turned up her nose. “Oh. It’s you.”

“Yes. It’s me. And hello to you too, Daihatsu.”

She sat Kee-Kee down and frowned at me. “Now is not the time for your antics, Jasmine. A woman has died and I will not stoop to your level of commonness. Have you learned nothing since you crawled barefoot out of the bayou and slithered here on your pudgy little belly?”

I scoffed. “There is nothing pudgy about my belly. And don’t act like we’re not from the same place just because you have some job doing…oh, never mind. I forgot; your ass ain’t got no job.”

She took one of those handheld fans out of her purse (with her picture on it) and fanned herself. “I just so happen to be on sabbatical.”

“From what? Finding sugar daddies?”

“Just because a man wants to wine and dine me does not mean he’s a sugar daddy. Can I help it that they just so happen to want to take me to five star restaurants while your dating life consists of sitting across from some gold-toothed fool while scarfing down biscuits at Jack in The Box? Don’t hate the player, honey.”

“First of all, I have never dated a man with a gold tooth. Except for that one time in high school. And second of all, I happen to love Jack in The Box—especially their biscuits. And third, shouldn’t you be somewhere, sleeping upside down in a cave or something?”

Kee-Kee became antsy, so Mercedes stooped down and picked her up. Mercedes rubbed noses with her. “Don’t worry. The lady is just being mean to mommy because she’s fat.”

Before I could reach over Curtis’ head and grab her by that goofy looking hat (or trip her while she was walking so that she would go sprawling headfirst into a plant), Curtis said to her, “I didn’t expect you until eight.”

“Should I leave?” She looked at me with more disdain than normal, and then it hit me; what the hell what she doing there? While Curtis and I dated she wouldn’t even acknowledge him as my boyfriend. She called him that poor guy Jazzy put roots on.

I said, “What are you even doing here anyway?”

“I’m here for Curtis, you moron.”

“I mean why. Since when are you two friends?”

“Who I’m friends with is none of your business.”

Curtis turned to me. “Jazzy, I hadn’t planned on doing this in front of you. But I want to let you know that our relationship is one of the main reasons I had to take a good look in the mirror and say, ‘Curtis, it’s time to grow up.’ And because of you, I was able to find the love of my life, and I just want to say thank you.” He grabbed the blue box and turned to Mercedes. He got on one knee and grabbed her by the hand. “You are the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met and it would make me the happiest man alive if you were my wife. Mercedes, will you marry me?”

She tossed poor Kee-Kee (who yelped) onto the sofa and put a hand on her chest. Then, she covered her mouth and shot one hand in the air and screamed, “Yes! Yes! Eat your heart out, Jazzy!” He put the ring on her finger as tears rushed from her eyes. She waved the ring in my face, then ran out of the room holding her hand in the air and screaming, “Suck it, Peacock!”

Slowly, before my blood pressure spiked any further, I said to Curtis, “Is this why you asked me over here?”

“I didn’t plan for it to happen like this; I just wanted to tell you in person before you heard it from anyone else.”

“When did you start seeing Mercedes?”

“Right before we broke up.” He shook his head. “I mean right after.” He said something else, but in my mind, he sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Jazzy, um, you know, whaa-whaa-whaa-whaa-whaa.” I felt my head nodding even though I wasn’t comprehending a thing he was saying.

I think I blacked out because one moment, I’m in the sitting room with my hands wrapped around Curtis’ neck as Mercedes and Ms. Kay tried to pry my fingers loose, and the next moment, Curtis was running down the street, and I was chasing behind him with a heavy, cast iron skillet in my hand.

To read more or to connect with Quanie online visit:

www.quaniemiller.com

https://twitter.com/QuanieMiller

http://www.goodreads.com/QuanieMiller

https://www.facebook.com/QuanieMillerAuthor

www.quanietalkswriting.com

Available now on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Aint-Easy-Being-Jazzy-ebook/dp/B00FVAFA4A/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382486017&sr=1-1&keywords=miller%2C+quanie

The Devil May Wear Prada, But The Gibbons Gold Diggers Prefer Men’s Hearts: The Player & The Game by Shelly Ellis

Sugar-coated game

floats from her siren  lips,

a snare for the gullible.

Her nectar garners

a contract of one-sided

opportunities.

As a Gibbons girl,

she always saps honey from

her sugar daddies.

The queen bee designs

her honeycomb to entrap

men’s hearts, not her own.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. . .

By A. C.

the player and the game2

Enjoy Some Hot Deception on a Romance Platter with the latest installment

in the Gibbons Gold Digger series!

The Player & the Game

It’s business as usual for the infamous gold digging Gibbons women of Chesterton, Virginia. But this time, middle sister, Stephanie, may be the one getting played. . .

Stephanie Gibbons thinks she’s finally hit the jackpot— the Gibbons family’s Holy Grail. Her new sugar daddy, Isaac Beardan, is loaded and treating her in high style. When he proposes, Stephanie is sure she’s set for life—until she finds her bank account empty, Isaac gone, and a strange—but very attractive—man following her.

Private investigator Keith Hendricks has tracked Isaac down to Chesterton, Va., and stumbles upon Stephanie. He’s not sure if she’s Isaac’s accomplice or his next victim, but what he is certain of is his overwhelming attraction to her—an attraction she shares. As the pair follows the con man’s trail into the Deep South, Stephanie faces a dilemma: True love… or the gold-digging game. Which will she choose?

Shelly Ellis head shotSix Questions for Author Shelly Ellis

What makes The Player and the Game stand out among other African American romances out there?

My editor likes to describe the books in my Gibbons Gold Digger series as romance but with a little something different, or romance with extra spice. And this extra spice isn’t just sexual. I don’t write erotica, but I like to do romances that are sexy with a dynamic storyline. I like to write stories that are a hybrid between the typical romance and evening soap operas—making them more than a tale of boy meets girl and then they eventually find their happily-ever-after. The Player and the Game is a blend of romance, mystery, road-trip adventure, some laugh-out-loud moments, and moral lessons thrown into the mix. I hope readers have a ball reading it. I had fun writing it.

What would it take for a player like Stephanie to be reformed?

I can’t reveal too much, but Stephanie goes through a humbling experience in the beginning of the novel that starts her on her journey to reformation. Falling in love for the first time in her life also helps reform her.

In the first installment of the series, Can’t Stand the Heat, Lauren is a chef who leaves an abusive marriage & proves she can hold her own in and out of the kitchen. What would be a great recipe for writing the perfect romance?

I don’t know what the perfect recipe is, but I think I know what doesn’t work. Try not to go with typical ingredients/tropes of romance. Romance should be like an exotic, spicy curry, not a boring vanilla cake made with mix out of a box. Both may taste good, but one definitely required a lot more thought and originality than the other.

Try to avoid the insecure hero who doesn’t think he’s good enough for the heroine, or the bad boy who’s reformed by his love for the good girl. Try to avoid snowstorms that lock a couple together in a cabin, forcing them to confront their feelings for each other. Don’t have novels with the heroine waking up in the morning, looking in her mirror, or talking to her girlfriends over drinks at a bar or restaurant. Try to keep the reader guessing what’s going to happen next, as opposed to them thinking, “Hey, haven’t I read this before?”

The Gibbons sisters have their own playbook in which they maneuver the rules wisely with their men. What would be the ultimate playbook for women in our society to use while searching for that spicy romance?

You know, it’s funny. I try to write spicy romances, but my personal preference is a lot tamer. Love and compatibility are more important to me. Humor also can get you through the rougher patches. Spice is nice, but it’s not essential. (And honestly, it can fade overtime even with the hottest of couples.)

So what rules/playbook should one follow to find the best romance? Have an open heart; have an open mind; know your self-worth and be willing to assert it; and make sure that any man you want to treat you like a princess, you’re willing to treat him like a prince. Don’t forget, you’re equal partners in this story!

What tips would you give to writers who are trying to balance writing and parenthood?

I just became a mom four months ago, so I’m still trying to find that balance. But, no matter what, I’m a mother first, and a writer second. Even if I’m in the middle of a great writing jag and the words are flowing like crazy, if my baby starts crying, I have to step away from my laptop and address her cries. But I also know now to accept help when you can get it. If your mom or your hubby is willing to watch the baby for awhile, take advantage of it! Nap times are also a godsend. Use those quiet moments to work on your novels and catch up on badly needed rest/sleep.

We writers create characters that are close to our hearts, and we want our readers to establish a relationship with them. We want our characters to leave an aftereffect on our readers. What aftereffect do you want the Gibbons sisters to leave on your readers?

The Gibbons sisters are deeply flawed characters, but I still think they’re likeable. They come from a good place, even if that place is a bit screwed up. I want readers to have the takeaway to be careful of judging others on face value.

Also, the lives of the sisters can serve as a cautionary tale. Each sister has made decisions that have negatively affected their lives because they were taught that wealth and prestige are what’s most important. They all experience things that make them question that belief.

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

Here’s an excerpt:

 

Chapter 1

Busy, busy, busy, Stephanie Gibbons thought as she hurried toward her silver BMW that was parallel parked in the reserved space near her office. Her stilettos clicked on the sidewalk as she walked. Her short, pleated skirt swayed around her hips and supple, brown legs with each stride.

She shouldn’t have gone to the nail salon before lunch, but her French manicure had been badly in need of a touch-up. Unfortunately, that slight detour had thrown off the entire day’s schedule and now she was running ten minutes late for the open house.

The spring day was unseasonably warm, but it was tempered by a light breeze that blew steadily, making the newly grown leaves flutter on the numerous maples lining Main Street in downtown Chesterton, her hometown. The breeze now lifted Stephanie’s hair from her shoulders and raised her already dangerously short skirt even higher.

She adjusted the realtor name tag near her suit jacket lapel, casually ran her fingers through her long tresses, and reached into her purse. She pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed her assistant’s number. Thankfully, the young woman picked up on the second ring.

“Carrie, honey, I’m running late . . . Yes, I know . . . Are you already at the open house?” Stephanie asked distractedly as she dug for her keys in her purse’s depths. “Are any buyers there yet? . . . OK, OK, don’t freak out. . . . Yes, just take over for now. Put out a plate of cookies and set the music on low. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes . . . I know . . . I have every confidence in you. See you soon.”

She hung up.

With car keys finally retrieved, Stephanie pressed the remote button to open her car doors. The car beeped. The headlights flashed. She jogged to the driver’s-side door and opened it. As she started to climb inside the vehicle, she had the distinct feeling of being watched.

Stephanie paused to look up, only to find a man standing twenty feet away from her. He casually leaned against the brick front of one of the many shops on Main Street. He was partially hidden by the shadows of an overhead awning.

He looked like one of many jobless men you would find wandering the streets midday, hanging out in front of stores because they had little else to do and nowhere else to go. Except this bored vagrant was a lot more attractive than the ones she was used to seeing. He also was distinct from the other vagrants in town because she had seen him several times today and earlier this week.

Stephanie had spotted him when she walked into the nail salon and again as she left, absently waving her nails as they dried. He had been sitting in the driver’s seat of a tired-looking Ford Explorer in the lot across the street from the salon. Though he hadn’t said anything to her or even looked up at her as she walked back to her car, she had the feeling he had been waiting for her.

She had seen him also on Wednesday, strolling along the sidewalk while she had been on her date with her new boyfriend, Isaac. The man had walked past the restaurant’s storefront window where she and Isaac had been sitting and enjoying their candlelit dinner. When Stephanie looked up from her menu and glanced out the window, her eyes locked with the stroller’s. The mystery man abruptly broke their mutual gaze and kept walking. He disappeared at the end of the block.

The mystery man had a face that was hard to forget—sensual, hooded dark eyes, a full mouth, and a rock-hard chin. He stood at about six feet with a muscular build. Today, he was wearing a plain white T-shirt and wrinkled jeans. Though his short hair was neatly trimmed, he had thick beard stubble on his chin and dark-skinned cheeks.

“Are you following me?” Stephanie called to him, her open house now forgotten.

He blinked in surprise. “What?” He pointed at his chest. “You mean me?”

“Yes, I mean you!” She placed a hand on her hip. “Are you following me? Why do I keep seeing you around?”

He chuckled softly. “Why would I be following you? Lady, I’m just standing here.”

He wasn’t just standing there. She sensed it.

“Well, this is a small town. Loitering is illegal in Chesterton. You could get arrested!”

“It’s illegal to stand in front of a building?” Laughter was in his voice. He slowly shook his head.

“We’re still in America, right? Last time I checked, I was well within my rights to stand here, honey. Besides, I’m not panhandling. I’m just enjoying the warm sunshine.” His face broke into a charming, dimpled smile that would have made most women’s knees weak. “Is that a crime?”

Stephanie narrowed her eyes at him warily.

She didn’t like him or his condescending tone. He was attractive, but something emanated from him that made her . . . uncomfortable. It made her heartbeat quicken and her palms sweat. She wasn’t used to reacting to men this way. Usually her emotions were firmly in control around them, but they weren’t around this guy. She didn’t like him one bit.

“If . . . if I catch you standing here when I get back, I’ll . . . I’ll call the cops,” she said weakly.

At that, he raised an eyebrow. “You do that,” he challenged, casually licking his lips and shoving his hands into his jean pockets. Defiantly, he slumped against the brick building again.

Stephanie took a deep breath, willing her heart to slow its rapid pace. She climbed into her car and shut the driver’s-side door behind her with a slam. She shifted the car into drive and pulled off, watching him in her rearview mirror until she reached the end of block. He was still standing in front of the building, still leaning under the shadows of the awning, still looking smug as she drove to the end of Main Street and made a right.

Finally, she lost sight of him.

Copyright © 2013 by Shelly Ellis

Connect with Shelly Ellis:

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Shelly-Ellis/554332437931239

Twitter:  @ellisromance

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6464591.Shelly_Ellis

Websitehttp://shellyellisbooks.com/   (a great resource for personal and professional insight into the writing life and the publishing industry.)

The Player & The Game  is available on August 27, 2013.

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-player-the-game-shelly-ellis/1113785676?ean=9780758290373

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Player-Game-Shelly-Ellis/dp/0758290373/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1368236031&sr=1-3

When Deliciously Flawed Met Sinfully Satiable: Launch Party Blog Tour for Making the First Move by Reese Ryan

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ReeseRyanI am delighted to host the blog tour for Reese Ryan.  When one of our fellow writers publishes his or her first book, we as a community should celebrate for her success and for our hope to achieve the same.  I met Reese on She Writes, and we quickly connected through a tweet about joining the Justin Bieber craze.  Reese is the hardest working woman in the writing world.  She is my role model, for among all of the other hats she wears, she is always writing; she consistently works on and hones her craft.  I asked her the following questions about her writing process and her new release.   Don’t forget to check out the end of this post for an opportunity to win a prize. Congratulations, Reese!

1) How would you describe your writing process?   Where do you find inspiration for your ideas?
I’m a little bit plotter, a little bit pantser. I need a general outline of what’s going to happen. These days I prefer to do that by writing the synopsis before I write the story. Then I begin writing, but I allow my characters to take me on unexpected turns and detours. But having the basic outline in mind serves as blueprints in a remodel. I know which “walls” are load-bearing and which I can tear down. Ideas come from everywhere. Snippets of conversation. A news story. Lately, a secondary character in one story spurs the idea for the next story.

2) What makes MAKING THE FIRST MOVE stand out among other novels in your genre?

Two things that probably make Making the First Move a bit different is my love for flawed characters and the multicultural aspect of this story–two things that are consistent in my stories. As a reader, I want to see a character’s journey. If the heroine is shiny, happy, and perfect in the beginning of the story, where’s the fun in that? So she may not appeal to everyone in the opening pages. The multicultural nature of my story–whether the heroine is black, white, Latina, or Asian–is also very important to me. The world I live in is filled with diverse friends and family, so my novels are, too. Yet, the multiculturalism isn’t a theme or a message. It’s just a fact. Pure and simple.
3) Which scene did you enjoy writing the most? Which scene was the most difficult or less enjoyable?
Some of the scenes that were the most fun for me to write were the ones between Melanie and her work nemesis, Priscilla Cohen. Priscilla’s cunning and evil, and to be honest, it was fun to get inside her head. The most difficult scene for me is the one in which one character makes a devastating confession to the other. It’s a tense, emotional scene. The stakes are high for both of them and I felt both characters’ pain in writing and revising the scene.
4) Why is romance still relevant today?
There is a really fabulous video made by romance author Maya Rodale about why romance was long considered Dangerous Books for Girls: http://youtu.be/vKbYQhWhay0 and why–even today–the genre is often looked down upon by readers and writers of other genres. She states the case far more eloquently than I can. However, I love that romance novels often portray strong heroines who dare to go against what is expected of them and come out victorious. I think it’s an important underlying message that, as women, we can never hear enough.
5) Suppose you have a guy who wants to rekindle the romance in his long-term relationship or marriage. What tips would you give him for bringing the spark back?
Ha! Definitely not claiming any expertise in this area. So I’ll defer to the example of Raine Mason, the hero in Making the First Move. What makes Melanie fall in love with him is the genuine interest he has in her–her thoughts, her interests. He actually listens to her. He surprises her by doing something really sweet and unexpected, based on his knowledge of her. The commercial where a man is rewarded with a Klondike for FIVE seconds of actually listening to his wife talk makes me sad: http://youtu.be/TxC9-PJfyKo. So in essence…don’t be that guy.

6) What advice would you give other aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. If you really want to do this, commit to it. Constantly improve your craft through reading, classes, critique group participation, etc. And understand that growth process will continue throughout your career. Stay attuned to the rapid changes in the industry. Understand all your options and make the choice that works best for you–and for each particular project. Put out the best product you can–whether you work with a publisher or opt to self-publish.

Bio:

Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Central North Carolina with her husband and young adult son who tolerate her propensity to sing and dance badly. A self-proclaimed Bohemian Southern Belle, she treads the line carefully between being a Northerner and a damned Yankee–despite her insistence on calling soda pop. Reese gauges her progress by the number of “bless your lil’ hearts” she gets each week. She is currently down to two.

Visit Reese online at ReeseRyan.com. Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook.

Goodreads:  Reese Ryan
Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Ryan/e/B00CD31WJ0

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Title: Making the First Move

Author: Reese Ryan

Release date: July 22, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Price: $3.99

Amazon Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Making-the-First-Move-ebook/dp/B00CC68FMU/

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/making-the-first-move-reese-ryan/1115148406

iTunes Buy Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/making-the-first-move/id653078144?mt=11

Add to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17800669-making-the-first-move

Summary:

Melanie Gordon has spent the past five years obsessing over her career to dull the pain of a devastating breakup and the loss of her father. Her effort pays off when she receives the promotion that could be her big break. Only it means returning to her hometown to face her past while leaving behind the man who could be her future.

Selfless (and insanely sexy) philanthropist, Raine Mason, is committed to his cause. But his passion for rescuing high-risk young males from the road to disaster is fueled by his own dark and tragic past.

When Raine is ready to take his casual friendship with Melanie to sizzling new heights, her one-way ticket to Cleveland is already booked. But a steamy night of passion leaves them both wanting more, even if Melanie is afraid to admit it. She reluctantly agrees to a long-distance relationship with no promises and no commitments.

Melanie may finally be ready to give Raine her heart…but then she discovers startling news that causes her to question everything she knows about him. Worse, he’s harboring a dark secret from his past that threatens to shatter any hope of a future for them unless he can convince her that their love is worth the risk.

Excerpt:

Thirty minutes later, Raine is standing in my doorway in a camel-colored cashmere sweater and a pair of Levi’s. A white, button-down shirt peeks underneath the collar. Chin-length, caramel-colored locs are pulled back at the crown of his head, with the remaining hair hanging free. He is, in a word, gorgeous.

My eyes trace the curve of his biceps. I lick my lips, cheeks flushed, and hope he hasn’t noticed I’ve spent the past five seconds checking him out from head to toe. Twice.

“I see you’re ready to go.” He nods toward the wrap draped over my arm and my clutch tucked underneath it.

“I am.”

“Then shall we?” Raine extends his hand in the direction of the narrow stairwell leading down to the first floor.

“Let’s.” I offer a nervous smile.

He slips his hand to the small of my back. I try not to notice the heat emanating from his hand. But it’s nearly impossible to ignore the jolt of electricity, which travels through his long, elegant fingers and enters the base of my spine.

I’m sure his hand has been on that exact spot when he’s guided me through a crowd or we’ve danced together at charity functions. His touch seemed incidental then. Tonight, there’s something about the placement and pressure of his hand that feels deliberate, significant. Or maybe I’m transferring my own well-guarded desire to an innocent gesture.

Raine guides me down the stairs, out the front door and into his car, his hand still on my back.

“Thanks for doing this,” I say. “I know it’s short notice.”

“I couldn’t leave you standing there dressed, with no place to go.” He tries to hide a smirk as he turns the ignition.

“How’d you know I was already dressed when I called?”

“You’ve never been ready when I came to pick you up. There’s not a chance in hell you threw this together in thirty minutes. You look…amazing.”

“Very clever,” I say. “And thank you, I think.”

“It’s too bad, actually.”

“What’s too bad?”

“That you were ready. I was hoping to catch you in a towel, just out of the shower,” he says, his eyes straight ahead.

My cheeks grow warm. I’m not offended, just surprised. Our social conversations have been mildly flirtatious, but never anything so easily decipherable. We prefer our flirtation so well-coded that only a world-class hacker has a chance in hell of sorting it all out.

I stifle a giggle. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

He smiles.

We ride in silence for a while. He pays strict attention to the road. I pretend to be fascinated by the houses and apartments that fly by my window. The same ones I’ve seen nearly every day for the past five years.

MtFM CollageMaking the First Move Blog Tour Grand Prize

  • $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • Digital copy of Making the First Move by Reese Ryan
  • Digital copy of The Winning Season by Alison Packard
  • Digital copy of Knowing the Score by Kat Latham
  • Digital copy of Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning
  • Digital copy of Derby Girl by Tamara Morgan

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