JB Schroeder: A New Cover for Runaway!

Runaway has a New Cover, and I’m super excited to reveal it here! But I’m sure you are wondering why I would redesign a book that’s been on the market barely a year?Runaway_Redesign_Crop_r4_150dpi

It’s hard to get tangible feedback in this business, but recently, I ran an ad for Runaway. I got a decent click through rate—except once folks hit Amazon, very few purchased. I’ve got great reviews (thanks you fab readers!), some darn good quotes called out, readers asking for more stories featuring Charlie and Mitch (which I am planning, but it’ll take a while!), a reasonable price point, and I think the cover copy sounds pretty enticing…What’s left? The cover.

My gut had already been telling me that between the young model I chose and the implication of youth the word ‘runaway’ implies that the cover was coming off as a Young Adult book. And therefore perhaps not jiving with the ads, the copy, or what all those excellent reviews say about the book. As you all probably know, I’m a graphic designer specializing in the book biz. So yeah—I kinda messed up. It’s awfully hard to be objective about your own book, I was seriously pressed for time, and let’s face it: stock art is limited. A model with a serious expression? She’s a needle in the haystack of happy smiles and sexy come hither lips, let me tell you. And unfortunately in this case, the side effect of serious was: too young. (See the old version in the side bar at right).

Beyond simply improving Runaway’s appeal, I think it’s smarter in the long run (and less confusing for new JB readers) to have a bigger delineation between my two series (Retrieval, Inc. versus the Unlikely Series).

The good news though: I am a designer. I’m also indie published—meaning I am not at the mercy of a publisher’s decision or their timetable. I can change things up as often as I need to until I find what works….wish me luck! And write and tell me what you think! I’d love to hear! ~JB

www.jbschroederauthor.com

Runaway

Unhinged

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

Giveaway graphic

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.

FIMH FB Release Party Invite4

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

 

 

Femme Stalking: Lena Diaz

Femme Stalking {noun} The act of stalking favorite authors until they agree to stop by the blog and let us go all fan girl on them.FemmeStalkingLOGO_Trim_Final

Imagine my excitement when I read He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Lena Diaz right after we cooked up the idea of Femme Stalking. Not only is this book fantastic romantic suspense, but also, Lena’s Nursery Rhyme series is published by Avon Impulse—a digital-first imprint that unpublished-me really has her eye on! Good news for our readers, too: Lena is offering a giveaway—a digital copy for Nook or Kindle of both He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not and Undercover Twin. Simply leave a comment, and you are entered!

Jenna Blue: Welcome, Lena, and thanks for visiting! Let’s cut straight to that fan girl thing. He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is followed by Simon Says Die, and Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead, creating a series. The nursery rhyme angle coupled with serial killer villains is brilliantly high-concept, not to mention creepy! How did you come up with it? Did the unique angle help you sell the series?

Lena Diaz: Jenna, thanks so much for having me on today and for your kind words about He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Fingers crossed for your Avon Impulse dreams. It’s an awesome line and HarperCollins is fabulous to its authors. As for your question, I wish I could say I’d come up with this as a series concept from the beginning, but I didn’t. When I wrote the first book, I sold it as stand-alone and didn’t envision a series. Then reader mail and reviews clamored for Pierce and Madison’s story (minor characters from the first book), so I pitched a second book titled The Widow’s Husband. Avon liked the story, but not the title. So I came up with Simon Says Die to make it similar to the first title. They loved it! The light bulb went on while writing SSD. I realized I might have the makings of a series. So I created the Buchanan family, with lots of hot, alpha brothers who could potentially each have their own book someday. The creepy “Nursery Rhyme Series” was born. I stumbled and bumbled my way into this series and am so glad I did. I’m having the best time writing these books and am totally in love with the Buchanan men HeKillsMeHeKillsMeNot High Res Cover

JB: Often I feel romance heroines are too perfect, strong, and resilient, so I loved that Amanda Stockton, the heroine in He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is still really struggling a few years after surviving a traumatic abduction. She felt incredibly real to me. Did you receive any pushback from your editor or early readers on this?
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Writers’ Police Academy: A Romantic Suspense Writer’s Dream Come True

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Bomb Squad and K-9 Demonstration

At the Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC, WPA 2013 boasted a DNA expert and forensic anthropologist, a psychologist and scientist, a medical examiner and a nurse, a prosecutor and a judge. The Bomb Squad was there, along with EMS, an ATF agent, a federal agent, undercover detectives, chiefs, sheriffs, captains, officers—I’ve only scratched the surface, the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, crime scene to fire investigation, emergency room to underwater recovery, felony stops to dangerous microorganisms, they have every topic covered either in class or hands-on.

A.J. Scudiere and I tried handcuffing techniques (no bedposts, people, keep it clean!), and I learned self-defense techniques, then whaled on a dummy. P.A. DePaul got to suit up in protective bomb gear, and other attendees investigated an entire criminal case and then presented it to a judge. Carey Baldwin and some other lucky writers got to “ride-a-long” on real calls with local police.

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Keeping the Pages Turning in Romantic Suspense (Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way)

Revisions on my current manuscript have been torturous. Murky, slow and agonizing. Why? I blissfully (stupidly) ignored the tenets of what makes a romantic suspense a real page-turner. To the point where my agent, after having read the first 55K words, essentially said, “Well it all hangs together, but it reads like a contemporary romance.” Ouch. That’s not to say that contemporary romances are dull—in fact, they are some of my favorites to read. However, if you grab a romantic suspense, you expect to be biting your nails. NailBiterGal_124527807Or, according to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia’s definition: Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Below, I’ve shared the 11 best methods I’ve found to enhance suspense. No need to use all of them at once, nor are they listed in order of importance. Simply pick a few, make them integral to your story, and viola, readers will burn dinner because they snuck a few pages while standing over the range. The extra bonus? The same elements, ahem, make the story far easier to write.

1. A Solid Conflict. Opposing forces. Absolute must do’s. No other options. Any story in any genre will fall flat without well-constructed conflict. The simplest formula I’ve seen is Madeline Hunter’s: She MUST DO SOMETHING, and He MUST STOP HER from doing it.
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Revising the Pitch—A Writer’s Show and Tell

ImageBefore I take out my humble red pencil and oversized eraser, I’ve got two exciting announcements to make.

First, the winner of Diana Quincy’s new release “Seducing Charlotte” is Nicole Doran! Congrats, Nicole!

Second, we are thrilled to announce a new member of The Violet Femmes: RoseAnn DeFranco! RoseAnn writes both Contemporary and YA Fantasy, and her wonderful, Jersey Shore-set romances are soon to be published with The Wild Rose Press. She is smart, generous, hardworking; and she makes a mean meatball, too. Suffice it to say, we are honored that RoseAnn will make us six!

Now, to work. I really struggled with the pitch for my current manuscript UnhingedEarly attempts yielded this monstrosity:

After finding herself and her teenage son nearly homeless after her rat of an ex wiped her out and then abandoned them, Evie Radnor’s entire focus revolves around creating a safe, stable, flush environment. To this end, she’s determined to both help others and grow her fledging business, which helps at risk homeless and their families secure jobs, without the help of a man. The first big turning point for her—a contract with Miller’s Markets.

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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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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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Glitter Girl Part Two

Dear Readers,

Wow! A year has come and gone and the Violet Femmes are stronger than ever. We’re quickly approaching our 10,000 views mark, so THANK YOU for your checking in with us weekly.

Some other statistics about the Violet Femmes:

Jaye’s blog When Disaster Strikes in November drew quite a bit of attention. Living through Super Storm Sandy (and still feeling the after affects), it’s no wonder our readers connected with Jaye’s heartfelt essay.

Readers enjoyed February’s Castle of Dreams, our first round robin story, so much so we decided to write another this month!

The Violet Femmes go global: Aside from our loyal followers in the United States, we’ve had viewers from Canada, England, Australia, France, Denmark, the Philippines, to name a few countries. Bien Venue!
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Snippet #5: The Runaway

Hello! I’m Jenna Blue, the newest member of the Violet Femmes. Although we’ve been all twined up this past year (forming fast friendships, critiquing like mad, and just generally enjoying the camaraderie of pals who ‘get’ this writing journey), I have finally taken the plunge and accepted their invitation to blog regularly. Thank you, Femmes! I’m touched and honored, and will strive to do you proud!

As most of you know, it’s Snippet Month! Before you sink into reading for pleasure, however, please take a moment to enter our contest by following the link below. We can’t wait to award one of you a brand new NOOK SIMPLE TOUCH!

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

Today’s snippet from The Runaway, is not one that highlights the heat between my sexy heroine and hot alpha hero, or even one that foreshadows the danger that crackles in a romantic suspense… Instead, in honor of my fellow Femmes, I’ve chosen a scene that speaks to FRIENDSHIP. Because no matter the form, the start, or the length—to celebrate joyous times and bolster you in the bad—there’s nothing like good friends.

Although they both search for Mitch’s runaway sister, Charlie has stonewalled the sexy detective who arrived asking questions, believing she knows nothing that could help—and fearing her own secrets will come to light. After he leaves, Henrietta, who has witnessed the heated altercation in the middle of the busy San Francisco soup kitchen, gives Charlie a piece of her mind—as good friends are wont to do.

 Charlie glared daggers at the man’s back as he stormed out of Glide. When he stepped over the threshold, she pivoted and marched back to the kitchen without a glance to the left or right.

Henrietta held open the swinging door for her by casually leaning against it, while she fanned herself with a plate. “Quite a show,” she murmured.

“I suppose you had a front row seat,” Charlie muttered as she slid past. She didn’t want to talk about it, so she attempted to adjust her tone to sweet, “Another hot flash, Henry?”

“Woo yes. Brought on by all the excitement.” She ambled in, the swoosh of the door just missing her as it returned.

Charlie headed for the far counter and slammed empty tins into the industrial-sized washbasin. She yanked down the oven door, and reached in—

“Ow!” She jumped back and lunged for the sink, pulled the cold faucet handle, and shoved her hand under the rush of water.

Henrietta grabbed two mitts and slid out the tray of chicken. “A little rattled, are ya?” she needled.

“Just not paying enough attention, that’s all,” Charlie grumbled.

The older woman set the food under the warming lights without looking at Charlie. “My mind’s lingering on that hunk of a man, too.”

“Henrietta!”

“Well, he is a looker.” She returned to the oven for some warm dumplings. Charlie rolled her eyes and caught Henrietta’s smirk.

“What’d he say to make you so angry?”

“Nothing really,” Charlie eyeballed the pad of her index finger, found it slightly red, and stuck it back under the stream of cold water. “He just rubbed me the wrong way.”

“What’s he want?”

Charlie huffed out a breath, turned off the faucet, and grabbed a towel. “He’s a cop. He’s looking for his sister.” She faced Henrietta. “Tiffany Scott.”

Henrietta stared. “Then what was all the yelling about?”

“I wasn’t willing to give him any information without a warrant.”

Henrietta put her hands on her hips. “Why ever not, child?”

“Because how do I know she wants to be found? That he’s who he says he is? That he’s not the cause of her trouble, or that he’s doing what’s right for her?”

Henrietta cocked her head. “Isn’t this the very girl you been worrying over?”

Charlie nodded, sheepish.

Henrietta shook her head. “You are somethin’ else, if you withheld information that could help that girl. From an officer of the law, no less!”

“A job or a title doesn’t make a person automatically trustworthy, Henry.” Appearances could be deceiving—a truth she’d do well to remember. “Besides, if I knew where she was, I would have helped her myself.”

“Mmm-hmmn. Just by looking at that fine man, I can tell he’s on the up and up, and I bet you know it, too.”

Charlie frowned. Maybe, except if he was Tiffany’s brother, then he was also from Pennsylvania. Add that to the fact that he’s in law enforcement, and the chances of him recognizing her skyrocketed.

She threw the drying towel on the metal counter. “What I know,” she said, “is that the good-looking ones can be the worst kind.”

Henrietta clucked her tongue. “What I know is that a good man could be just what you need to force you out of that box you live in.”

“You rent me that box!” Charlie stomped her foot, then immediately regretted the petulant action. A landlady who acted more like a mother naturally brought out her inner child.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Henrietta raised her chin in challenge.

Charlie blew out another breath hard—this one forceful enough to make her short bangs move. “Stop pushing. I have everything I need.”

“You most certainly do not! You serve at this mission and you waitress at night. Otherwise, you hide out in your apartment. No friends to speak of—”

Charlie began, “I have you and Cleo—”

“No friends your own age—real girlfriends! Never a date, no hobbies, and not a lick of fun as far as I can tell.” Henrietta had started fanning herself again in the middle of this tirade with a work-worn hand.

“You should talk,” Charlie said.

“I’m old! I’ve lived life, child!” She flapped both hands in exasperation and her generous bosom heaved. “You deserve more.”

Charlie shook her head. “Please, Henry. This is the only way for me.” Tears threatened, so she clenched her jaw. “I promise you, I’m content. It might not seem like much from the outside looking in, but this life is a blessing.”

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