Thursday, March 26, 2015

Series Romances: Why Do We Love Them?

I’ve asked both readers and authors why they love to read series romance and one key reason seemed to stand out above the rest—because they weren’t ready to say goodbye to the characters.

This truly intrigued me as an author, because I, too, have a difficult time parting from the people I’ve created. I mean, let’s face it…sometimes, though we hate to admit it, we authors spend more quality time with our fictional characters than we do our own loved ones. We’ve breathed life into these make-believe individuals, giving them an identity and a purpose. Through our careful molding, our beloved protagonists find each other. And little by little, we shape the course of their lives, allowing them to grow, to come to a realization, and make that final move toward securing love and happiness.

In writing that perfect “happily ever after,” our own heart and soul goes into the grand making of these memorable characters. Because of that, it seems perfectly understandable why authors wouldn’t want to say bon voyage to them. But readers too?

Through my research, I’ve found that readers enjoy—and often times gobble up—series romance for the same reasons authors write them.

  • Attachment: Readers get attached to the characters, both primary and secondary. They make us laugh. Sometimes they make us cry. And every so often, they make us crazy. Essentially, they become family to us…people who capture our attention, grip our hearts, and hold us on the edge of our seats as we follow along through the twists and turns of the story. As New York Times bestselling author Melissa Fosterstates, “I write HUGE series because I fall for all of my characters.” To give them up would be like shipping your own family to another country and never seeing them again. Series romance allows readers the opportunity to spend “precious time” with the people they’ve grown close to, without the threat of saying farewell after the last page is turned.
  • Familiarity: Readers love the familiarity of the places they visit in our stories. It takes time to get settled into a location and, once we’ve immersed our readers into that lovely world, they don’t want to leave. It feels like home there. As national bestselling author Elena Aitken describes, “Series romance feels as familiar as a comfortable sweater.” Or as New York Times bestselling author Erin Nicholas says, “It’s like taking a trip back to a favorite childhood place or a favorite vacation spot.”
  • Investment: After the first book, readers are already “invested” in the characters, the place setting, and the conflicts that revolve around the storyline. It’s not enough to see the protagonists achieve their HEA (happily-ever-after.) Readers want to know if perhaps the sister will find her true love down the road. Or maybe the heroine’s best friend had a secret crush on the hero’s little brother. Will she overcome her insecurity and make her feelings known in the next book? Secondary characters intrigue readers as much as primary ones, and with series romance, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken says it best: “Readers get to catch a glimpse into the other characters’ lives.”

Anyone who knows me, has figured out that I truly enjoy writing series romance. At this time, I have three series romances, plus another on the way:

The Jamett & Joseph Series (sweet contemporary romance)

The Emerald Isle Trilogy (historical Viking romance)

The Warrior Saga Series (historical Viking romance)

The Warrior’s Captive, Book 2 — Coming soon...
Warrior Gone Rogue, Book 3 — Coming soon...

Mavericks of Meeteetse Series (contemporary Cowboy romance)
Made For McKinley, Book 1 — Coming summer 2015
Wild For Wallace, Book 3 — Coming soon...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Signup For My Author Newsletter And Reap The Benefits!

That's right! Sign up to receive my author newsletter and reap the benefits of being one of my loyal followers. Somewhere within each newsletter, I announce a special winner. Sometimes the lucky winner gets a free book, sometimes an Amazon gift certificate...and sometimes, I just mix it up with a special gift box full of assorted book-loving fun!

Rest assured, my newsletter is where I take very good care of my loyal followers. So, sign up today where you'll get EXCLUSIVE access to all my giveaways:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quick-Wit and Humor: Off-The-Cuff Ingredients for Devouring Chick-Lit Romance

The other day, I received an email from a family member featuring actual conversations between elementary school children and their teaches. The quick-wit these youngsters had is downright hilarious. I loved their replies because, being a mother of two young girls, I can appreciate the literal sense of their innocents thoughts, whereby making them natural stand-up comedians with little effort and without their knowledge.

Truth be told, I admire quick-witted people, because frankly, I am NOT one of them. I have several friends that are amazingly witty and they always seem to have a knack for spitting out those great "one-liners." Two of my favorite authors who never fail to keep me laughing with their quick-witted humor are Kristan Higgins with 
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE and THE NEXT BEST THING, and Margaret Ethridge with her After Happily Ever line: CONTENTMENT.

Nonetheless, I can portray quick-wit when I want to, particularly in the books I write under my Gracie Lee Rose pen name. Because I have all the time in the world to ponder the "right thing to say" as I'm writing, I can appear to be one of those ingeniously clever authors.

Take this scene from THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD for instance. Jamie and Joseph, (my adorable hero and heroine who are next door neighbors) are having a conversation over coffee one morning after he wakes up with a serious hangover, from a long night of drinking with the guys. This is the first time he steps foot in her apartment and what follows when she invites him in.

“I appreciate the compliment, but I’m not an interior decorator.”

“What do you do?” he asked, meeting me in the kitchen. He leaned across the island, his biceps bulging above the right angle of his arms. I tried to keep my focus on the technique of pouring two cups of coffee. As easy as that sounded, today it was a difficult task given how close he was to me. If I shifted a little to the left, his hand would graze against my forearm.

I cleared my throat and my terribly imaginative mind and poured creamer into my cup. When I scooped a huge dollop of whipped cream to top it off, he came off the counter.

“Whoa, whoa,” he said, raising his hands. “What are you doing? You’re ruining a perfectly good cup of coffee.”

“I take it you like yours black?”

“I like mine the way Juan Valdez intended.”

I recalled the vintage 1980s Columbian coffee commercial. I hadn’t heard that name in forever, but I could still see the early riser slipping into his boots after the crow of a rooster and heading to the fields to pick the richest coffee in Columbia.

I handed him his mug and took a quick sip of mine, the cream settling on my upper lip. My tongue, licking it off, caught his attention. His eyes lingered on my mouth, but as soon as he realized I saw his drifting gaze, he looked away.

“So, what do you do again?” he asked, clearing his throat.

“I own a coffee shop on Fountain Square.” I gave a wry smile. “I ruin hundreds of cups of coffee on a daily basis.”


I hope you enjoyed that cute little excerpt of mine. And now, I give you the true geniuses of the trade; the quick-witted children of the world. Happy Friday! 

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I'
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand....

TEACHER: Now, Simon , tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's...Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can You Recognize Me?

Being an author has allowed me to meet some pretty interesting people. Whether they've been adoring romance fans and book bloggers who've blessed me with their kind compliments and raving reviews, gracious authors who've lent me their time, talent, and advice in this fast-paced industry, or the few sweet, down-to-earth male cover models who are such good sports about being total eye-candy for many crazed romance fans, Ha! I'm blessed for each and every relationship I've made along the way (both personal, professional, and over the web.)

But a few weeks ago, I had the distinct honor of being asked to do a cover shoot for a book cover! How many authors can claim that?

Let me set the stage:
I was at Lori Foster's RAGT 2013 and Kim Killion  from Hot Damn Designs and The Killion Group Inc. approached me about doing a cover shoot. She said she needed a dark-haired, petite woman and I was her first choice. When she mentioned I was to shoot with Billy Freda, (who has become a very dear friend of mine over the past three years) I felt like I'd be stupid to pass up this opportunity. I'd be possibly on a cover (if the author approved it) of a National Best Selling author's book and I'd get to at least do it with a cover model I felt comfortable around. So, after a few moments of thinking it through (and of course making certain clothes were required) I accepted the offer.

As I said yes, I literally felt my stomach somersault a few times with excitement. Kim reassured me I'd do great but I had my doubts. I can smile with the best of them for a promotional author pic, but I've never been embraced in another man's arms for a near-kiss photo!

Kim also said we'd be photographing in her hotel room, which made me feel a little at ease about the whole thing as it would be a "private shoot" without curious eyes watching my every move. (Remember, I'm at a Reader and Author Convention where the hotel is constantly bustling with romance fans, authors, readers, bloggers, editors, publishers etc.) But once I arrived at her room for hair and make-up (courtesy of the amazing and totally awesome Jennifer Jakes) I was informed that the lighting sucked in the room and we had to go outside. UGH!

After swallowing that news, I took a swim in my over-sized corset, western skirt, and jacket, and headed outside to a somewhat remote corner of the hotel where we could shoot in relative privacy. However, we were still surrounded by the parking lot, which as I recalled in all my nervousness, started to gather curious onlookers. I tried my best to ignore them and keep my focus on the job at hand.

At this time, Kim is positioning me and Billy, hoisting my meager chest in this ridiculously huge corset to try to create "the allusion of cleavage" and coaching me to hold poses that were so unnatural they hurt - all the while trying to look Billy in the eye without smiling. That was a feat! But without the talented and creative Kim Killion and the comforting professionalism of Billy Freda, I would not have been able to do this.

It was because of them that this shoot turned out as good as it did. I will forever be grateful for their patience with me. Because of it, the outcome resulted in a host of photos I could hardly believe was little ol' me. I almost looked like a pro. *squee*

At this time I'd like to thank author Shelly Thacker for approving the shoot so that I could add this incredible experience to my list of "extraordinary things I've done" in my author career. Thank you, thank you, a million times THANK YOU!

And for Kim Killion who first put this ball into motion and produced yet another breath-taking cover. I highly encourage you to read Kim Killion's books as well. She is undoubtedly my favorite author and for great reason. She is the author who got me hooked Highlander romance and I've read everything she's ever written!

As a side note, I also believe Shelly Thacker is going to be the one who gets me hooked on westerns. July 30th cannot come soon enough as I've already pre-ordered my copy and you should too!

From Shelly Thacker's Newsletter:
I’m so excited I can hardly type! You can now buy AFTER SUNDOWN at Amazon! This book was a RITA Award Finalist for Best Historical Romance of the Year and a Romantic Times Top Pick.

Artist Kim Killion went above and beyond to create this cover: She did the photo shoot for me while attending Lori Foster's convention in Ohio a couple of weeks ago. She knew that model Billy Freda was going to be there—so they snuck outside for a few minutes and did the shoot on the lawn of the conference center! Kim took the photo herself, and the model portraying my heroine is author Renee Vincent. Thank you, Kim, Billy, and Renee for teaming up to create such an amazing cover for this very special book!

In AFTER SUNDOWN (originally published by Dell under the title Into the Sunset) U.S. Marshal Lucas McKenna is hunting Antoinette Sutton, the woman who killed his brother. Annie is running for her life—because the evidence against her is overwhelming, and no one will believe the truth about what happened. Lucas captures the dark-haired beauty in Colorado, but before he can take her back to Missouri to stand trial, the two are snowbound in a remote mining town…

I know authors aren’t supposed to pick favorites, but this book is one of my favorites. I hope you’ll purchase the ebook or paperback today, and I hope you'll love it as much as I do. I have several more books planned for this series!