Proper gentlemen, perfect ladies, and the fun of seeing them mussed

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice to find a love to warm their hearts.

It’s no surprise that my usual reading pleasure — historical romance set in Regency Society — is popular. After all, gorgeous healthy young man in a coat he has to be poured into, tight breeches, and stockings that show every curve of his calf muscles? What’s not to like?

Add to that the courtliness of the times. Passionate gentlemen who, nevertheless, act politely in the company of ladies. Clear rules about appropriate behaviour.

In any romance worth its salt the main characters care about one another, and behave with respect, but in cis Regency romance, the stakes are high. Our heroes have all the legal power; our heroines need love and respect in order simply to be safe, let alone happy.

Of course, the real Regency was also classist, sexist, and all kinds of other ists, so part of the fun of writing Regency stories is playing off the reality and the fantasy.

My newest release, Melting Matilda, which has just come out as a novella in the Bluestocking Belles collection Fire & Frost, has a heroine known as the Ice Princess, and a hero dubbed the Granite Earl.

He is all about convention and proper behaviour. She, even more so. I had great fun persuading them to relax and get mussed. Here’s the blurb for Melting Matilda.

Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Her half-brother, the Marquis of Aldridge, is convinced she will one day be wooed by a worthy gentleman, but Matilda has no such expectations. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.

Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess.

When his mother and her guardian begin collaborating on Her Grace’s annual charity fundraiser, neither Charles nor Matilda sees a way to avoid working together. And neither can forget the kiss they once shared.

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Excerpt:

If the two of them made it out of the near-invisible city streets alive, Matilda Grenford was going to kill her sister Jessica, and even their guardian and mentor, the Duchess of Haverford, wouldn’t blame her. Angry as Matilda was, and panicked, too, as she tried to find a known landmark in the enveloping fog, she couldn’t resist a wry smile at the thought. Aunt Eleanor was the kindest person in the world, and expected everyone else to be as forgiving and generous as she was herself. Matilda could just imagine the conversation.
“Now, my dear, I want you to think about what other choices you might have made.” The duchess had said precisely those words uncounted times in the more than twenty years Matilda had been her ward.
When she was younger, she would burst out in an impassioned defense of whatever action had brought her before Her Grace for a reprimand. “Jessica is not just destroying her own reputation, Aunt Eleanor. Meeting men in the garden at balls, going out riding without her groom, dancing too close. Her behavior reflects on us all.”
Was that the lamppost by the corner of the square? No; a few steps more showed yet another paved street with houses looming in the fog on both sides. Matilda stopped while she tried to decide if any of them were in any way familiar.
Meanwhile, she continued her imaginary rant to the duchess. “Even in company, she takes flirtation to the edge of what is proper. This latest start — sneaking out of the house without a chaperone or even her maid — if it becomes known, she’ll go down in ruin, and take me and Frances with her.”
Matilda had gone after her, of course, taking a footman, but she’d lost the poor man several mistaken turns back. Matilda had been hurrying ahead, ignoring the footman’s complaints, thinking only about bringing Jessica back before she got into worse trouble than ever before. Now Matilda was just as much at risk, and she’d settle for managing to bring her own self home to Haverford House, or even to the house of a friend, if she could find one.
Home, for preference. Turning up anywhere else, unaccompanied, would start the very scandal Matilda had followed her sister to avoid. If Jessica managed to make it home unscathed, Matilda would strangle her.
In her imagination, she could hear Aunt Eleanor, calm as ever. “Murder is so final, Matilda. Surely it would have been better to try something else, first. What could you have done?”

Reading & Writing Outside the Box

writing1Have you ever written outside your genre?

Do you read outside your favorite genre?reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading for me is easy. I love it. Reading fiction or non-fiction is escape – MOST OFTEN. I’m rarely invested beyond my enjoyment and the edification to be gained. If what I’m reading I don’t like after about 25 pages, I stop. That number used to be higher, 50+ pages. As I get older, I’m more conscious of the time I’m spending – or maybe it’s a product of instantaneous things to read. Good things.

 

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Reading is easy.

Writing – for me – is hard. I’ve chosen a path which has required more business writing these past few months. It’s informed my fiction – which coincidentally isn’t easy either.

What writing outside my comfort zone has taught me is that when I do have the time to write for me, I need to focus on what I love. What I’m proud of. What makes me excited.

As life moves forward this October – I’m reading more and giving myself the birthday present of writing what stirs me.reading1

What are your thoughts on writing and reading?

Happy October,

Leigh

Deadly Deadlines

Business Woman w. Laptop

Image via clip art

This summer, the ladies here at the Authors of Main Street put out a new collection of novellas, focused on weddings. The Weddings on Main Street collection was well received, with more than twenty 4/5 Star Reviews, in just over a months time. I am just thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful group of writers, and more importantly, people. Working with them this summer on this, and future projects, has been a highlight.  It also led to new opportunities for me.

Thanks to the wedding boxed set, I created a wedding series that I planned to do on my own, outside of the set.  A publisher took interest, and offered me a contract. A publisher with whom I am very excited to be a part of their contemporary romance line. This means I am officially a hybrid, which I admit sounds a lot less cool than being an Indie. But it means an opportunity for me to possibly reach new readers, with the assistance of a larger budget and more resources, in terms of marketing. I was ecstatic with this change in circumstance, despite it making me sound like a really slow, hipster vehicle. 😛

The week I signed the contract I already had the first two books, in the series, written and was working on number three. It seemed like a piece of cake, a good old walk in the park, until I sat down at my laptop. Suddenly, I was working on someone else’s deadline, making use of someone else’s resources, and someone else would be counting on me to help make a name of their brand. YIKES!!

via clip art on microsoft

Image via clip art

It took me almost a week to write more than a sentence or two. It was driving me crazy. I certainly spent some time worried that I was going to ruin this opportunity. It was a case of the deadly deadlines. I am used to working on my schedule and suddenly, I couldn’t write at just any pace and I was accountable to someone other than myself. I had signed a contract for heaven’s sake.

At some point, I just had to get over it and work. Writing is what I do, what I love, and I would do it whether I was publishing or not. So, big girl panties on, I sat down and just did it!  It had to be done and the story was all in my head, I just needed to get over the jitters.

Some days words flow like crazy and I wish I didn’t have to stop for real life things, such as cooking dinner or picking my son up from school. Other days, I keep an eye on the clock, willing it to be the end of my scheduled work day. It’s a process and I am so excited to finish this series, work with this new publishing house, and reach out to a larger fan base with my book babies. It’s been a great summer professionally. In between my deadly deadline issues, the exciting release of Weddings on Main Street, and getting some work done on other projects, I did find time to enjoy summer vacation with the kid.

 

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On this blog we love authors and supporting them in this industry. So, I shared my deadline story now we want to hear about your next deadline or most recent one. We want to hear about your new release, if you have one. I don’t like the term “pimp your book”, so let’s call this a “Book Shout Out”. Let our readers know what you are up to and where to find you on social media, so they can track you down. Ready, set, gooooooooo!

*fyi: the readers here are mainly sweet to mild heat, so we ask you keep that in mind w/ any excerpts, descriptions or images you post about your stories. Thank you in advance!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Thanks for stopping by today, wish me luck readers and writers on this new hybrid adventure. I feel blessed to be able to do both and I cannot wait for the next installment of The Authors of Main Street, which you can expect out in early 2015! We are plotting and planning and scheming away. 🙂

Wishing you well in fiction and real life,

Kelly Rae

What Hooks Readers by Joan Reeves

Wedding on MS2

All the lovely covers of the novellas comprising Weddings on Main Street

As a reader, what about a book hooks you? The author’s name? The cover? The Book Description? The first sentence?

Chances are it’s a combination of the elements above. For me, the first paragraph I read will have me clicking the buy button. Or not.

When book shopping, I always open a book—whether that’s in a bookstore or online with the “Look Inside” feature—and read the first paragraph. This small amount of text should be crafted to capture a reader with an intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page–followed by equally addicting pages to the very end.

Crafting a Compelling Opening

Each time I start a manuscript, I spend a lot of time thinking up the perfect opening sentences for the story and the character. In a couple of sentences I want you to meet the character and glimpse something about her personality, attitude, and emotional condition that will make you want to read more.

I measure my opening sentence against the yardstick of great story openers created by my favorite authors. Excellent opening sentences capture the reader’s attention–makes readers curious or elicits an emotional reaction: laughter, excitement, sadness, etc.

Sampler of My Opening Sentences

AFB_V2_2400px3200pMy most recent work is April Fool Bride in the Weddings on Main Street Box Set.

The first day of spring in New York featured the kind of weather Madeline Quinn most hated. Cold, gray, wet, and miserable— which made it perfect because that’s exactly the way she felt.

Still The One (I’m fairly certain every woman has fantasized about what she’d do if given the chance to show someone from her past how she has grown from an ugly duckling into a swan.)

Ally Fletcher had waited six years for this opportunity. Six long years. There was no way a mere thunderstorm was going to stop her. Of course, in Texas, calling this a mere thunderstorm was like saying a Texas tornado was a mere puff of wind.

Just One Look (Is there a woman who won’t identify with this paragraph?)

Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would be warmer than a doctor’s examining room! Why do they have to keep it so cold? And why do they act as if you have nothing better to do than sit around clad only in a piece of paper and your birthday suit, and wait?

JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES

When she found the person responsible for this, she would make them pay. And pay big!

Nobody’s Cinderella

Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December.

Old Enough to Know Better

If you can’t trust your friends, then who can you trust? Stormy Clarkson planned to pose that question to her soon-to-be ex-friend Libby the minute she saw the conniving woman.

Romeo and Judy Anne

By the time most people reach the eve of their thirtieth birthday, they’ve developed a philosophy of life, shaped by the experience of living. Judy Anne Palmer was no exception. She had a philosophy of life, shaped by life’s hard lessons and honed by the last eight years to a stark two-word declaration. Life sucks!

SCENTS and SENSUALITY

Men looked at Amanda Whitfield and thought she was a hot blonde who knew how to have a good time. Hot? Sizzling. Sexy? Undeniably. Men figured she knew all about flirtation and lust and sex. They were wrong.

The Trouble With Love

Every woman makes mistakes. Susannah Quinn glared at the door to the sheriff’s private office. Yep, every woman makes mistakes, but most women didn’t have to put up with a constant reminder of their not so brilliant actions. And most women didn’t have their mistake showing up at their office, flaunting tanned muscles and polluting the environment with clouds of testosterone and male arrogance.

The Yardstick By Which I Measure

Here are some favorite opening sentences that intrigue or tease with a sense of anticipation, evoking curiosity and/or an emotional response in the reader that can’t be resisted.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Mandeley again.” Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“I never knew her in life.” The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

“Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow.” Carrie by Stephen King

“Death was driving an emerald green Lexus.” Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

My Confession

The worst thing about reading another writer’s sparkling prose is that I despair of ever being as good. The best thing is that I’m motivated to keep working on my writing, from the first sentence to the last.

Do you want to know the truth? Even though it’s hard work, I can’t think of anything that’s more fun! I’m so lucky. I make my living by writing stories about love, laughter, commitment, sex, romance, and all the funny, crazy things that happen to a man and a woman who are made for each other—but who just don’t know it. Yet.

Post Script

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I LUV Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Christmas in September

Our Snowman from last year!

Our Snowman from last year!

Yesterday it was 70 degrees outside and I was reworking….um I mean polishing….a Christmas novella. Writers often go back and forth in time and tell stories in many formats, but I have to say sitting outside in a lounge chair with an ice tea and sunscreen on, did make it a little hard to get into the groove of snow and Christmas. But I pressed on, as any professional would! 🙂

My Christmas novella picks up life in Pennsville Station where my hero and heroine from What If… live. It is appropriately titled, What If…This Christmas. Some time has passed and we get to take a look at what is and isn’t happening between Katie and Chris. It’s always fun to revisit old friends. My characters always live on with me and this has been a nice opportunity to catch up and add more to their life, outside my head.

The opportunity to  came about because The Authors of Main Street have decided to put together, what I am sure will be an amazing, box set of Christmas stories of varying lengths. There is an excitement in the air on this blog for sure. The group is working hard to make a very special collection for our readers. They will be funny and charming, some romantic and others just heart warming. The kind of box set you can gift to a favorite reader in your life and give them something to cozy up and read, when it’s actually cold and possibly snowing outside. I am really excited to be a part of it and we will have more information on a release date and cover reveal coming up soon!

In the meantime I will finish polishing and getting my piece of this collection ready for all of you this Christmas. There was some rain today, which helped me get into the mood a bit more. I am so excited to be with my friends Chris and Katie again, if you had the chance to read about them I hope you are looking forward to hearing about their life now and if you haven’t now is a good chance to check them out, as the book is on sale for $2.99 on kindle.

Let us know what you think about holiday themes and when you want to start reading about Christmas or Valentines Day, etc.  We always love to hear what our readers enjoy. Thanks as always for stopping by, I can’t believe it’s been another month already…or that it’s close enough to Christmas to be putting out a boxed set. 

 

Kelly Rae Book Cover

Debut Contemporary Romance Novel

Click here for Amazon Kindle Version What If… and here for Barnes and Noble Nook Version What If….

 

What Is A Romance Novel by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

What is a romance novel?

As a reader, you may be surprised that the answer to that question frequently is under discussion by romance authors and the main organization of romance authors.

Sure, you know that the romance novel is a literary genre, and that the primary focus in this genre is the relationship – the love – between two people. Once, publishers of romance novels demanded writers end the story with a happily ever after. Now, publishers often ask for writers to end stories with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

To me, there’s a huge difference between happily ever after and emotionally satisfying and optimistic. I suppose the new romance novel standard is supposed to reflect the cynicism of contemporary times.

A Teensy History

In 1740, Samuel Richardson penned Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Considered the first romantic novel, Pamela had two surprising elements that were different from other novels. First, it focused almost entirely on courtship. Second, the novel was told from the viewpoint of a female protagonist.

In the next century, the remarkable Jane Austen, whose Pride and Prejudice is often considered the pinnacle of the genre, came along. She inspired Georgette Heyer – I always think of her as the twentieth century Jane Austen – who introduced historical romances in 1921.

About 10 years later, a small British company called Mills and Boon began publishing what were called category romance novels – short books with a set number of pages and standard elements. The Mills and Boon romances were resold for a North American market by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. Harlequin marketed directly to readers and allowed mass-market merchandisers to sell the books too and the genre was off and running.

Then, in 1972, Avon published The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, the first single title romance novel to be published as a paperback original, and the modern romance genre was born.

My How You’ve Grown

From then until now, there have been a lot of romance novels published. The genre has grown and given birth to sub-genres of every possible variation. It has become the most popular genre in North America where it accounts for more than half of all paperback books sold.

Romance isn’t just a North America phenomenon. The genre is also popular in Europe, the UK, and Australia. In fact, romance novels are published in more than 90 languages.

Hey, Girls! Guess What?

For years, the romance novel was decried as being lowbrow and read by women who were out of touch with reality. We’re not out of touch with reality. We just know what we want. Sadly, many women don’t get that overwhelming love and romanticism from the men in their lives, but many women do have that.

I sometimes think a good romance novel sets the standard for the kind of love and romance a woman wants in a relationship. If a man really wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance novel.

I find it heartwarming — and a bit ironic — that our beloved genre is now the most popular, best selling genre of all time. Tell that to your romance-dissing acquaintances the next time they start talking about how romance novels aren’t “real” books!

With all the changes and growth in the romance genre, I guess it’s not surprising that the happily ever after morphed into the optimistic and satisfying. But, I’m not willing to give up my happily ever after – in real life or fiction.

Maybe, it’s because the traditional ending is all about love — lasting love. Today, in the wake of so much death and destruction in the news, I find myself thinking about the importance of love. In the end, it’s the most important thing in anyone’s world.

With the romance novels I write, like my latest novel, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, I aim high. I want that happily ever after for my characters, not just an optimistic, satisfying ending.

After all, I always say my motto is: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” And I believe that.

Post Script

What’s your favorite kind of ending for a romance novel?

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romance Novels. Her latest novel, indeed all her ebooks, are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)

The Croon and Swoon

Justin timberlake wiki

When Justin Timberlake brought sexy back a few years ago, I admit that a good friend and I went to see his concert. Not only did we see it, we got VIP, in the pit tickets for a price I will not discuss EVER! We got their early, stood nose up to the stage, and waited for Justin Timberlake to grace us with his songs, his dancing and yes I am happy to say we even got a little Timberlake sweat on us. Definitely a highlight.

I always think of him as someone too young for me, probably because he was in a boy band and that is just stuck in my head. He is really only a couple of years younger than I, so lusting for him is not as worrisome as some of you readers might think. 🙂 Albeit he is officially a married man, so there is some room to suggest it’s inappropriate, but not enough that I will stop. It’s a respectable, far away, lusting taking place here.

While he has been away making movies, there was a little sadness in my heart that I have not heard him croon a new tune. A now this month, 03.19.2013 to be exact, he will “drop” a new cd the 20/20 Experience and swooning shall commence. Watching him perform on the Grammy’s a few weeks back was surely the highlight of the show for me.

Timberlake performing at St. Paul, Minnesota, ...
Timberlake performing at St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the venues of his first worldwide tour, FutureSex/LoveShow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my dreams there is a man, the Frank Sinatra of my generation who can sing and dance and give someone a look across the room that is as effective as muscles. A kick ass look! 🙂 He would wear a nice suit, a hat from time to time, drink whiskey (neat), be considerate and gracious, chivalrous and faithful even though he could have any dame he wanted! Yes, yes folks I am a dreamer indeed!

English: Frank Sinatra at Girl's Town Ball in ...

English: Frank Sinatra at Girl’s Town Ball in Florida, March 12, 1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My dear friend, (who I won’t name so she can save face for drooling over a man, who used to be in a boy band, and once had corn rows) and I are once again heading into the world of Mega Concerting when Justin Timberlake goes on tour this summer. We have not ruled out traveling to a different city should we decide we need to see him twice, lol! But for now, July 28th of 2013 we will see you Justin Timberlake at the Rose Bowl. And, lord help me I will bring all the bearing I have within me, in an effort not to swoon and pass out on the floor, near my chair (no more standing for this lady).

While I am busy trying to find a way to build a story around crooning and swooning, please take a moment to check out my current novel, What If… now on sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble 51UI1w5VJHL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-54,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Thanks for visiting us today, hard to believe its March already. We are almost ready to celebrate out 1 year anniversary here on Main Street and we are so appreciative for those readers who stop in, buy our books, review and rate them and share with friends. Wishing you all the best until my time next month!

Kelly Rae xo