Sunday, October 21, 2012

Now Available!

Christian Romance
$2.99 on Amazon

It was time for Hailey Rhodes to admit the truth: things were not going well. After losing her job as a teacher, she finds herself broke, unemployed, and tricked into accepting a date from a department store Santa Claus. When new opportunities and new love interests present themselves, will Hailey choose a career and a man she's always admired, or will she wait for the identity of her Secret Santa to be revealed?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Have You Hugged Your Favorite Author Lately?

I love books.  I always have.  My favorite authors are those who have the ability to transport me to their own world of imagination.  However, I have a confession.  As much as I have loved books, I never hugged an author before I became one myself.

Writing is tough.  And the world of publishing is tougher.  I’ve always appreciated the talent and skill it took to write a book, but I never understood the emotional element that goes along with being a writer.  It is easy to get discouraged.  Much of writing is accomplished through a writer’s own motivation and determination.  I am sad to say that before, I never even let my favorite authors know that I enjoyed and appreciated their work.  I just always seemed to expect to greedily devour the next book, and the next one after that, without even thinking of the person who worked hard to give me that meaning and enjoyment.

So how do you hug an author?  You let him or her know that you enjoyed their book.  There is nothing more motivating to an author, nothing that makes him or her want to work hard at writing that next book, than to know that readers enjoy his or her writing and are anxiously awaiting more.

Usually reviews on places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble are only written by two kinds of people:  those who absolutely loved a product and those who hated it.  Like I said before, I had never written a review before I wrote my first book.  I guess I never bothered to take the five minutes worth or brain power to do it.  Don’t get me wrong, as a reader, I always read the reviews on a book, but maybe I felt a little too conspicuous trying to write mine own.  Everything had already been said, right?  There were already plenty of good reviews, mine wouldn’t make a difference.  I agree with one review and not the other, but I don’t actually have to say anything about it, right?

Writers read reviews.  If you tell me what you liked or disliked about my books, I always take that into consideration when writing my next one.  For instance, with my first book ‘Baggage Claim,’ I got a lot of comments on how people loved how exciting it was.  I also got a few comments about how other people would have liked it to have a more overt Christian message.  When writing the other two books in the series, I kept comments like that in mind.  I made sure the plot stayed extremely suspenseful, but I also made sure the Christian story arc I had always intended was plain for the reader.

In the world of Amazon and Barnes and Noble, reviews make the world go round.  A book’s ranking is based on sales and reviews.  One of the most shocking things I discovered when entering publishing is that sometimes bad reviews and other methods are used to try to sabotage an author or a book.  That’s yet another reason that it’s important to write reviews, especially if you truly enjoyed a book. 

Now that I realize how important feedback and review are, I’d like to do whatever I can to help my favorite authors succeed and keep writing the books I love.  Nowadays, most authors have websites, blogs, and / or Facebook pages.  It is really easy to actually contact those authors you appreciate.  Emails, friend requests, comments, questions, even ‘likes’ on Facebook and Amazon—feedback means so much.  Authors tend to work in boxes.  We don’t have coworkers; we only have our own overactive imaginations to keep us motivated and moving forward.  There really is no way to express how motivating and touching it is for someone to let you know they enjoyed your book.  Every new good review I get, every positive comment, still makes my heart leap for joy and my eyes tear up because I’m still so touched by the fact that someone read my book and liked it.

After my own experiences as an author, I now write reviews.  I know the work it takes to produce a story that is well-done, thoroughly enjoyable, and possibly even touches me in some way.  I think I would probably actually feel guilty if I read and loved a book but didn’t take the few minutes to provide some kind of feedback.  I want my favorite authors to feel that hug from me as a reader.  Because, in all honesty, who doesn’t need a hug every once in awhile?   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Now Available!

Christian Romantic Suspense
Point of Origin, Book 3:  Tru Exceptions Series
$1.99 on Kindle or Nook

“I should have killed you when I had the chance. You have no idea, do you? Life is just a crazy coincidence? That’s fine. I have a feeling even mercy has a limit.”

The terrorist’s words haunt Rachel Saunders. Are they the ramblings of a psychopath? Or is there someone else out there who is watching Rachel and deciding if she should live or die?

When Rachel stumbles across something she was never meant to see, she discovers all the random events from the past year have connections that are much closer to home than she ever imagined. Now she must elude terrorists intent on killing her and piece together the clues to identify her enemy before time runs out and many more people lose their lives.

When all the secrets and lies are revealed, will Rachel be able to handle seeing her world as she know it fall apart? Will she be able to forgive one last betrayal from the man she thought she loved? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Battle Between E-books and Print

Which do you prefer:  snuggling up in front of the fire with your kindle or with a paperback?  Everyone has met the technology holdouts--those who say "I just don't think I'd like a kindle.  I like to hold the book in my hands and turn the real pages."  Then there are those who swear that e-readers are the best invention since the printing press.

So where do your loyalties lie?  I have to say that, personally, I'm Switzerland in this battle.  I can see both sides.  I've always loved books, and I do like the feel of turning those pages and the satisfaction of seeing my bookmark halfway through the bound bulk.  However, I recently told my husband that he was no longer allowed to purchase physical books.  We have absolutely no room on any of our many bookshelves and neither he nor I  are willing to part with any or our literary treasures.   Enter the beauty of an e-reader.  Space!  Oh, how nice it is to have hundreds of books at your fingertips and not have to build an addition onto your house!

As in every great debate, there are strong opinions on both sides.  As an e-book author, I should probably say, "Yes!  Definitely go with the e-reader!"  But I'm not a hypocrite.  My beloved paperbacks are staying in their home on my shelf. 

So, my advice?  Why does it have to be a battle?  Do both!  Get an e-reader to feed your hunger for so many books that you could never hope to store, then buy the paperback version of your very favorite you want to read again.   For, at the end of the day, can't we all just get along?  (And curl up with a good book, or course.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Now Available!

Christian Romantic Suspense
MIRAGE, Book 2:  Tru Exceptions Series
Sequel to BAGGAGE CLAIM, Book 1

The terrorist attack . . . Dawson Tate . . . What if nothing is as it appears to be?  When the unexpected happens, Rachel Saunders must unravel the web of secrets surrounding her boyfriend's work with Homeland Security and their relationship.  While confronted with new facts about Dawson's mysterious ex from Florida and the attention of DHS agent Garrett Matthews, Rachel must find a way to save the man she can no longer trust.  Will anything or anyone survive after the truth is revealed and the mirage fades?

Now Available for $1.99 on Kindle or Nook!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Elements of a Great Romance

What is it that makes the classic romance novels so great?  There are very few books I read multiple times.  Usually once is enough.  Yet I never tire of reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice over and over.  What is it that makes a great romance?

Great romances have unique, relatable, well-developed characters.   Take Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett, for instance.  She is far from perfect.  She is delightfully quirky and doesn't fit the mold for the society portrayed in the novel.  She is smart, witty, impertinent, opinionated, and very, very and likable and easy to relate to.  Mr. Darcy as well is a very unique, complex character.  What woman reading Pride and Prejudice doesn't put herself in Elizabeth Bennett's shoes and wish for her own modern day Mr. Darcy?

There is no plot without conflict.  But a romance has either the sole or additional conflict of the relationship between the man and woman.  In some books, the romance is the entire plot, while in others the romance works in tandem with additional action and storyline.  In short, there has to be some problem that is keeping the couple apart.  This problem can be internal struggles the characters face, as in Pride and Prejudice or external problems as in Romeo and JulietElizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy aren't together because of their own pride and prejudices, whereas Romeo and Juliet are kept apart by their feuding families.  Either way, a great romance requires a great conflict, making the reader wonder, will they get together or not?

A great romance requires chemistry between the characters.  There must be an attraction, some magic woven between two people.   The reader's heart needs to pound in time with the main character's.  Whether it be love at first sight or the classic 'I love you, I hate you,' interplay between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy,  there has to be fireworks that the reader can feel and relate to.  Added to this is the delayed satisfaction that, because of the conflict in the story, this chemistry is forbidden in some way.   And that is how a reader is hooked.

By 'climax,' I refer to the major turning point of the story.  Everything has been building to this moment when the characters either get together or not.  A strong, definite climax is what helps a romance be memorable.  A skilled author will draw the reader in so he or she feels what the character feels at that moment, experiencing the drama and romance of feelings being declared and the tide turning.  The final climactic scene in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy declare their feelings is horribly romantic with him saying, "If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once.  My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever."  However, I have to admit, I actually prefer the sheer romance and drama of the same scene beautifully portrayed in the 2005 movie.  For after everything, what woman's heart doesn't melt at Mr. Darcy's words as he finally tells Elizabeth, "You have bewitched me body and soul, and I love, and love, and love you.  And never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

As much as I hate to admit it, the conclusion, the ending, of a great romance doesn't have to be happy.  But it does have to be memorable.  Part of the great allure of Romeo and Juliet is that it's such a shocking, tragic end to the star-crossed lovers.  Would the romance be as memorable if Romeo and Juliet had experienced their happily ever after?  No, probably not.  But each story is individual.  Would the romance be as memorable if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy hadn't experienced their happily ever after.  Absolutely not.  Simply put, the conclusion has to match the story, and it has to be good.  I hate it when a good romance just fizzles at the end with a sappy line, as if the author doesn't know how to end it.  It just kind of ruins the entire story for me.  I'm a firm believer that the ending, even the last sentence of the book has to echo and tie off the entire story.  It's like the last flavor in the mouth of the reader.  Make it count.

So, let us spin the web of romance for our readers.  Let us draw them in to an alternate reality where the characters are real.  Let us make them feel and imagine.  My romances will probably never rank up with the classics; all I can hope for is to do a little of my own bewitching.