Standing Proud – Fighting Romance Novel Stigma

I’ve written about book signings before, mostly about how depressing these events can be for a writer who nobody really knows, especially one who writes romance–the most popular and yet, also most snubbed genre in literature.

I spent this weekend in a signing, except this time it was one exclusively for romance writers. What a difference that made. The fact that I’m not well-known didn’t change, but the attitude of the general public was definitely different.

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How refreshing to be addressed and asked questions about your books instead of avoided or ignored. I don’t pretend to write high-brow literature and do not aspire at winning a Pulitzer prize, but I’m a good writer who writes fun and somewhat insightful stories that both entertain and excite the reader’s emotions. Very few people have read my books (a fact painfully evidenced by depressingly low royalties) and I don’t expect a horde of fans to descend upon my table at such events like a crowd of shoppers at a Best Buy on Black Friday. But I love being asked about my stories (the introvert in me won’t volunteer the information), having smart conversations about books (even about other people’s books), and generally just being acknowledged as alive and breathing.

Kudos go out to romance readers. They are amazingly welcoming and easy to talk to. They are also so enthusiastic about meeting authors, they make you feel like celebrities. I’ve been to quite a few events mostly attended by people who–by their own admission–only read “good” literature, or nonfiction, or–my favorite–anything but romance. Generally speaking, those crowds make you feel as if writing romance is some heinous crime for which you must feel terribly ashamed. They also lump all romance novels into one giant bundle of 50 Shades of Grey type stories when in fact the romance genre is widely diverse, both in styles, sub-genres, and quality.

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At one point I was embarrassed to admit I wrote romance, but no longer. I’ve “come out” of that closet and I now proudly stand as a romance writer. If you’ve never attempted at reading a romance, you should give it a try. It is not everybody’s cup of tea, I understand, but with the overwhelming number of authors and books out there, there is a very good chance you may find a new favorite.

 

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Escaping Ryan-New Release

Title: Escaping Ryan
Series: Genoa Mafia Series #2
Author: Ginger Ring
Genre: Mafia Romance 
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

 

Valentina Caponelli is more than a spoiled mafia princess…
She flees her father’s Chicago mansion to start a law office in a small-town in Wisconsin, determined to gain her independence.
Free of her father.
Free of her heritage.
Free of dangerous enemies of the family.
Then she falls in love with the one man who may cause her more harm than all the rest.
Officer Ryan Donavan is married to the force…
But the long-legged brunette he cared for after a car crash is all he can think about.
The problem is, Valentina is the sister of mob boss Roman Caponelli. The one man who definitely does not want his only sibling dating a lawman.
Ryan and Roman have made a tenuous peace, but if Ryan gives in to this passion, that peace will be shattered.
A killer is already roaming the streets, and all hell is about to break loose in Lake Genoa, Wisconsin. Can love really conquer all—or only make matters more deadly?


Ginger Ring is an eclectic, hat-loving Midwestern girl with a weakness for cheese, dark chocolate, and the Green Bay Packers. She loves reading, playing with her cats, watching great movies, and has a quirky sense of humor. Publishing a book has been a lifelong dream of hers and she is excited to share her romantic stories with you. Her heroines are classy, sassy and in search of love and adventure. When Ginger isn’t tracking down old gangster haunts or stopping at historical landmarks, you can find her on the backwaters of the Mississippi River fishing with her husband.
HOSTED BY:

 

The Character Conundrum

I’m always nervous to write about characters I’ve written about before. When I wrote Blind Magic, I agonized over Marcy. And more recently as I wrote the second in the Jewel Chronicles, I lost quite a few sleeps over my two main characters, Milenda and Jaali.

You’d think it would be easier to write characters you were already familiar with but it isn’t. When you’re a fiction writer you get to think of your characters as if they are real. You get attached to them, you love them and live in fear of not doing your characters credit, letting them down somehow.

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The hardest characters I’ve written so far were all from previous stories–Marcy from Loved You Always and Jaali and Milenda from Desert Jewel. Once I was finished I was happy with the results, but the process was painful.

In June 2018 the second of the Jewel Chronicles will be published. In it my young princess and her beloved Jaali take refuge in the Northern Lands while they wait for a safe time to return to Afrika. I needed Milenda to be the same brave and kindhearted young woman she was in Desert Jewel, but I also needed her to be a little clueless and unsure of herself because of her new setting. I was so afraid I would make her look weak after having made sure she came out strong and courageous in face of adversity in the first book.

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I wanted Jaali to regress a little when it came to his inner demons without making him sound like a helpless victim. Jaali had made such strides into killing his demons in the first book, I didn’t want him to lose that now.

And then there was Mjusi, the flying lizard. He was the only character I had a clear picture of where he was going. But even then, I was not sure of how to take him there.

Being a pantser I love that moment when everything comes together in a logical and beautiful way, small elements of the plot or the setting turning into great catalysts of character development. I was very pleased with it when I finished it and I’m hoping my readers will too.

How have you dealt with recurring characters and how have you avoided failing them?

 

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**Coming June 2018**

Letting Characters Take The Lead

I‘m very pleased to have A.L. Vincent as a guest blogger today. Please, welcome her and, as usual, comments are always welcome 😉

My favorite part of writing isn’t creating stories, it’s creating characters. For me, that’s where the real story begins. Why does the character act the way he or she does? What do they want? Where do they want to go? I spend countless hours simply watching people. This might be at a restaurant, in the line at the grocery store, at the beauty shop, or my favorite place, New Orleans. Now, sitting on a balcony on Bourbon Street will give you all the character inspiration you could need or want. (And sometimes more!)

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All this observing can give ideas, and get stories going, but the hard part starts when the characters get stubborn. They can completely halt a storyline if they aren’t getting what they want. I’ve scrapped scenes and entire chapters and started over again because where I wanted the story to go and where the character wanted to go were two different things. To be honest, I feel the story turns out better than I planned when I do that, but don’t tell them that.

Like most authors, I’m sure, I have a few favorite characters. I’ve enjoyed writing all my main characters, but there are three that really have a little extra space in my heart. Those three are Noah, Carly, and Ivy. Each has a slightly different story of how they were created.

Noah

Noah

Noah is the love interest of Emily Breaux in Tangled up In You. He’s quiet, strong, and what some would call an “old soul”. He’s been through a lot, been broken, but pulled himself together. When I was writing Tangled, I kept trying to coax Noah to tell more of his story. But, he wouldn’t talk. I told you he was quiet. When I was writing the second book in the series, Running on Empty, Noah decides to tell his story to Grace, who is going through her own personal hell. Noah was the first character to really teach me that the character will talk when he or she is ready.

Carly

Carly

Carly is the first character I created. I started her story many years ago while attempting my first National Novel Writing Month project. She is named after one of my favorite General Hospital characters. I scrapped that novel, although parts of it have been used in various other Fleur de Lis books. Carly is a dreamer, she questions the world and the things around her. She’s a tomboy, and she has a naivety about her when it comes to love. She’s also clumsy, funny, and a wee bit reckless. Her character has remained the most constant, although that’s changing in upcoming novels.

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Ivy

Ivy would get the award for Most Changed character. Ivy started out as a very minor character in my alter ego’s paranormal series. She went from a twenty-something bartender, to a centuries old vampire. A little meek and mild as the young woman, she became a force to be reckoned with as her character developed. She has a love for one-liners and a story that she hasn’t revealed to me. Yet. I’m sure there’s more to her coming soon.

Characters can be pesky creatures sometimes, but it’s so fun to see them start from little spark of inspiration and grow into full grown ideas. My favorite books are about characters I fell in love with even from way back. Characters such as Jo from Little Women, Lestat in The Vampire Chronicles, and Katniss from The Hunger Games always stood out for me. It was the people I loved as much as the stories themselves.

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Author Bio:

A.L. Vincent is a teacher/writer who lives in the heart of Cajun Country. Born in Oklahoma, Vincent became fascinated with South Louisiana after reading Interview With the Vampire. Finally, she became a Cajun transplant in 2001. When not getting lost in a story line, Vincent can be found cooking or enjoying live local music. She has one son, and a furball of a dog aptly named Furby.

Links:        Facebook            Twitter              Instagram

 

 

Romance On A Mission

If you read a few of my romances you may have noticed a common thread running through all of them, no matter if the story is set in the imaginary world of the angels or a very real town in Maine. My characters are diverse. They come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, some have disabilities, others are emotionally scarred in one form or another. But they all have one thing in common—they all want to be loved and are willing to move heaven and earth to protect those they care for.

I’ve heard it before as I’m sure you did too—the old adage (not so old as it turns out) that claims you can’t write a diverse character unless you are one yourself. I’ve heard the maxim from certain readers and from literary agents, from members of the LGBT community, from African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities or mental illnesses. Pretty much from every minority group everywhere. Because let’s face it—there is no way to fully understand what someone feels or goes through unless you’ve been through it yourself. But wait! Actually, even people who went through similar things felt about it differently because there is only one YOU.

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I don’t subscribe to this philosophy, though. Most writers have a well-developed sense of empathy and as such, and to use myself as an example, I may never fully comprehend how a gay man feels when faced with prejudice but I can come close. Nothing annoyed me more throughout life as being excluded from things because I didn’t quite belong. I was too or not enough of everything. People will bring up just about anything to exclude people they somehow don’t think belong with them.

I believe that no matter where we come from, what our ethnicity is, our religion, our state of mental or physical health we all have one thing in common—as my characters, we all really want to be loved and be happy. So, I write romance with a mission. Sounds silly but after a lifetime of being told I COULDN’T for so many reasons, I wanted to write about characters who in spite of all obstacles, in the end COULD and DID.

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What do you think? To which school of thought do you subscribe and why? In the next few weeks I will be posting some blogs about characters and character development. I know I’ve done it before but I want to go deeper. I’d love to hear from you too, and I’m opening up for guest blogs focusing on characters (their creation, inspiration, favorite ones, most hated ones, etc). Just email me and we’ll go from there.

 

 

A Girl, A Key, And A CD

It’s been a real rough couple of weeks for me. Those who follow my blog may be wondering why I haven’t been regular with my posts. I apologize for the dearth of written material, but I was simply pulled into the dark vortex of a few hellish weeks. Nothing much has changed other than I seem to have found the time and inspiration to write again (translation: I’m totally ignoring the mess and chaos around my house to focus on writing).

Last Thursday, and to crown an emotionally and physically draining week, I experienced a weird and (later) hilarious event involving my car. That day, I had a car-full of things I needed to bring into my school for the evening multicultural event as I drove my way to work. I parked the car in my usual spot and turned off the engine. Except I couldn’t.

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The engine went off, but the electric part of the car wouldn’t turn off, and I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. I moved the steering wheel thinking that maybe it had locked. Nothing. I turned the car on and circled around the parking lot before parking again. Nothing. I jiggled the key, changed gears several times. Couldn’t take the key off.

Needless to say I ended up hugging the wheel and crying my eyes out. I love my pumpkin (my car) but I may have called it a few ugly names. I called the insurance people who told me they were going to send a tow truck. I also called a friend in the building and asked her to come and help me take the stuff out of the car.

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My school is not in the nicest neighborhood. I didn’t want to leave all that stuff inside an opened car. So me and my friend moved all my crap into her car and then she tried her hand at the key. Nothing. Another coworker came to help, but he couldn’t figure it out either. The consensus was, “This is really weird.”

When the tow truck showed up, the driver also tried his hand at the damn key with the same results. Giving up, he backed out of the parking lot and drove the car into the tow truck. I’m watching from the side and I see the driver’s window suddenly open and a hand stick out of it with the car key.

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“How did you manage to take the key off?” That was the question of the day.

“I moved your CDs.” Strange answer, I thought. But he explained, “The CDs were sticking out just far out enough that they were pressing the button on the gear shift and making the system think the car was not in park.” Whaaa…?

We had a good laugh, he moved my car back to its parking spot, and left. I stood in the parking lot in the freezing temperature feeling stupid but amused at the same time. Who would have thought you could lock a car’s system and make a grownup woman cry with a simple CD?

Emotion in Writing

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I attended Donald Maas‘s workshop and I’m just now writing about it. I almost didn’t sign up for it. The workshop was being hosted by the Richmond branch of the Romance Writers of America (VRW) and held in Richmond, Virginia–an almost two hour drive from my house. Driving far from home and to places I’ve never been to stresses me out to panic levels and I normally avoid it like the plague. But I really wanted to go to this one, so I signed up. Luckily one of my local writer friends signed up too and I was able to drive with her. I’m a much better copilot than a pilot in situations like this.

This workshop was everything I expected it to be and so much more. A huge kudos for the Virginia Romance Writers  who set up an amazing event in a great venue and for providing us all with a magical supply of food (especially the donuts which seemed to be forever reproducing themselves in the kitchen) and the awesome speaker.

DMaas and me

I’ve been to many workshops. Some were writing-related and others not. Some were excellent, others left me regretting the money and time invested. This one was inspirational. I came out of the full-day event revitalized, inspired, and motivated to write more and better. I also left vindicated somehow.  I’m an emotional writer. I have a tendency to neglect certain details (which in my mind seem superfluous) and focus on feelings. I thought that maybe I was writing romance the wrong way, but after this workshop I feel I’ve been doing the right thing. But I need to get better at it.

During the session I wrote a couple of the best scenes in my current project, not to mention I came up with the missing pieces of my plot. Pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?

Mr. Maas was a pleasure to listen and talk to. Nothing like being able to immediately apply what you’re learning to give you a sense of accomplishment. He took us on a journey through his last writing book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and had us apply it directly to our current projects. It was truly magical.

I don’t normally recommend writing books, no matter how great they are, because we all write differently and what I’ve found is that one “technique” may be amazing for some and absolutely not work for others. However, this one is different. This one works with what you already have and helps you–through some pretty simple exercises–to make it better, to make it resonate in readers’ s minds and hearts. So I am totally recommending it. Further more I am suggesting that you buy it and read it as you edit your work. You’ll be amazed with the results.

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My only regret after such a great workshop is not having anything to send to Mr. Maas’ agency after he so kindly extended an invitation to all of the attendees to query him. Maybe one day, Mr.Maas, maybe one day…

Color of Love Blog Hop

 

****UPDATE****

A winner has been picked and contacted. Congrats Mary and thank you all who participated 🙂

Welcome to the 2017 edition of the COLOR OF LOVE Blog Hop co-hosted by Empi BaryehKiru TayeNana Prah, and Love Bites and Silk.This year’s hop is on from today 23 November to December, 2017.

We’re celebrating People of Color in romance and offering you a chance to discover new books and new authors, as well as giving you a chance to win prizes. We have 30 blogs participating this year, each featuring an interracial or multicultural romance book!

Color Of Love

This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’ve separated the cash and book prizes so more people can win.
Here’s what’s up for grabs:

BOOK PRIZES

We’re introducing daily book prizes. Be sure to comment on blog posts and join the conversation on our FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for a chance to win one of our 24 book prizes.

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CASH PRIZES

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:

  • 1st prize $50 GC
  • 2nd prize $25 GC
  • 3rd prize $15 GC
  • 4th prize $10 GC

For Rafflecopter  click here

MY BLOG PRIZE

To enter to win my blog prize please follow me on BookBub  and Amazon and leave a comment 🙂 A winner will be picked up at random at the end of the Hop. Good luck!

Color of Love Giveaway

Autographed Copy of Desert Jewel, Dragon Pen and Desert Jewel earrings.

FEATURED BOOK

 

She’s a princess. He’s an ex-slave. To survive, they must fight the all-powerful Elders, and Jaali’s demons.

MILENDA
She’s a princess in a world of lush jungles and hellish deserts where the modern mixes with centuries-old traditions and superstitions. Taking a husband at the age of eighteen goes against every fiber of her being, but as a future monarch, she must follow the rules, even if her heart already belongs to someone.

JAALI
He’s an ex-slave who wishes to be invisible in a world where he can’t hide. Loving the headstrong princess may prove to be his demise. To win her hand he must survive a grueling trek through the desert. Will her love make him strong enough?

Desert Jewel is the first book in The Jewel Chronicles. A unique interracial romance set against a breathtaking fantasy world with complex characters and twists at every turn. Let Desert Jeweltake you to another world.

“It had the perfect mix of adventure, love, hate and mystery to keep you hooked.”- Amazon Reviewer

“Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis is a great read full of love, hate, hope, joy, devastation, fantasy and magic all rolled into one wonderful story.” – Amazon Reviewer

“I am so happy I had an opportunity to read this book. It really is a hidden gem!” – Amazon Reviewer

COLOR OF LOVE 2017 FEATURED BOOKS

Now hop on to the next blog:

1. Author Kiru Taye (INT) 11. Georgia Lyn Hunter 21. Tasha L. Harrison
2. Author Nana Prah (INT) 12. Sharon C. Cooper 22. Kay Blake
3. Author Empi Baryeh (INT) 13. Reana Malori 23. J.L. Campbell
4. LBAS Book Blogs (INT) 14. Elle Wright 24. Sheena Binkley
5. RWOWA (INT) 15. Candace Shaw 25. Bex n Books (INT)
6. Sexy Romance Novels (INT) 16. Author/Blogger Shonda Brock 26. Natalina Reis
7. Felicia Denise, Author 17. L. Loren (INT) 27. Dahlia Donovan (Int)
8. Sharita Lira, Author 18. Koko Brown 28. Debra Elise
9. Freddy MacKay 19. Siren Allen 29. Kim Golden
10. Platypire Reviews 20. Amaka Azie 30. Kai Tyler (INT)

My Social Links

Twitter             Instagram             Facebook            Amazon        BookBub

 

Oh, Oliver!-A Character Talk

Yesterday, Blind Magic was released into the world of readers. I’m seriously pumped about it since Marcy, the main character, is one of my favorite characters ever. She was a favorite sidekick in Loved You Always and it still is now that she has her own romance.

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I’ve written a couple blogs about this quirky witch and her winsome personality, but I’ve kept pretty much quiet about her male counterpart and love interest. There is a reason for that. I don’t know how to talk about Oliver without revealing some things about him that I would prefer to keep a secret, so I can surprise my readers.

But I decided to risk it and write this blog about wonderful, swoon-worthy Oliver. After you meet him you will totally understand why Marcy, an independent, free-thinking woman, falls in love hard for this guy.

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Oliver is one of the cops who was shot in Loved You Always while on protection detail for Marcy’s friends, Emily Rose and Jem. Oliver seeks Marcy’s help with a vexing problem at her witchcraft store and the relationship hits the ground running.

Oliver was both a hard and easy character to write. He’s complex and charming, broken and brave, sexy and vulnerable…. I was terrified of writing him, of not doing him justice, of writing him in a way I would totally betray who he is. I think I may have done a good job since I’ve had great comments from readers so far. I’d love to hear from you if and when you read it.

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His life has been far from easy and the ghosts of his past are still out to get him as he develops his relationship with Marcy. The little witch–like he likes to call her–is the light in his rather dark life and he is the missing piece in Marcy’s. He’s the classic type–organized, well-dressed, and reserved. She’s a free-spirit–open, quirky, and unconventional. On the outside they couldn’t be more different, but inside they are two peas-in-a-pod. Made for each other, true halves of one whole.

I love Oliver and I’m so excited to share him with all my readers. I can only hope they love him as much as I do.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

by Jolie St. Amant

Series: Chateau Rouge

Release Date: October 7, 2017

Publisher: Bienvenue Press

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Chateau Rouge is a reputedly haunted hotel. It hides secrets and stories within its walls, tales that lure guests from all over the world.

Yet there’s one story that has never been told. The story of a New Orleans bordello Madam who had to endure the pain of watching her true love die…twice.

Josey has been the owner of Chateau Rouge for the last two hundred years. She’s content with her routine existence, and has been for a long time…until Archer Grayson walks into her hotel.

He ignites a hunger in her which she hasn’t felt for over one hundred years, and this can only mean one thing…her love has returned to her.

But with his return comes the curse of their fate, and Josey refuses to survive a broken heart for a third time. Unless…what if this time is different? What if there’s a chance for them to change their destiny?

Could it be that their love finally has a different fate written in the cards?

Or is history bound to repeat itself?

Dream a little

Purchase Dream a Little Dream of Me:

Kindle: http://a.co/cw0ttji

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jolie St. Amant fell in love with all things New Orleans after reading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Now, a frequent visitor to the Crescent City, she can often be found getting inspiration from ghost tours, or sipping café au lait at Café du Monde. Dream a Little Dream of Me is the first in the Chateau Rouge Series.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JolieStAmant