(TWIP: This Week In Progress)
Forty-nine weeks ago (according to Instagram, because my moleskine from that time period is about a hundred miles away at my house), I had just plunked down in Nottingham, England. Since then, it seems I’ve been in a state of tumult. Not bad tumult, but tumult nonetheless; like I'm being hurtled through a bunch of fascinating things and I can't quite focus on a single one.
In Nottingham, I was overloaded with adventure and culture saturation. I climbed towards ancient Scottish priories in the rain, dyed my hair purple, and succumbed to drinking tea when, for literally months prior, you’d catch me making leaf-water/Boston Tea Party/Revolutionary War jokes. Then I returned home and got slammed with junior year work, acclimating back to more stoic professors and the intense American school system. Summer appeared in a blazing rush and I got hired at a wonderful, semi-elite bookstore while also working as a paid (!) research assistant. And now here I sit on a carmine-colored couch in a very white apartment usually filled with some really great girls. My eyes ache (I had to switch out my contacts after Ancient Greek Civilizations), I’m itchy with sweat because my apartment exists on the third floor, and I’ve drunk alcohol on two different occasions already.
It’s only Wednesday.
Yesterday, I was headed to the library to get some Spanish packets highlighted while thinking, "I can grab Costa after this. I can't wait. I love Costa coffee!" Only, Costa exists at Nottingham, not here at my college, and Nottingham is some 3,000+ miles away. I paused for a minute, just a little confused as to where I was.
It probably didn't help that my bookstore job wasn't too taxing on my brain and now I'm operating at maximum usage.
What I’m trying to say is, a lot can change in a year. And my life only seems to be going faster. So I just needed to write it all down somewhere. Expulse my thoughts between trying to not lose my temper at John Locke’s long-windedness and planning my senior thesis and
accepting another research assistant job. Gotta pad that résumé.
Also, I just drank a mug of coffee, finished it, and an oddly Gollum-like thought of MORE slunk through my mind. This is gonna be quite the semester.
A new story idea scratched at the inside of my skull a few hours ago and I’m trying really hard not to scare it away. I bought plane tickets for New York City this coming January to visit my friends just as I promised freshman year; I’m applying for graduate schools next year (London and Edinburgh are looking especially dashing).
On the very plus side, Nicholas is being released this winter (you can read the first chapter here) and possibly even my first published novel, Shubiao’s Girls. Nicholas started off, as my other novella, The Christmas Lights, did, as a Christmas present for my mom. I feel no shame whatsoever of buying into the cliché of a charming London thief. I feel like everyone should write about London thieves at least once. Or any thief, actually.
Nicholas was adapted from a loose plot of a book I wanted to write called Jamie’s Mercy (still really proud of that title). Jamie was a teenage pirate with a one-man sailing ship and a penchant for wandering rooftops. Mercy was a headstrong bishop’s daughter who discovered a treasure map on a document in her father’s church, which brought her to the attention of loads of loathsome ruffians. However, for whatever reason I couldn’t create more than that (and even now it raises questions such as, ‘Aren’t bishops celibate? Should she be a nun or novice-nun, then?’)
And so, I nipped up Jamie and switched his name, dropping him in Westminster, London, into the vague eighteenth century, and let him loose. He quickly stole stories from the top of a palace tower and discovered the very strong Crown Princess—the teller of the stories—was soon to fall into a plot almost as dark as her tales. Nicholas is much more “fairy-tale” than my other books: hence the princess, and a villain who is only referred to as “the duke.” I didn’t feel the need to let the read in on his name. He was too despicable; too hateful of his title—for why would a king’s twin brother be merely referred to as a duke? Some love lost there, I assume.
I’m eagerly awaiting cover art and the Final Galley for Nicholas and cannot wait for people to learn about him and HRH Alexandrina.
I’m just realizing now that this is a bit long, and think I’ll gush about Shubiao’s Girls a bit later, perhaps in a week or two.
Hope everyone's weeks are manageable!
Hello, hello! Happy morning, noon, evening, whatever time it is. By the time I check back on this article, I'll be moved into my new college apartment for senior year, ready to budget my money once more and face a last round of classes while also enjoying my little college town and applying for grad school in another country. So the title of this post is oddly apt.
"I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people, really." -- Tennessee Williams
To make our stories interesting our characters often have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing them because the character’s arc, the meat in our stories. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?
That is a darn good question...which is probably going to make me seem like a horrible person. Basically, it's really difficult to write a story without these alleged "wounds" because if a character is perfectly content in their life then it's terribly hard to get them to go on a quest to destroy the One Ring to Rule them All, or fight a really horrifying wizard guy, or what have you.
And, as it happens, I have examples for Mental, Physical, and Spiritual wounds or scars for my books (I'm going to end up apologizing to my characters, aren't I?)
First off, Mental wounds: the first character I think off right off the bat is Celeste, the wunderkind of the only trilogy I've written so far (and it took about five/sixish thrilling years of angst, excitement, woe, tears, and self-doubt). Celeste stars as one half of the main character partnership in Serpents and Flame: the daughter of Euryale the Wanderer and a sailor, she is half-Gorgon (how well do you know your Greek mythology? Think Medusa.) with snakes for hair, brass fingernails, scales, and small tusks. On top of that, her mother and aunt kept her on a remote island and didn't exactly endow her with a great worldview. I really think she's the most pessimistic character I've ever written--she has good reason, but it was a real switch-up for me to have to keep viewing things from her eyes because, on her opposite, I introduced Leandro Alexiou, who was dealt (mostly)--
Physical wounds: --which does not sound nice. I'm sorry (!). Andro has a fair share of mental pricks as well, including his mother's death and the whole little debacle with his sister's ensuing depression/madness drawing the god of madness to her. These culminate into physical wounds when Andro acts on an instinct and ends up with a gathering of pretty awful scars. These, in addition to how surrounding characters react to to them, fuel Andro to proceed on the path he chooses in the book. The scars are actually kind of a really important thing, and I can't give all the secrets away here. ;)
Physical wounds also play back into mental: in Monet Evanesce (an art forger/heist story due to be published next year), the protagonist Apollo Roszak only does what he does because of a HUGE injustice done to his great-great-grandfather, Jos. It's all mental (it happened, what, over a good century ago), but it was pretty awful, especially since repercussions waver all the way to present-day.
Lastly, let's talk Spiritual wounds: which I have a fantastic example of, because I just edited a novel that deals with this! Shubiao's Girls is finally getting published (*Viking scream*) and it's only just done it's first round of edits, but I'm excruciatingly pleased. Cara, the MC, always wakes up feeling as though she hasn't slept (I actually started this idea after waking up super groggy one morning near Halloween-time). This is because Shubiao, a mouse spirit, has been stealing her breath almost every night in order to take human form. Why? Because of a curse put on her family by a twentieth-century silk merchant, of course. Cue the assistance of Cara's semi-religious best friend Hosey, with whom Cara delves into world mythologies when Shubiao makes a deal with a biblical demon, wherein a Fallen angel joins the mix and everyone's literal/tangible soul is at stake.
Are you a writer? What kind of, uh, wounds do your characters sport, and why? If you're just here for a read-along, click a few (or all. All.) links below and see what these other authors inflict on their poor wee characters:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/the-wounded-healer
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Writing is a really weird profession. You live your normal life and then out of the blue--some random fake people catch your attention and you have this whole story in your head you have to see through to the end.
I haven't had any fake people tap me on the shoulder recently, which gives me an odd sense but also allows me time to juggle the other 1,001 things going on in my life. Round Robins are sort of my only source of literary release because otherwise I'm chipping away at being an art history research assistant (the type of writing and editing that really, really hurts your head but it super interesting), and working at the bookstore, so I always perk up when Rhobin sends us a new theme for the month:
Topic for July: What makes a novel memorable?
1. The characters
Duh, right? I mean, of course. But I have to point this out. I've read plots that are superdy-duper amazing, but the trope of the "I'm not like the other girls" girl who's borderline mean and don't need no man really turns me off. That's just one of a handful, for example. The characters carry the story. If they suck or irk you, no matter how five-star that plot it, you're going to drop it like a hot potato.
Take Sir Percy Blakeney ("Sink meh!" [oh, you've never seen the 1980 film with Anthony Andrews and Sir Ian McKellen, either?] It's okay, I only saw it two days ago and it's not as amazing as the book) from The Scarlet Pimpernel, for example. (What, say you? You've never read this? Get your hands on a copy, now, say I!) I really adored his character; and not just because Batman and 007 are apparently based off him. One, yes, he's this suave, golden-hearted Brit who dons ridiculous disguises to save aristocrats from the French Revolution. But two, he also plays himself off as an idiotic simpering fop, so much so that a French agent catches him at a rendezvous point for the Scarlet Pimpernel and doesn't suspect him for even half a millisecond. Also, his secret symbol/signature is a little red pimpernel (a wildflower, seen above).
Characters can catch me because
I relate to them (Lady Jane in My Lady Jane, Clay in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore)
I am afraid of them (Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel, that horrifying monk guy or any of the antagonists in The da Vinci Code series)
I want to be friends with them (Razo, Finn, Enna and Ani/Isi in the Books of Bayern series, literally everyone from Harry Potter)
or they're so cool I'm just really impressed with them (Magnus Bane in the Mortal Instruments books) etc., etc., etc.
I'm such a fan when plot twists surprise me; when the writing is so ingenious and imaginative that my eyes rush to follow along. I'm thinking of The Night Circus and its fetes of magical tents and experiences, or even Water for Elephants because, whoa, August was terrifying and I really wasn't sure how all that was going to end up. If I can tell what happens next, it gets kind of hard to finish the book. Complex story lines are also really exciting.
4. The Emotional Range
Did I snort, roll my eyes, or actually laugh out loud? Did I weep and my face get so puffy that my college room mate had to ask if I was alright? Did I get so nervous that I may or may not've skipped to the end of the chapter to see if the main character was okay--and then my heart jumped because they weren't? I don't think I've ever done all of these for any one novel, but eliciting a physical response out of someone looking at a piece of paper is always impressive.
5. And Lastly, Beautiful,
Sometimes I simply moon over the writing style. I just started Everyone Brave is Forgiven and I got a little heady. Chris Cleave, the author, could be describing a bag of chips and I'd probably have to fight a swoon. The same with All the Light We Cannot See (hint: I'm a sucker for WWII books). I don't know why certain combinations of words have such a more profound effect on me than others. But when an author uses similes I've never dared dream of, or describes something so clearly that yes, I am in that London garret in 1939 holding that freshly cooked jar of jam while one of the characters says something I've always felt but never had articulated into words....I'm blindsided by the beauty of it.
Alright, enough of me muttering. What about you? Favorite book? Character? Something you read that absolutely enamored you? Toss me a comment and then follow along the list to see how these other authors feel!
Dr. Bob Rich
Tina Gayle is the guest of today's post! Tina Gayle grew up a dreamer and loved to escape into the world of books. After a number of different jobs, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her romantic novels touch the heart and explore the heartaches of falling in love and being a woman.
Married thirty years, she and her husband love to travel and play golf. If you’d like to read the 1st chapter of her books, visit her website.
Buy your lover a balloons instead of flowers and give them as a special gift.
Blurb for Summer’s Growth:
In the spirit-haunted Winston estate in Ohio, rooted in time and occupied by the lingering ghosts of a great family, the torch is about to pass...
Mattie Winston, sober, sensible, and steady, has served as Keeper to the family for decades. Amber Harrison, hovering on the edge of flunking out of college, unsure what she wants out of life, has barely even heard of the Winston estate. The family, however, has decided that it's time for the changing of the guard. These two exceptional women soon find themselves dealing with violence, murder attempts, and old family mysteries while each finding the love of her life. Two romances and a growing friendship, all twined around a brooding family tragedy, make for an outstanding paranormal mystery offering depth and charm beyond the commonplace. The growing love of Amber and Carter and of Mattie and Quincy offer readers a tender and engaging first novel in a winning new paranormal series.
Was she insane? Why agree to spend time at a place she’d never been before with people she didn’t know?
Fear and eagerness warred in her stomach. Breathing rapidly, she inhaled the scent of her peppermint gum. The crisp fragrance reminded her of her grandfather’s breath mints, and she took another deep breath to calm her shaky nerves.
Past the point of no return, even if the adventure ended up to be a free trip to nowhere. Whatever happened she’d see it through.
The soft leather seat cooled her skin. Tired from her long trip to Ohio, she leaned her head on the plush headrest. She used the relaxing motion of the car to recover some of her energy and turned her head to view the landscape outside the car.
Different from Southern California, no lollypop trees or car-packed freeways met her gaze. The road supported only a few cars moving along at a steady pace. Calm pastureland lined the highway with wildflowers dancing in the wind. Large limbs darting in every possible direction, small leaves announced spring to the world with their bright green foliage. No structures marred the view or broke the serene pleasure of the unencumbered land.
Yet, they’d only left the airport a few minutes ago.
Her mind wandered to the place where they were headed. She shot her silent driver a quick glance. She’d questioned the portly old gentleman about Winston Manor when she’d first arrived. He’d said they needed to get going and refused to comment beyond that.
Once in the car, she’d tried again. Her blue eyes caught his in the rear view mirror, and he assessed her value before glancing away.
Amber brushed her long, blonde hair back off her shoulder and tugged on her cotton tee shirt to straighten out the wrinkles.
“How long until we arrive at Winston Manor?” she asked.
He didn’t respond, almost as if he hadn’t heard. Unwilling to be rude, she decided to settle back in her seat.
The answers would come once she arrived at Winston Manor.
Read First Chapter of "Summer's Growth"
Purchase ebook at: Amazon |
Find Tina Gayle everywhere at:
Home - www.tinagayle.net
Blog - www.tinagayle.blogspot.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorTinaGayle
Goodread - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1641826.Tina_Gayle
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/tina.gayle
Summer...or, 2016, has proved very heavy for me. I'm currently considering grad schools (I'm winking at you, England), trying to fix my senior year schedule, working as a bookshop service associate, which is both extremely exciting and surprisingly demanding, and I just got word that I get to be a research assistant to a professor I heartily admire, on a subject I didn't even realize existed (a Russian guy who moved to London in the 1920s and created Byzantine-style contemporary mosaics, how intensely awesome is that?!). Add "promote your forthcoming books, old ones, and maybe write a new one" on top of that, and you'll understand why I have these nicely shaded half-moons under my eyes.
But lo--all this angst fits perfectly in our topic for June:
How emotionally involved are you in reading or writing some scenes?
If you've ever been anywhere near the internet, you've seen those memes or text posts about people wondering if writers cackle when they kill of a beloved character, that they drink reader's tears and all that hootenanny. Now, that might be true for George R. R. Martin, but a lot of people I know actually feel sad if they write emotional scenes--especially death scenes, for example.
I've also seen writing compared to acting; you're just playing every single part. And that can be surprisingly draining. I have a character, Celeste, whom I love to pieces. But she is arguably the darkest, most cynical character with the lowest self-esteem of anyone I've ever had the pleasure to write. She's half-Gorgon (think snakes for hair, bronze fingernails, and Greek mythology) and faced discrimination and seclusion for the first eighteen years of her life. She's offset by Andro, a grandson of Zeus whose father is Captain of the Guard on Olympus. He's spunky and optimistic because, until recently, he's never had cause not to be. There are a few scene in Serpents and Flame where Celeste realizes that everything, even her safety and her greatest desire, comes at a high cost--and it's emotional.
Once, I even scared myself. I was writing Shubiao's Girls. It's a paranormal book, not quite horror, but I started with the query of why we wake up sometimes and it feels like we haven't slept. I explained this with Chinese mouse spirits--spirits that live as mice but have the ability to steal your life force while you sleep. This allows them to transform into human form, but only temporarily. I then added an eons-old name-stealing demon and a fallen angel to the mix, and whenever I would wake up groggy I would get this itchy feeling, like, what if....? Even thought I wrote the book and made up the connection!
To jump back to death scenes--I become a wreck. Even if someone's getting badly injured, really. Yes, I know they're not real. I'm going to risk sounding crazy here, so open your mind--they sort of are, though. My characters are my friends. I feel almost like an older sibling or mentor to them. Have you ever read about writers sort of creating their characters and then the characters sort of just...taking over the story? Doing their own thing? As in, you might have this loose plot ready, but once your guys and gals are up and at 'em, you get hit with "Oh, there's no way they would do that," or "nah, it would go down like this" even though YOU created them and technically you could have them do whatever you wanted? It's weird.
But yeah, I've penned a couple death scenes, maybe two or three big ones. One was even for a major villain--she was bad, really awful--but once I slammed the reader with her backstory, I felt so bad for her. It was one of the most emotional experiences I've had while writing. She was such a complex character; so chilling, actually, that my mom asked how I came up with such stuff. I get all stuffy, red-nosed, and weepy.
There's one, in Monet Evanesce--I won't tell you who, it's kind of a clincher in the plot, ahaha--but the person had come so far, and was just trying to fix someone else's mistake, and he was the person who LEAST deserved to die, ever...allow me to say I was crying so much that I had to stop because I couldn't see my laptop screen a foot in front of my face.
So, I guess I'm gonna leave off and say yeah, I get pretty emotionally involved with writing scenes in my stories. :')
If you like, follow along the list to see how emotionally tied other artists are to their stories!
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Dr. Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/rhobins-round-robin/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Hi, guys! Today I am hosting Carmen Stefanescu,
who resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble - the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of communist oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.
Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.
Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog, and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.
Here are some romantic ideas to rekindle the spark :
Learn a romantic foreign language.
Take an intro-class together for a language that neither of you speak - French, Italian, Spanish or Romanian simply sound romantic - and practice whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, in that new language!
Cuddle up together in a horse-drawn carriage ride.
You’ll probably feel like you are in a romantic comedy, and that’s a good thing.
Read each other’s Tarot Cards.
Take turns reading each other’s fortunes using Tarot Cards. Even if you don’t believe in astrology, it will make for one fun evening spent together.
Go on a ghost tour together.
Find the nearest ghost tour in your city and head out on the adventure together. At least you’ll have someone’s hand to hold onto should things start to get a little spooky.
Feed each other fondue at home.
It really doesn’t get sexier than feeding each other chocolate dipped strawberries.
The book Carmen would like to talk about today is
Till Life Do Us Part, a paranormal romance by Solstice Publishing and chock full of mystery and suspense. It was released June 9, 2016, which means you can buy it now! Below is the blurb you would find on the back of her book jacket:
Barbara Heyer can hear voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.
Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together?
Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.
And if you liked that, here is an excerpt:
He watched the windows of the house for several days, hidden by the mantle of the falling night. Taking advantage of the cover the lime trees in the garden offered, he avidly followed her every movement across the bedroom. He could have hidden in the attic as he had a few times, watching her through the peephole he’d made, but from here, he could see her better.
He had a cautious nature, yet wasn’t afraid of being spotted. There was little likelihood of his presence being announced to the police as a stalker. After all, they’d been seen together quite often.
The first drop of rain fell with a splash on the windshield jolting Barbara back to reality. She opened her eyes and slipped her small handbag into the glove box. The money she received would help her solve many of the “not-for-now” things, like replacing the floorboard in the bedroom and repairing the leaking pipe in the kitchen.
She looked through the windshield at the pelting rain washing over her car. She reached for the key to start the engine when a faint light flickered on top of the steering wheel.
Barbara, Barbara, a voice came, more like a whisper, in her mind. He killed me. He just killed me...
Who are you, dear? Who killed you?
Kathleen… He killed me.
“Detective, please, don’t think I’m raving, but I have to ask. Do you know someone called Mabel?”
The man riveted Barbara with his dark blue eyes for a moment. Barbara cringed inside. He’ll rebuke me. The man passed a hand over his face and nodding, he answered, “Yes, I know a Mabel. My... my wife.”
“How long ago did she pass away?”
In a voice that was more than a little surprised he asked, “How on earth did you know she’s dead?”
“She’s here,” Barbara replied in a small voice.
His eyebrows shot up in disbelief. The steel in his voice was hard to miss. “What? What are you talking about?” He spun round and looked at the apparently empty space behind him.
Tell him I no longer suffer, Barbara heard Mabel’s voice.
Detective Fisher was still staring blankly around him.
“She wants me to tell you she no longer suffers. She hopes you’ve found in your heart the power to forgive her for committing suicide... for jumping off the bridge.”
The detective looked straight into Barbara’s eyes. The grief she saw in them was almost palpable.
I hope everyone enjoyed Carmen's guest post on my blog.
For more on Carmen and her book, you can stalk the author here:
Trailer for Till Life Do Us Part: https://youtu.be/UbuntlWISc0
Short URL for Amazon: https://goo.gl/H0dqkb
Elizabeth Harmon is the guest and star of today's #RomanticIdea guest post! She's come to share her killer cover art (I mean, it mixes Cyrillic and Latin alphabets), romantic date idea, and of course, her book!
Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world. Her debut novel, Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA Award Finalist.
An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest.
Cook a romantic dinner…together!
Choose a favorite recipe (or something new), and if you have a nearby farmer’s market, shop there for ingredients. Then turn on the music, pour the wine, and prepare it together.
Bike to a weekend getaway!
For a romantic getaway close to home, book a room at an in-town B&B or hotel, and ride there on your bike!
Outdoor concert and picnic
Pack a picnic supper and head to a local park that hosts outdoor summer concerts. Music under the stars, what could be better?
Join a couple’s sports or game league! It doesn’t matter whether your sport is softball, sand volleyball, bowling or even trivia. Win or lose, you’re having fun together.
Teen-age date night
If there’s a drive-in theater in your area, head out to watch a summer blockbuster under the stars. Or hit the County Fair for funnel cakes, lemonade and a kiss on top of the Ferris Wheel.
Go ice skating!
Yep, even in the summer. If you’re lucky enough to have a rink nearby, it’s a great way to cool off on a sweltering summer night.
In this second-chance romance, a former top men's figure skating champion is willing to risk everything for a comeback--except a new start with his long lost love.
An unexpected phone call from the man who broke her heart offers Amy Shepherd an opportunity to return to the work she loves, training elite figure skaters. Except it’s just one figure skater: Him. Can she finally forgive and forget?
Figure skater Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov once had it all: medals, money and the adoration of millions. But a devastating injury put an end to his career and his romance, leaving him with nothing but regret over what could have been. His last chance to re-join the world’s top skaters is now. And there’s only one person who can help him: Her.
On Russia’s unyielding ice, Misha must reclaim what he's lost while facing off against a talented young rival and risking further injury. But Amy soon discovers Misha's much bigger challenges lurk off the ice. And she's determined to keep Misha whole and healthy, even if doing so ends his shot at the gold.
Don't miss any of Elizabeth Harmon's Red Hot Russians. Pairing Off and Turning it On are available now!
The next morning, Amy awoke first. Misha lay beside her in bed, still sleeping. He’d brought over clothes last night. His toothbrush was in the bathroom cabinet. This was just like back in Ohio, only better. Misha was no longer searching for direction. He knew what he wanted, and they were working together to help him achieve it. But she couldn’t deny that she was nervous about what would happen today, when he returned to training on the ice.
She got out of bed, and changed into her running clothes, put coffee on, then returned to wake Misha. “Hey,” she sat on the edge of the bed and gently shook his shoulder. “Time for our run.”
“Nyet,” he said in a sleepy voice, and reached for her.
“You agreed to it last night. Nothing too strenuous, just enough to get your heart pumping and muscles working.”
“Don’t need running to make my heart pump,” he pulled her down onto the bed, cupping her butt through her black running tights. “As for muscles…maybe we can stay in and work this big stiff one?”
She laughed and squirmed away. “Nice try, but that muscle’s getting plenty of exercise. Rise and shine, big guy.”
She threw back the blankets, leaving him no choice but to fumble around for his pants. She waited outside and he joined her a few minutes later. They took off at an easy pace, following the path behind the center’s main buildings, then out around the pond and back. Nothing too strenuous, just as she’d promised. Their lungs filled with clean fresh air, the morning mist was cool on their skin. They returned to the guesthouse and she bent over her knees, breathing out cold air. Misha did the same. He straightened easily. “How is your back,” she said.
“Perfect. No pain at all.”
“And the rest of you? Knees? Head?”
“Knees are fine, and my head is in good place, too. Thanks to you, Amy the tiger.”
She grinned, and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Ready to get back on the ice?”
“Can’t wait,” he said decisively.
“You’re going to be great.”
He brushed a kiss across her lips. “For you, I will be.”
Intrigued? To purchase Elizabeth's book, check out any of the buy links below:
Barnes & Noble
To learn more about the author herself:
Amazon Author Page:
Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth! Be sure to show her some love in the comments section, or by clicking on a few of her links. :)
Morning! So I'm doing something a little different today: I've hosted a couple people before this, but this summer I'm going to be hosting a handful of lovely writers as part of #RomanticIdea, where authors share their romances while also opening their blogs to others...all the while sharing romantic summer ideas. It was just a very cute idea and I couldn't resist such a good promotional idea. So that's it for me, the rest of this post is centered on author Victoria Pinder and her novel Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush, a rereleased New Adult 2016 romance that everyone should really check out!
Now, for Victoria's...
Romantic Ideas to spend this spring with your favorite guy…
1. Visit an art museum
2. Walk on the beach (I know cheesy but it’s what my husband likes to do when we’re bored)
3. Go food shopping together and pick out something for each other to add to the cart
4. Plan a vacation or a cruise for a year away and talk about what you want to see or do (sometimes the planning is the fun part.)
5. Watch a movie together while snuggling
6. Take a dance class and use a groupon coupon
7. Visit a winery or local agriculture (perhaps apple picking)
8. Rent a boat or a canoe or kayak and hit the water (Or water ski if you’re adventurous)
9. Picnic in a local park somewhere
10. Go online to one of those places where you get coupons, like groupon, and pick something together that you’ve both never done… in Florida they have everything from helicopter rides, hot air balloons and
Synopsis for Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush:
Penny moves back to Miami to start her new job. She must start on Monday, so she has a list of things to accomplish.
A: Find a place to live.
B: Avoid her mother.
C: Reconnect with old high school friends. There was her best friend, Sandra, the dramatic Eva, the dark Michael, her half-brother Wyatt, and her old high school crush Jay.
Jay had never looked twice at her except as a partner in math league, but at least these people respected her.
Jay spots Penny immediately and sets a plan in action. He needs her to pretend to be his date this week. She’s practical minded and stable, which is what he needs his investors to see in him.
Penny’s caught in a whirlwind of plots. Her gold digging mother, Jay’s, Jay’s mother whose out to stop him, and her own plans are being thrown off course. Worst of it is that she’s falling for Jay, all over again.
Like what you see? Victoria and her novel can be further explored at the links below:
A Little about the Author:
Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.
During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.
She’s always been determined. She is amazing, adventurous and assured on a regular basis. Her website is www.victoriapinder.com.
Member of Florida Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance, Celtic Hearts and Savvy Authors.
For a free novella of Returning for Valentine’s Please Click here: http://victoriapinder.com/returningforvalentineshorttimeoffer
And last but not least, an excerpt from Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush:
“Home, sweet, err…coffee.”
Getting out of her car, Penelope brushed her worn jeans to get out a small wrinkle. Not that it mattered. She smelled the coffee drawing her to the door. The delicious aroma of freshly brewed java that could wake her up waited inside. Gainesville had coffee shops, but nothing that held her heart like this place. In high school, this place was her mecca. Her stomach grumbled for the familiar drink.
The coffee shop looked almost the same as it had years ago, except for the aluminum tables and wooden chairs with red cushions. She remembered the plaid chairs and brown tables, but the place still calmed her, like she was coming home.
She stepped up to the counter. “I’ll have a cinnamon dulce nonfat latte, please.”
Leaving Gainesville after college had always been the plan. Just never back to Miami, but she’d changed. She could live here now.
She checked her lip gloss while she waited for the latte at the counter.
When she accepted the promotion from part-time to full-time, she knew she would have to face her mother and the catch of the month, Lars, her mother’s plastic surgeon. What that woman would do for a free tummy tuck.
The job she’d accepted had offered to triple her salary, provided she moved to the Coral Gables office. Somehow, she’d avoid her mother until necessary. What was the man’s name with money this week? Penny ignored that last call, knowing the man with the largest wallet always took precedence over whatever Penelope needed. She watched the barista get the nonfat milk and finish her latte. She’d succeed here, now.
She had to.
She’d call Sandra, Eva, John, and Michael later. Wyatt, her half-brother, was stationed overseas, so she’d wait for his weekly call. These people were her real family.
The man handed her the latte. The first sip gave her the strength to do this. The tightness of the ride dissipated while she tasted her liquid savior. Sighing, she tasted heaven, the wake-up to her day.
Though the unmistakable voice was deeper, she knew who it was without even turning. Her high school crush, who never noticed her beyond her brain. Pulling at her pink tank top, she wished she’d worn better clothes. “John Jay.”
His steely blue eyes and sandy blond hair were the same color, but his build had grown more muscular. The leanness of his youth had given way to broad shoulders and hard, muscular arms. He had a straight, faded scar on his left cheek that was new—probably a bar fight. Rich boy wore his fancy, perfectly fitted polo and jeans, and was definitely hotter with age. His million-dollar smile and devastating dimples sparked a warm flush that sped through her all the way to the tips of her toes.
“I’m going by Jay these days. It’s less formal.” He winked at her, turning off his tablet and pointing her to his table.
“It’s a good name, but I still prefer Dimples,” she teased. “It’s what I called you on online whenever I needed you.”
His rich, deep laugh sent that familiar spark through her.
Damn. Rich boy knew his effect on women, including her. He could manipulate her when she went quiet, but she’d learned a lot in college. She’d not let him weaken her.
Ooo! I wonder how that's all going to go down.
Once again, Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush can be purchased at http://amzn.to/1SrKB7I.
Thanks, Victoria, for letting me host you!
Today's guest is MM Jaye! MM Jaye’s mother claims that she spoke her first word at the age of six. Months. As a kid she would record fairytales in her own voice, play them back and then re-record, adjusting the pitch and tempo. Later, she used her voice to inspire young adults and teach them the art of translation. But there came a time when life took a turn for the worse, and her voice temporarily died out. That’s when she turned to writing.
Fate Captured is the first book in her Greek Tycoons series, set on the Greek island where her husband proposed. MM Jaye lives in Athens, Greece, with her husband, daughter and Kindle.
Romantic Idea to enjoy this summer:
Have your partner read your favorite romance novel and ask him which romantic scene he enjoyed the most and then re-enact the scene! It could be candlelit dinner at a location similar to that mentioned in the book, wearing similar outfits, with the night progressing exactly as the book describes. Do your best to keep the script *winks*
In Fate Captured, the hero re-enacts the final scene of the heroine’s book (she’s an aspiring writer) even changing the dining room’s furniture to resemble those in the scene, and that’ show he won her back. He did need a grand gesture after the way he treated her, after all.
Can two wrongs win Mr. Right?
Trish Swan is living her dream. She gave up chilly Boston for a sunny Greek island to write her novel. But she likes hot crime between the pages, not before her eyes. Yet, she doesn’t think twice about turning in a video she captures of a cop roughing up a man--but maybe she should because fate throws her a curve ball she least expects.
The mind-numbingly hot Greek from the bar isn't just a cocky bad boy in need of a little love. He's a shipping heir wrongfully accused.
Career in ruins, Markos’ life is a hot mess, all thanks to one sexy do-gooder who keeps popping up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Touching her becomes addictive, so maybe he could forgive her for doing her civic duty. But when she dredges up ghosts from his past, messing with his sanity, his Greek blood boils. And someone is bound to get burned.
With a man’s life on the line, Trish prepares for a head-on collision that will push Markos over the edge. What does she stand to lose anyway? Her heart?
He already owns it.
Balancing the tray on one hand, Trish turned to take the drinks to the couple snuggling on the cushioned bench that lined the side wall. She gave Hot Guy a wide berth. Although initially she wanted him to watch her dance, she also had to think of her reputation at her workplace. Branding herself as an easy waitress was the last thing she needed.
She spotted the sleazo leaving his seat. His eyes were pinned on her, his upper lip curled. Now she worried more about putting space between her and him. She sidestepped clumsily, and her foot caught on the protruding leg of a bar stool, sending her careening forward.
A hand of steel around her arm steadied her before she fell flat on her face. As bad luck went, it was the arm with the tray, and by the time she pushed her tumbling hair out of her face, the drinks intended for the snuggling couple were soaking her savior’s jeans-clad thighs.
She looked up. As if she needed his steel-gray gaze to be petrified.
“Was that Plan B or a payback?”
At the sound of the guy’s low, deep voice, her heart rate went from fast to frantic. Trying to ignore the burning sensation his large fingers had left on her arm, she focused on what he was saying. Which was gibberish.
Hot guy quirked a thick, dark brow. “Do you make a habit of throwing yourself at men, or was that your way of getting back at me for not falling for your little dance routine earlier?”
Anger thickened her blood to the point of clotting it, and her heartbeat markedly dropped.
“Did you just imply I stumbled on purpose?”
Trish opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Glancing about, she saw that Bo had gone to the back room, and the snuggling couple were about to start making babies, oblivious to the fact that their drinks were now pooling on the floor. She inched closer to the bar and leaned against it, giving him her sweetest smile.
The hard expression on his face remained, but his gaze fell on her mouth, his eyes widening just a fraction.
She had a killer smile, and she knew it.
Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, she threw out her hand, snatched his tumbler and brought that drink down on him as well.
His gaze dropped to his lap.
“Now that was payback.” She pivoted and tossed her long hair with such gusto, it had to have whipped his face.
Like what you read?
Amazon Purchase Links (all markets)
Spicy version: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30052119-fate-captured-spicy-romance
Clean version: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30056131-fate-captured-clean-romance
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/MM-Jaye/e/B00OX44NSO
Thanks for coming, MM!
Topic: Confrontation creates powerful drama. This month, use one scene you've written (published or not) that shows confrontation between characters with a brief explanation.
Alllllriiiiggghttt. I'm actually really stoked for this Round Robin, if you couldn't tell by my enthusiastic overuse of letter repetition. I love conflict in books. It's the reason we write books. If everything was hunky dory, plot wouldn't happen. Even when things are slow (like, say, the group of heroes is sitting in a library trying to learn about where to find Cronus's scythe is), there's a threat of confrontation. They're racing against time. The heroes have made other heroes explosively angry, simply based on the face they they've been chosen to find a sacred, beyond powerful relic and the older heroes have been pushed by the wayside (which may or may not be a plot point in my Serpents and Flame books, hehe). And, besides reading it...confrontation is incredibly fun to write.
Below is a scene from Nicholas, because that novella is all geared up to come out this winter (*insert joyful scream here*) and because it's the most cut-and-dry scene I could find out of my novels queued to be published. Nicholas, the title character, is a very skilled Westminster thief who tries to help the Crown Princess escape an assassination attempt. In this scene, he had been pretending to be a German ambassador but two would-be assassins tracked him down before he can join Alexandrina, the princess, at a pre-coronation dinner.
“Have a nice sleep?”
The voice rose from behind him the same time Nicholas realized he hadn’t needed to unlock the door when he left. He spun, glaring at the shadow as it unhinged itself from the darkness. It was the taller one.
Nicholas scrubbed at his hair. “Why yes, thank you.” He didn’t bother with an accent.
“You were on the roof. Same way you got in.” The shorter of the Rickets came shuffling down the hall, unable to hide a trace of admiration.
“It’s referred to as stealth. That’s how respectable thieves work.” Nicholas rolled his shoulders. “It’s more civilized than murdering people in their sleep.” He paused, making sure his back was to the wall, and adjusted his white gloves. “It would’ve been easier to ambush me, you realize? Or weren’t you sure I was on the roof?”
“The duke warned us about this room, though nothing was moved. But we couldn’t find you anywhere else so we thought maybe—” the taller man started, but the other silenced him with a harsh noise.
Nicholas raised an eyebrow. A tremble kicked up in his shins but he ignored it. He forced his breathing to regulate; deep breaths soaking into him so he wouldn’t let the nerves envelop his thoughts. Nicholas pretended it was all a game. He was messing around with Hugh or some of their acquaintances, nothing more. “I suppose you want some revenge before taking me to the duke. Your plan was to rough me up a bit, for making you look stupid.”
The shorter grinned, holding two fingers close together. “A bit. Just to give you a taste.”
“Pleasant.” Nicholas unbuttoned his coat and slid off his gloves.
Nicholas was not a large person. Hugh could easily flatten him within a few seconds…but Hugh wasn’t usually threatening Nicholas’s life and the life of the future monarch.
Shirking his jacket off in one fluid motion, Nicholas flung it into the taller man’s face so hard he thought the brass buttons might leave bruises. A heavy body leapfrogged onto his back. Nicholas’s face connected with the wall but he turned, using the momentum of the short brother to aim his fall at the taller, who had just gotten the jacket off his head and scrubbed at one closed eye. All three bodies tumbled to the ground with Nicholas on top. As he fell, Nicholas used both elbows and the back of his head to add impact.
A nasty crack—like an egg under a heel—made the Ricket under him expel a muffled moan and fling Nicholas upward; he scrambled to his feet and was promptly thrown off them when a hand grabbed ahold of his boot. But he had them headed where he wanted them; the narrowest of service stairwells waited in the gloom as Nicholas rolled onto his back and shielded his face from the blood spurting out of the shorter brother’s shattered nose. The taller man grabbed for Nicholas’s other boot but instead had one connected with his face; Nicholas needed them on their feet, more or less, and danced upward, using a sconce for support. When it snapped off under his weight, he raised it like a baton and gestured at the men as they got their bearings.
Nicholas only froze a moment when they both charged. Then he stepped into the doorway of the maintenance stair, seized the metal railing, and let himself be bowled over.
When he could genuinely see the murder written in their eyes, Nicholas flattened himself against the wall with the railing and saw the murder turn to horror. Their momentum sent the brothers soaring past into open air. A hand tried to clamp onto Nicholas’s shoulder but faltered; both men flung headlong down the stairs and settled into a jumble down below.
Nicholas peered down at the unmoving bodies until one twitched; then he paced out into the hall and brushed off his jacket. A moan from the stairwell quickened his step; he schooled his face into one of polite blankness before running down the stairs.
See? Interesting. Originally I had bypassed this scene, jumping from Nicholas being confronted by the two goons and then skipping to where he meets up with Drina. It was sort of a well-use-your-imagination thing, like you could make up what you wanted but my editor was like, "Excuse me...no-no-no. You write that scene right now. I need to know what happened!" So I did. Nicholas is much more about stealth and disguise; he isn't the beefiest guy in Westminster and realizes he isn't. So this scene kind of showed a different side to him: one that was a bit more rough, more coldly calculating.
Confrontation doesn't always have to be this physical smackdown, either. I browsed through Shubiao's Girls while writing this post and found a lot of confrontations that were spoken conversations. No one laid a hand on each other, but tensions crackled nonetheless. I didn't put them here because setting the scene would take too much time or give away the whole plot. :)
So, what do you think of confrontation in books? Do you prefer fight scenes? Spoken showdowns? I find that writing scenes where people are testing their dominance just by speaking to another person can be really fun to write. Oftentimes those can be more powerful than two characters just going MMA on one another. Thoughts?
If you so choose, follow the thread and see how other swell authors deal with (fictional) confrontations!
Dr. Bob Rich