Holiday Romance…it isn’t just for Christmas anymore

It’s that time of year again, when the days get short and the weather turns colder. I don’t like winters in general. I’d much rather be soaking up the sun on some beach somewhere. There is, however, one thing I do like about wintertime. To me, it means more time to read. There’s nothing better on a frigid winter day than curling up in my armchair with a cup of hot tea, some tea biscuits, and a good book. Although I have a huge pile of books next to my bed, waiting to be read, and another virtual pile on my tablet, I reach for holiday romances first at this time of year. To me, it feels strange to read a Christmas romance in July.

I love Christmas romances, and it appears I’m not alone. A quick check of Goodreads returned a list of nearly eleven hundred popular Christmas romances. When I searched Barnes and Noble, and the number was over six thousand romances available for purchase, while Amazon returned a whopping forty-thousand titles. Which is great for those of us who celebrate Christmas, and love a good Christmas love story.

Curious, I did another search for “Hanukkah Romance”. I’m happy to say, there were quite a few, although these were mostly in e-book format. However, there were nowhere near as many as there were for Christmas…only eighteen hundred titles. This is still enough to provide the average reader with Hanukkah romances to last a lifetime, though, so who am I to complain?

A search on Kwanzaa romances yielded more distressing results. Exactly two books came up in this search. I can’t help but wonder why. I have to believe that African-Americans read romance as much as any other ethnic group. I suppose the discrepancy could be chalked up to the fact that Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, only officially celebrated since 1966. Yet if we were using that reasoning, there should be more Hanukkah romances than Christmas ones, since Judaism has been around longer. If you say that Kwanzaa is actually a cultural holiday, rather than a religious one, I’m not sure that matters. Religion is a part of culture, isn’t it? Kwanzaa, at least in the northeast, is part of the conversation now.

Is it that the majority of editors and publishers are white Christians? Well, I don’t know the answer to that for sure, but I do know one thing. Romance publishers aren’t vampires, shape-shifters, Highland warriors or sheikhs, but they’re publishing tons of books about them. So why aren’t there more Hanukkah and Kwanzaa romances out there? I say, if you’re looking for a new angle, these would be good stories to write and pitch.  There, you have your new idea, and I promise I won’t take any credit for it.

I’m getting ready to re-read a favorite Christmas romance, What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander. It’s a Victorian historical, and I particularly like it because it plays to the thespian in me. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

What Happens at Christmas

Do you have a favorite holiday romance? Why do you think there are so many Christmas romances, and so few Kwanzaa ones? I’d love to hear your theories on that, so please, sound off!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous Kwanzaa!

Hugs,

Jaye

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Believe

Photo credit: 2 little banshees / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: 2 little banshees / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I love this time of year. That is to say, I usually love this time of year. Last year was the first Holiday season where my Christmas Baby had been ruthlessly pulled under the truth about Santa tent. With her birthday on the holiday, she’s always had double the fun, double the spirit, and double doses of believing in the season. Nothing could pull her out of her holiday slump last year. This year…she’s back, and it has made all the difference as we prepare for the season. This naturally turned my thoughts to writing and inevitably…my sock drawer. Completely logical, right? I promise, it is…let me break it down for you.

I’ve been in a sorting, organizing frenzy over the past few weeks, throwing things into the donation pile with an abandon I usually never attain. It’s been liberating. Finally, it was time to tackle my sock drawer. When I started I BELIEVED I had NO socks. As I started to sort, match, organize, discard, I soon realized that I was a sock junkie. True, I found some socks with holes, like those you’d find in a plot that you’d need to discard. I also found items that didn’t belong, like long sleeve black gloves I’d worn when I was a bridesmaid a MILLLION years ago, kind of like those scenes that should be ruthlessly cut from a manuscript. BUT I also found a lot more of value than I ever expected. In fact, the draw is filled with a wealth of riches. The truth is, I’m a bit of a sock geek. I mean, who doesn’t want to wear their warm and fuzzies during the winter while curled up on the sofa reading a good book…or writing one?

While sorting, my thoughts turned to a new Young Adult Mystery novel of mine. I started it back in February for the NJRW JeRoWriMo writing sprint. I’d written 15 K words in one week and then left the story for crap. I stuck it way down in the bottom of the sock drawer, so to speak, and focused my energy on a new Humorous Contemporary Romance series. In short, I slid back into a comfy pair of old socks and got down to the business of writing. Nothing wrong with that, I LOVE this new contemporary series, and I hope to one day share it with my readers. However, this summer I pulled the YA out and found I truly LOVED the story. I darned the holes I could now see, polished it a bit, and submitted it to two contests. Guess what? That story, WINGING IT, I’d left for crap, is now a finalist in both writing contests!

Writers (or at least this one) are emotional. It is so easy to doubt ourselves. If we don’t believe in our work, who will? So, at this time of year, when we are focused on the magic of the season, I’m going to remind everyone, regardless of your passion, please remember that fulfillment in any endeavor starts first with your own ability to BELIEVE.

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Release of A SPY UNMASKED and the things I’m thankful for

Today is the release day for my historical romance, A Spy Unmasked. It’s the first book In The Crown’s Secret Service Series about sexy spies and the feisty, independent women who capture their hearts. At The Spy’s Pleasure will be released in April 2015. It’s always an exciting time when an author has a new release. But instead of blogging about spies in the Regency period, I want to write about all the things I’m truly grateful for.

A Spy Unmasked Cover - Tina Gabrielle

My Writing Organizations

I can easily say I wouldn’t be published if it wasn’t for Romance Writer’s of America and my local NJ Romance Writer’s Chapter. I believe I was born a writer, and I fondly remember writing my first book when I was sixteen. Needless to say, it was not publishable and it sits in the back of my file cabinet. But these two organizations taught me how to write professional, commercial fiction. A huge difference for me. They also taught me about the business side of being an author. I still religiously attend workshops with my notepad. It’s an ongoing learning process. I’ve also met my closest friends—including my fellow Femmes—writers that aren’t scared when I say “I hear my character’s voices in my head.” And the conferences that NJRW and RWA held are where I met my agent and editors.

The Readers

Where would any author be without the readers? I cherish each one. I’m also thankful for reviews. I value the time readers spend writing them.

My Critique Partners

I’ve had several critique partners over the years. All of them have helped make my books shine. I think of finding a good critique partner like dating. You have to find the right match for you. I’ve been lucky and will always be grateful.

Volunteering

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m grateful for volunteering. I’m on the NJ Romance Writer’s board as the hospitality chair, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. At meetings I hand out milk chocolate kisses for authors who are brave enough to submit their work and white chocolate hugs for authors who received rejections (a regular part of being a writer). I enjoy handing out flowers to celebrate each member’s good news. I also volunteer and run a monthly critique group at my local library. Every month aspiring writers get together in the library and read their work. I organize the dates and times with the library, and even though I don’t always get time to read my own work, I’m thankful for the group. Many people have helped me on the way to publication and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction helping others now.

Family Support

I know of writers who gave up on their dreams because they didn’t have family support. Many of us have kids, day jobs, and/or elderly parents, and we all need a support system. I’m thankful for mine.

James Bond

Ok, I have to say I’m thankful for Ian Fleming. In A Spy Unmasked,  my hero, Robert Ware is a safecracker and an expert in the fine art of finessing open safes. He’s also a master spy for the Crown. I grew up watching the Bond flicks and I love them still. Spies are mysterious and dangerous. They often have close calls but somehow they always end up escaping unscathed. And when the intrigue surrounding the spying is interwoven with the romance, the result is a sizzling read. So who’s my favorite Bond actor?

Daniel Craig in swim suit

KINDLE GIVEAWAY!

I can’t depart without some type of shameless promotion for A Spy Unmasked. I’m offering a prize of a new Kindle Fire HD6 to a winner who reads the book and leaves an honest review at Amazon. I’ll pick one winner on Sunday November 16, 2014, from all the reviews posted. See my website for details!  Here’s a quick blurb of the book:

London 1820

The mission did not go quite as Robert Ware–known in society as the new Earl of Kirkland–planned. A spy in the service of His Majesty, Robert is a “guest” at a masquerade party as he retrieves vital information for a murder investigation. Until he’s quite unexpectedly interrupted by an exquisite, masked woman with glittering green eyes. And a pistol she has cocked and aimed right at him…

Lady Sophia Merrill has defiantly taken up justice’s shining sword, determined to expose the brigand who murdered her eccentric but brilliant father, and stole his latest invention. Now she must masquerade as Robert’s betrothed in order to infiltrate the Inventor’s Society and find the killer. But the undeniable potent attraction between them not only imperils the investigation, but Sophia’s reputation… and both of their lives.

 So what are you most thankful for? And who’s your favorite James Bond actor? I’d love to hear your views, so please share!

Tina Gabrielle

A SPY UNMASKED – Out Now!

You can find me at:

 www.tinagabrielle.com

 http://twitter.com/tinagabrielle

 https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle

In The Barrister's Bed InTheBarristersChambers Original Artwork A Perfect Scandal LADYOFSCANDAL Cover

Evening Social

This past weekend, all eight of us got to hang out together at the annual New Jersey Romance Writers Conference. Since our little group was formed three years ago at this event, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a little soiree, which we called The Violet Femmes’ Ditch the Heels Evening Social.

Diana reserved a suite, and all of us took on some part of the preparations, including (lots of) wine, chocolate, snacks, and soft drinks. Joanna set up a Facebook invitation. JB designed a small invitation that we circulated to everyone we came in contact with at the conference. We hung violet party decorations, poured the wine, plated the snacks, and waited for our guests to arrive after the Put Your Heart in a Book and Golden Leaf Awards ceremony.

We really had no idea how many people were going to show up. Some had RSVP’d online, but there was word-of-mouth and onsite information available, too. Did we have enough wine and snacks? What if nobody showed?

We certainly needn’t have worried about the latter. Here are some pictures of our gathering:

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JB caught up with Romantic Suspense Author Mary Burton

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Jaye and Joanna

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Shirley Hailstock makes her point.

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Michele, Tina and guest

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Elizabeth John and Maria have a laugh

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Joanna and Amy DeLuca

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We had a wonderful time visiting with all of our guests, and we could have gone on all night. However, we had put a ten o’clock end time on the invitation, since we wanted to be considerate of the people staying in the rooms adjacent to our suite. As it turned out, that was a smart move. A couple of British Airways pilots (with sexy accents!) were staying next door before flying back out in the morning. Those pilots needed their sleep. We didn’t want them crashing any planes.

Of course we hoped to get something out of hosting the party, although we didn’t want it to be an occasion to plug our own books. Mostly, we wanted to meet other authors, hang out with old friends, and raise the visibility of our blog. Sharing time with other authors, swapping stories and offering up support is what makes the romance community so unique. Screenwriter Michael Hauge has remarked that there is no other writing community that is as generous with our knowledge as romance writers, and we Femmes agree.

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Were you able to attend our party? Give us a shout-out and let us know!

 

Hugs,

Jaye

 

Dealing with the Walking Dead

I’m going to put this out there. I am not a nice person. I can be pretty ruthless. When I no longer have use for someone, I have no problem throwing him out.

Sherlock idiot

Giphy.com

 

If I don’t like something that happens, I can easily tuck it away so that I forget it ever occurred. And if somebody says something that doesn’t make sense, I readily say “That’s stupid!”

Such is the life of a writer.

Oh, you thought I was talking about real life? Did you forget this is a blog about writing? Silly!

Let me first say, I’m a Capricorn. We Capricorns are known for being loyal to a fault…until you cross us. Still, I’m inordinately proud of the progress I’ve made in being able to disassociate myself from something that is no longer working in my manuscript. It isn’t easy. Writers become attached to their words in ways that are incomprehensible to most people.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this. Writing a book is like pregnancy, and can take just as long (or longer!). Sometimes, it can be just as painful. There’s this surge of joy when you come up with a new idea for a story, much like the feeling you get when you first discover you are pregnant. Your mind starts racing, you picture scenes and plotlines, characters and settings, you decorate and embellish the story in your mind’s eye just as you plan out the nursery for your new bundle of joy.

As you go through your book “pregnancy”, your baby gives you growing pains. Suddenly, a scene isn’t working and you have the worst case of indigestion. What do you do?

Your first course of action is to medicate with a handful of M&M’s, which are always at hand for any serious writer. M&M’s make everything better, at least temporarily. Then, you attack the offending scene with gusto, working and reworking it until it makes sense. Unfortunately, sometimes the reworking serves only to suck the life out of the scene completely. If that is the case, you chop it out. Cut off its head. Put it in solitary confinement in a file marked “Save for later” that you hopefully will remember you created when you realize that the scene actually DOES work, just not where you had it. Maybe it belongs in a different story entirely. Maybe it will never get used. Still, it’s there, waiting for that moment when you recognize its value.

Yet for every discomfort, for every pang you get as your “baby” grows, there is a moment of sheer joy, that feeling a mother gets when she holds her child for the first time. It’s that thrill you get when you laugh out loud when you’re writing a scene. The tear you get in your eye when everything seems hopeless for your characters’ happily ever after. The rush you get at the possibilities for your story’s success, because you know, you just KNOW, you got it right.

Here’s the thing. Writing is hard. It’s a solitary job with lots of rejection. Life often gets in the way. Hardly anybody writes their first book and sells a million copies of it. Practice makes perfect…or at least, perfect enough that an editor wants to buy it.

And here’s another truth…if you stop writing, you get rusty. I’m learning that firsthand these days. My writing has hit a dry patch. My baby has stopped growing, and there’s that fear of miscarriage, that the manuscript I’m working on will never reach its full potential. What I find, though, whenever I return to the story, is that it is just sleeping. Sometimes it takes a little while to wake it up, but eventually, it springs back to life.

I never, ever discard anything I write. That isn’t ego talking. It’s common sense, and yes, attachment. Just as I couldn’t discard one of my own children, so I couldn’t discard even a paragraph that isn’t working out the way I want it to. At every conference I’ve ever attended, one of the key speakers has referred to that first offending manuscript, the one that didn’t sell, that nobody wanted, that sits in a drawer at home as a reminder of how far the author has come. Because if you keep writing, you will get better at it. Your first book isn’t going to be as good as your fifth, or even your second.

I have a huge graveyard of unused writing, waiting to be resurrected when its usefulness is clear. It will be the Zombie Apocalypse of (Jaye Marie) Rome.

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How do you deal with wayward words?

 

Jaye

 

 

 

Interview with an MMA Fighter

Hi everyone,

My second book, TAP OUT, releases April 14th. I’m on a total promotional blitz right now and you’ll find me on quite a few blogs in the next few weeks.

I thought for my own blog, here at the Violet Femmes, I’d follow the format of the best post I’ve written and recreate it for the Femmes. Something special, not found anywhere else except perhaps in my book.

Hope you enjoy it!

Best,

Michele

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Michele Mannon interviews Caden Kelly, hero in her latest release TAP OUTUltimate American Male underwearmodel and MMA welterweight title contender

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New Release: Knock Out

I am really excited about my contemporary sports romance series: Worth the Fight. The first book, KNOCK OUT, is a story about what happens after the Fall, the time in  life when you’ve found yourself knocked out, out of breath, and just struggling to get back up.

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It takes courage to find your feet, brush off the dirt, and move on with life, right? We’ve all experienced our fair share of falls, too.

Which is why this book means so much to me. You see, I had a major fall, a literal one, smack off a curb and with an Italian ice in my hand. I broke my right ankle and tore the ligaments in my foot . . . the right one. The driving foot. The Italian ice remained intact.

That summer was tough, being laid up on the couch when all I wanted was the sun on my face and the sand between my toes.

Plenty of time to think…which is exactly what happened.

Amidst all my agony and struggle, I had an idea. What if I wrote a story about a heroine who also has a fall and breaks her ankle, but its a career ending injury? What would she do? How would she cope with the way her life has belly-flopped. Her goals shattered along with her ankle? That’s how Logan Rettino, my ballerina turned MMA Octagon Girl, was born.
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It’s here…Pre-Release for UNTANGLE MY HEART!

Congratulations to Anna Taylor Sweringen, who is the winner of the copy of Timeless Keepsakes raffle!

Can a hot summer fling bring the potential for more?

I’m jumping with joy to announce the debut of my contemporary romance, Untangle My Heart, is now available for Kindle exclusive pre-release!! And soon it will also be available in print.

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For my post today, I’m sharing my Top 10 Reasons for reading Untangle My Heart.

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Chat and Giveaway from RoseAnn DeFranco

This week, the Femmes are happy to celebrate the release of our very own RoseAnn DeFranco’s debut novel, RETURN TO AUDUBON SPRINGS. It’s a fun read that will have you laughing out loud. It’s available now as a Kindle exclusive from The Wild Rose Press. It will be available world-wide January 3, 2014.

ReturntoAudubonSprings_8071_750 VF: Congratulations, RoseAnn, on the release of your first novel, RETURN TO AUDUBON SPRINGS. I enjoyed the characters and their story. What are 3 of the most important qualities of Rafe and Emma?

RD: Thank you for interviewing me, Maria. It was fun answering your questions and sharing more about my book. Rafe and Emma are true soul mates, having forged a special friendship in childhood on the beach over summer vacations in his home town. That friendship bloomed into love in their teens which they kept on simmer for a long time. There is a class distinction, something Rafe feels more strongly than Emma. Her family is dripping in money and he comes from a solid working class family. They are stubborn and will never be happy until they learn to set aside pride.

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Can an Arranged Marriage Lead to Love?

Thanks for stopping by! This is my first blog post as an official Femme and I’m thrilled to be here. I’m kicking off official “Femme-dom” with the release of my second historical romance, Tempting Bella.   

A 13-year-old girl is forced to marry the heir to a dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. After the ceremony, the bride and groom go their separate ways. Years later, the groom spies an enchanting beauty at Imagethe opera and is thrilled to learn she is his wife.

The true love story of Lady Sara Cadogan and Charles Lennox, the Earl of March, who later became the Duke of Richmond, inspired my latest historical romance,  Tempting Bella, the second book in my Accidental Peers series.

I add my own twist by making Bella  a future duchess in her own right, meaning she’ll inherit the dukedom once her father passes.

That little tidbit also came about from my research, when I read about Henrietta Godolphin, the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough. Her father, the first Duke of Marlborough, had two sons but neither lived to adulthood. An act of  parliament in 1706 allowed the first duke’s daughters to inherit his English titles. Henrietta became a duchess in her own right after her father’s death in 1722. Sadly, like her father, she outlived both of her sons, so the titles passed to her sister’s son.
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