What Makes a Novel a Romance?

What Makes a Novel a Romance Novel?

There are as many definitions of romance as there are dictionaries. The most common definition, and the most widely accepted, is a “feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” But all of the definitions digress quickly, adding statements like “remoteness from every day life” or “baseless, made up story usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention” or my personal favorite “talk about something in a way that makes it seem better than it is.”

Despite efforts by modern romance authors to create more realistic and contemporary plots and situations for their characters, some element of the elusive and unattainable, still creeps into the most popular romances. And I like it that way.

Why? What makes that element of the elusive or fanciful so important to romance readers? Why are heroes always so handsome and rich, so brilliant and powerful? How often, despite the rise of the women’s movement, is the hero still – well – the hero. Why is the US, a country where more women than men graduate from college, also the top selling country – by far – for romance books?

This is worthy of study. Me, I am just curious. So here is my take on romance and romance novels in the modern era – in 800 words or less.
 

Escape is just the easy way out

It might be generational. Perhaps older women, raised on fairy tale princesses might want something completely different in a romance than a woman born and raised after 1960. Data suggests otherwise. Maybe the romance reader is just seeking escape from their own life. I would be wrong there too, Authors tackle tough subjects in their novels today from mental illness to income inequality, from neglect to abuse and everything in between. These would keep stories from being pure escape.

Critics, who look down their noses at romance writers and readers while ignoring the complex topics and incredible writing they bring to these novels just to focus on escape are taking the easy way out. I could and would argue that we, as readers, escape whenever we pick up a novel – we go to a different place, a different time, a different galaxy. It Is not the escape that makes it a romance.

History and Chivalry

Romance as we know it today descends from the “Chevaliers”, or knights at court in the middle ages. What they represented was courtly love, full of elaborate rituals. Their actions were steeped in tradition and represented specific displays of etiquette. Courtiers carried a ladies handkerchief when the jousted, and presented the winnings to said lady. It was all manners and show. I would make the case that this historic show of love is the model for our image and definition of romance in a traditional romance novel, regardless of genre.

We have seen the films depicting that time, read the novels too. Courtly love demonstrated through dining, dancing, strolling in highly public venues with, perhaps, a stolen chaste kiss. Courtiers had their role to play and their ladies knew how to behave in return. Roles are certainly less clear today.

Then versus Now

Now, women often take control of their destiny – fortunately. They might take the lead by asking a man for a date, paying the check, or making the first move. The sense of being romanced has shifted. Maybe the woman is doing the wooing and winning. Or perhaps the man still takes the traditional role but our culture puts less emphasis on the manners and etiquette of wooing.

Some form of courtliness is what we get from romance novels in one way or another. A sweet romance will be full of manners and moments, a stolen kiss, a glance across the room that communicates so much and perhaps a lovely bouquet of roses. A paranormal romance might have our hero jumping through hoops to forge a bond across the boundaries of shifter and human, while in a steamy erotic romance the sex is used as a form of wooing, and the sex will always be hot and satisfying, very satisfying.

These are the manners, the etiquette and the traditions of our times. Our heroes are modern day Chevaliers, winning our hearts and giving us the ‘aah’ moment of a happy ending.

“A baseless, made up story, usually full of exaggerations or fanciful invention”? Maybe, but if so, here is what I say – give me more.

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Meet “Perfectly Honest” Linda O’Connor

Please join me in welcoming Linda O’Connor, author of the Perfectly series. I love a fellow romance writer who appreciates a great lake view and a happy ending.

Perfectly Honest (Book 1, Perfectly Series)

linda o'connorYou never know where your words will take you …

When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s ‘fiancée’ for a weekend, she probably should’ve told him that she’s a doctor. Sam O’Brien, aka ‘Dr. Eye Candy’, is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his ‘fiancée’ helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his ‘fiancée’ ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted.

Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!

Buy link: http://amzn.com/B00S77IW9O

What is your favorite place to write? I live in a house with a view of Lake Ontario, so I love to sit and write anywhere where I can see the water. I type on a laptop, so three seasons of the year I’ll sit outside. In the winter, I cozy up inside and watch the sun reflecting off the ice.

What inspires you as an author? Everything! News stories, headlines, snippets of conversations I hear, lyrics of songs, watching people and putting a story behind their body language or expression – they all inspire my imagination. I’m a physician and I started writing because I wanted to find a fun way to disseminate medical information. My characters are often doctors and the patients they see are inspired by something I want to teach.

Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? My favorite genre to read is romance because I love the happily-ever-after endings. It was easiest to write because I was very familiar with the plot-line and story characteristics that romance readers expect. I also wanted to target a female audience because women are usually the ones who see a physician. (Males generally are at the doctor because a girlfriend/partner/spouse/mom encouraged them to go. :D) I want to educate and empower readers to take ownership of their health and writing for a female audience seemed the best way to start. I write romantic comedies because I love being in a fun headspace when I’m writing. I think laughter is essential to great health!

What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it? I’ve written six books in the Perfectly Series and the sixth one was going to be the final one, BUT haha, I’ve joined a group of 20 authors to create a boxed set, Tropical Tryst, due out on July 31. All new stories, a variety of genres, set in a sultry tropical location (and only 99 cents) – I couldn’t resist! My story is a novella called Perfectly Skeptical – love when you least expect it (it’s like shopping in that respect :D).

Meet Linda O’Connor

linda o'connorLinda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories 😀 ). She hangs out at www.lindaoconnor.net

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

 

Social Media Links:

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What to get for Easter? Try these 10 Eggcellent RomComs

romcom

The Wedding Date (2005)

I love to watch TV. I don’t do it as often as I would like, what with writing and marketing books, and learning more about writing and marketing books. So I tend to binge watch when I veg in front of the TV.

When I retired, I was worried. I had no plan for how I would spend my time, no goals either. Sure, I had the nebulous ‘volunteering’ in the back of my mind, but where and how much had not solidified. Most of my Chicago friends still had jobs, making it difficult to arrange lunch dates, and my many friends who were retired and available were in North Carolina – lunching together, I might add, and telling me what I was missing.

When in doubt – binge

So for months, and I mean months, I figured I could binge-watch TV, all the shows I had been unable to keep up with while working 10 hour days. I started with “The Good Wife” catching up with current episodes. Next was four seasons of “Game of Thrones,” until I was caught up with that show as well.

At that point, I had binged ten seasons worth of television, all drama. My brain needed a break and my legs needed stretching. It was time to shed my pajamas and rejoin the world. So I took a few courses. If you have followed my story, you know that eventually I took a romance writing class and the rest is history.

Now I write and market, learn and promote, blog and network 12 hours a day, leaving little time to binge on television programs. But I still manage to do it. My boyfriend and I are up to season 5 of “West Wing”, dedicating Friday nights to three or four episodes until we finish the series. And in the wee hours of the morning, I find romantic comedies and Hallmark Channel movies and sneak them in when I should be getting much needed sleep.

We all want that happy ending – RomComs here we come

Dramas are good, but if you read romance, you want to watch romance too. You want to know you will get your happy ending and these films never disappoint. So here are 10 of my favorite modern romantic comedy (romcom)

movies – in no particular order – why I love them and where to find them (other than your favorite nail salon). I will save my favorite classic films for another day. Binge a little. You’ll feel great. You’ll thank me.

1/ Lost in Austen – this homage and spoof of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a bit long to qualify as a movie at 3:45, but worth every minute. Ultimately, love prevails and everyone – not just our heroine and hero – gets the ending they deserve. Available to buy or rent from Amazon

2/ Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea – OK, this is really pushing it with eight episodes from start to very satisfying conclusion. This Wonderworks production was created for a youth market but my girlfriends would agree that women of all ages (and many men) will love the timeless story and the amazing Prince Edward Island scenery. Available to purchase, or if you are lucky, on reruns.

3/ You’ve Got Mail – Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks teamed up well several times, but this is my favorite. Watching the love build and grow between these two characters is just charming, giving us a particularly satisfying ending. Catch it on reruns or download it from just about everywhere.

4/ The Wedding Date – Dermot Mulroney is adorable in this film, suave and completely in character. Debra Messing does come across too pitiful at times, but the two of them together are irresistible. The sex scene on the boat is one for the record books and elevates Maroon 5’s music to new heights. Available to stream or buy on Amazon.

5/Love on the Sidelines – This Hallmark movie follows the usual formula, but the lead actress, Emily Kinney, is so endearing that you can watch it over and over. She plays an executive assistant to an injured pro-football quarterback. She is hard working and sweet; he is adored and entitled. Sparks fly and in less than two hours, you get a wonderful story of her learning assertiveness, him learning humility and the two learning they are in love. Very touching. Watch for it in reruns, especially during football season.

6/ Love at First Glance – This recent Hallmark offering does not fit the usual romance model as our lovers fall in love from a distance. But the creativity of the storyline and some better than usual acting for Hallmark (Amy Smart and Adrian Grenier) make this one a winner. Available in reruns now on Hallmark Channel.

7/ The Ugly Truth – while there is definitely some ugly sexism in this film, our leading lady is still the boss, a TV producer in a powerful job. The chemistry between Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler is undeniable and you know I love a good elevator scene. Find it on cable or any movie provider.

8/ Victoria (Masterpiece) – This is supposed to be a historical piece, and it is, but the love stories (and there are several) are compelling in this sumptuous story of a young Queen Victoria. Unfortunately, PBS only makes the last few episode of their Masterpiece programs available once a program has aired, but keep your eyes open because they will run all 7 episodes of Victoria before they air season two. If you can’t wait, the DVD is available by making a contribution to PBS – a nice combination of doing good and getting great.

     9/ Notting Hill – there are moments in this movie that annoy, but the car scene with everyone rushing to bring the lovers together is a charmer. And all the supporting actors make this movie a winner. Catch it on cable, on reruns or on your favorite movie provider.

     10/ Enough Said – This film about middle-aged people starting over has all the fumbling and mistakes that make love a little less “Hallmark” and a little more real. James Gandolofini is fantastic as our unlikely romantic hero. It is just wonderful. You can rent the DVD from Redbox or stream on Amazon Prime.

And the winner is…

I am sure you agree with a few of my choices, but are wondering why your personal favorite is missing from the romcom list. Won’t you share your must-see romance in the comments below?

 

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Ungranted Wishes by Grace Risata

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce a new author and a new genre to my site. Grace Risata has shared a bit of her paranormal Romantic comedy, Ungranted Wishes. I just have to love a fellow hotdog lover. Check it out and enjoy.

ungranted wishes Ungranted Wishes Blurb:

It would be putting it mildly to say that full-figured Cleo Welch was in a funk. Dead end job? Check. Bank account? Running low. Sex life? Non-existent.

Her luck took a turn for the better when she stumbled upon a magic brass pot at a rummage sale. After getting drunk and rubbing things the right way, Cleo found herself in possession of one extremely attractive genie who was very grateful to be released.

What’s a girl to do when a four thousand year old genie is far more interested in satisfying her every desire, rather than granting any of her wishes? Well…she does the genie. That’s a no-brainer!

WARNING: This full length novel contains quite a few explicit sex scenes (including ones involving candy that explodes, a dirty talking detective, and an ancient ritual performed with raspberries). Every scene is absolutely consensual between all parties involved. All my stories come with a guarantee that you will crack a smile, find a happily-ever-after ending, and never have to deal with an annoying cliffhanger. There’s also no cheating, no billionaires, no bigfoot sightings, and plenty of character backstory.

Book Excerpt:

            “Holy crap.  I’m either never drinking this wine again, or I need to buy a freaking CASE of it,” I muttered in disbelief, glancing at my empty glass and back to the naked stranger.

            “Hello, beautiful.  Was it you who summoned me?” asked the bronzed Adonis standing before me.

            “What?”

            He walked over and cocked his head at me.  A pair of smoldering eyes examined my body from head to toe.  He must have enjoyed the sight, because a gigantic smile slowly formed on his face.

            “Are you the one who rubbed my lamp and promised to let me touch your breasts?  I believe I will hold you to that offer.  I’ve been stuck inside that thing for quite a while and I could use some female attention.  I also believe you kissed the lamp while you were rubbing it.  How about you kiss me instead?  I guarantee my lips will feel infinitely better pressed against yours, as opposed to kissing cold brass.”

Meet Grace Risata 

I would first and foremost like to thank everyone for taking the time to give my stories a chance. My goal is to take you out of your world, and all the stresses that go along with everyday life, and bring you into my world of romance and fantasy. I have a special weakness for hot alpha males and the feisty heroines who love them. Above all else, I hope you got a laugh out of my book. I aim to incorporate as much comedy into my romance as is humanly possible. 

My professional biography is as follows (I’m not sure why it’s in the third person, evidently that’s the rule): Grace is happiest when reading, eating Portillos hot dogs, and patiently waiting for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Author Website  https://gracerisata.wordpress.com/

Author Amazon Page  https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Risata/e/B01AUXMZAO

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Lost Your Spark? 6 Sexy Solutions to Add Romance Now

sex imagination sparkWe all lose the spark in our relationships now and then. Maybe work concerns us, we are busy with kids or have financial issues. Maybe we feel fat, think our partner is fat, or we are just fighting a cold. Perhaps we have no partner and we feel lonely. There are a million reasons not to feel romantic.

But I believe there are a million and one reasons to feel that spark, to get the juices flowing, to connect. We just have to get our heads in the right place.

Studies show “Men respond more positively towards sexual stimuli and thoughts, and they accept them more easily. The male population has an attitude that, together with sexual fantasies, heightens sexual drive…women also share the imagination at play. The more sexual fantasies they have, the more sexual desire they experience.”

Not only do women benefit from using their imaginations, but research indicates that their fantasies can be very complex. “Emotional and mental factors play a huge part in bringing women to orgasm. Women’s fantasies don’t tend to be as straightforward as many men’s but involve layers of storytelling and context.”

If it is all in our heads?

If you think about it, as a romance writer I am trying to fuel romantic thoughts, using nothing but my words and your imagination. That is the reason I love romance books far more than romantic movies – although, don’t get me wrong, I like films too.

Being able to picture yourself in the role of a romantic, sexy character, or to imagine those washboard abs on a hero requires the use of our brain. We all have that thing that gets us, holds our interest, turns us on.

In her article for The Awl, “Romance Novels, The Last Great Bastion Of Underground Writing,” author Maria Bustillos says: “I have often wondered whether romance novels mightn’t generally serve the same purpose for women that pornography does for so many men. I do not mean as an aid to autoeroticism, though, so much as the imaginary fulfillment of a profound imperative that is never too far from your mind.”

With that in mind…

It’s tax season, always a downer. People are frustrated by politics, no matter which side they’re on. It’s been raining here in Chicago all week, too. So I thought I would pick out a few uplifting ways to put a spark back in your life – a little lightening, so to speak.

I am bypassing the obvious, like sexy lingerie, candlelight and a great bottle of cabernet, and focusing on things that fuel the imagination.

1/ Truth or Dare. Do you remember the game? This is the sexy version. I recommend you play it like strip poker, prolong the results, building slowly to some satisfying sex. Strip poker is a nice alternative. Dares should be baby steps toward the sex, so you can build up that tension.

2/ Read out loud to each other. Select a favorite romance, or perhaps you prefer Victorian porn (have you read Cleland’s “Fanny Hill” for example? It’s very spicy). If you doubt the efficacy of reading romance together, you must have missed “The Jane Austen Book Club”.

3/ Try something new (and maybe scary) together. Have you ever noticed that the Bachelor on “The Bachelor” always selects the woman with whom he bungee jumped, scaled the building or tried zero-gravity? Yeah, these men are pretty consistent about it, too. Try something scary together, rely on each other to get through it. When all that adrenaline has worn off, you will have this wonderful shared experience.

4/ Get out of town or at least away. I work as a back-up to the innkeepers at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast in my neighborhood. A few weeks ago I was sitting at the innkeeper’s desk talking to a young couple. “Where are you from?” I asked them. To my astonishment they replied, “Down the street.” Turns out they were celebrating the young man’s birthday by getting away from their day to day responsibilities. What a great idea for some romance. These two shared a couples massage, an elegant dinner and the most romantic room in the entire B&B. Try it to heat things up.

5/ Reach out to someone new. Not you married folks, this one is for the singles. Go on a dating service, sign up for a vacation full of singles, go to a church or synagogue singles group. Join the volleyball team in your apartment complex. Pick something you like to do anyway so that you can have a good time whether you meet someone or not. Nice single people are everywhere and one of them is looking for you.

6/ Love yourself. Sure, I could mean that in the physical sense. If you want to do that, go for it. Have a good time. But in this case I mean: be kind to yourself, take care of yourself. Feeling fat? I struggle with this one. but if I fix my hair and makeup, and put on a great pair of heels, I find I feel sexy anyway. Taking care of yourself can help put you in the mood. See if it works for you.

What’s Your Great idea?

This is an incomplete list to be sure. What did I miss? What works for you that you can share with the rest of us? Add your comments and let’s create our own version of global warming.

Two Contests Running Now:

  • 2017 Spring Fling – What could you win? How about 1-Year of Amazon Prime ($100), a Kindle Kid’s Bundle ($100), a 7″ Kindle Fire ($50), or Amazon gift cards ($100 or $50). Enter at https://wp.me/P2H01p-6xF
  • Rafflecopter – What could you win? All three eBooks currently available in the Beguiling Bachelor series. Four lucky winners will be announced next week. Enter at http://bit.ly/2oBBD0x

For more on the articles referenced here check out: 

  • “Great Sex is all in the Mind” by Psychologies 
  • “A study confirms the importance of sexual fantasies…” in EurekAlert 
  • “How To Enhance Your Sex Life Using Your Imagination” by YourTango.com
  • “Romance Novels: The Last Great Bast
    ion of Underground Writing” The Awl 
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“Lily and the Gambler” by Linda McLaughlin #eggcerptexchange

Please welcome Linda McLaughlin and get a taste of her romance, Lily and the Gambler. I know you will enjoy it. And be sure to read Linda’s biography. She writes under several pen names and I can’t wait to read something from them all!

Meet Linda McLaughlin

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

I’m so thrilled about my latest release, a Western romance set in the California Gold Country, specifically Grass Valley, 1868. My husband and I visited the area some years ago and I fell in love with it. Grass Valley was especially interesting to me because of the large Cornish population in the 19th century. This area had deep gold veins that couldn’t be panned. Cornish miners were encouraged to come because of their experience in the tin mines of Cornwall, which were petering out. To this day, the Cornish pasty is a local treat, and the city still celebrates a Cornish Christmas.

A shorter, sexier version of this story was previously published by Amber Quill Press. When I got the rights back, I realized I now had the opportunity to tell the tale as I’d originally intended, as a sensual romance. It was fun to revisit Lily and King’s world and spend time with them again. They are two of my favorite characters. I hope readers will agree.

Linda


#eggcerptexchangeLily & the Gambler  

By Linda McLaughlin

Sensual Western Historical Romance

Blurb:

Respectability is in the eye of the beholder. Or so Lily Penhallow hopes when she assumes the guise of the widow Albright. She has learned the price of flaunting convention and is determined to obey society’s rules from now on. After her lover, Nigel Albright, was killed in a duel over a card game, Lily dons widow’s weeds and travels to Grass Valley, California where she plans to marry the man her uncle works for, a respectable mine owner named Hugh Ogilvie. Then, on the riverboat from San Francisco, she meets Creighton ‘King’ Callaway, a professional gambler, just the kind of man she should avoid.

King believes that since life is a gamble, there’s no point in planning for the future. You have to trust Lady Luck. After meeting Lily, King knows he has found his Queen of Hearts. But can he convince her to pass up a sober businessman for a foot-loose card sharp?

Only Lady Luck knows for sure…

(Previously published in a shortened version by Amber Quill Press)

Buy links:

Amazon Kindle US: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01MYMEKMD/

BN/Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lily-and-the-gambler-linda-mclaughlin/1125157205

Coming Soon to Other Retailers

Excerpt:

Lily smiled at him. “That was quite a trick. Do you tell fortunes, too?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Is the lady interested?”

“Perhaps,” she said, aware he was flirting with her again and annoyed with herself because she was enjoying it. “There should be a deck of cards here somewhere.”

“No cards required. Just let me see your palm.”

Unable to stop herself, Lily stripped off her gloves and let him take her hand. He held it in his left hand, and with his right index finger, traced the lines on her palm. Shivers ran up her arm at each caressing touch. His scent, a mixture of bay rum, male musk, and a faint hint of tobacco, overwhelmed her.

“What do you see?” she asked, her voice suddenly breathless.

“Health and long life.”

“What, no handsome stranger?” she joked.

He raised his head and stared into her eyes. “Oh, yes, I see romance ahead for you. With a dark haired fellow. But he isn’t a stranger.”

For what seemed an age, she stared into his green-gold eyes while her pulse quickened and warmth stole through her veins. It would be so easy to surrender to the feelings he evoked.

“I also see a fork in the road ahead,” he added softly. “You have a decision to make. A very important decision.”

She snatched her hand away, knowing she couldn’t afford to be distracted by him. It wasn’t as if he had made her any promises. “I think you need to practice your fortune-telling skills, Mr. Callaway.”

He chuckled. “There’s something else I’d like to practice.” Cupping her chin, he stared at her, his eyes full of half promises. “Oh, hell, I may get my face slapped for this, but…” His hand moved to the back of her neck as he lowered his head and captured her lips in a kiss that stole her breath away.

For a moment, she closed her eyes and gave herself up to the kiss. Then a door slammed somewhere in the house, reminding her of where they were. She pushed him away. “How dare you?” she hissed.

He gave her a lazy grin. “What’s that old saying? Nothing ventured, nothing gained?”

“I think you’d best be going.”

He paused at front door, turned and held her gaze for a moment, then left.

She sighed and leaned against the doorjamb. What had she been thinking to let him kiss her, however briefly?

linda mclaughlinAuthor bio:

Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of books and history, so it’s only natural she prefers writing historical romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward. Linda also writes steamy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont, and is one half of the writing team of Lyn O’Farrell. A native of Pittsburgh, PA. she now lives in Southern California.

You can find her online at http://lindalyndi.com

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This Week : Check out and Change my new Novel

new novel spring

Finally, the new novel.

As most of you know by now, I have been struggling with writer’s block most of the winter. With spring comes flowers, and luckily, words. Now that I could be outside enjoying the warmer weather, I am glued to my computer. These days I am deep into writing the fourth and final book in the Beguiling Bachelor series. This last book, tentatively titled Besotted, closes the loop on our four handsome Lake Forest millionaires and their quests for love and happiness.

Just a Hint

Although it remains unedited, I thought you might want to see the beginning of the story – with the understanding that it could change later, of course. My editors love to do their work thoroughly and nothing misses their eagle eyes.

If all goes well – and it seldom does – watch for Besotted in July, fully edited and under its final title. Until then, watch this blog for updates on the progress of the story of Tyler and Regan.

Want to influence the ending, the cover, the next series? These are all still in the works, so post your comments and suggestions.

Chapter One

“Meet me behind the football stadium.”

He passed the note surreptitiously during second period, a half page of paper hastily ripped from his notebook. His scrawl was normally barely legible, but his nerves had added to the problem and he worried that she wouldn’t be able to read it. There was no reply and so he remained anxious the entire day.

“Mr. Winthrop, despite the fact that this is the final week of your senior year, your attention would be appreciated.” Mr. Finley impaled Tyler with his most threatening glare. Six months ago, that look would have had the teenager shaking in his very expensive shoes, but today he just gave a polite nod, pretending to pay attention. He was sure he missed some key to passing the final exam, but he had already taken the AP test, already been accepted to the college of his choice, already written his salutatorian speech. It was the end of high school; no one could expect him to pay attention. Still old habits died hard, so he chided himself and tried to concentrate.

Nope, his nerves definitely had the better of him. He stared straight ahead, appearing to be all ears, but his brain rehearsed and refined his speech to Regan until the bell rang.

“Finally,” he muttered under his breath, shoving everything into his backpack and rushing to beat the crowd out the door. Entering the hallway he was immediately accosted by his three closest friends, Randall, Alex and Wyatt.

Oh shit, not Wyatt.

“Where are you headed in such a hurry?” Wyatt prodded. “It better not be to sniff around my little sister.”

“Leave the poor guy alone,” Alex slammed into Wyatt just enough to make his point. “Regan could do way worse and you know it. So does T, so your threats are falling on deaf ears.”

“What are you going to do for the next four years, T, pine for the girl? You need to break it off and move on. College girls await, my man. You need to be free to partake.”

“Spoken like a true player, Wyatt,” Tyler accused.

“ What’s wrong with being a player?” Randall asked defensively. “Especially when you’re as good at it as he is?” Randall tipped his head in the direction of Wyatt. “He’s stolen every girl I’ve ever gone after. Just be grateful Regan is his sister or he’d have stolen her too.”

“Eeww,” Wyatt cringed at the idea.

“Seriously, what are you going to do, Tyler?” Wyatt asked again. “You can’t string her along for the next four years.”

“I know,” Tyler admitted reluctantly. “I am on my way to ‘have the talk’ with her right now, so get off my back.”

Don’t say too much Tyler. Let them think what they will.

“Good. I will feel much better when you break it off. And she’s a smart girl, she has to be expecting it.”

“Be gentle, Tyler,” Alex added. “She may know its coming, but it will still hurt.”

“Who cares, Alex?” Wyatt tossed out. “I just want him away from her instead of in her pants.”

“Wyatt, you are talking about your sister,” Randall gave his friend a stern look.

“Yeah, and you guys know Tyler. Would you trust him with your sister?”

Coming this week

Watch this space for two new contests that begin April 3 and April 5.

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The Lost Art of Second Chances – Meet Courtney Hunt

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Courtney Hunt, as well as her Kindle Scout Award winning novel, The Lost Art of Second Chances. If I know you, you will want rush out to buy this and many other books by Courtney. First, let’s learn a bit about the author.

Lost Art of Second ChancesWhere is your favorite place to write?

As a creature of comfort and routine (maybe I’m part Hobbit!), I prefer writing in my home office, at my iMac with the biggest monitor possible, surrounded by shelves stuffed with writing craft books and all sorts of knickknacks from my various fandoms.

It’s usually far messier than I’d like but I’d rather write than straighten up. Occasionally, I’ll go to Panera or to Starbucks for a change of pace to write with my travel Chromebook. I usually write with instrumental music, brain FM, or my Coffitivity app playing. It mimics the sound of a busy coffeeshop. 

 

What inspires you as an author?

My eight-year-old son is my inspiration. I want to provide a good model for him by chasing my own dreams. I’ve always been a reader and started reading romances as a pre-teen. All those amazing romance writers I read inspired me to become a writer myself.

As far as story ideas, plot bunnies have a way of arriving when it’s least convenient for me. The idea for my first book, Forever a Bridesmaid, arrived on my family beach trip in 2014. My sister, a professional wedding makeup artist, mentioned the then-new trend toward professional bridesmaids. By the time I finished splashing in the surf with my son, I’d developed an idea for a trilogy about professional bridesmaids. The Always a Bridesmaid series debuted in 2015. It’s ballooned to a five book series now, with no sign of slowing down. The third book, Kiss a Bridesmaid, will appear in April 2017

Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance?

As a lifelong romance reader myself, I love the strong heroines and the sexy heroes who steal their hearts. The romance genre focuses on the courtship part of a woman’s life because nothing is more thrilling than falling in love and, after many obstacles, getting to happily ever after.

I chose to write family and friendship focused contemporary romances set in small towns because 1) I love those stories, such as Gilmore Girls; 2) that’s the type of story ideas my muse hands me; and 3) my voice is very modern. I don’t think I could write regencies, for example, much as I love them.

 What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it?

Kiss a Bridesmaid, the third in the Always a Bridesmaid series will be out in April 2017. I’m appearing in several boxed sets in 2017, including a Tropical Tryst set with the fourth bridesmaid book in August 2017. A second story in my new Billionaire Babes Club will appear in the Billionaire Ever After boxed set in September.

I’m currently writing Dylan Delaney’s story for Never a Bridesmaid which will be out by the end of 2017.

Blurb – The Lost Art of Second Chances

Will her grandmother’s secret lead to Lucy’s second chance at love?

When Lucy Parker’s eccentric grandmother, Belladonna, dies, she leaves one last request. Lucy must return a beloved painting to a mysterious man in Italy, leading her on a journey into the past to discover long-buried family secrets that could change everything. . . .

Belladonna Rossi grew up as the queen of her small town in rural Tuscany. When World War II terrorizes the countryside, she helps the Monuments Men hide centuries of art in the warren of caves in her family vineyard. She falls in love with one of the soldiers, but will their love be able to survive in a war-torn world?

When Lucy’s childhood best friend, estate lawyer Jack Hamilton, agrees to accompany her to Italy, will they find their second chance at love? From a tiny town in Massachusetts to the rolling hills of Tuscany, never-told family secrets unfurl in The Lost Art of Second Chances.

Buy it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Second-Chances-ebook/dp/B016C6D51Q/

 

Courtney HuntMeet Courtney

Courtney Hunt writes smart, funny contemporary romances featuring strong heroines and the sexy heroes who steal their hearts.

In addition to her Kindle Scout winning novel, The Lost Art of Second Chances, her work includes the light-hearted Always a Bridesmaid series, the heartwarming Cupid’s Coffeeshop series, and the sensual Billionaire Babes Club.

An attorney by day, Courtney lives outside Washington, DC with her own Prince Charming and their son.

Join her mailing list for a FREE starter library at courtney-hunt.com

 

 

 

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My Future Step Brother – Meet Tina Gayle #eggcerptexchange

future step brotherPlease welcome author Tina Gayle, who is sharing a bit about her short story, My Future Step Brother. She has included a link to download the book for free. Get it today!

BLURB FOR MY FUTURE STEP BROTHER

Lyndsey Turner only wants to have fun. She doesn’t care if her dad marries Travis Clark’s mother. Travis is super-hot and sets her body on fire every time he steps near her.

Travis has other ideas. He understands Lyndsey’s wild streak and wants her attention on him. All seems to be working according to his plan until his mother discovers she may have breast cancer.

Now, Travis wants to solidify his relationship with Lyndsey and start planning for their future.

Will Lyndsey commit to be his alone or does he have to play the dating game a while longer?

If you love romance, don’t miss this short story from the popular Executive Wives Club series

 

EXCERPT:

“So what do you plan to say to my dad tomorrow night?” Lyndsey interrupted the on-screen monolog, hoping to find out why he’d insisted on having dinner with her father. Their families had been acquainted for years. Travis’ dad had been an executive at her father’s company, Mama Turner’s Logistics until Jack Clark and several other executives had died in a car wreck.

With the death of Lyndsey’s mother, her father had turned to Marianne Clark for support. The two of them had grieved together. Now, they were dating and the entire executives wives’ club had a stake in their affair, seeing as all of them had remarried except Marianne.

Travis toyed with her hair, his fingers lightly tugging on the strands. “Not sure, I’m hoping if he sees us together he’ll begin to accept us as a couple.”

Unhappy with how the evening was progressing, Lyndsey drew her sweatshirt further down over her jeans. Tonight, they had agreed to have an in-house date with items picked up from the supermarket’s deli and a rented DVD. She’d hoped with no interruptions that they might move their relationship into a more intimate arena. “He’s seen us together at Brie’s and Jason’s, and Sylvia’s party to celebrate her marriage to Vince. Why will this time be any different?”

Pick up Free at https://www.instafreebie.com/free/EwL6x

 

Other books in the series

  • Marketing Exec’s Widow
  • IT Exec’s Baby
  • CFO’s Affair
  • CEO’s Widow
  • Read 1st Chapter at www.tinagayle.com

 

Tina Gayle’s Bio

Her first romantic novel published in 2008,Tina Gayle Tina Gayle has written over thirty romantic books under two different pseudonyms. Her novels span several different genres from contemporary to fantasy and sweet to erotic. She enjoys the challenge of drawing a reader into a story and having them travel down the same road as her hero and heroine. Married thirty years, she enjoys spending time with her husband on the golf course. Find out more about Tina on her website www.tinagayle.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorTinaGayle

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Tina-Gayle/214633841921560?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Tina-Gayle/e/B002BM9GR8

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Improve Your Blog Content and Happiness in One Step

Purpose. We all have one. Most likely, we have several. We try to make our choices with a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose is believed to be a top contributor to a person’s happiness.

purpose madison michaelI always assumed I had purpose – to be a good sister and daughter, and friend, to be a hard worker, a romance author, and to be and to have fun. It never dawned on me that I was wandering without purpose when I wrote. After all, writing is what I do most often and by choice. I would certainly do it with purpose. Right?

This week I had the pleasure – and I mean pleasure – of attending a webinar hosted by the bright, energizing and informative Sarah of www.xosarah.com, a site dedicated to helping bloggers. The webinar was on ‘list building’, which is blogger-speak for capturing email addresses so that you can directly contact people interested in your work, in my case that is my readers. You.

Sarah relayed a scenario that rang so true for me. She asked what our purpose was in emailing (I extend the question to my blogging) sharing the notion that many people start a blog, or build a list, because someone told them to. Yep, you guessed it. That is exactly what I did.

What to write?

Bloggers – and habitual emailers – struggle with creating content. Oh no, not Thursday again! What the hell will I write this time? Yep, that’s me too. Sarah had me pegged. But, God love her, she knew why I had this constant struggle with interesting content.

If you don’t know your purpose in writing, and your audience’s purpose in reading, how can you determine what to write? And since my purpose was to satisfy some “expert” who advised “You have to have a mailing list” or “You absolutely must have a blog”, I had a real problem.

Sarah explained that there are four reasons readers tune in to a blog or read a newsletter. Just four. Wow, I thought. this is easy. Just figure out what they want and give it to them. I have a 25% chance of being right.

Don’t like those Odds

I really appreciate your taking the time to read my writing. There is a ton of material to read on line everyday. I know I delete more than I read and I imagine you do too.

So what might make you read my post? Here is what Sarah suggested:

  • you want advice or motivation,
  • you want updates on events,
  • you want information about new products or discounts,
  • you want to learn more about me and what I do.

I stopped to think about it. I am a gambler, so I understand odds. I did not want to lose 75% of my audience for failure to provide what they want.

I am no exercise guru, as we know, and my failure at diets is legendary. I am a novice as a writer and even newer at blogging. Therefore, I am thinking that my ability to provide advice and motivation is not your primary reason for tuning in each week.

I do on occasion share information about events like book signings and conferences but so infrequently that I cannot imagine that was your purpose.

My products and discounts –Sure, you learn about my novels here, but more of you seem to find out about my book launches from my Facebook page. Surprisingly, most of you

bought “Bedeviled” even at full price (thanks for that, by the way) and “Beholden”, which I have never discounted, is currently my top seller, eliminating the idea that you are here for the discounts. If I rule out deals and discounts, I am left with only one option.

You read each week to learn about me, my process and my progress as a writer. You ask me questions about my characters and my plot, my inspiration for a story and my habits as a writer.

Throwing the Dice

So, if that is your purpose – to learn more about Madison Michael, the author – share your curiosities and questions with me. I promise to respond. I am putting myself out there and taking a risk. There is no house advantage unless you share your comments and ideas. Then, my odds of delivering content that you want to read improve.

Do you want to read excerpts from upcoming books? Deleted scenes? Do you want me to tell you about my writer’s block and how I finally overcame it? About how I try and fail, how I try and succeed? Do you want to hear about promotions and sales results? Let me know what will make you ante up.

On the flip side

Sarah asked what my purpose was in writing. Again, I had to do a serious gut-check to find mine. Want to know more about that? Read today’s newsletter by joining my VIP group. Place your bet here.

 

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photo: mindtosucceed.com

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