Ingredients Of A Great First Line

Golden Heart necklace2A special CONGRATULATIONS to our very own Femme, Joanna Shupe, whose historical manuscript, Drawn to the Earl, finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest! We’re all thrilled for her and wish her good luck in Atlanta!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve agonized over the first line in every one of my manuscripts. We’ve been told we only have a few lines, a paragraph, or maybe a page to draw the attention of an agent or editor. Talk about pressure. I recently attended a workshop on writing a fabulous first line, given by the wonderful Sarah MacLean. Let me share some of the ingredients Ms. MacLean shared to help writing your first line a little easier. I found them helpful and I hope you will, too.
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You Get Out What You Put In

Last year, when I was in the thickest part of the work for the NJRW conference materials, juggling work, kids, writing, life, and volunteering, one person close to me kept asking, but why? Why do you agree to do that? Why do you give that writer’s group so much time? For lots of reasons, of course, however today I want to focus on that age old tenet: You get out what you put in.

Often, it’s the intangible stuff that’s so great, like that feeling of being included, getting the inside jokes, sharing history, forging friendships, the pleasure of common interests. Maybe you feel valued, because your time is appreciated or your contribution helpful. Or, perhaps there’s simply a sense of satisfaction.

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Things I Learned About My Writing Style

St. Patrick's Day shamrockI went to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner last weekend at my church. While this isn’t something I’d usually drag my husband to, a friend of ours invited us and we figured, why not? In attendance were several other couples our age plus around fifty or so people over the age of seventy. Yup, it was like having a party with my parents and grandparents. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to have had a good time. We were placed closest to the bar (yeah!) and the food.
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Favorite Romantic Moment

valentines day couple

For many of us, we eat, drink, and sleep romance. We’re writers. It’s what we do. Especially if you’re a member of NJ Romance Writers and are participating in our 30,000-word February writing challenge, JeRoWriMo (Jersey Romance Writing Month)! Even while I’m working my day job, driving, or even—forgive me—hanging out with my family, a part of me often is thinking about my characters. It’s not enough to write that happily-ever-after for our hero and heroine. We have to write it in a way that evokes the emotion of the reader; to make our characters so real that our readers fall in love with them as much as we do.
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Advice for Understanding the New Age in Publishing and Promotion

Sarah Wendell, the creator and blogger extraordinaire from the site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, offered an extremely insightful presentation on future trends in the romance market at the monthly New Jersey Romance Writers meeting.

I hope my interpretation of our meeting might help writers gain insight into the evolving, complex world of publishing. I suggest you visit Sarah’s site, for more information—and to check out the plethora of interesting articles, reviews, and laugh-out-loud comments posted regularly.
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Glitter Girl – Part 4

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hopefully for you, the hustle and bustle of this time of year is almost done. I’m mostly done and am looking forward to spending the next couple days with my family.

My present to you is the 4th installment of our Holiday round-robin, Glitter Girl. If you’ve missed parts 1-3, click the links at the bottom of the post to catch up. For the rest of you, grab a cup of coffee and some Christmas cookies and enjoy!

Best wishes for a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year!

Maria

Glitter Girl – Part 4

Tessa glared at her former self on the computer monitor. The photographer had captured her tear-streaked face just as the verdict had been read. The worst possible moment of her life had been recorded on film and could be Googled for all the world to see. Freaking great.
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United We Stand

Don’t forget to enter our One-Year Anniversary contest to win a Nook Simple Touch. You can enter through November 30th. Click the link below for a few fun ways of entering. The more you do, the more chances you have at winning. You need to enter through the Rafflecopter link to be eligible to win. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d514c70/

Over the past few weeks, NJ and its surrounding states have gone through a tragic event in Hurricane Sandy that’s touched many of us in one way or another. Some were inconvenienced by lack of power while others were devastated in worse ways. But through all the sadness, I repeatedly hear stories of people helping people. Whether it’s giving someone shelter, food, clothes, contributions, people are reaching out to help.
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Snippet #3 – Love’s Second Chance

I’m not sure about you, but I’m still on a high from a FANTASTIC weekend at the NJ Romance Writer’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Femmes Michele Mannon & Jenna Blue who won first place in the Put You Heart In A Book Contest.

During the conference, we met many fabulous writers and made new friends. Check out our new Photos page for some pictures of special moments from the conference. I’m always amazed to hear real life stories from authors who started at the bottom and fought their way to the top. Hearing their inspiring stories of how they overcame both personal and professional challenges puts things into perspective for me. Although I may not be at the very bottom, I’m working my way up the ladder toward success. And while there are times I may get knocked down a rung or two, I grasp on tight and climb right back up. This post goes out to all my writer friends who are frustrated with the journey. It’s tough. We know that going in but that doesn’t make it easy to handle when bad stuff happens to us. Be strong. You have a huge support system of writers rallying for each other. Sometimes you need to regroup and come up with a new game plan, but don’t give up.  Hugs, Maria

In case you didn’t read it, we’re holding a special One-Year Anniversary Contest from 10/12-11/16 and are giving away a Nook Simple Touch. Click the link below or the link from the right side-bar to enter.

Below is a snippet from my completed manuscript, Love’s Second Chance, which won first place in the CT Chapter’s Write Stuff Contest and is currently a finalist in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest.

After losing her family to a tragedy, Kate has spent the past four years avoiding emotional attachments. After asking a former lover for help designing a restaurant her parents plan to open, she’s faced with fighting her attraction and denying the growing feelings she has for this man. Exhausted after a long day baking cookies with a six-year old orphan, Kate is vulnerable and succumbs to Edward’s healing touch.  

          Edward glanced down at the high-heeled black leather boots she wore. They came up to just under her knee and hugged her calf like a second skin. As usual, the heel was close to four inches, and while looking at them made the blood rush to his groin, they didn’t seem practical for an afternoon of baking cookies. Unable to refrain from the temptation, he unzipped one of the boots and slipped her foot out.

            Kate’s eyes flew open. “What are you doing?”

            “Relax, luv. I once dated a masseuse and she showed me pressure points to apply to become perfectly relaxed,” he said, rubbing the instep of her foot.

            She snorted. “Yeah, I can just imagine the pressure points she showed you.”

            Edward briefly thought back to Lana, at least that’s what he thought her name was, with a fond memory. She had fantastic hands and could get herself into the most flexible positions. It made for some very creative sex.

            But now he only had thoughts of Kate as he stroked her foot. He remembered she had the sexiest toes, always polished with bright colors. He wondered if she just did that for the summer or if they’d be polished now.

            “You’ll be appreciating the special skills she taught me in a few minutes.”

            “Yeah, we’ll see.” She crossed her arms around her middle but closed her eyes again.

            Not being able to resist, he stripped off her sock and felt his pulse increase. They were just like he remembered. Candy cane red today and perfectly manicured. He reached for her other foot and started the same ritual.

            He studied her relaxed face, a slight curve to her mouth. A moan escaped her mouth and he wanted nothing more than to reach for her across the table and kiss her. Fully aroused, he sat trying to will away his erection all the while thinking how much he wanted to run his mouth up the length of her slender leg.

            “I take it you like?” he asked, his voice husky with desire.

            “Mmm hmm,” she murmured. “You’re hands are magic.”

            And then, almost as though she just remembered that he was the one rubbing her feet, she sat up, now wide-awake. From the heated glaze of her eyes, he knew she was just as turned on as he. A satisfied smile spread across his lips.

            “I seem to recall your saying that about a lot more of me than my hands.”

            She licked her lips and met his smoky gaze with her own. “What, are you fishing for compliments now? I didn’t realize you were so insecure.”

            “I’m not. I wanted to see if you still remembered.”

            “You should know you’re not very forgettable. Of course I remembered.”

One Year Anniversary Contest

That’s right. The Violet Femmes blog will be 1-year old in November.

One year ago, four romance writers attended the NJ Romance Writers conference. After many wonderful workshops, good food, and a bottle of wine, concept for The Violet Femmes blog was born.

We’d like to take this opportunity to announce and welcome our newest Femme, Jenna Blue. Jenna has guest-blogged with us and we’re thrilled she’s officially joining The Femmes. Stay tuned for a fresh look to our blog coming over the next month.

In conjunction with NJRW’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference (10/12-10/13), we’re starting our celebration a little early. If you’re attending the conference, stop by the Goody Room and look for our special gift. Visit The Violet Femmes website 10/12-11/16 and enter our anniversary contest. You can get to the contest link from the upper right-hand side bar or directly by clicking the image below:

Thank you for following us over the past year. We look forward to many more exciting topics and guest posts over the next year!

Hugs from The Violet Femmes,

Maria, Michele, Joanna, Jaye, and Jenna

Snippet #2 – The Lady Wore High Heels

Welcome back, readers, to Snippet Month at The Violet Femmes. The NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is next weekend, and in tandem with the conference, we’ll be announcing an exciting new contest in celebration of our first year together. So make sure you’ve subscribed to our blog, because this contest has a great prize, and you’ll want to enter as many times as you can!

Hugs,

Jaye

The following is a snippet from my YA work-in-progress.

Nadine is a young lady whose family is on the fringes of the Court in Renaissance France. She has just been chosen to be the companion of the new princess, Catherine de Medici, as she adjusts to her surroundings. The adjustment to palace life proves just as difficult for Nadine, who is used to helping out in the palace kitchens which her mother oversees. Added to her unease is the unexpected attraction she feels for the Prince’s right-hand-man, Gilles de Nantes.

A light knock sounded on the dressing room door. Nadine moved to answer it.

“No, Nadine, you stay. I will get it,” Maman ordered. Nadine took the opportunity of her mother’s inattention to snatch up the ribbon from the previous night, and tuck it in her bodice.

Maman opened the door to the house maid, Julée. “There is a man at the door, Madame. He says he is here to collect Mademoiselle Nadine.”

Julée followed Nadine and her mother as they made their way to the salon. Butterflies suddenly threatened to break free from Nadine’s stomach. They paused in the hall just outside the open doorway. Maman squeezed Nadine’s elbow and gave her a look of encouragement. “Breathe. And remember, I love you.”

“I love you, too, Maman.”

“Ready?”

Nadine nodded.

They rounded the corner into the salon. A man stood at the window, his back to them as they entered. As he turned, Nadine gasped.

“Monsieur de Nantes,” Maman said. She and Nadine curtseyed.

Gilles gave a slight bow in return. “Madame. I trust you are well?”

“Quite well, monsieur. Thank you.”

“And you, mademoiselle?” He cocked one eyebrow questioningly.

“Yes, thank you,” Nadine replied.

“Good! Shall we go?” Gilles motioned to the door.

“Surely you are not escorting my daughter on your own?” Maman interjected.

“She is in no danger from me, Madame,” Gilles replied. Nadine looked up at him, her eyes meeting his defiantly. So, she was not worth his time, was that it?

“Danger or no, it is not fitting,” Maman replied. “Please allow Nadine’s maid to accompany you.”

“Are you not fearful then, for the maid, Madame?” Gilles asked.

“Of course. However, I know my daughter. If you were to compromise her in any way, she would scream bloody murder. And if you were to accost the maid, well, you would have to fight my daughter off,” Maman warned.

“Ah, so that is the way of things, is it?” Gilles’ eyes twinkled in amusement. “Then let the maid come, and you have my solemn vow, no screams will be heard from the prince’s hall.”

Maman turned to Julée. “Keep an eye on this one,” she said softly. “He has the devil in him.”

“Yes, madame,” Jolée replied. “I will keep Mademoiselle Nadine safe from harm, I promise.”

“You are a good girl,” Maman said. She turned to Gilles. “I trust I will not hear of any nonsense.”

“You have my word, as the prince’s representative, that your daughter and her maid will be safe from me. Further, I will not allow anyone else to harm them, either.”

“I believe you. Now, go. Nadine, make me proud,” the comtesse said, kissing her daughter’s forehead.

Tears welled up in Nadine’s eyes. “I will, Maman.”

Gilles went to the door and turned. “Shall we? Prince Henri is waiting.”

Nadine blinked several times before looking up at him. “Of course,” she said, forcing a smile.

She fell into step slightly behind him, as was her station. Julée trailed after them, a few steps back. They made their way across the street and through the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. The black sky had turned to midnight blue. The stars winked their last as the sun began to rise on the horizon, bands of yellow to orange to green and aqua. A chaffinch, waking to the dawn, bobbed on the dried seed head of a flower in the Palace’s winter garden. Its happy song lifted Nadine’s spirits. Surely the dread she was feeling was misplaced.

“Monsieur? Can you tell me why the Prince wants to see me?” Nadine asked.

Gilles slowed so that she could draw even with him. “Mademoiselle Mystery, surely you know better than to ask that,” Gilles replied sardonically. His use of the moniker got her back up.

“Since you obviously do know my name now, I would appreciate if you would stop using that ridiculous one,” she huffed.

“Ah, but perhaps it has nothing to do with knowing your name. Perhaps I call you Mademoiselle Mystery, not because I don’t know your name, but because you are an enigma to me.”

“I can’t imagine you waste any of your precious time thinking about me, one way or the other,” Nadine replied.

“Can you not?” he asked, shooting her a sidelong glance. “Is it equally hard for you to imagine that I can reflect on anything, while performing one of my many required duties?”

“Certainly not. I only meant that I am sure there are other, more important things to occupy your thoughts than a girl of my position in the Court.”

“Well, in that you are wrong, I assure you. A girl with charms such as yours,” he looked down at her bodice, “would occupy the thoughts of any man who might be lucky enough to make your acquaintance,” Gilles replied.

Nadine turned her face away to hide the blush that burned her cheeks, and tried unsuccessfully to take offense at his bold actions. “I can see now that Maman was wise to insist on a chaperone.”

Gilles stopped short and turned, causing Nadine to stumble. He grabbed her arm to keep her from falling. “I assure you, mademoiselle,” he said softly. “You are in no danger from me. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If anything, I feel an uncommon urge to protect you.”

Nadine looked up, her eyes locking with his. “Protect me from what?” she asked.

“There are all kinds of dangers in the Court. I urge you to stay alert, know your place, and listen to what your instincts tell you,” Gilles advised.

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