Updates on What I’m Doing

First off, the past couple of weeks of writing have been the most fun I’ve had in a long time, so getting back to the strong heroines has been a great decision. That doesn’t mean that all of my heroines are going to be the strong type. Sometimes the plot will call for the hero to be the stronger of the two, but it’s nice to have that flexibility back.

Alright, so I’m still in the process of getting boxed sets together for my older stuff. Before the Native American Romance Series is ready to be in a boxed set, I need to reformat all of those books. That will take about a month. Each time I format, it takes about half a day to do one book. This is a four-book set, and I prefer to work on formats over the weekend as time permits. I like to write during the week while the kids are in school.

Since I wanted another boxed set that would be ready before school let out for the summer, I went through my books and picked a collection of books that would require the least amount of work to put into a boxed set.

So…

I have put the original six Larsons together into a boxed set. It’s due out May 31.

The Larsons Boxed Set ebook cover

Click here to pre-order

This way, Richard, Sally, Tom, Dave, Jenny, and Joel can all be in one boxed set. I consider those six to be the original Larsons. In the future, I want to do a boxed set for each of the children. So I would do a boxed set for Richard’s children. Then another boxed set for Tom’s children, Etc. (After I’m finished with Richard’s children, I plan to go straight to Tom’s because those four daughters are going to be fun as they look for husbands.)

I created a pre-order for this only because pre-orders give me plenty of time to organize everything together. I don’t have an assistant who helps me out with this stuff, and I find it easier to do things in small pieces. So one day, I’ll get the Booklaunch page up, another day, I’ll get the links together, and another day, I’ll update my website, and so on. That way, by the time the book is out, I’ll have everything together.

As a side note, I also handle my own emails, Facebook messages, etc. That’s why it sometimes takes me a while to get to you guys. I am interested in engaging with you, but I hope you know that it might take me a while to respond to the correspondence I get.

Okay, onto the new stuff!

The Perfect Duke will probably be published next.

Books in the Marriage by Fate Series are…

  • Book 1: The Reclusive Earl
  • Book 2: Married In Haste
  • Book 3: Make Believe Bride
  • Book 4: The Perfect Duke
  • Book 5: Kidnapping the Viscount (this will feature Miss Duff)
  • Not sure if there will be a book 6 or not
The Perfect Duke Ebook Cover

Click here to pre-order!

I thought it was going to be The Perfect Wife, but I got stalled in that book, and this one just took off. (This is why I write more than one book at a time.)

The heroine in this story is strong. I’m just over the halfway point, and I have the feeling that it’s going to be up to her to save the hero in some way. I don’t expect there to be a dramatic life-threatening situation, but I have a suspicion her brother is going to pin him in a situation where he can’t win. It’s too early to tell for sure, though. I have no idea how things will really play out. I’m just guessing at this point. As I get closer to the end, I’ll find out for sure.

One thing that surprised me while writing this is how devoted the hero is to the heroine. I knew the two would get along well from the beginning and that he’d fall in love with her first, but I had no idea just how devoted he is to her. It’s nice to work with a hero like that.

The Perfect Wife is still anticipated out for July.

Books in the Misled Mail Order Brides Series are…

  • Book 1: The Bride Price (Sep’s romance)
  • Book 2: The Rejected Groom (Tony Larson’s romance)
  • Book 3: The Perfect Wife (Mark Larson’s romance)
  • Book 4: The Imperfect Husband (Annabelle Larson’s romance)
The Perfect Wife Ebook Cover3

Click here to pre-order!

Now, Natalie is a softer heroine. She has to be for the plot to work. I do think, however, she’ll be pushed to the point where she’ll have to take some kind of stand for herself against a certain adversary who popped up this week while I was writing in this story. I’m at the halfway point right now. I’m looking forward to bringing Velma in. I’ve already brought Annabelle in, and I’m currently setting the stage for her story in Book 4.

Today while writing, Mark made a reference to Joel and Tom, and that brought back a lot of the fun times I had writing Her Heart’s Desire, A Bride for Tom, Shotgun Groom, Wagon Trail Bride, and The Marriage Agreement. Those were the books where Tom and Joel were having their fun arguments. It’s little stuff like that which makes it fun to write books that take place in the same world, even if they are in different series.

One Enchanted Evening is still in the beginning stages.

Books in the Marriage by Fairytale Series are…

  • Book 1: The Marriage Contract
  • Book 2: One Enchanted Evening
  • Book 3: The Wedding Pact
  • Book 4: To Be Titled
  • not sure if there will be a book 5 or more at this point
One Enchanted Evening ebook cover

Click here to pre-order

I’m not sure when this one will be ready, but I finally got around the masquerade ball today while writing it. This is loosely based off of Cinderella. When I say “loosely”, I mean “loosely”. In Cinderella, that character was a pure and sweet character. Marcy (the heroine in this book) has a tainted past. She did something terrible, and as penance, she’s hiding out at Stephen Bachman’s manor as a maid.

I finally figured out a way to get her to the masquerade ball to spend some time with the hero (Stephen’s friend Lewis who needs a wife). It was hard to convince her to do it because she doesn’t feel worthy of a happy ending. But I did it. Now it’s up to Lewis to convince her to marry him, which will be interesting to see how he manages it since he’s surprisingly shy and uneasy with himself.

This probably drives plotters nuts, but I honestly don’t know what is going to happen until I’m writing the scene. At any time, the story could veer in another direction during the course of writing the book. This is why I’ve had to go back and revise my descriptions on occasion. But I do expect this book to have a step-sister angle, and this is going to be something the heroine is going to have to face head on toward the end.

The Outlaw’s Bride is slowly coming along.

This is the first book in the Wyoming Series.

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2

I’ve been aiming for 250 words each day I write. I typically write five days a week. I’m not in the “you must write every day” camp. I’m in the “you need a day or two off” camp. This is estimated for a November or December release, so I have plenty of time. I’d say I’m nearing the 1/3 mark at this point. The heroine here is very soft, but the hero is, too, so the two make a really good match. In this book, the heroine is pretty, but she grew up surrounded by people who told her she wasn’t. So she doesn’t believe she’s pretty. The hero, of course, will change all of that.

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The Marriage Contract is Now Available

The Marriage Contract new ebook cover

A little background on this book:

This book was actually a passion project. I wrote this because it was burning inside of me to write since 2012. I just hadn’t had the right characters to line up with the plot, so I had to set the idea aside for years. I have a lot of ideas that need waiting for before they’re ready to write. This happens to be one of them. It is loosely based off of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. I also wanted to try my hand at gothic romance. I wanted to try some new things that I hadn’t done before. I even put in a sword fight and a horse chase into this story, something that’s new for me.

Just so everyone knows, it does still fall under the Regency series I’ve been working on. I decided to mix some other elements into it. And I’m going to be adding my own spin to the rest of the books in this particular series, and that spin will have gothic elements. It’s fun taking traditional fairy tales and making my own spin on them. Of course, these will all have happy endings. I love happy endings. I also love romance, and you can’t have a romance without a happy ending.

About this book: 

This is Book 1 in the Marriage by Fairytale Series. After Mr. Stephen Bachman was forced to marry Lady Eloise (which happened in Married In Haste, which was in the Marriage by Fate Series), he got disfigured and had to move outside of London. Eloise died about a year before The Marriage Contract starts, and Stephen is a different person by this time. He’s a hero in need of a second chance. So for those of you who like heroes that were once bad who turn their life around for the better, you’ll like Stephen’s role in this book.

The heroine is brand new. She’s been living under the shadow of a gypsy’s curse since she was a child. No matter how long or how far she runs, the gypsy ends up finding her and destroying everyone she comes close to. No one else believes her, including the friend who brings her to marry Stephen. It’s only because she is pregnant and wants her child to be safe that she agrees to the marriage, and she has to agree to it under his terms: hence the contract she signs promising to never look at Stephen’s face, never to ask him about his past, and never to remove the covers that hide the mirrors.

Where you can find this book:

I have this available on these retailers. If I didn’t get your country added in here for the Amazon store, let me know. So far, I’ve only had a request for the UK store. Barnes & Noble is only in the US. I think Kobo and iBooks links take everyone directly to the country they’re in. The Smashwords link is good for all countries.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks 

Smashwords

 

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What is Romance?

I recently received a link to this You Tube video by Overly Sarcastic Productions that I enjoyed watching.

Thanks to Rami Ungar for sending this my way!

This video was hilarious. The person who made this has a great sense of humor. What made me laugh most of the way through the video is how many writers of movies and TV shows seem to think all you need is for the characters to give each other “the look” to know they’re in love, and as soon as they kiss/have sex, they are automatically set for life. That’s it. The end. Happily ever after.

Now, as most of you know, my books often feature couples who get married before they fall in love. I love the marriage of convenience, arranged marriage, and mail order bride plots. I’ve done other plots, of course, but I most enjoy watching a couple fall in love after they marry. So for me, the first kiss/having sex situation is often the beginning of the romance journey.

I’m sure there are a variety of ways to explore romance, but today, I’m going to talk about the way I approach romance. Each writer is different, so my approach isn’t for everyone. And I’m not sure if this post can even be considered a primer on writing romance. If it helps, great. If not, that’s fine. Just take what you can use and toss the rest out.

Romance ultimately boils down to service.

I know that sounds weird. But stay with me on this. Often in my culture (I live in the United States), the emphasis is on, “What can someone do for me?” The culture is pretty much a self-absorbed thing in which people want what they want as soon as they want it. Having to wait for anything often frustrates people, and I believe this is largely based on how fast technology has allowed us to get things. We have gotten spoiled. And yes, I have, too. I have been just as impatient as anyone else. So I’m not pointing any fingers here. If anything, I’m a good example of this.

But this has crossed over into how we look at romance. It’s affected how we look at marriage. I think the tendency is to ask ourselves, “What can this person do for me?” Why do we fall in love with someone? Is it to get something from them? Even if we aren’t thinking of being selfish, I think there’s a trap to end up that way. For example, “Why doesn’t my husband pick up his socks off the floor? Why doesn’t he treat me out to a nice, relaxing dinner?” Likewise, the husband might think, “Why doesn’t my wife make anything but sloppy joe sandwiches? Why doesn’t she wear a dress once in a while instead of those frumpy sweat pants?”

Of course, this isn’t limited to marriages. I just happened to give those examples because I’ve been married for almost 18 years now, and these are the kinds of things that have popped up during the course of my marriage. These are little, insignificant things. They’re not deal breakers. (A deal breaker is something like abuse and infidelity.) I’m not talking about a deal breaker. I’m talking about the tendency of people to get wrapped up in themselves to the point where they stop serving the significant other in their lives.

Romance, at its core, is doing what is best for the other person. (Yes, this can extend to friendships, too, but for this post, we’re looking specifically at romance.) Sometimes when you do what is best for the other person, you have to sacrifice something. For example, a wife might have to sacrifice watching TV to make her husband’s favorite dinner. Maybe the husband sacrifices watching TV so he can do a load of laundry. These are acts of service. These are little things, but they can add up to bigger things in the long run. Real life is not like a movie. We don’t have this great big climatic scene where it’s a life or death situation where the hero gives up everything to save the heroine. Most of the time, it’ll never come to that. But these little things are romantic.

Granted, if you’re writing a book, you want to do more than show the characters doing things for each other around the house. You want to think more like the movies where there are high stakes involved. So put the hero in a situation where he has to give up something important to him for the sake of the heroine. Or, have the heroine give up something important for the sake of the hero.

I’m reminded of a story my mom told me about love. It went something like this: There was a couple who was poor, but they wanted to give each other something for Christmas. The woman had long hair that was gorgeous. She decided to get it cut off and sold it to someone who wanted to make a wig. With that money, she bought her husband an easel and paints since he loved to paint. The man, meanwhile, sold his paint brush so he could buy his wife a comb because he knew she loved her hair. That is what real romance, the sacrificial kind, is all about.

Romance is also about friendship.

If you can’t be friends with the person you’re with, then why are you with them? Romance can’t survive alone on physical attraction. There has to be a heart connection, too. There has to be that emotional component. And at this core is friendship. You should enjoy being with the person. My husband is the funniest guy I know. When we were dating, I loved his sense of humor. To this day, he can still make me laugh. He likes the fact that I have a level head and can keep things organized around the house.

Friends balance each other out. I think people are often attracted to each other based on strengths and weaknesses. And I don’t mean this for only romantic relationships. I mean this for all relationship types. We naturally attract certain people. I think it has to do with our personalities. A good friend is one who knows all of your strengths and weaknesses and accepts you just the way you are. They don’t demand you go around changing something about yourself. They’re always there when you need someone to talk to.

Sometimes they’ll tell you the truth when it hurts, but when they do that, they do it in a kind way. You can tell they’re not trying to hurt you, but they want to protect you from something harmful you might be doing without realizing it. For example, there was a time when I was getting arrogant, and a good friend pointed out that I was letting pride get in my way. You see, that is a good friend. She helped me see what I was doing, and because of her, I changed my course. (That wasn’t easy for me to admit in a blog post, but I can’t think of a better example of when it is hard to tell a friend the truth. Just make sure you do it in a nice way.) Likewise, in romance, there should be honesty between the couple. The honesty is not to be used to criticize or put the other person down. It should be to help and encourage. It should have the end goal of lifting the other person up. It’s all in the motivation. A person can tell if you’re telling them something to be mean or if you’re trying to help.

Romance is also about gratitude. 

I think there’s a tendency to take the other person for granted. This is especially true in marriage.  It’s easy to look at what someone is NOT doing instead of what they ARE doing. When we look at what is not going right, we miss the things that are going right. When we focus on the negative, we end up complaining. When we complain, we aren’t able to experience gratitude. Gratitude is looking at the wonderful traits of the other person, looking at the sacrifices that person made for us, and looking at the ways that person is making our life better. Focusing on gratitude makes you love the person even more. It advances the romance.

Of course, in romance books, there has to be conflict. When I do conflict, I often do it from outside the relationship. But if there is conflict in the relationship, I try to keep in mind that it’s something that can be resolved pretty quickly and easily because in real life, people should be able to sit down and have a conversation that takes care of the issue they’re facing. If a hero is looking at the heroine and thinking of everything that’s wrong with her (or vice versa), that’s not romance.  Sure, people argue. But they shouldn’t be cutting each other down and calling each other names when they’re doing it. You can argue in a way that doesn’t attack the other person. And gratitude is where this comes in. When you are grateful for this other person, you’re more likely to focus on the actual issue.

Conclusion

In my opinion, romance books are best when three things are at work. And ultimately, it all comes down to putting the needs of the other person before yourself. It is treating the other person the way you’d want to be treated. If that is done, how can the couple not help but fall in love?

 

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