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Why I Dislike Novel Series – Guest Post by Andrea Downing, Author of Dances of the Heart

25 Feb

Dances of the Heart, a contemporary women's fiction romance by Andrea DowningI have no idea when the concept of writing several books around the same set of characters first came into being, pretty much replacing the family saga or the juicy mega-novel à la James Michener.   I’m fairly sure it must have been some ‘suit’ in the back room of one of the big New York publishers who thought of this as an ingenious way to garner more money from the unsuspecting reader. Or perhaps it was a reader who made the suggestion pointing out his limited attention span? I personally came across this innovation when I wanted to read the work of an award-winning author and discovered that his romantic opus on the west was to cover seven volumes; I bought the first one out of curiosity and stopped.  Maybe series are good in that, if you can’t stand the writing, you don’t have to go on?

At the moment I’m judging a competition and, out of five books I’ve been given, four are in series.  This is a very telling experience because, of those four, only one is the first book in its series.  So here comes problem Number One with the others:  does the book stand alone?  IMHO, it should.  A reader should be able to pick up a book she thinks may be interesting to read and get the full story, not have constant referrals back to characters and/or situations she doesn’t know.  If she wants to go back because she’s enjoyed the book, that’s one thing, but to force her to go back because the book doesn’t make sense is quite another.  The ‘who the hell is this person?’ situation just doesn’t sit well with me; neither does the ‘when did they attend THAT party?’

Then, of course, there’s the start of the second couple’s relationship when the series is built around several different people.  I don’t mind the introduction of these characters–of course not.   But to suddenly be switched into their POV and have them canoodling, before we’re switched back into the current story, takes me right out of the book with a resounding, WHAT?  Not only that, it leaves certain situations unresolved; you get the HEA but as a bonus, you get other factors leaving you wondering.

I have read series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed; Julie Garwood’s Claybornes’ Brides/Rosehill series comes to mind.  And I was brought up on Little House on the Prairie, and Nancy Drew, the Bobbsy Twins, and so on.  But each of their books could be read independently and still give enjoyment.  Some authors may be fearful of the repetition needed to re-identify characters and situations and, perhaps, the fervent follower of a series will get annoyed with so much duplication.  But my own gut feeling is that the individual reader who likes the sound of, say, book two, should be able to enjoy that book without feeling left out or forced into a possibly unwanted purchase.

Now, before all the series writers start calling for my blood, let me also say I envy series writers.  Authors have a right to earn from their craft, and if writing a series brings you more readers, well done.  And if you can keep up the momentum of writing about the same characters in several books without it feeling like the story is dragging on, go for it.  All I’m saying here is that each book should be enjoyable in its own right and, sadly, that isn’t always the case.  I’d love to be able to tell the full story of all the characters in my first book, Loveland, and even my latest, Dances of the Heart, could have a Book Two.  But if I go that route, you can be certain I’ll make sure it can stand on its own.

Dances of the Heart

Blurb:  Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.

Excerpt: Ray pointed to his pickup, smirking slightly with the knowledge of what her reaction would probably be.

“You must be joking.”

He could hardly hear the mumbled comment, but it was exactly what he’d been expecting.

She glowered, a brow definitively arched in query.  “What year is this thing?”

He attempted to wipe the amusement away from his face with a hand that rubbed his stubble in a satisfying scrape. “Sorry, I left the Cadillac at home this time.” A raised brow questioned if she took him seriously. “It’s an ’89, and still runs as smooth as the day I got it.”

“Which was, what? Last year?”

Ray shook his head and proceeded to the passenger door. “You have the key, sweetheart,” he said, patiently standing and waiting.

“Listen!” Carrie put her hands out as if to stop any further conversation. “First off, I am not your sweetheart. And second, if by any chance you think you just may have gotten lucky tonight–”

“Whoa, whoa now.” Ray was truly mystified at the turn events were taking. “Not that I wouldn’t be honored and damn well pleased, but I sure as heck wasn’t thinkin’ along those lines…and truth be told, you know, I’m hardly up to it.” He considered this for a second, a fog clearing for a moment’s view of the road. “And I don’t mean I need Viagra either.” He noted her staring at the key as if it might turn into something else. “No, it doesn’t open automatically,” he informed her at last.

She shoved the key into the handle and got the door open, climbed up into the cab and reached across to unlock the door for him. Her gaze ran over the dashboard, uncertainty scrunching her face like a bitter fruit.

Ray folded himself into the passenger seat and slouched back, tipping his hat over his eyes. “Just let me know when you give up. I’ll be right here, darl…” Yeah, better not. He could almost feel her indignation, listening as she squirmed around and adjusted the seat.

“It’ll be a cold day in hell, mister, before I give up!” The key turned and the truck sputtered to life, then died again.

“You ever drive manual before?” he mumbled from under his Stetson, and sensed Carrie eyeing him. “That’s what I thought,” he answered to her lack of response. “Put your foot on the clutch, move her into first, release the brake, and get goin’, slowly releasing the clutch.”

“Who the hell drives stick shift anymore?” she muttered as she followed his terse instructions. The truck lurched forward as she spun it off the grass toward the road.

“Right,” Ray directed, feeling suddenly nauseous with the pitch of the car. Bile rising, he opened the door and spat before yanking it shut again. “Can you get the damn thing into second? Foot on the clutch, move the shift and let’s go if we’re going.”

“Fine! You don’t have to yell at me.”

Ray sat up, shoved his hat back from his eyes and glared at her, reining in his frustration and anger. “I was not yelling at you, but you know dang well we’d be far safer with me drivin’. As it is, I’m gonna need a new transmission.”

The truck staggered again. “I know no such thing.” She bent forward to swipe at the windscreen to clear it. “We haven’t got seatbelts on,” she murmured.

“We’re not going fast enough to need them.”

Carrie ignored his last remark and appeared to concentrate on keeping the truck moving. It sputtered again, and Ray let out a sigh of resignation just as flashing blue lights appeared in the side mirror. She pulled over, and the motor unceremoniously died.

“Damn!” she cursed, reaching down for her bag at Ray’s feet. “Let me get my license.”

You Can Buy Dances of the Heart at: 

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes and Noble

Andrea Downing, author of Dances of the Heart, a contemporary women's fiction romanceBio: Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, came out in February, 2015.

You can find Andrea at:

Website and Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |
Linkedin | Amazon Author Page

 

Book Spotlight: Destiny Calling by Maureen L. Bonatch

22 Dec

Destiny Calling, a paranormal romance  by Maureen L. BonatchDestiny Calling
The Enchantlings Volume 1
by Maureen L. Bonatch

A Paranormal Romance from The Wild Rose Press
Available on December 22, 2014

Hope doesn’t know if the man she can touch is a dream come true, or a nightmare just beginning.

Hope only wants to find out if her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with her touch makes her the devil’s spawn, or his exterminator. But when the woman who raised her is murdered by something not human, she loses the only family she knew and discovers one she might wish she hadn’t.

Drawn back to the hometown she vowed never to return to, her ability is seen as an asset to everyone but Hope, and she doesn’t know who to trust. Her family wants her to help them overcome an enemy oppressing the human population, while the man of her dreams is courting her for the Underworld.

Time is running out, and Hope’s choice may be made for her, as she discovers she’s a pawn in a bigger game played by a merciless ruler who doesn’t lose.

Excerpt:

I strained to release my arm from Griffith’s vise-like grip while scanning the surrounding trees, trying to determine which was less of a threat, the beast of a man holding me or those who might be waiting for me in the woods.

“You will come inside, now.” Griffith spoke slowly and deliberately as if I were a small child.

I batted at the hand Griffith placed on my head. “I’m not a puppy, quit petting me.”

“I will protect you.” Griffith’s warm breath caressed my ear. “If for no other reason, to find out what I’m giving up and why she wants you so badly.”

I inhaled his masculine scent, like musky earth. It washed over my face, and the tension in my jaw released. I stopped struggling. “Are you the devil?” My tongue was thick and heavy so the words came out slurred.

“Not even close.” His words soothed and comforted, like having a weighted blanket cocoon me. Each movement was an effort. It wasn’t the same as the thing in the woods. This was more like the feeling after a long massage or bubble bath.

“It’s not safe.” Griffith wrapped his arms around me, and I rested against his broad chest.

“It’s not safe.” I nodded. My muscles relaxed and my eyelids grew heavy.

“It’s cold. We’re going inside.” Griffith kept his arm supporting me as he steered me toward the house.

“We’re going inside.” I parroted and walked up the steps, leaning heavily on him.

Out of the corner of my eye, something was cautiously moving at the edge of the woods. Branches snapped as whatever was observing us crept closer.

Available Today at:

Amazon Kindle   Amazon Paperback  The Wild Rose Press

Maureen L. Bonatch, author of Destiny Calling, a paranormal romanceAbout the Author:

Growing up with four siblings had Maureen familiar with escaping into a good book, or the recesses of her mind. She realized later in life everyone didn’t have characters telling stories in their heads, or weren’t envisioning magic and mayhem within the everyday. This, and long walks in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania spawned a love of writing.
Since her desire to become a Solid Gold Dancer was thwarted when the show was discontinued, Maureen opted to pursue other paths. Attempting to conquer new endeavors proved fruitful with her first novella, while other attempts, such as challenging a fear of heights with parasailing, were unsuccessful.
Therefore she’s chased other interests, though none-the-less-daring, but closer to the ground, such as belly-dancing, becoming a self-proclaimed tequila connoisseur, fulfilling her role as biker babe to her alpha hubby and surviving motherhood to twins (so far).
Penning stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

You can find Maureen at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbonatch

Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Website: http://www.maureenbonatch.com

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/1AV4L

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maureenbonatch/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maureenlbonatch

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3103486.Maureen_L_Bonatch

Book Spotlight: Book of Love by Constance Bretes

17 Dec

Book of Love by Constance BretesBook of Love

A librarian, a mechanic, and a psychotic ex. What could go wrong?

When her marriage came to a devastating end, Janice Meyers moved to Montana to try to escape her past and get a fresh start. She’s sworn off men, but she didn’t anticipate meeting Chris.

After the death of his wife, Chris Jamisen focused all his time and energy on running his auto repair shop and raising his children. He’s not looking for love, and when he first meets Janice, the town’s new librarian, he never imagines they might embark on a relationship. Sure, he’ll admit he finds the smart, sexy blonde attractive, but the frustrating woman expects miracles from him. Her vehicle is practically beyond repair, but she insists he has to keep it running.

As Chris gets to know Janice, he begins to develop feelings for her, but he’s reluctant to pursue a relationship. He’s Native American, and he worries about the complications of a biracial relationship. He’s experienced prejudice first hand, so he knows how difficult it can be.

When Janice’s ex-husband shows up seeking revenge, things could reach a horrible end. Will Chris save Janice in time? And will he and Janice be able to set aside their painful pasts and give their relationship a chance?

Content Warning: contains some sexual content

Excerpt:

Janice had butterflies in her stomach as five o’clock came and Chris arrived at the library.

“Hi, Chris,” Janice said.

“Hello. What’s this all about?” he asked pensively.

“I wanted to take you downstairs to the basement and show you something,” she said.

They walked down the stairs, Chris following Janice. When she turned on the light a rat slithered across the floor, and she let out a shriek. Chris looked around the room.

“We have all these books here,” Janice said. She lifted one of the old books and opened it to the pages and within where some were eaten away. “The vermin and bugs have been attacking these, and in some cases, the books have disintegrated. See here? This is a book about Colstrip back in the 1800s and we can’t even open the book to read it because it has totally disintegrated inside. Some of these books are real gems. This is one of a first edition, Samuel Clemens, do you know of him?”

“No.”

“His pen name is Mark Twain. He wrote Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh,” Chris replied.

“Look at his book. It’s totally destroyed, and it would have been worth a lot of money now, if it had survived.”

Janice went over to the ladder and stepped up on it to show Chris the books on the top shelf. The ladder gave way, and she came crashing down. Chris caught her before she fell to the floor.

“Are you okay?” he asked, concern in his tone.

“Um, yeah, I think so.” She put her feet on the floor and turned, facing Chris, her breasts against his chest. His arms were around her waist, holding her tightly. His breath mingled with hers, and he was looking down at her lips.

Oh, she wanted him to kiss her. Please, please kiss me. The sweet, intoxicating musk of his body overwhelmed her. He bent slightly toward her, and his lips touched hers softly. She kissed him back, lingering, savoring every moment. She felt the kiss all the way through her body as she put her arms around him. A loud rustling noise broke their kiss with a start.

Chris looked around and saw that there were rats in the corner rattling paper. He turned back to her. “Are we finished here?”

“Yes, I think we are.” Janice hoped she had convinced him that there was work to be done in the basement.

When they went upstairs, he turned around and asked her huskily, “What was the purpose of our little meeting, Janice?”

Janice thought about how she should answer the question then said, “I submitted the request to the mayor’s office for several things, and I heard that you would probably be the one person that would oppose spending any money for the project I’m suggesting, so I wanted to show you the benefit of my proposal and the problems we are faced with currently.”

Chris had a gentle smile on his face as he looked at her. “Good persuasion, Janice. Does that include the kiss too?”

Janice looked down at her feet, embarrassed. “No, the kiss was not part of the persuasion. At least, not on my part.”

You can find Book of Love at:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Beachwalk Press

Constance Bretes, author of of Book of Love , a romantic suspense Constance Bretes, Author
http://conniebretes.weebly.com/
https://facebook.constancebretes/
http://twitter.conniebretes/
email: cbretes@sbcglobal.net

Other books by Constance Bretes:

Delayed Justice
Can two former lovers set aside their differences and work together to bring a criminal to justice?

The Last Dig
Bones, Bodies and Love Rekindled

Love Songs
Separated by fame, reunited through music

 

 

Writing Quirks & Must-Haves by T.J. Kline, Author of Learning the Ropes

21 Oct

Learning the Ropes, a contemporary western romance by T.J. KlineI like to think that I’m fairly laid back compared to most people. When I hear about celebrities that demand a list of items at every appearance, I wonder what makes them feel so entitled. But then I started to think about what I feel like I need in order to write and I realize it’s not entitlement as much as it is having the right circumstances in order to best perform. Like an athlete eating a proper diet to fuel a workout, there are certain things that put me in the frame of mind to work at the top of my game.

1) Internet
I get that this might not make a lot of sense to some writers who find themselves distracted by the constant barrage of social media but I must have an internet connection. If, for no other reason, than I always have a thesaurus ready. I don’t have time to keep flipping in a physical one. I want a quick suggestion so I don’t lose my writing “zone.”

2) A clean desk
I don’t demand an empty desk by any means but I do insist that I don’t have papers strung out across my work space. It needs to be tidy, dust free and, preferably, have a window nearby for natural lighting so that, when I get stuck in a scene, I can stare into space and figure it out in my head. Too much clutter makes me cringe so I do a weekly paper purge where everything is either filed away or thrown away.

3) Coffee
It’s a bit cliché, I know, but I love my morning coffee. If I don’t have it, there better be a good reason (like Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse.) I like it strong, dark and with whipped cream. Hmmm, sounds like the hero of a romance novel. In my world, coffee is a hero!

4) Quiet
With three teens, a husband, three dogs and three cats, we have a busy household. That busy-ness can get loud, rambunctious and chaotic, which makes writing difficult at times. My best writing moments are usually when I can shut out everything around me and focus on the story so once the last child leaves for school in the morning, I have the peace and quiet I love.

5) Water
As much as I’d like to, my body doesn’t like to have coffee all day long. It does want to sleep at night. Once lunch time rolls around, I make the switch to water, and tons of it. I usually drink a gallon a day in the form of filtered water and seltzer water (coconut and apricot being my favorite flavored waters). And ice, lots of ice! I suppose I should add a bathroom to this list, as all of the water does make it a bit of a must.

6) Good chair
This is a recent addition for me. I love to sit and write on the couch, or in a recliner, but I’ve been noticing more nerve issues with my back lately and upgraded my chair in my office to a plush, ergonomic one. It’s made a world of difference and now, I’m spoiled. I want nothing less.

7) Music
I know, I said I like quiet but I also like the option of music to fit my story. Most of the time, that means country music but having Spotify (I am in no way affiliated, I just love it) I’m able to set up several playlists and pick whatever tunes fit my mood. I also love the fact that I can add and subtract music easily so that I don’t find myself singing instead of writing.

8) Colored pens
Colored pens are my little guilty pleasure. Recently, I found several packs in my desk, unopened, because I just can’t ever have enough. I love writing notes in color. I’m sure there is some psychological reason for it but I don’t really care. All I know is I will use a black or blue pen if I must, but if you give me a purple, turquoise or green pen, I’ll write notes and plot all day long without getting tired or bored.

9) Post-its
Yes, another guilty purchase but this one serves a purpose. I buy colored Post-its in various sizes but these are what I plot stories on. I keep a notebook nearby, labeled by chapter, and when an idea hits, it goes on a Post-it. Usually, one idea leads to several and I find I can plot entire chapters this way. Or, I take the notebook and Post-its with me on the road and plot while waiting in line. Each color will represent a different point of view (Hero/Heroine) or plot point (conflict/love) and the colors let me see if I have too much of any point of view, conflict or love scenes at a glance.

10) Melt Warmer
Who wouldn’t want their work area to smell nice? You know these things where you put a square of scented wax over a light bulb to melt. I have them in several rooms but I tend to keep scents to suit the seasons. Summer is vanilla or fruit, Fall is pumpkin or spices and Winter is some sort of peppermint.

I’ve come to realize that it’s not a matter of being an entitled diva to want these things but knowing they help me work better, faster and just make me a happier writer.

What are your workspace quirks and must-haves?

Learning the Ropes

Blurb:

Rule #1—Don’t lose focus…

Barrel racer Alicia Kanani has had a long road to the top – and she’s not quite there yet. Finances have always been tight, and in the glitz and glam world of professional rodeo, that means that second best is probably the best she can hope for. With the National Finals coming up, she’s certainly not looking for a pair of cowboys to distract her.

Rule #2—Don’t gamble what you can’t live without…

Playboy Chris Thomas is sure Alicia’s the perfect woman for his level-headed team roping partner, David Greenly. It seems like a match, until Chris realizes he wants Alicia for himself. The stakes have been raised; David and Chris are supposed to be a team, and this time, they’re on opposite sides.

Can Alicia rope this playboy’s heart, or will they find themselves too tangled up to let true love in?

Excerpt:

“Remember that swimming hole off the highway, near Jackson Ranch Road?”

She laughed and nodded. “I haven’t been there in years. We used to go every weekend.”

“We need to go now.”

We? Was he asking her out? Or was this just a friendly outing, reliving old memories?

“You wouldn’t be trying to get me into a bathing suit just to see my tattoo, would you?”

Chris gave her a mischievous grin that made her stomach do a backflip. “So it’s something a suit won’t cover?”

She regretted saying anything and didn’t answer his question. “I could use a break and with Dad leaving this week for the show, there won’t be much to do that the grooms can’t handle,” she said, changing the subject.

“We can make a day of it. Take lunch and just hang out, like old times. I have to help Dad tomorrow. What about Tuesday?”

She nodded and heard the sound of a hoof hitting metal. “Do you think that’s yours or mine getting impatient?” She glanced at the trailers and saw Beast with his head hanging out the window. “Looks like it’s mine. I’d better get going.” She reached into her purse to grab her wallet.

“I’ve got it.”

He slipped his credit card to the waitress, signing for the meal and rising to walk out with her. His hand slid to her lower back and her skin tingled at his touch, lightning shooting from his fingers directly into her belly and down her limbs. She knew better than to make more of his simple gesture than it was but couldn’t help the pace of her heart. As she approached the trailer, she stepped onto the side rail to close the windows.

“Get your head in there, Beast. We’re going home.”

Chris moved behind her, with a hand on either side of her, and closed the window. She spun and found herself eye to eye with him, her breath catching in her throat as he stared at her lips.

“Um, thanks,” she whispered, surprised she could get any sound out at all. She laid her hands on his shoulders, prepared to step down when he moved.

Instead of moving backward, Chris’s hands found her waist and he lifted her from the side of the trailer and set her on the ground. She couldn’t get her bearings with his hands on her ribcage and her fingers slid down the muscles of his biceps to grip his forearms. His eyes were dark with longing and she realized what he intended only moments before his mouth met hers in a scorching kiss.

They moved backward until she was pressed against the side of her truck, with every inch of him heating her flesh, his hands buried in her hair. His lips tasted her, teasing, branding her, demanding a response. She couldn’t help herself as her fingers trailed up around his neck, drawing him down to her, closer. His lips moved from her mouth to her ear and down the side of her neck sending shivers of pleasure down her spine. His fingers trailed over her spine as she whispered his name, near frantic with yearning.

He growled and stepped away from her abruptly, leaving her trembling with longing. “Ali, what are we doing?”

She wasn’t sure what he expected her to say. Her mind was still spinning with the dizzy exhilaration of his touch. When her eyes met his, she could see regret. She wasn’t sorry he’d kissed her in the slightest. In fact, she wanted him to do it again, but she could see the guilt rising over him, drowning him with shame. Without another word, he turned and walked to his truck, climbing inside, leaving her standing beside hers with her hand over her kiss-swollen lips, wondering what just happened and how she was going to make it right.

You can buy T.J. Kline’s books at:

AvonRomance.com

Learning the Ropes at Amazon.com

Rodeo Queen at Amazon.com

The Cowboy and the Angel at Amazon.com

Rodeo Queen, a contemporary western romance by T.J. Kline The Cowboy and the Angel, a contemporary western romance by T.J. Kline

 

T.J. Kline, Author of The Cowboy and the Angel, a contemporary western romance

Bio: T.J. Kline was bitten by the horse bug early and began training horses at fourteen as well as competing in rodeos and winning several rodeo queen competitions but has always known writing was her first love. She also writes under the name Tina Klinesmith. In her spare time, she can be found spending as much time as possible, laughing hysterically, with her husband, teens and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.

You can find T.J. at:

Facebook | Website/Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

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