Saturday, December 2, 2017

Rescued By A Duke - a short Christmas story and giveaway

Once again, Ramblings From This Chick has kindly invited me to visit her blog for the yearly Historical Christmas Event. This year, my story features a young woman about to be rescued by a very handsome duke.

Arabella Starling is a practical girl. She sees no point in going ice skating whatsoever. But when her friend convinces her to do it as a favor, she reluctantly agrees – a decision that will not only lead to an accident, severe embarrassment and an inconvenient bout of influenza, but also to an unexpected proposal from the duke she adores.

To read this heart-warming holiday romance and to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Christmas At Thorncliff Manor, click HERE International participants are welcome but will be awarded with a $10 Amazon gift card instead.

Once you've read my story, check out the others! Anna Harrington posted one yesterday (Once Upon A Frost Fair), which introduces the hero and heroine from her upcoming March release, As The Devil Dares, and there are lots more stories to come - one author and giveaway per day leading up to Christmas! So hop on over and join the fun, post a comment or simply enter the giveaway, and have a lovely holiday season!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Duke In Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

This is probably the funniest book I have ever read! The descriptions were marvelous, the dialogue hilarious and the romance one of those that just ends up working against all odds.

Bookish wallflower, Lady Olympia Hightower is supposed to marry a gorgeous duke. To everyone's shock and amazement, he has proposed and she is now decked out in her wedding finery and ready to attend the service. It is the right thing to do in order to ensure her family's financial security. She knows this. And yet instead of going to join her groom, she makes her escape through an open window after getting herself thoroughly foxed.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, Seventh Duke of Ripley, is one of the three dukes the ton has dubbed 'Their Dis-Graces'. Miraculously, his best friend, who happens to share this moniker, has managed to get himself engaged to a respectable young lady, and has charged Ripley with ensuring that the marriage goes off without a hitch. This of course becomes a bit problematic when the bride enlists Ripley's help in climbing over the garden wall and even more so when he begins to develop feelings for a woman he knows he can never have.

Full of humor from beginning to end, this story is sure to delight. Impossible to put down, Loretta Chase has crafted a tale filled with memorable characters and a romance that is bound to go straight to the reader's heart. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Release and Giveaway - The Duke Who Came To Town

This opposites attract historical romance novella is on sale today! To celebrate, I am giving away an ebook copy of The Duke Who Came To Town, a Sophie Barnes tote, a Christmas At Thorncliff Manor bookmark, a personalized Christmas card calendar and a Taste Of Home Christmas recipe book. For a chance to win, scroll down and fill out the promosimple form below.

Amazon - B&N - Kobo - iTunes

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Earl Who Loved Her Giveaway

Celebrating The Earl Who Loved Her, I'm giving away an ebook, tote, Christmas recipe book and other goodies. For a chance to win, just click on the link below.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How to plot your romance

Now that you have an idea for your story, it's time to turn it into a manuscript. Because guess what: you cannot sell an idea to an editor - unless you're really famous and your book is going to sell millions of copies while you sleep.
Gathering your thoughts into a coherent plot that grabs reader interest and keeps it for 300+ pages, is no simple task, but if you have a pen and some paper handy, it can be accomplished.
Here's how I do it, and I'm not saying this is the best way or the only way. It's just one way - the one I'm going to show you.

First, before I start plotting, I decide how many words I'm going to write in total. My full length novels range from 90,000 to a little under 100,000 words on average. So let's say I'm going to write 94,000 words and I want to do it in two months (eight weeks discounting weekends = 8x5 = 40 days of writing. So, 94,000 divided by 40 = 2,350 words per day. I bet you were wondering when you would get to use those excellent math skills of yours - right :)

Now that I know how much I HAVE to write per day (I usually write more - somewhere closer to 3,000) and how long it will take me to complete my first draft, I start plotting. Generally, my chapters are roughly three thousand words long, so 94,000/3,000 = 31.33... So let's say the book will contain 32 two chapters for the purpose of plotting.

Part 1 - Jot down the key characters. These are:

The hero

The heroine

The villain (if there is one)

Part 2 - Make sure you know who these characters are! Understanding them and giving them depth will go a long way toward getting your reader to care about them as much as you do.

Part 3 - Jot down the key plot elements. These are:

The problem the protagonist faces

The protagonists first attempt at solving this problem

Further complications of the problem

The protagonist's second attempt at solving the problem and additional failure

Worsening of the problem

Dark night of the soul - the part where all hope seems lost

The brilliant moment when the protagonist rallies, overcomes the obstacle and wins

Part 4 - Grab some paper and jot down the numbers 1-32. Next to each of these numbers, write a paragraph outlining each corresponding chapter, distributing the above mentioned elements throughout and adding hooks. This will make you think more clearly about each aspect of your book and whether or not it will make sense or leave you stranded in a corner you can't write your way out of. Remember - and this is based on experience - the more action a chapter outline contains, the easier it will be for you to spend 3,000 + words on it. By that I mean, jotting down - hero meets heroine in the park - doesn't really involve much writing unless they have a specific reason for meeting there, something interesting to discuss that pushes the plot forward and maybe additional information to reveal to the reader.

Overall, this plotting process takes me a few days because there are always problems that have to be muddled through, but if it's done well/thoroughly, it helps me stay on track and avoid having to re-write too much of the book later on.
Any questions? Let me know in the comment section below and I'll do my best to answer them in a timely fashion. Thanks and good luck with your plotting!

Release Day Giveaway - win a Georg Jensen advent candle and more

The Governess Who Captured His Heart is on sale today for only $0.99! This is a fun Regency road trip romance featuring a governess and the heir to a dukedom. Both will discovered that neither is what the other expected and that a week long carriage ride can lead to so much more than a mere destination. 

Temptations or Priorities…?

Determined to help her oldest sister make ends meet, Louise Potter accepts a governess position in the northern part of England. If this means accompanying an older gentleman on his travels, then she will. There’s only one problem: Louise is about to discover that her travelling companion is not the elderly man she expected, but rather seduction itself… 

Alistair Langley has no desire to share his carriage with his niece’s newly hired employee. But the matron he expected to find at his door is instead a beautiful young woman, one he knows he can’t travel alone with. After all, he’s going to visit his brother who is pressuring him to marry and produce a Langley heir—or be cut off from inheritance. When he confides in Louise, together they form a plan. But the closer they become, the more temptation beckons… 
Until finally a choice must be made: Love or money? Or is it possible to have both?

To celebrate this new release, I am giving away a grand prize to one lucky winner. You can enter the contest below.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Five easy steps to becoming a published author

If you're reading this post it's most likely because you hope to write a book one day. Maybe you have a story in mind or maybe getting published is item number 3 on your bucket list. That's how it started for me. Writing a book and getting it published was just something I wanted to do at some point. Never in my life did I imagine making a career of it, yet here I am, twenty plus years and a whole different career path later, writing for one of the biggest publishing houses in the world. Is it hard work? You bet. You cannot become an author without putting in the necessary time it takes, which is probably why a lot of people who dream of becoming authors, never do. But if your heart's in it, then the following steps should help you achieve your goal. At least, this is how I went about it, so here goes:

1. You've probably heard this before and it is in fact the most obvious part of becoming an author, and that is sitting down on a chair and actually writing. As Nora Roberts eloquently put it when The New Yorker questioned her about one rule of writing, "Ass in the chair." Do that, because even if you feel as though the words you're putting down are awful, they're better than no words at all :)

2. Set word count goals. I have been doing this since the very first book I wrote - the one that will never see the light of day because of how bad it is. Even if getting published might feel like a distant dream, it will remain so unless you finish a manuscript, which you will do if you decide to write a certain amount of words per day. In the beginning, I wrote about 1000 per day. I now get 3-4K down depending on what other things are happening in my life. We all have family, friends, obligations and possibly a day job or school, but unless you take your writing seriously and give it the time it deserves, no one else will and, more importantly, you probably won't get published.

3. Be determined. Decide that this is what you want to do and do it. Sounds simple, right? It actually is. Even if you don't land a contract with a big publisher, there are so many other options today. Just look at how many authors are self-publishing with great success. And remember, the more you write and the more you publish, the greater your chances of one day grabbing the attention of a big deal editor, if that is what you dream of doing.

4. Get used to criticism. I have never been criticized as much by people I don't even know as I have been over the last five years since I published my first book. The moment you put your thoughts out into the world, even if they are in the form of fiction, they will be judged. The important thing, is to avoid getting hurt or offended, but to use this feedback in a positive way. Because maybe there is some truth to what some disappointed reader out there had to say. Maybe your book was filled with anachronisms or other inaccuracies, or maybe the characters lacked depth or your plot was boring. Whatever the case, being made aware of your shortcomings as a writer (even if you choose to disagree) will help improve your future books and ensure that the next reviews you get are better. So don't sweat it and don't worry. Every author I know has received negative reviews. Because guess what? You cannot please everyone. It's literally impossible.

5. Read. Read as much as you can and then read some more. Pay attention to what makes a book memorable. Why are the characters so interesting? Why is it impossible for you to put down? How does that first paragraph grab you and draw you into the story? There's a lot of extra reading on this out there in the cyber universe, but the best books are usually the ones that elicit an emotional reaction in the reader. They have to relate and they have to care until they've read the last page. It isn't easy, but it can be done. As long as you go back to rule number one of this list and sit down and start writing.