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

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

Journey after the edits

You’ve prepped and polished your manuscript. You’ve gone through the nail-biting experience of pitching to an editor or agent. You’ve been rejected up the wazoo. After much blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve gotten “the call” and have been offered a contract. Congratulations, you’re getting published! The hard work is over, right?

Wrong!

The moment you sign that contract your life has changed. You will never again be that naïve unpublished writer in search of someone who will believe in your story as much as you do. Rather, you’ll be the naïve soon-to-be-published author with a lot to prove and in search of finding ways to reach your readers.

Discoverability. Friend or foe? Art or Science? Whether a writer or a reader, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with this word. So what’s the secret of being discovered? Actors and actresses seek it. As do authors. Below are a few tips I’ve found helpful on this leg of my publishing journey.

Marketing Plan – If you’re traditionally published, you may know your book’s release date months in advance. That’s not always the case if you’re published with a small press. I knew an approximate timeframe when my book would be available worldwide and backed into when I expected my Amazon KDP pre-release to be. It ended up being a month earlier. Unfortunately, I kept putting off preparing and had two weeks to put some type of marketing plan in place.
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Housekeeping and Editing…Two Challenging Tasks!

I admit I’m not much of a housekeeper. I know mothers that excel at having a well-kept home. I’ve stopped by to drop my kids off at scheduled play dates or even unexpectedly to sell Girl Scout cookies and have been invited into homes that are often tidy and beautiful. I do clean, but more often than not, there are toys strewn about, and my office/playroom is well…just plain messy.

MessyDesk

One rainy afternoon, I was mumbling under my breath while cleaning out closets when my hubby walked in and said, “What’s the big deal? Think of it as cleaning up your manuscript after the first draft.” I dropped the trash bag stuffed with kids’ clothes intended for Goodwill, and looked up at him in shock. As an engineer and introvert, he’s definitely on the quiet side, but sometimes he blurts out very helpful and insightful things. I started thinking and came to the conclusion he was totally on point.

So what do cleaning the house and editing your book really have in common? It turns out to be a whole lot.

Read the entire manuscript in one sitting

Get the feel for the story. Resist marking the pages and making notes in the margins. Just read for the content. This will reveal overwriting, sections that need more explanation, or unfinished plot points. It’s similar to walking through the house and noting what needs to be cleaned, which closets need to be organized, and how big of a task you have ahead of you.
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The Role of Fathers in Romantic Fiction

In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to take a look at the different types of fathers and how they are utilized (or not) in fiction with a few glimpses into how I have used the role in my own work. 

There are many famous fathers either applauded or ridiculed in literature.  Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is often hailed as the best father in fiction for his moral strength, compassion, and his love for his children. On the opposite spectrum, Shakespeare’s King Lear in King Lear wins no props for father of the year for playing favorites with his daughters, not to mention promoting the practice of false vanity. 

In the world of Romance, the role of father is usually found somewhere between the two.  A father in romance can take on a variety of roles. 

Photo credit: 'J' / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

King Lear wins the award for Daddy Dearest
Photo credit: ‘J’ / Foter.com / CC BY-NC


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What is a Hero?

I dedicate this post to all the men and women who died serving in the US Armed Forces and who we remember and honor on this Memorial Day, and for those currently in active duty.

Memorial Day flagWhat is a hero? When I was a child, the hero was the handsome prince on the white horse who rescued the princess and carried her off into the sunset. While that vision is great if you’re six, it’s not realistic of the heroes of the twenty-first century, or maybe for any reality outside a Disney movie.

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, age, race, and sex. Despite their differences, all heroes have an element of honor and a commitment to serve and protect.

I attended my town’s Memorial Day parade yesterday. It was the first time I stood and watched the parade and wasn’t walking with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. As the guns were fired to salute those who gave their lives to protect our country, I’m reminded of how selfless people can be and how many people lost loved ones in combat.
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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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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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