Posts in Romance Novel
Romancing the Vine: Storyteller 'Got Away' Cabernet Sauvignon

I write romances that are set all over the world. I particularly like writing about vineyards and countries that produce wine. Italy, France, Germany, the USA, Canada and more are places to explore and discover wonderful wines. I also like to find wines with unique labels or have a reference to my writing world in some way.

And I am not a rich person so I like my wine to be affordable and under $20 if at all possible. Heck, I like a wine to be under $10 if I’m drinking it every day! And I usually do have a few glasses every day.

After I sold my first book— THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION — to Entangled Publishing. I participated in a lot of reader functions where baskets were raffled and given away to lucky winners. I like wine. I write about wine. So I would often add a bottle to the baskets I made for these functions.

My celebration wine for the re-release of WRONG PRINCE, RIGHT LOVER. It’s going to get poured today!

My celebration wine for the re-release of WRONG PRINCE, RIGHT LOVER. It’s going to get poured today!

And that’s how I discovered STORYTELLER wines. They’ve got a Happily Ever After vibe on their labels and are reasonably priced. I currently have a bottle of Storyteller Got Away Cabernet Sauvignon which I purchased for $14.99. And it’s quite yummy!

Now I’m not a wine snob. I more like The Reverse Wine Snob so I’m not going to get into all the crazy with descriptive notes about this wine other than to give you the basics. It’s a California red and it’s rich in flavor. You can pair it with steaks, burgers, strong cheeses and more. Personally, I pair wine with whatever I have in the house. Today that’ll be pizza and grapes and maybe some smokey almonds.

Today’s bottle is being uncorked to celebrate my next release. WRONG PRINCE, RIGHT LOVER was part of the Royal & Reckless Boxset which hit the USA Today Bestselling list in September 2018. A thrilling day and one that definitely gave me a Happily Ever After moment! Now I’m thrilled to release it as a standalone book!

Let me know if you give this cabernet sauvignon a try and I’d love to get recommendations for wines that have cool labels and flavors for all my future releases!

:)

Digging Out of Distraction: The Chunk Schedule Solution

I’m a hybrid author who is transitioning to a full independent published career. I like the control I have over my time as well as ascertaining if my marketing efforts are generating results. However, the more I move into indie publishing, the more I have to do to get my books into people e-readers.

And there is a lot of competition for those readers. Reaching them takes time, money, and creative skills. So, in addition to writing, revising, and publishing my novels, I also have to create ads, connect with readers on social media, maintain a newsletter for my followers, and keep track of all the expenses, results, non-results… the list is endless. Plus, I am also a freelance content editor which means generating contracts, editing my clients’ work, coordinating payments to my co-editor and keep track of all the information and finances. Layer in two critique partners who need my eagle eye in exchange for their input and I’ve got a lot on my to-do list.

Too much. I’ve been attempting to find a way to schedule it all in all the time. End result? Didn’t work for me and my focus scattered. If I am marketing, concentrating on my writing goes to hell. Period. And if I’m editing someone’s work, my own work takes a hit. Some of this stuff has to happen when it occurs: client contacts us and we have to respond with a yes/no, here’s the contract, etc.

During the summer, I discovered something about my work style: I do better if I can focus on the task at hand 100%. Around the same time, New York Times Bestselling author, Skye Warren, shared her four hour day workday method. Four hours of dedicated time in the chair writing or marketing or whatever task you need to do for your business until you complete the task. You can read more about her methods by subscribing to her newsletter. I do and it’s a great resource.

Rather than work four hours in a row, I sometimes tell myself 4 hours in the chair and you’re done. I workout in the mornings, then I come home and put my time in for whatever I am focusing on. I also put the bulk of all my efforts into the project while devoting less time after I’ve completed my task to other activities such as checking emails, popping into my social media sites, or checking sales figures.

The writing does come first. Repeat after me: books sell more books. That’s the number one marketing tool I have in my arsenal. Everything else is next. So how does my Chunk Schedule work?

Let’s take a look at my recent month of writing and work. I had a first draft to wrap up and send to my critique partners, Carmen Falcone and Pam Mantovani. My four hour day was devoted to completing that task. Period. Once I sent the manuscript to my CPs, I used my four hour day to develop AMS ads and experiment with them to see if I could reach readers. I spent about two or three days handling that only, then I devoted all my four hour days to revising another story which I sent off last week.

Now my four hour day is dedicated to catching up on all my marketing, social media, and composing my blogs. Once those tasks are completed, I will begin pre-planning the second novel in my brand new series. This includes character development, story/plot points mapped out, writing back cover copy and setting up my beat sheet. All of these tasks are very portable as I have the resources online and ebook versions of my print craft books on my reading apps. This will begin while I’m traveling to see my daughter.

By telling myself it’s okay to put all my energy into blogging now, I am liberating myself from twin monsters: guilt and pressure. That’s a win-win for me!

I’ve liberated myself from the twin monsters guilt and pressure by scheduling my work and writing life in manageable chunks.

I’ve liberated myself from the twin monsters guilt and pressure by scheduling my work and writing life in manageable chunks.

I keep a calendar at home along with an Erin Condren vertical planner that doesn’t have stickers, but is filled with my project deadlines and more. This is my traveling schedule. I use it for everything. Seeing on paper is more immediate and keeps me on task. This doesn’t mean things don’t slide to the following week, but I tend to accomplish most of what I intend to do.

I really like this way of working and writing. You can adjust this type of schedule easily based on whether you have a dreaded day job or little ones to take care of or BOTH.

Plus, in all of this is a thing called having a life. All work and writing and stressing about marketing makes for an extremely dull life. I have a full one with friends, family, travel, dining out, reading, going to movies, binge watching Hallmark Channel movies and more. I don’t want to live in a box. How can I write about people who are real and 3 dimensional if I don’t get out and play? I need social interactions, quality ones, and time to regenerate my creative soul.

I finally feel like I have a handle on how to organize my schedule in a manageable and realistic way. If you’re feeling stressed out by trying to do it all, maybe my chunk schedule solution is something that’ll liberate you too.

Happy Writing and keep Digging Out of Distraction!

Between the Covers: Wrong Prince, Right Lover

WRONG PRINCE, RIGHT LOVER is a story I developed to be part of a boxset featuring Royal & Reckless heroes and heroines. I’d toyed with creating a fictional kingdom before, but I never went through with it due to other publishing demands. Now I had a chance to revisit the idea and I’m so glad I did!

First, I dusted off a star gazing and astronomy guide to come up with unique names for my hero and heroine’s countries: Menkara and Valdoria. Menkara is Ilsa van Winnsen’s home and once possessed the now free country that Santiago de la Fuente must rule now that his older brother has suddenly died in a freak accident. I set these former warring nations’ countries in a Mediterranean Sea climate and voila. I had two kingdoms and a my characters must come together prevent another war from breaking out.

Ilsa has been engaged to Santiago’s older brother, Javier, her entire life as part of a peace negotiation. She’s eager to go through with the marriage, but Javier’s sudden death puts everything in peril. Enter the sexy younger brother Santiago who wants her to go through with the bargain. She agrees, but after overhearing Javier tell Santiago he isn’t attracted to her and is merely doing his duty, she’s deeply hurt. She’d hoped for more. And no way will she let another de la Fuente man break her heart again.

Ilsa might be able to protect her heart from Santiago, but she’s not going to be able to resist this sexy prince who is now Valdoria’s King.

Ilsa might be able to protect her heart from Santiago, but she’s not going to be able to resist this sexy prince who is now Valdoria’s King.

But Santiago has a secret. He’s always wanted Ilsa. Now he’s got her and he’s going to find a way to make her fall in love with him. Unfortunately, the reasons for his brother’s death are mired in a conspiracy. One that could cost him his kingdom and the woman he loves.

So, out of one nugget: a fantasy kingdom added to a marriage of convenience trope, I have a story that becomes more interesting with twists and turns and intrigue. Plus, these characters have a real chance at love and happiness because unlike his older brother, Santiago is thrilled to be her husband. Even better, he’s willing to abide by this virginal bride’s wish to take it slow with sexy lessons in the bedroom until she’s ready to consummate their marriage.

Trust me. The lessons are super sexy and Ilsa’s no prude, much to Santiago’s surprise. When these lessons culminate in a passionate, sexy honeymoon on the beach, they’re more than physically drawn together, real love blooms.

A gorgeous, fictional kingdom set in a Mediterranean paradise. Welcome to Valdoria!

A gorgeous, fictional kingdom set in a Mediterranean paradise. Welcome to Valdoria!

Why? Because Santiago is a man of honor who knows the best way to gain Ilsa’s heart is to earn her respect and trust. Ilsa’s drawn to the man who is taking his country into the modern age with her by his side as an equal partner. Together, they’ll change the course of their future and their children’s futures by changing the archaic agreements forged in the past. By joining forces, they’re stronger and that is what leads to their connection on all levels—physical, mental and emotional.

Romances can be sweet or spicy, but no amount of sugar or hot sauce will make the love between the two characters realistic and believable if they don’t earn it on a deep, emotional level.

These are the kinds of stories I love to read and these are the kinds of stories I like to write regardless of where they fit in the romance sub genres.

Here’s a peek inside right after their first sexy lessons:

She stood, walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder. “But in the meantime, we’re fighting an uphill battle against the traditional holdouts. I doubt they’ll budge on the progressive direction you want to take Valdoria if we don’t answer the questions surrounding Javier’s death.” 

And would he ever be rid of his brother’s ghost? Still, her voice was soft, steady. Reassuring him. His muscles relaxed and the knot in his belly loosened, but Santiago had no doubt he’d have to fight, to claw his way out from under his brother’s shadow. “There’s nothing I can do to accelerate the investigation,” he said. “But we can’t wait for the coroner’s results to close the deal. I won’t lose this opportunity—I’m going to the council now. Convince them to vote for this change even if it takes me all day.” He might drag the entire council and country into this century without their full respect, but he didn’t need their approval. Hell. He’d lived without it so long, he’d learned to move on with only his own approval. 

Until Ilsa.

She’d been a stunning partner in the bedroom. And she’d become a welcome support in an otherwise hostile environment. Time would take care of making her a true lover, partner and wife in the future.

Wrong Prince, Right Lover is on preorder for only .99 until it goes live on January 22, 2019. If you love reading emotionally compelling, sexy and intriguing stories, now is a good time to grab your copy of this one with all the romance, passion and page turning suspense bundled into a short, fast read!

Available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple

Between the Covers: The Movie Star's Red Hot Holiday Fling

I wrote THE MOVIE STAR’S RED HOT HOLIDAY FLING as a prequel to the first book I sold and debuted with Entangled Publishing. There were a lot of firsts with this story:

  1. I never wrote a novella length story before and my word count had to be no more more than 25,000. This was very short even for me. So I spent a great deal of time reading other novellas and analyzing them. I also utilized my HOW OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Plotting the Emotional Turning Points of a Romance Novel to frame my story. I wanted to make sure that the reader got a full, emotional experience despite the shorter length.

  2. I set the story six years earlier from the THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION which meant I could show the readers a peek at Kennedy and Zach’s first kiss. And I got to build on a character who I’d not even known truly existed until after I’d revised the Maverick. There were a lot of new avenues to explore, both overwhelming and exhilarating. I love a challenge. And this story presented me with a lot of challenges!

  3. I got to explore the dynamics of how a young woman, injured while overseas fighting for this country, overcame her grief, survivor’s guilt and found a way back to herself after losing her ability to serve. This meant doing lots of research, asking many of my military friends about their experiences.

This is how my cover art people envisioned my hero, Blake Johnston AKA Big Screen Sex Machine and Action Hero Quinn Sawyer! I think he’s the perfect hero for my feisty Marine, Jessie Sullivan! And I loved the Cinderella feels in this story!

This is how my cover art people envisioned my hero, Blake Johnston AKA Big Screen Sex Machine and Action Hero Quinn Sawyer! I think he’s the perfect hero for my feisty Marine, Jessie Sullivan! And I loved the Cinderella feels in this story!

4. Blake Johnston is an Alpha hero, but he’s also an honorable man. He quit college to raise and support his younger sister after their parents died. Using his gorgeous looks and physique, he became a model and then a movie star. But Blake is so much more than a Big Screen Sex Machine, he’s a man with a huge heart who yearns to be respected for his work behind the camera. He takes on the challenge of helping Jessie Sullivan regain her confidence and inner joy after her mother asks him to help out. And he chooses to do so even though he was at Sweetbriar Springs Resort to give his younger sister a paparazzi free wedding of her dreams. And in the end, this big-hearted mega star gains so much more when he offers to give his mother’s childhood friend his support. You see, all Blake ever wanted was a family, a safe place to fall. And he discovers that with Jessie.

5. One of the themes I return to a lot when I’m writing is people aren’t always what and who they seem to others. Jessie has a huge chip on her shoulder, and who can blame her? She’s been injured, can’t return to her call to serve, and she’s lost some of her best friends due to an EOD detonation. But when she challenges Blake about his fake hero status, he shows her who he truly is on the inside. Blake’s revelation, his willingness to be vulnerable to her, is what draws her to him.

Here’s a peek Between the Covers from THE MOVIE STAR’S RED HOT HOLIDAY FLING

“If you’d ever been called to real action, you’d know why I am.” She’d been born to serve. And damn it, she’d push herself to regain part of what she’d lost that day on the battlefield when everything that had given her life meaning had been demolished.

“Park your attitude,” Blake said.“Not every call to serve is about protecting our country.” He replaced his weights, giving her a most excellent view of his sexy, sculpted behind.

One she still wanted to kick.

Jessie took off her weight gloves and shoved them into her fleece jacket’s pockets. “You got a better definition?” She was itching to fight something, someone, somewhere. And Blake provided all three options in stellar proportions.

He turned his head to give her an even, heart-stopping gaze. “Try Parenting 101 without a manual. Better yet, try explaining to your kid sister that you’ll take care of her ’cause the doctors couldn’t save her parents. Try doing all that without anyone to help you figure out how the hell to explain it to yourself.”

Blake Johnston is an honest, honorable, amazing hero. And when Jessie finally lets down her guard with him, their passion is believable and real because they’re real to me. If you want to discover how these two people find their way to each other and get the Happily Ever After they deserve, grab your copy of THE MOVIE STAR’S RED HOT HOLIDAY FLING today!

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