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I Finished My First Novel

Well, I finally did it! I finished a novel. That’s why I haven’t been posting on this blog much. I have been obsessed with my book!

I started a short story over a year ago about two people who meet in a sauna and things get overheated. But as I wrote it, the characters wanted more than just this one anonymous fling. So I set it aside for a future time, when I was ready to write something longer.

Fast forward to October 1, 2016, when I attended a Harlequin writers workshop. It was fun and I did get a lot out of it. At the end the editor invited all attendees, as well as the other members of our local RWA chapters who couldn’t be there, to join in a submission blitz. We all had until October 15th to send in a synopsis and first ten pages of a super steamy erotic romance. Ding! Ding! Ding! My sauna tale!!! It wasn’t finished, but I figured “what the heck?” At the very least I would get some much needed feedback about my writing. Sure I’d been writing for over 30 years, but I hadn’t learned all the “rules” of writing romance yet. I knew there was a lot of room for improvement and I was excited to get advice from the biggest romance publisher in the world.

When I re-read my old story I decided the only thing I liked about it was the sauna incident and two of the character’s names. The rest of it was B-O-R-I-N-G. I re-wrote the entire thing, starting first with the synopsis. I free wrote a synopsis, which became the outline to the story. I had never tried outlining before, having always been a pantser, but I will do this from now on.

At the eleventh hour, I sent in my synopsis and first chapter (plus a short prologue). When I got a reply six weeks later I was so excited! What I did not expect was a request for the full manuscript. I freaked out, posted to my writing group, “What do I do???” and an angel appeared. Continue reading “I Finished My First Novel”

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Nocturne by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

First let me start off by saying I love sexy steamy romance novels, the steamier the better. This book was not one of them. Nocturne is a gentle love story about two lonely people who find each other through their passion for music.

Young governess Ella Montgomery is still grieving the death of her beloved father when she is hired at Blackheath Manor. The earl and his countess are not very welcoming, but their five year old twin daughters are adorable, making the job bearable. Ella is utterly alone since she is unable to befriend any servants–and the housekeeper seems to despise her.

When Ella discovers a mystery man playing piano late one night she befriends him. He turns out to be the earl’s brother Thomas who has been kept hidden away due to his crippling wounds from the war. Their love of music bring them together, while finding a friend each so desperately needs. Their falling in love was believable and not rushed at all, despite this being a novella.

This was a sweet story with a happy ending full of hope and new beginnings.

At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey

Hallelujah! I’m doing a happy dance!

For months I had been trudging through book after book, unable to get through the third chapter. I started to think I was depressed until I found this little gem! At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey would probably be classified as “New Adult”, not something I usually go for. But Aubrey’s quirky style grabbed me from the very beginning! The story premise might turn some people off, but just go with it.

A 22-year old woman decides to auction off her virginity and announces it on her popular gaming blog. People are shocked, offended, curious and she even gets publicity over it. All she really wants is to get the deed done so she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore…and possibly make enough money to pay for medical school.

The writing is quick and fun. The characters are believable and lovable. I had my suspicions very early on about who her highest bidder might be and was thrilled and dismayed at the same time when he finally revealed himself. FYI, do NOT read the prequels before reading this book or you will spoil the surprise.

I love that this book (and I suppose all of Aubrey’s books) delve into geek culture. I actually had been wanting to add those elements to my own stories. I’m a bit of a “geek girl” myself. If you love online gaming, Dr. Who, D&D, Comic-Con and Star Wars, you will love this book. Even if you don’t I bet it will be fascinating for you to enter a new world.

Taken by the Duke by Jess Michaels

Romeo and Juliet meets Beauty and the Beast.

In Taken by the Duke we first learn there is an age old feud between two families.The story starts off with a heartbreaking fatal accident. (I was crying over the prologue!)

To avenge his sister’s death, Christian Rothcastle kidnaps Lady Ava Windbury, the sister of his enemy. A simple abduction turns into a sinful bargain. Ava agrees to stay with Christian for three weeks as his mistress if he promises not to hurt her brother. The only problem is once they start, neither wants it to end.

This is a highly erotic historical romance. There are a lot of graphic sex scenes, but they are exquisitely written and emotionally charged.

Grace – Chapter 1 (or Prologue?)

This story is being told in “drabbles”, which are short stories of exactly 100 words. I’m doing this differently, in which each of my chapters is exactly 100 words. It’s a writing challenge just for fun. Each chapter might sound vague, but this is only an outline. I welcome your input, suggestions, critiques, etc. Someday I might turn it into a novel.

Three girls huddled together in a most unladylike fashion as the other boarding school students rushed past out the door.

“Promise me we will always be friends,” Constance whimpered.

“Of course we will,” Violet snapped.

“We are soul mates, destined to have found one another in our time of need,” Grace said.

“Ever the writer.” Violet murmured.

“What do you expect from the daughter of a publisher.”

“Better that than a gentleman farmer. I’m little more than a brood mare to him.”

“Has he found you a husband?” Grace asked.

“Unfortunately.”

“But The Season is still upon us,” Constance reminded.

That Story Prompt Has Sparked Something

That story prompt sparked an idea in me. I have always loved wallflowers and bluestockings and young women who fight against their forced gender roles. Gabriella has become Grace (my daughter liked the name better) and she and her friends are wallflowers who will do all in their power to help each other attain their heart’s desire.

I recently learned about drabbles, short stories that consist of exactly 100 words. Since I love writing flash fiction it sounded perfect for me! I am going to write the entire story out in drabble size chapters. If I get enough feedback I hope to embellish it and turn it into a series.

Story Prompt: Less Than a Second

I was given a story prompt in a recent RWA thread and decided to go for it.
Story prompt: It was less than a second, but it changed everything. 
I had finally done it. I had gotten my heart’s desire to notice me. I had been swooning over Charles Lancaster for years, spying on him across the room from my regular position at the wall. Other girls would pass by and giggle at those of us who congregated there.
Some were even cruel enough to offer their unsolicited advice when they noticed where my gaze wandered.
“Oh, Gabriella, you are positively deluded if you think to set you sights on Lancaster!”
“Gabby, you haven’t got a prayer!”
“YOU? And Charles Lancaster? Ha!”
So what if I fancied myself as the belle of the ball one day? Charles might notice me. I could dream. I certainly had no wish to become Mrs. Francis Cole or Mrs. Harry Knight. Those were my mother’s choices for me. She had no faith in my abilities to attract a man of importance, such as the heir to the Lancaster fortune. No, she thought I could do no better than a merchant or solicitor.

Continue reading “Story Prompt: Less Than a Second”

The Wrong Ship

Johanna lay still with her eyes closed becoming aware of  a rolling motion. In a dreamlike stupor she wondered briefly if there was an earthquake, but it didn’t stop. She thought maybe she had drunk too much champagne the night before and was just dizzy. She vaguely remembered toasting her best friend at her wedding. Then toasting the groom, the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom and so on. She needed to avoid alcohol altogether in the future. Not only did she usually wake up in a fog the next day, but it stuffed up her nose. Allergies sucked. Wait. How could she be dizzy while lying still? She sat up quickly and blinked a few times, trying to focus. A shaft of light came down through a lone round window.

A window she did not recognize.

Where the hell was she? Continue reading “The Wrong Ship”

Night Ship

Jenny walked along the shore, wiping the tears from her face. They fell aster than she could swipe them away. She wasn’t even sure how she made it down to the beach. She tried to focus on the feel of the sand slipping between her toes. Where were her shoes? She glanced down to see her nightgown fluttering in the sea breeze. Strange that she would wander around in her sleepwear. She looked back toward the way she had come. The lights from Castle Montague glowed brightly in the windows. Did anyone miss her or even notice she had left the grounds? Not that she cared, having no intention of marrying the Duke of Rutherford. She would run away before she would endure than horrible man’s touch. It was the twentieth century for God’s sake! Who arranged marriages anymore?

“Geneva?”

Jenny froze. Continue reading “Night Ship”

Learn to Write a Story a Week

I don’t remember how I found this article, but I thought it sounded like a great idea! Write a story a week to improve your craft. The website The Write Practice gives you a daily plan on how to accomplish this feat.

In a nutshell:
Monday – Settle on your story idea.
Tuesday – Write your opening act.
Wednesday – Write the climax.
Thursday – Resolve the plot.
Friday – Revise your story.

There are much more detailed instructions at their site, so go check it out and let me know how you did. If I attempt this massive undertaking I will post my stories here and on Wattpad.

Sailing Away

As a writing challenge I have decided to come up with flash fiction stories about this image I found online. I completely fell in love with it and bought the rights to use it commercially. It will most likely end up on the cover of my first historical romance.

Here we go! Flash fiction, story #1…

Sailing Away

The full moon hung low in the sky, illuminating the rippling waves in the wake of the ship. Unable to sleep, Darcy leaned his chin in his hands and stared out at the water. Had it really been less than a day since his elder brother had sold him into service aboard this vessel? How would he survive among such a tough crew? The most physical pursuit he had ever engaged in was climbing apple trees on his family’s estate. He sighed. That was another lifetime, another boy. Now he would have to become someone new, someone harder. Glancing up at the masts, he pondered. “They are not so different from apple trees.” For the first time since stepping aboard, Darcy smiled.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner

It’s rare for me to find historical romance novels that are not about people in the gentry or royalty or marrying into the gentry or royalty. This book is about the servants who support them and I loved it!

Listen to the Moon is about Suki Grimes, a young maid-of-all-work who is content with her lot in life. She has no dreams or aspirations other than to avoid marriage. Her father had abandoned her and her mother when she was a child, even though her mother was in love with the man. Apparently love doesn’t mean anything.

John Toogood (no puns please) was the valet to the main character in Rose Lerner’s previous book, Sweet Disorder. When John finds himself out of a job, through no fault of his own, he is led to a new position: butler to the local vicar. The only catch is the job will only go to a married man. The job seems a good fit for John, but when he is offered a high paying position with his previous employers, he has to decide if he wants the fancy home with more money or the simple quiet life.

John and Suki are attracted to each other, but it’s not love when they get married. It’s financial need and lust. Love builds over time and is very believable. This story was a breath of fresh air. The characters in this book are poor, but happy. They appreciate the little things in life. We also get to learn about the different classes in the servant world.

Listen to the Moon was sweet, charming and fascinating. The love scenes were sexy and there were plenty of them.

I Joined RWA

After chatting with a several authors over the past few months I was told repeatedly to join RWA (Romance Writers of America). These published authors told me how much that group has helped them, from meeting other writers in the forums to joining local chapters to the online classes.

Well, a few weeks ago I decided to do it. After all, the annual fee is a business expense. I also joined the local chapter which happens to be very close to me. Yay!

Already I have made a few connections, taken a workshop and joined an online class! Sure there are lots of free resources online, but it’s nice to have access to all of it in one place, meet other serious writers and learn from them. It’s also nice to have them think of me as a colleague, rather than some random person on the internet.

I will let you know about my experiences as they happen.

An Indecent Invitation and A Brazen Bargain by Laura Trentham

An Indecent Invitation was my first book by author Laura Trentham. It is the story of Lily Drummond, a young woman who is searching for her missing father. Her brother’s best friend Gray Masterson has known Lily her entire life, but had been away for several years spying for The Crown with Lily’s brother. When he returns to England he is stunned by the charming beauty Lily has become, but fights the attraction because he feels unworthy. He is untitled and Lily is the daughter of an Earl. Of course, Lily feels the opposite. Gray is her ideal man. She’s been in love with him since they were children. When she asks Gray to let her help in the search for her missing father, he knows she will do it on her own, so he reluctantly agrees.

indecentinvitationI was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this book because the series is called Spies and Lovers. I’m not much into spy stories. Fortunately the spying was not excessive and I found myself on the edge of my seat, worrying about Lily’s undercover adventures and wondering who the villain was. There were some very satisfying love scenes, too.

The trope of the brother’s sister and best friend falling in love is my favorite!

Because I enjoyed the first book so much I had to read the sequel. Continue reading “An Indecent Invitation and A Brazen Bargain by Laura Trentham”

My Fair Lily by Meara Platt

This was my first book by Meara Platt and I enjoyed it very much! My Fair Lily is a delightful story with lots of humor.

Lily is charming, hopeful and very intelligent. She is a scientist currently studying animal behavior. She has plans to marry a fellow scientist so they can be partners in all things. That is until she meets Ewan, her neighbor’s Scottish friend. She starts to question her feelings for both men.

Ewan is a gruff and unrefined Scottish Laird. He has no plans to marry an Englishwoman, especially because it’s what his estranged English grandfather desires. Ewen befriends Lily, but fights his feelings every step of the way.

Apparently there is a love curse on the street where they meet, so destiny is going to happen no matter what.

There are some love scenes, but they happen later in the book. I prefer a little more steam, and at least by the halfway point; however, that won’t stop me from reading the others in the series.

His Wicked Seduction by Lauren Smith

I just discovered Lauren Smith a few months ago and have already read a bunch of her books. His Wicked Seduction is my favorite so far. It’s the second installment in her League of Rogues series.

The League is a group of friends who met in school. They consider themselves a bit wild and reckless, but they are now growing and maturing. Each will be swept away by love, much to their dismay.

In this story Lucien has feelings for his best friend’s sister Horatia and has been avoiding her for years because of it.

Horatia has been in love with Lucien since she was a young girl, but now she intends to get her man by any means necessary.

Stopping them is a League rule about “no sisters”, as well as Lucien’s own negative feelings about himself. He thinks he is sexually perverted just because he enjoys a bit of bondage.

One of my favorite romantic tropes is the brother’s best friend. This did not disappoint. Lauren Smith writes with so much humor and affection for all her characters. I look forward to watching the other “rogues” fall in love.

Dark Angel & Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh

I have started a mission to read something by every author on the Historical Romance Retreat guest list. There are many I had never read before!

The second author on the list is Mary Balogh and I picked up a compilation of Dark Angel and Lord Carew’s Bride.

Dark Angel is the story of Jennifer, a young woman who has been waiting five years to marry Lionel, a handsome man who turns out to be an ugly villain. In the meantime our hero Gabriel is setting out to destroy said villain for impregnating and deserting his stepmother. Gossips think Gabriel was the villain in that melodrama. He attempts to break up the betrothal and humiliate Lionel, but the tables are turned when Gabriel finds himself the one now betrothed to Jennifer.

Lord Carew’s Bride follows Jennifer’s cousin Samantha, who had secretly been in love with Lionel the villain. He had been merely toying with a young girl’s affections. It’s five years later and she has vowed never to love because it only brings heartache. When she meets the landscape gardener at her cousin’s neighboring estate, she strikes up a friendship, unaware that he is actually the owner. Hartley Wade, Lord Carew falls instantly in love with Samantha, but hides his identity, wanting to know if her feelings are for him, rather than his title. Due to his physical disabilities, he dubs himself the beast to her beauty. I adore beauty and the beast themed stories.

Both of these books came out in 1995.

Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James

Here is my first book review (since I have nothing of my own to share… YET). This book came out in 2014, just in case you think it’s something new.

FYI, I will only post about books I like and want to recommend.

Three Weeks with Lady X is a continuation of the Desperate Duchesses series. This is book 7. The main character, Tobias Dautry (aka Thorn), is the illegitimate son of The Duke of Villiers (my favorite character from the entire series!). In order to make himself appear more respectable towards his intended bride’s family, he hires Lady Xenobia India St. Clair to renovate his country estate.

Lady X, or India to her friends, is an independent career woman who has decided to quit and find a husband. This is to be her final project, but she has her hands full trying to turn a rundown estate into a palace fit for a princess. She works hard to make Thorn the perfect husband for another woman, while he intends to set her up with his best friend. Both realize the error of their ways, when it becomes obvious they are perfect for each other.

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