Lead Me On

We talk often about what makes a good romance hero. And honestly, who doesn’t love it? I could go on for hours about what makes the perfect book boyfriend.

SONY DSCFor the sake of this discussion, what about the female lead? What is that something special about her that makes you want to buy into the story and keep reading? Strong motivation is absolutely vital, but I’m thinking more about personality. How does this person approach a challenge? What does their self-talk sound like? How do they treat others and what tack do they take when they interact with people?

Should they be sweet, smart, or sexy? From the hero’s POV, there’s no doubt they are all that and a bag of chips. But like it or not, as readers (and yes authors, but that’s a whole other kettle…) we feed into that equation. What draws a reader to fall in love with a character? Who do we enjoy or identify with? This is such a subjective thing, let’s do this – I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours…

For the most part, I prefer what I call kick-ass with a heart of gold. Yes, they are considered “Strong”, but they are so much more IMO. Occasionally I love a funny, sweet, kind of ditzy character, yet I find myself consistently drawn to these serious types with a hint of darkness more often than not.

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series.
  2. Anita Blake from the Vampire Hunter series (mostly the earlier ones).
  3. Claire Fraser from Outlander.
  4. Alexa (Lex) Parrino from the Beyond series.
  5. Beth from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

At the moment I’m having fun with May Wexler from Wrong Number, Right Guy. She’s just funny, all the way around.

So now it’s your turn. Who are some of your favorite female lead characters, and why?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Things I Love About Series…

I love discovering new series—that wonderful feeling you get when you really enjoy a book and you know there are a whole load more to come. I love falling in love with characters and knowing I’m going to meet them again. And getting immersed in a world and knowing I’ll get to visit over and over and no doubt learn new things each time.

For the same reasons, I also love writing series. Usually, I don’t start out with the intention of writing more than one book, but then something occurs. This tends to be me falling madly in love with a secondary character and needing to know more about them (this has even happened with the ‘villain’ of a book who’s later found himself the hero of his own story.) Or I can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my hero and heroine—I have to know what happens to them—I want proof they are actually living their happily ever after.

Also, although I believe all stories should have a distinct beginning and an end, I love the idea that each individual story is just part of something bigger. A sort of snapshot in time, and there are a whole load of things going on either side of the beginning and the end that I just have to know about—I’m nosey!

So I start to write the next book—it’s a compulsion.

But things were a little different with my latest release, UNTHINKABLE.

unthinkable_v2-500UNTHINKABLE

They were promised a world with no more lies…

Jake Callahan, leader of the Tribe, has always believed he’s one of the good guys. Now, hunted by the government he used to work for, he’s taking a crash course in being bad. What he desperately needs is a bargaining tool, and that’s unfortunate for Christa Winters, daughter of Jake’s former boss.

Christa is a scientist, a total geek, and a good girl with a secret hankering for bad boys. Which turns out to be embarrassingly inconvenient when she’s kidnapped by a stunningly gorgeous—but obviously bad-to-the-bone—man intent on using her against the father she loves. A man with a seemingly uncanny ability to know exactly when she’s thinking about kissing him—which is most of the time.

But people are dying, and it becomes clear that the stakes are much higher than Jake ever imagined. Someone is out to obliterate the Tribe and everyone associated with it, including Christa. Only by working together to uncover the secrets behind the past, can they ever hope to have a future.

UNTHINKABLE is book 1 in my brand new Beyond Human series. And in this case, I set out with the intention of writing more than one book. Four in fact, and while each is a separate romance with a happy ever after, there is also an overall story arc (though I admit I don’t know exactly how book 4 will end.)

What about you—reading or writing—do you prefer a series or do you like your stories different each time?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Best Romantic Movie Moments

I’m a sucker for romance. I love writing romance, and I love watching romantic movies. Here are a few of my favorite moments.

When Harry Met Sally: When they finally realize they’re meant to be together. Love this movie.

Say Anything: Who could forget Lloyd Dobler holding up the boombox?

The Notebook: Young love. Sigh.

Sixteen Candles: When Jake Ryan shows up at her sister’s wedding.

Pride & Prejudice: “You have bewitched me body and soul and I love…I love… I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

What’s your favorite romantic movie moment?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

Many Hats #audiobookgiveaway

Somewhere I’ve talked about this before, maybe it was in a phone conversation, but I’d like to discuss it again.TOO MANY HATS-

Authors wear many hats. The truth behind them could be so many hats you’d think they were a Russian spy or actor. The variety and number vary, but typically include the parent hat, the day job hat, the chef hat, the secretary hat, the laundry hat, the merry maid hat, the chauffeur hat, the tailor/seamstress hat, and the personal assistant hat.

Due to the wide variety, and the need to change hats multiple times during the day, fashion faux pas can occur. In fact, not too long ago I wore my personal assistant hat everywhere and signed up for all the things. This earned me a PTO President hat.

That being said, in ways I’m a hat collector. I like to add to the collection so my hats become diverse and knowledgeable. You could say I have an addiction to hats, which can hurt me at times. Ultimately, like any good collector, I have to decide when there is no more room on my shelf, or closet, or in the spare room I keep for all the hats. My husband has even commented that maybe I need to have a garage sale. 🙂 It can be challenging to decide which ones should go and which should stay. The big, fancy shiny ones are harder to maintain, but look so pretty when I wear them. The plain jane hats, those every day things, I can’t get rid of them. I need them as much as they need me. So where do I begin?

Tell me dear reader, how many hats do you wear? Which hats do you recommend giving away? How horrible are these analogies?

One commenter will win 1 audiobook from my backlist.

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Her latest release is a series of erotic BDSM Contemporary romances called, Desperately Seeking Submissive, which are available in Audio and Ebook. She writes stories where passion and strength collide.

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Judging a Book by its Cover

“Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike — it’s a good binding, you see — and I thought they’d be all good books. . . . but they’ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one musn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzling world.”
–George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

perf5.000x8.000.inddMarin here, and today I’m thinking about the puzzling world of book covers. Recently I worked with a cover artist–the very talented Rae Monet–to create the cover for my third book.

A cover’s primary purpose, of course, is to convince the reader to buy the book behind it. A great cover not only entices the reader, but captures the story in some way.  Cover artist Peter Mendelsund says “his job is ‘finding that unique textual detail that…can support the metaphoric weight of the entire book.’”   But beyond that, a cover needs to represent the book. The mood of the cover should match that of the book–a couple in a clinch for a romance, something dark and eerie for a paranormal, an illustration for a children’s book. Even things like font matter–you see the font that was used on the Harry Potter books, and you recognize it immediately.  The cover, according to Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, should be a promise to the reader. A promise that the book is as professional as its cover, that it is of the genre depicted by the cover, and that you will enjoy reading it.

There are plenty of sites out there which discuss the elements that make a great cover, and I list a few of them below. But as one of them points out, what really makes a great cover is what makes you purchase the book. I tend to like covers that are more abstract, that hint at the character of the book without revealing too much. Here are some of my favorites (click on the covers to visit the book’s Goodreads entry):

Deanna Raybourn was new to me, and I picked up her book in the library almost entirely because of the cover. The others are authors I know and like and would have read anyway. All of these covers evoke their stories and the genre. I think Julia Quinn’s cover must have worked quite well, because she has used a variation of it at least twice since then…

I asked my fellow Passionate Critters what they like, and don’t like, in a cover:

“I tend to gravitate toward books with real people on the covers. I tend to like couples too. I like feet/legs too–or just bodies with no heads–so I can get the gist of the romance while leaving something to my imagination.”

“I like illustrated covers, too, if they’re well done and not drawn by the author themselves. Actually…it’s easier to say what DOESN’T work. Go here to see some samples: http://lousybookcovers.com/.”

“I like a simple cover which conveys the mood or feel of the story that I’m buying.”

“I’ve always liked Kristan Higgins’ covers. You see a couple but not too much of their faces.”

“I’m the opposite of the others, I love faces.  At least the guy’s face, I’m OK with the back of the girl’s head.  Clinch covers work for me as well.  I want a sense of the time period, what the characters look like, and the overall mood of the book.  From the cover I should easily be able to tell if it’s a romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, as well as what era it’s set in, and a decent idea of what the main character, or characters, look like.  I also like to get a sense of who the characters are, is it a brooding alpha male?  Throw him in a tux and make him look angry….or heated…or both.  Character looks are huge for me, especially for the male, and nothing irks me more than grabbing a good book and then having the guy be described as someone I don’t find even remotely attractive.  It kills the whole thing for me.”

“I don’t honestly know.  Some are clearly just bad or rather lousy, but they don’t count.
But of good, well-done covers, where there’s nothing actually wrong with them…hmmm. There’s no type that appeals to me – some just look…right.
I think it’s sort of subjective to a degree – flowers and a wedding dress would put me off, because it screams sweet and I don’t particularly like sweet.
My favorite sort of covers are UF [urban fantasy], which always seem to be very distinctive of the genre, usually a beautiful background, a strong character (all of them, they never seem to have their heads chopped off) often a woman, and a few swirly bits to pretty them up.
I think it’s an arty thing (which is why I struggle) just getting the proportions and colors right and pleasing to the eye.”

“I like real people, faces, and even a bit of setting. I like to see the story. I don’t like the drawn covers–like chick lit has. And don’t get me started on the computer graphics that….are just…not real looking. LOL  But that’s just me.
I don’t like chopped off heads or flowers or wedding dresses or babies.  I don’t know what that says about me.
Oh, I also don’t like floating heads…over cities and stuff.”

Clearly, we all like different things, which only goes to show that you’ll never please everyone, no matter how brilliant your cover may be. What stands out for you in a book cover? Share your favorite!

Some other takes on what makes a great book cover:

https://selfpublishingadvisor.com/2016/08/10/the-book-beautiful-the-cover/
https://springfieldwritersguild.org/2016/08/11/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/
https://www.wired.com/2014/09/makes-brilliant-book-cover-master-explains
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/book-cover-design-indies_n_3354504.html
http://www.graphic-design.com/DTG/Design/book_covers/index.html
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/designing-book-covers/
http://www.iuniverse.com/Resources/Publishing-Distribution/CoverDesignEssentials.aspx

 

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

The Importance of Reading as a Writer

Hi, all, Jennifer here!steking

I’ve had a revelation this summer. (Of sorts)

And here it is: Reading makes me a better writer.

Wow, hardly earth-shattering, right? I know. We’ve all heard this before. But not until a few months ago have I really seen it affect my writing. But what I also realized was that this summer I’ve read more books outside my own genre. I’ve read young adult, women’s fiction, and A LOT of non fiction.

I saw my writing change when I had to do major edits recently. Without much effort at all, I was able to add 8,000 words to my manuscript. And best of all, my editor loved what I wrote.

With one more month left to summer, I plan to take advantage of this time and add even more books to my reading list. It’s actually been kind of fun finding books I wouldn’t normally read.

A few of my favorites have been:

NIGHT by Elie Wiesel  The author reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve read this summer?

Also, my romantic comedy WEDDING DATE FOR HIRE is on sale right now for 99 cents for one more week.

Grab me while you can!InstagramWDFH

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.