Release Day for FOREVER IN MY HEART and a Giveaway!

Hi everyone! I hope you all are staying warm this horribly cold Winter. If it wasn’t for my birthday in February, I’d be ready to skip right to March!

Here’s some shameless plugging to promote my new contemporary romance, FOREVER IN MY HEART, which is available today! It’s the second book in my Tangled Hearts series.

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This book centers on the youngest DiFrancesco sibling, Vicky. If you’ve read UNTANGLE MY HEART, you may remember Vicky as the girl whose life was sort of a train wreck. Twenty-six and divorced, she’s had a hard time finding her happy. Now, just when she’s opened the hot new cafe in town, her high school bad boy ex returns. Jamie DiSilva is the brother of the two men who’ve caused much pain to her family over the years. Not to mention Jamie broke Vicky’s heart nine years ago. She’ll be pulled by family loyalty and her own desire for the boy-turned man who she’s never forgotten.

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt.

Vicky DiFrancesco is ready to put the past behind her. After a humiliating divorce, she’s determined to make her new café a success. The last thing she needs is her first love around, reminding her of what they’d lost. But when her life is threatened, could he be the very man she needs?

Jamie DiSilva’s homecoming after retiring from the army isn’t the one he’d been hoping for. Now, he’s trying to start a home improvement business in a town settled on holding him accountable for the sins of his late brothers. Redeeming himself to the girl he never stopped loving and her family is difficult when his brothers’ secrets come back to haunt him.

Untangling themselves from the past means righting several wrongs and deciding if their love is meant to last forever.

Excerpt from FOREVER IN MY HEART:

“What happened today between us can never happen again.”

“Because of your sister?”

“Because of my entire family. Kate isn’t the only member with a grudge against the DiSilva family.”

Just his bad luck.

“My parents and I have never done anything to warrant being shunned by them. Our parents were best friends.”

“That doesn’t change what your brothers did or how it’s impacted my family. It’s one thing to deal with you living in the same town. It’s another for them to accept what just happened between us.”

“What happens between us has nothing to do with your family,” he snapped. He was tired of being judged. It wasn’t like she didn’t feel something for him. He lowered his voice and cupped her cheek. “Things can be good between us, Vick. You know it.”

She held his gaze, and he felt her tremble. He leaned forward, determined to convince her to give them a chance.

Her hand shot out and stopped him from doing more than graze her lips. “Stop. Nothing good will come of this.” She rolled off the bed and kept her back to him.

“You’re choosing them over your own happiness?”

She wiped at her face before turning to him.

Despite the tears that dampened her eyes, her answer was clear from the stubborn set of her chin. “What choice do I have?”

“There’s always a choice.”

“And a price to pay. They’re my family. I pick them. I’ll always pick them.”

You can buy FOREVER IN MY HEART at:

Kindle  |  B&N  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  The Wild Rose Press

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From February 20th through March 8th you can enter my release giveaway! Stop by here for a chance to win a digital copy of Untangle My Heart, the first book in my award-winning Tangled Hearts series or a $5 Amazon GC.

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Also, I’d love if you’d stop by my Facebook Release Party TONIGHT, February 20th, from 7:00-9:30 pm EST. Many of my Femme pals along with other friends from NJ Romance Writers will be stopping by to chat about their books. There will be games, alpha men and prizes! Sorry, but it’s bring your own cannoli! Click here to join. Hope to see you there!!

Hugs,

Maria

 

 

A New Year of Possibilities

Congratulations to KARA O’NEAL, who is the winner of the Femmes Favorite Book of 2014 post! You’ll win an official Violet Femmes mug! Enjoy! I’ll be reaching out to you to send your gift.

~ ~ ~

For me, welcoming in the New Year is like buying a brand new notebook. The spine is perfect, the cover unwrinkled, the pages are blank. How I choose to fill them is up to me. But rather than that causing me stress, I’m energized with hope…with possibilities.

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2014 was both a good and bad year for me. From a writing perspective, it was a good year. My debut book, Untangle My Heart, was made available world-wide in March, I completed edits for the second book in the series, Forever in My Heart, and I started writing the third story. Things were stressful at my day job but that was okay because my writing kept me grounded and brought me joy. From a personal perspective, I suffered a deep personal loss at the end of last year. Looking forward to 2015 gives me a chance for a start fresh and with it, renewed enthusiasm to strive to be the best person and writer I can be.

At the 2014 NJ Romance Writer’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, one of the speakers asked us to write down our goals. Here’s what I wrote with 2015 in mind:

  1. Finish writing Tangled Hearts Book 3 (Awaken My Heart).
  2. Begin plotting/scoping/writing a new contemporary series.
  3. Pitch new series at the 2015 NJRW conference.

Even as I’m typing this #3 is sort of freaking me out as I haven’t pitched in a couple years and the thought of going through that process…AGAIN…makes me feel as though I’m taking a step back. But as I think about this more, I realize it’s not going backward. Rather, it’s going FORWARD. Similar to RoseAnn who mentioned in last week’s post that she’s in RoseAnn 2.0 mode, I need to move to the next phase in my career. I’ve gotten my feet wet and am published. Now I need to move up the next rung on the ladder.

I’m 32k words into Awaken My Heart, and I’m hoping to finish it during NJ Romance Writers Jersey Romance Writing Month (JeRoWriMo) this February. Of course, Forever in My Heart is being released February 20th, which means I’ll need to spend time preparing.

In addition to my writing goals, I’ve set some personal goals:

  1. Get back to my goal weight by the end of March.
  2. Attend Jazzercise three times a week.
  3. Spend more quality time with my family.

No matter how many goals I set, sometimes those goals have to be changed or extended. And that’s okay. It’s my empty notebook to fill as I see fit. Life’s too precious and too short to be spending it not doing what you want. So have fun, enjoy life, and fill your notebook with things that make YOU happy!

Since last week we asked what your writing goals are for 2015, this week I’d like to hear what your personal goals are. Is anyone planning to run a 5k or a triathlon? How about any special trips?

Enjoy your year of possibilities!

Hugs,

Maria

 You can find me at:

Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Pinterest

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My Book Trailer Experiment

Ever since my first book was published I’ve been wanted to try creating a book trailer. My motivation wasn’t because I thought it would increase my sales, because everything that I had read said it wouldn’t. But when I got my cover for my upcoming release of Forever in My Heart, I decided it would be a fun way to tell about the story and reveal the cover.

So I took an online course sponsored by RWA, and looked at trailers from fellow romance authors. Here are some key takeaways I learned.

  1. Script – start with your blurb, and create a script of approximately 20-25 short phrases.
    • Focus only on the main conflict between the hero and heroine
    • Capture the essence of their goals and the conflict that’s preventing them from achieving the goals
    • Write short and engaging phrases that will entice the reader to want your book
  2. Fonts – use the same font throughout the trailer. If you keep changing it, the viewer will start to focus on the changing fonts and not the words. Here are some sites I looked at for free fonts:

http://www.1001fonts.com/    – I like this site because I was able to look up fonts by category. It helped me narrow my focus.

http://www.fonts.com/FindFonts/freefonts.htm

http://www.dafont.com/

  1. Music – choose music that reflects the tone of your book. For me, I found this difficult since my story is a Contemporary with a Romantic Suspense element. Here are a few sites you can check out. There are lots of others if you do a Google search.

http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/

http://vimeo.com/musicstore

http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/

  1. Photos – I really struggled with this because searching for photos takes time and often costs money. I opted to use clips from my book cover and slowly reveal the entire cover at the end. Not the most sophisticated approach, but my goal was (a) to share a version of my blurb and (b) reveal the cover. So I felt I’d accomplished this. Regardless of your approach, make sure you use photos that are of the highest quality (300 dpi or more). And in my opinion, more pictures aren’t necessarily better. Here are some sites you can look at for photos:

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

http://www.pdphoto.org/

http://www.istockphoto.com/

http://www.depositphoto.com

http://www.dreamstime.com/

  1. Putting it together. I used Microsoft PowerPoint to build my initial slideshow. I put each phrase on a page using the font I’d purchased along with the pictures. I added transitions from slide-to-slide. When I was comfortable with this, I uploaded the slides to Windows Movie Maker and finished the editing.
    • Make sure there’s enough time on each slide to read the words. I set three seconds per slide. In some cases, I had to adjust the words on a slide because it couldn’t be read. Going through this exercise forces you to be concise!
    • Movie Maker has some different transitions that PowerPoint didn’t have and I experimented. But be careful to not have too much motion and jerky transitions.
    • Make sure you end with your book cover, your website, buy links (if available), or release date (or coming soon)
    • My trailer is just over 30 seconds. I’d suggest not going more than 90 seconds for fear of losing viewer attention.
  2. Get opinions. I showed draft versions of what I did and got feedback. This was especially helpful in understanding if it was going too fast.
  3. It’s a wrap! When I was finished, I created a channel on YouTube and uploaded it. Make sure you change the settings to public before you start sharing the link. Don’t forget to add it to your website and post a link on Facebook.

Here’s a link to my finished product. Let me know what you think.

Hopefully you got some helpful tips. Please share if you have other resources you found helpful.

Hugs and best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season!

Maria

Engaging the senses in your writing

I was talking with my eleven year old son the other day and he was explaining in great detail about these people who I later learned are from the fictional online gaming world of Wizard 101. This isn’t the first time he’s done it, either. Both my kids regularly refer to characters from TV shows or electronic games as though they’re real. It drives both me and my husband crazy.

But then I started thinking that isn’t this what writers look for when we craft our stories? We want the characters to feel so real to the reader that they could be someone you know—or would like to know. Or could imagine falling in love with. Who doesn’t want to get that little catch in your gut like the heroine does when the hero gives her a smoldering glance?

How do you write to fully engage your reader?

Here are some examples of how to use your five senses to bring your reader into the story. These excerpts are from the partially edited second book in my Tangled Hearts series, Forever In My Heart, which will be coming out soon.

Sight

Vicky bit into a forkful of baked ziti and reveled in the divine combination of garlic, basil, tomatoes, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses along with the slight bite of red pepper.

Taste

Back in the main room, Maggie poured his coffee, and he took it along with a cinnamon bun to his usual table by the window. Slathering the top with butter, he took a huge bite into a sticky explosion of brown sugar laced dough.

Sight and Smell

Her dark brown hair was pulled back in a high ponytail. A few strands escaped and curled against her neck. She smelled like berries, apples, and cinnamon and he had to fight the urge to reach out and see if she tasted as good.

Touch

He reached out and touched her arm. A spark jumped between them. She must have felt it, too, because she jolted. All these years and his blood still heated up being near her.

Sound

Surprised, she cried out and acted on pure instinct—or stupidity. She elbowed him in the gut. He grunted a moment before the gun clanked to the gun. She attempted to step aside, but her assailant grabbed her arm and punched her in the jaw. It wasn’t a strong punch, but it caused her to gasp for breath. Grabbing the cake carrier, she swiveled and smashed him in the head. He yelped and fell, swearing when he hit the hard ground.

 

In case you can’t tell, there are lots of food references in Forever In My Heart. I leveraged my Italian background in my story and enjoyed creating what I hope are scenes that make the reader imagine being inside Vicky’s café or at least make you crave something decadent. 🙂

Cinnamon buns anyone?

While writing this post, I did realize I shy away describing sounds in my story. It’s given me a renewed energy look for ways to go into more depth as I continue with my edits.

What tips do you have to engage your reader in the story?

Maria

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