Ring In The New Year With These Amazing Ebooks!

I’m promoting ebooks on the blog today!

If you’re an author…

You’re invited to add the blurb and buy link to your Romance (any sub-genre or heat level) or Urban Fantasy, in the comments below.

Promote by sharing the url ( http://wp.me/p1w1MU-9k ) to this post, with the hashtag #newyearsbookpromo.

Thanks to Skhye Moncrief, a friend from my blogging network, for the idea, and getting the ball rolling with some of the others from the network.

Book Review: Short Stories by Angel

Angel

Born: November 19
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Angel was born in the small town of Humboldt,TN. She’s currently going to college
online at The International Academy of Design and Development going for her Associates degree in Web Design and Development.
Angel is a mother of two. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing video games, listening to music, reading, and relaxing.

Angelsworld
Angel’s LinkedIn Profile
Angel on Facebook
Angel on Twitter

Desires

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Erotic Romance – Contemporary

Menage – f/f/m, m/f/m

Purchase “Desires” on Amazon

Blurb: Daphne is a single mom who isn’t sure if she’s ready for love and commitment. She was used to having her way. Almost every fantasy she’d ever had, Gideon fulfilled. Will she leave or will her every Desire come true?

Summary: Truck-driver Daphne fantasizes about sex with Star and Gideon. Gideon arrives and he and Daphne have sex, and he reveals he loves her. Her regular casual hook-up, Daemon, shows up and joins in the fun one last time.

My Thoughts: Nit-picky stuff first, distracting little crap. The mechanics of the writing are pretty good, without major grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and I only spotted one or two typos. The sentences are fairly well constructed and easy to read.

There’s quite a bit of action between the sheets in this short story, but it isn’t as detailed as it could be. With little in the way of emotion or description of sensation, the sex scenes were almost – not quite, but almost – anatomy lessons. The character growth and conflict resolutions feel a bit contrived.

Angel spent a lot of time in the characters’ heads with them reflecting, and showing their backgrounds, rather than in current action or dialog. In a short story, there just isn’t enough words or time to do that.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ½ Flames.

Wanting

   A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Hetero

Purchase “Wanting” on Amazon

Blurb: Heather and Jasper had been through everything together. After his divorce, she thought she’d never reach him again. Will she be able to heal him and his son?

Or will he forever leave her Wanting?

Summary: Jasper’s wife screwed him over, and his friend Heather was there to pick up the pieces. Heather puts her life on hold to help Jasper, but doesn’t admit to him that she loves him. He finally figures it out, and reveals that he loves her, too.

My Thoughts: The mechanics of the writing – grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction – are all good. I didn’t have to try and puzzle out what Angel was saying.

The story opens in real-time, but moves quickly into a long flash-back to show why Jasper’s head was so screwed up. I think the story would have been better served by limiting the flashback to a paragraph, two at most, and spending more time with the growth of Jasper’s relationship with Heather.

Jasper and Heather both spend time fantasizing about each other, with one real-time sex scene. There was some emotion and description of sensation, but the scenes didn’t get as much page-time as they deserved.

Heather is Pagan, a witch, and works spells to help Jasper and his son heal from the betrayal of his wife. Though the scene was a bit glossed over, the parts that were shown were accurate.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ¾ Flames

Falling In

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Wicked Nights

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Purchase “Falling In” on Amazon

Blurb: Miriam was in love with her best friend. Will her love be able to penetrate

the poison and ill content another woman has placed in his heart?
Or will she be forever ‘Falling In’?

Summary: Miriam is in love with her best friend, Sean, but he’s involved with another woman. When the other woman dumps him, he’s actually relieved. Miriam confesses her love, and Sean realizes Miriam is the one for him.

My Thoughts: Again, Angel shows good writing mechanics – grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence construction.

Angel spends quite a lot of time with the characters reflecting on their feelings, but it is balanced a bit with action and dialog, which keeps the story from being too slow. After Sean’s thoughts of wanting to work things out with his current love, I was surprised at how easily he accepted being dumped.

Miriam’s natural abilities and beginning study of witchcraft are well portrayed. Miriam’s lack of self-confidence seemed a little at odds with a woman who just tells her best friend that she loves him, out of the blue.

Overall, I’m giving this story 3 Flames.

Conclusion:

These stories feel to me like they’re written fairly early in a writer’s journey of learning the craft. As Angel continues to write, I believe she will grow and progress. She has potential that’s certainly worth watching.

Writing Sex

Sex scenes. They can be funny, embarrassing, or arousing for the reader. As writers, we have to decide which effect we want, though the funny and embarrassing aren’t always intentional. Years ago, I used to skip the sex scenes.  I had no interest in how other people did it.  Then I realized I was missing out on some of the development characters went through.  The sex scenes weren’t there solely to arouse, but to show important emotional or personal development of the characters.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first decision the writer has to make is whether to even include sex scenes. In one of the online writing communities I belong to, there have been a couple of heated debates about sex in fiction.  One side says it simply doens’t belong, is never necessary, and some say it’s absolutely wrong. The other says that if it shows character development or advances the plot, it’s entirely necessary.

I used to believe that writers included sex because, let’s face it, sex sells, and that there was no other reason.  Now, I know most writers inlcude sex because there’s no other way of showing what they need the reader to see in the character.  Or at least no other way that fits the story.  If it means the book sells better, then so be it.  Of course, there are writers who include sex because it sells.  That doesn’t make them worse writers, as more than one argument held.  It just means they’ll use all available tools to ensure the story sells.

When I decided I wanted to write romance, I also had to decide whether to fade to black, or to use every tool available to me to tell the story.  So, I made the decision.  I would use the sex between my characters to show their development, and to advance my plot. Then I had to decide how much and how graphic. Passionate kissing? Heavy petting? The sex act in sort of vague terms? All focused on the emotion? Or completely explicit? I decided, after much deliberation, and a ton of research, to go for completely explicit. I wanted to show the beauty of my couples’ love, their devotion and reverence, as well as things about each character that could only be shown in an explicit scene.  All I had to do was learn how to write a sex scene. Should be easy enough.

It wasn’t. Writing a good sex scene isn’t just recounting what the characters do with what body part. What they think and feel has to be included.  And the characters have to grow as a result of what they do and feel.  It has to be romantic and believable at the same time.  It has to fit the story and the characters.  A generic sex scene can’t just be plugged in anywhere.  I wrote a lot of bad sex scenes before I learned to do it right, and each one I write is better than the last.

When I first started trying to learn to write a sex scene, I was embarrassed. Felt like a dirty old man looking through my characters’ window.  Eventually, I got over that, and started to enjoy getting to know my characters at their most vulnerable.   Stacia Kane’s Be A Sex Writing Strumpet series helped me a great deal.  In it, she explores all the ins and outs of writing good sex scenes.

In the end, every writer has to decide for themselves if they’re going to include sex in their stories, and if they do, how much and how graphic.  We have to do what’s right for the best interest of the story, to tell it in the way that will have the most impact on readers.  For me, that means including sex when necessary. For some, religious beliefs dictate the decision. For others, it’s embarrassment, shyness, lack of knowledge, or even fear of the relatives finding out. We have to consider all that, and other factors, in our decision.

Do you include sex in your stories? How much? Explicit or not? How did you arrive at your decision?

Six Sentence Sunday

Sorry, Everyone! For some reason this didn’t post at 11:30pm last night as scheduled, so it’s way late! Off now to try and figure out why.

This week’s six is from BLOOD DRAGON. Jaden has just allowed Tommy to sit with her at the nightclub, cementing what will happen to her later.

Tommy sat down next to her. His heartbeat quickened, telling her that spark of attraction wasn’t one-sided. She forced herself to ignore the whoosh of blood though his veins. In a crowd, the sound usually faded to background noise. There were plenty of other things about him to pay attention to. Like the sparkle in those intense blue eyes.

Don’t forget to stop by the Six Sentence Sunday site.

Romance Novel Pet Peeves Part 2

This one really isn’t about the actual novels, but about those who criticize Romance as a genre. In recent months, various people, from writers of literary fiction to someone calling herself an expert in psychology, have publicly bashed Romance.

Romance novels have been called everything from unrealistic and unimaginative to outright dangerous. The image of romance readers as vapid housewives fanning themselves and eating bonbons while reading about a pirate ravishing a virgin still prevails in some minds. The so-called danger comes in with accusations that Romance novels cause readers to have unrealistic expectations for their relationships. Readers supposedly expect their balding, slightly overweight accountant husband to behave like the virile, dashing hero. When the hero doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the reader becomes dissatisfied with her life.

While other genres are allowed to be blatantly unrealistic, with elves and fairies, aliens and spaceships, Romance is criticized for being unrealistic. The characters and relationships, the central focus of the book, bears the brunt of this criticism. A hero who is willing to listen to his heroine, or put her before himself, or even have her best interests at heart, is too unrealistic, as is the man who swoops to the rescue. Well, duh! The idea is to take the reader to a different place, where her dreams of the perfect man are realized, not where the man would rather watch the game and drink beer than spend time with her. The heroine draws her share of the hate, too, never mind that she’s meant to be the kind of woman the reader can wish circumstances allowed her to be.

And then there’s the belief that all Romance novels are written by the same formula. The only thing that changes, such critics say, is the name of the characters and details of the circumstances or conflict. This one is hard to refute at times, especially when some writers believe it as well. The fact is, some writers find a combination of factors that works for them, and continue to use it. Others start from scratch every single time. Part of what perpetuates this myth is that, in order to be a Romance, the focus of the novel must be the couple and their developing relationship, and there must be a Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now ending. Regardless of what other elements are present, if those aren’t there, it isn’t a Romance.

One of my favorites is the belief that Romance novels are easier to write than any other genre. People think all you do is plug the variables into the equation, add an exotic location, and viola, you have a Romance novel. Sorry, just not true. It doesn’t work that way. If anything, it’s more difficult to write a good romance, especially one of the many sub-genres. The author has to combine the romance with elements of another genre in a way that’s balanced, and satisfies the reader. A plot is absolutely essential. There has to be a source of conflict, either from outside sources, or internal – and in some cases, both. And the conflict must have a satisfactory solution.

And everyone knows Romance is full of poor writing and purple prose. Again, just not true. The quality of the writing in a Romance novel is just as high as any other genre. Sure, it might not be full of convoluted sentences and obscure words, but the standards are high for both traditionally, and e-published, novels. (Just like in any genre, self-published, or indie, novels vary in quality, depending on the ability of the writer and whether they’ve put the in the necessary time and work to prepare the book for publication.) As for the purple prose – yes, Romance novels written 20 or more years ago commonly used euphemism and purple prose to refer to the body parts and actions in intimate scenes. Social mores were different then, and the frank language of today wasn’t tolerated as well then. Today’s romances are written with mature language and eschew purple prose as much as any other genre.

To all those critics of Romance as a genre, I say: Our readers are educated and accomplished, from powerful CEOs, trial attorneys, teachers, parents and grad students. Our characters are as solid and well developed, maybe more so because of the very nature of Romance, as those of any other genre. Our stories are as well plotted and imaginative, and well written as those of any other genre. Our vocabulary is as complex and varied as as that of any other genre – with the possible exception of the fact that we don’t normally use obscure words that require our readers to stop every few sentences to refer to their collegiate dictionary. Yes, we write about fantastic heroes and heroines that our readers can imagine themselves in the place of. Rather than creating unrealistic expectations of relationships, our stories often inform readers of the ideal relationship. Sometimes, they have no other point of reference for ideal relationship standards. Yes, we do write fiction that allows our readers to escape their every day life for a while. Doesn’t everyone?

The following links are from both detractors and defenders of Romance as a genre.

What do you think? Are the critics right about Romance? Is their position founded on fact?

Six Sentence Sunday

Today’s six sentences are from BLOOD DRAGON. Jaden has been trying to seduce Kiellen, and even though he wants her… badly, he’s convinced she is mistaking gratitude for attraction, and that she will regret it later.

Jaden led him through the living room into her bedroom.

Kiellen put the brakes on. “Jaden, I can’t…” It was a lie. He absolutely could, and if she kept insisting, he would. Consequences be damned.

BLOOD DRAGON is now officially finished – editing complete! It is currently gracing the inboxes of several editors. Wish me luck that they’ll love it as much as I, and my beta readers, do.