Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pre-Game Time!

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Crack open the True Blood,
pour yourself an aphrodisiac flute of
champagne, or imbibe in whatever other beverage seems appropriate for
tailgating prior to a paranormal romance release, because tomorrow is Unbridled’s
release as well as the kick off to its blog tour: Romance for a Reason

**Actually
for you lucky Amazon
Kindle readers Unbridled is available now
!** For the rest of you,
please be patient, as I am trying to be, as Barnes & Noble and the
paperback versions become live. (You can sign
up to be notified about the paperback
now.)

 

About the book:

Unbridled is a collection of
connected short stories from the Alex Crocker series. Though it features Alex,
it mostly focuses on the love stories of three other couples from the series:
Sarah and Darian, Vivian and Sage, and Ellie and Rocky. I think it’s unique,
and therefore hopefully fun for the reader, in that it weaves together the
stories in a way that makes it read like a novel.

Chronologically
it falls somewhere near the beginning of book three (which has yet to be
completed). I tried, though, to make it enjoyable and understandable to new
readers, without drowning fans of the series with repetitive backstory from the
other books. And if you read carefully, I threw in a few hints of what’s to
come in book three!

Also,
although it is meant to be read and enjoyed as one tale comprised of connected
vignettes, I’ve also appeased the 99¢ crowd by putting up the three main stories
separately. “Grace
and Dignity,”
“Rules
and Recollections,”
and “Blood
and Secrecy”
will be available on Nook and Kindle.

 

The blog tour:

I’m
lucky enough to have eighteen different sites hosting me during the month of
October! I’ve put up a calendar on the Romance for a Reason
page
so readers can see what I’ll be discussing and when. In my (completely
unbiased) opinion, it’s a fantastic mix of posts, excerpts, interviews, reviews,
and features. Thanks to all the book bloggers and authors who are
participating.

 

The fundraising:

I’ve
already posted at length about the two charities and why I chose them, but it
doesn’t hurt to say it again! October
is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Domestic Violence
Awareness Month. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and a friend,
teammate, coworker, and teacher of too many women who’ve been affected by
violence, I chose it to also to be the release date for Unbridled. I may not love wearing pink or purple, the colors of
these two issues, but I do love a good fight for great causes. I’ve just chosen
to battle this one with my pen. Please consider helping in your own way. 

How you can help:

Read some romance. Proceeds from Unbridled
will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and V-Day. 

Donate. Make your own individual donation to these
two charities or choose a local charity supporting these and other causes
affecting women in your area. To learn more about each charity and my reasons
for choosing them, visit
the Romance for a Reason page
. Or click through to donate directly.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

V-Day

Party hard. Gather the women (and men!) of your book club or just a group of
friends for a Romance for Reason party. Party ideas? Check out my earlier blog for ideas on how to plan your gathering.
Then download the Romance Reading Questionnaire and/or the Body Lingo Bingo for some fun party
activities!

Share. Tweet, status update,
review, or just chat with friends about the books, the tour, and the charities
(mine or yours)!

And, of course, I couldn’t
ask for people to help without offering something in return, so as a thank you
for your support I’m offering a raffle with some fun prizes. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Removing the Veil: A Tale of Two Narrations


Image from: photosofbiblicalexplanations2.blogspot.com/2011/05/removing-veil.html

Last spring I started writing a young adult (YA) novel, All That Glitters. I had a plan, a synopsis, a teaser, and even a first chapter within days. This being far more upfront legwork than I had ever done with my two adult novels, I was expecting the rest of the draft to flow like water, streaming hundreds of words a day onto the page.

By the end of the summer I had a plan, a synopsis, a teaser, and a first chapter. Still. I was stuck. Yet I knew it was a story worth completing, not one for the black hole of the “later drawer.” In a quest for inspiration I returned to the first few chapters of some of my favorite YA novels—and found what I knew I’d find. Nearly all of them were written in first person. Whether this is a recent trend or a natural fit for readers in the stages most teens are in, I can’t say for sure. But it was clear that almost all the more recent favorites of this audience employed this type of narration.

Of course, I knew this last spring. My students had done a genre study on YA books. I’d made them blog about the characteristics. I even polled their opinions of these characteristics and clearly remember them writing how they preferred first person. (Hey, if you can teach and do market research simultaneously, why not?) So why did I start writing my YA book in third person limited? Because that was the narration I’d used for my first two adult novels. It was a comfy place and actually worked really well for my opening scene. The problem with this logic is that first, a novel requires more than an opening chapter, and secondly, I’m not the intended audience for my novel, and teens’ comfy place is right in the head of their main character.

So the teacher admitted that her students (and the half dozen YA bestsellers written in first person) might be onto something and made the switch. And it was like somebody flipped a switch. It took a few pages, but suddenly I was writing from the voice of sixteen-year-old Zoe August. And not just in her voice, you can get strong voice in third person limited, but in her head. I’ve read and enjoyed books that use either narration and never really recognized the subtle differences. If you’re used to writing limited, switching to first is simply a matter of tweaking your pronouns, right? Wrong. So wrong. Trust me; I tried this with my first chapter, and it is a disaster in need of repair.

I dug in to figure out why, once again returning to my stack of YA books. I was pretty convinced I’d captured Zoe’s voice in my third person chapter, just as I’d captured Alex’s voice in my adult novels. I had a one-character focus and plenty of insight into her thoughts. What then were the authors of first person books doing differently? What had I unknowingly done differently when I switched? I took notes as I flipped through book after book . . . only to realize there was very little cohesion. Some used fragments galore. Some didn’t. Some had very little description. Some had loads of it. Basically, each work had its own style that matched the personality of its narrating character. That didn’t seem any different to me than third person narration though, so there had to be something else. Unfortunately for my research, but fortunately for my writing, I had a story starting to flow faster than I could write. Wasting valuable time figuring out why didn’t make sense.

Luckily for me and my curiosity, I did take a few short breaks to check in with ABC Family’s Harry Potter movie marathon this weekend. I’ve seen the movies enough times that I no longer feel I need to watch them in full, so I found myself watching twenty minutes here and there. As I caught glimpses of the actors, many of whom grew up on the set, it occurred to me how much their acting improved over time. For some it was as if you could see the exact moment when they made the switch from acting their part to becoming their character.

Suddenly I understood the difference between limited and first person narrations. A third person limited narration allows the reader to act the part of the main character. We hear and see what she sees in her own voice. It’s intimate, but there always remains a thin veil separating us from the character. In first person, however, we become the character. As we read what’s on the page it is our thoughts, our voice, our reactions. The author has given us, the modestly talented reader, the ability to do what only the best of actresses can: to completely lose ourselves in another persona.

Many readers would argue that a good author could do this with any narration. I agree, but it makes sense that YA readers with fewer life and literary experiences to connect to might need the added boost a first person narration provides. And for us older readers who still have a passion for YA, it simply makes it easier to be a teen again!

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Gather The Girls!


September has now crept upon us; there’s no denying it. With
this admission behind us we’re able to start planning our fall activities. For
most people this means making a trip to the apple orchard, picking out
pumpkins, planning football food fests, and whipping up the first batch of
chili or other favorite comfort dish. It’s a time of crisp reds, bright
oranges, and rich earthy browns. 

For anyone with a connection to breast cancer,
though, fall means pink.

Actually, October is not only National Breast Cancer
Awareness Month; it is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So feel
free to mix it up and wear a little purple, too. Either way you’re recognizing
two important issues faced mostly by women and their loved ones. Recognition,
though, is only the first step we can take to honor and celebrate the strength
shown by these women. As you plan your fall activities, I’m asking that you
consider taking the next step—and have a little fun doing it!

When I began putting together the Romance for a Reason blog
tour for Unbridled, I was excited to share my mission with women (and men!) all
over the country—and the globe. That’s the beauty of a virtual book tour. It
occurred to me however, that I met with the best ‘girl power’ group of women I
could ever ask for every other month in the non-virtual realm of someone’s
living room. I got to thinking, Why not
combine the best of both worlds?
My book club has always been about
celebrating women—whether it be our favorite female characters or just our
friendships. Building on that to help support two great women’s charities
seemed a natural fit. The ‘Over-educated Ladies’ of book club agreed, and so our
Romance for a Reason book club party was born. Planned for a Friday night in October,
our book club will meet for a night of “smutty, drunken goodwill;” you’d be
amazed how quickly people read and respond to an email invite when you use this
as the subject line.

So how does it work? Any way you want it to! For us, I agreed to
host an extra meeting (we usually only meet every other month) for which
everyone simply has to bring a romance recommendation. It can be a true romance
book or any book with a romantic subplot, of any sub-genre. It can be an old
favorite or a new find. It can be PG or smut city. The idea is just to gather
the girls, have some fun, and, if people feel inclined to donate, to raise some
money for a charity or two. I chose the same two I picked for Romance for a Reason,
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and V-Day, since they related to breast
cancer and stopping violence against women, but you might want to choose a
local charity or one someone in your book club has a personal connection to.

So, for the check-list inclined:

1. Gather the girls. Pick a date in October (or any month
for that matter) to meet with your book club or just a fantastic group of your
girlfriends.

2. Choose a charity. Share the links to donate with the
group ahead of time, so people who prefer can make their own donations online,
but also be willing to collect and send in any donations made that night to the
chosen charity. And of course, keep it comfortable and confidential; it’s a
party after all!

3. Pick a book. Or don’t. Pressure to read THE book might
put off some people. Sometimes it’s just fun to share favorites we’ve already
read.

4. Enjoy the party and bask in the glow of goodwill—I find
wine helps with the glowing part!

If you’re looking for some conversation starters feel free
to steal these. The
Romance Reading Questionnaire is perfect for a mixed or mild crowd and
requires nothing but paper and pen, while the 
Body Lingo Bingo could get a bit
more … interesting? … and requires people to bring a book.

As you can see, the details are less important than the
sentiment behind the night. Do it to enjoy the wonderful women in your life. Do
it to help other women have the chance to do the same.

But do it. 

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